Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mick Jagger and the Bomb . . . .

HE has heard a lot of talk out of the corner of his ears lately about how satisfying it would be just to flatten Iraq as a cure to our problems there, and, while we're at it, to nuke Iran as well (no, this is NOT a straw man, this is something that one can read in the WSJ, WaPo, the NYT, on the rightist bloggosphere, and even in the MSM).

Ah, how satisfying it would be to have another go with the visitation of high doses of radioactivity in the biosphere. It worked so well in 1945 goes the official narrative to which so many still subscribe (nevermind the Truman administration's rejection of overtures from the Japanese to negotiate in the spring of that year, and never mind the enormous death toll due to cancer in the following decades [including American military service personel who visited the areas immediately following the attacks], and never mind that Truman was cynically motivated to flex his muscle against the Reds [and just what was the human and social cost of this machismo move?]) Indeed, so virtuous was the American use of the atomic bomb that someone recently noted to me that they wondered that no one had ever set off a nuclear device when such weaponry had been around for the past 60 years. Say what?

Such thinking is so lazy, one wonders to what extent those who think in these "nuke 'em" terms have willfully NOT worked out the consequences.

First, biology: what will the environment look like if we detonate this kind of stuff in our own house (i.e. planet earth)? Consider the simple shelling of a petroleum depot in Lebanon by Israel and how it has now created THE WORST environmental catastrophe in the history of the Mediterranean (though don't look for that to be covered in the pages of the WaPo or NYT). What will agriculture look like - forget in Iran - but in its neighbors to the east, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India when the prevailing winds carry enormous amounts of radiation into those countires? What will cancer rates look like? They are high enough in the areas around Chernobyl; in southern Iraq they are inflated due to our use of depleted uranium weapons. If we visit this on predominately muslim lands one can only imagine the consequences and the possibility of further attacks in revenge. And we will still wonder why they hate us.

Second, China and Russia: Allies of Iran - are we sure, are we very very sure, that this will not esculate into an end game for humanity, are we sure that we will not, as a result of our actions, be looking at confrontation with Russia and China of the genus nuclear? Over the years our allies have put up with a great deal from us, in part because they are as greedy, craven, and corrupt as our own country - France, Germany, Italy, such countries are also driven by self interest over humanitarian considerations, hence there has been no real power to reign us in since the collapse of the USSR. However the consequences of first use of a nuclear weapon on another country would be something that would likely prove the last straw - we would become a pariah, and other countries would very likely decide that it was time to arm themselves against a renegade Uncle Sam. Economic retaliation would be a near certainty, as would political isolation of the sort that North Korea has experienced for years. Military retaliation by nuclear powers could not be ruled out, nor could subsequent escalation. Sound alarmist? It may be - and hope that the scenario is dead wrong, that cool heads would prevail. But I have posted until I am blue in the face that the central reason you do not go to war is that, as Thucydides says, it is a dark door, and once it is opened you become the plaything of events and of history - you don't know what the end will be. Israel just learned that lesson in Lebanon, and sensible heads have learned that from our own expereience in Iraq, but sensible heads do not control our political, military, or media elites at this point.

Third, democracy: The peoples of this world do not want to undertake the destruction of a country that has as yet done no harm to the U.S., especially compared to what the U.S. has done to it. (Can you spell Mosadeq and Shah?) Shouldn't we obey the will of the people? Or does democracy mean only that we get to vote in elections that are run by the corporate media elite in which facts and images are grossly distorted to manipulate a people befuddled by misinformation, half-truths, and willful omissions? And does democarcy only mean we obey the will of our people in our own country? What about the common opinions of mankind that must be, according to Jefferson, consulted in the governance of nations? Does that mean nothing? Apparently so, since millions marched against the Iraq war prior to the attack on that country; Bush turned it on the protestors by musing about the marvels of democracy, not realizing that democracy also means consideration of opnions and discussion, not ruling like King George the Third by fiat. Anyway, the whole question of democracy has become very moot for this administration: When the democratically elected governments of Lebanon and Gaza included Hamas and Hizbollah, we ceased to believe in it and looked the other way when a proxy tried to remove them by force. I guess some just think that you should wield the scepter like Agamemnon and lord it over everyone (to paraphrase a recent sputtering email that suggested such governance was virtuous) - but such creatures do NOT believe either in democracy or in the principles upon which this country was founded. In addition they forget that Agamemnon was not only cursed and hated, but perished for the sin of hybris.

Fourth (a REAL clintcher) MONEY: Iran controls a vast amount of oil resources, not to mention the straits of Hormuz. If innocent dead civilians don't get through to you then maybe oil at $130 a barrel can. Visualize this: Iran survives the attack, but holds back its oil from the market. Yes, the rational thing to say is, "But countries want to sell oil - Iran won't do that". The rational, however, does not always prevail, in fact, rarely does, in history. If it did cool heads would have remained lucid and in command (a key ingredient of true leadership) post 9/11 and we would not find outselves in this horrible Near East conundrum.

"Pinkos" such as myself (you can recognize pinkos - they believe in human rights) often get smeared as being idealistic utopianists. But one should note that we've got nothing over the so-called idealists who would spread democracy via nuclear weaponry. If it didn't work in Afghanistan, if it didn't work in Iraq, I have no idea why some think it will work in Iran - except that this time we'll use the ultimate stick.

Such policy will prove satisfying only in the realm of fantasy, and it is to that region to which such thinking ought to be consigned.

In the end, you won't get no satisfaction.



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