In the end, it's all about dusting off the nukes.
Like Seldom-Seen Smith on the Glen Canyon dam praying for a precision earthquake in Edward Abbey’s “Monkey Wrench Gang,” the neocons in the Cheney/Bush administration have been praying for a precision nuclear weapon—something that will “improve the war-fighter’s confidence in selecting the smallest nuclear yield necessary to destroy underground facilities while minimizing collateral damage.” That’s a good thing. No one wants to use a larger nuclear weapon than they absolutely have to. And I’m glad to hear they’re worried about collateral damage.
It’s just too bad they aren’t thinking about the collateral damage to nuclear non-proliferation efforts or those of us who are likely to be dosed again with the by-products of the nuclear arms race.
Lost in much of the debate over the Bush administration’s proposed nuclear simulation at the old nuclear test site in Nevada is the fact that rather than providing a feeling of security it may be the most destabilizing action in the history of nuclear weapons.
Divine Strake is designed to simulate the effects of a bunker-buster nuclear bomb. With such a bomb, our government could perform a quick nuclear decapitatation of a rogue regime, such as Iraq, Iran or North Korea or Syria or Hamas or Hezbollah or….
This strategy rests on the assumption that the whereabouts of a nation’s leaders can be determined with pinpoint accuracy. Lacking that information, the result will be a game of nuclear whack-a-mole. The rogues’ best defense against such a strategy is a whole bunch of holes to hide in, or developing their own nuclear weapons. The first course is open to the most backward of states. The second course is or has been pursued by South Africa, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India — and who knows who else?
America tried a preemptive strike on Saddam Hussein at the Dora farms at the beginning of the second Iraq war. The four missiles and bombs missed the farm (the lights were on but Saddam wasn’t home), causing only 15 collateral damage deaths. Imagine the result if the bombs had been nukes.
The destabilizing effects of the Cheney/Bush administration’s ill-considered nuclear policies have already begun. It can’t be a coincidence that China tested an anti-satelite missile last month, the first test of this type in years; the target for the test was a weather satellite in a low-Earth orbit, just like the ones that would be used for targeting a bunker-buster nuke. North Korea and Iran are more intransigent than ever.
An important question asked after 9/11, and one which our government ignored, is particularly critical as we contemplate this serious step in the defense against “our enemies”: Why would someone hate us so much that they would want to nuke us? What have we done to them? Perhaps it is easier to eliminate the causes of hate than the people who hate us. Perhaps a couple of hundred billion dollars spread around the world to mitigate the damage that our self-serving foreign, trade, energy, environmental and social policies have caused might be a beginning.
I can see where the neo-cons get their faith in decapitation. If Dick Cheney were (we’ll be polite) out of the picture, George W. Bush would slump like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
Utah activists are dismayed at the lack of local input to the test. They shouldn’t take it too personally. Dick and George don’t listen to anyone outside the security fence at the White House. They don’t listen to the House or the Senate, they don’t listen to experts, they don’t listen to the international community.
Nikita Kruschev is reported to have said that when he became the Soviet premier and learned the extent of the nuclear weapons arsenals, he couldn’t sleep for days—until he realized that no one in their right mind would ever consider using them. Then he could sleep.
I wonder how well George W. Bush or Dick Cheney sleep? They obviously haven’t realized that no one in their right mind would ever use nuclear weapons.
John deJong is associate publisher of Catalyst.