Archive for the ‘Nuclear “Programs”’ Category
What might get lost in the ad nauseum mainstream media coverage of the gladiator-style struggle for the Democratic Party presidential nomination is what the Associated Press calls a “landmark treaty” which received a formal thumbs-up on Friday at a meeting, in Dublin, of more than 100 nations, including many of our partners in NATO. Not only does the treaty call for banning munitions cluster designs, but demands the destruction of stockyards within the next ten years.
What’s more, not only did the U.S. boycott these negotiations, it joined other major manufacturers of cluster bombs, Russia, China, India, Israel and Pakistan, in doing so. Our focus and that of the other munitions’ manufacturers was not on how deleterious cluster bombs are, but on their military (i.e. monetary) value.
One defense analyst even went so far as to argue that “only countries that don’t fight wars” would draft a treaty like this, and say that its value is strictly “feel good.” We haven’t seen this kind of logic since the fall of Rome. No one from the Defense Department, so far, has said what would happen if and when a European country orders cluster bomb munitions from U.S. bases on the continent.
That India joins the U.S. in this militarist circus only shows just how far they have strayed from the days of Gandhi and “passive resistance.” Remember, it was Mahatma Gandhi who said “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” We can guess what Gandhi would have to say about who India is in bed with now; the artful draft dodgers, and Texas oil men.
Indeed, anyone opting for disarmament who dares to approach 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will have to check their bags at the door. We not only are a military industrial complex, we have a military industrial complex, which means this is no longer just a wartime economy, this is a country that has made a religious fetish of combat. That we’ve also become occupation zealots is obvious from how many military bases we’ve amassed world-wide, as well as reports of plans to keep contractors in Iraq long after troops are removed.
Make no mistake, any candidate who talks about nuclear nonproliferation and doesn’t include India, Israel, and the U.S. as among those who need to honor nonproliferation agreements is blowing smoke up our ass. Any candidate who claims to be strong on national security and doesn’t want to actively revisit efforts at de-profitizing warfare is one that is moving us closer to nuclear annihilation.
Similarly, any leader who puts the manufacture of cluster bomb parts which can only maim, and kill, thousands of people, as we saw in Lebanon in 2006, ahead of the greater good doesn’t deserve to use the White House john.
What possible value can cluster bombs have in the advancing of civilization? And, by what kind of skewed, twisted logic can anyone in government claim that no pre-emptve strike against Iran is “off the table,” justify a build-up to war in light of that country’s uranium enrichment program while, at the same time, engaging in brazen steroid use when it comes to the arms race? What does it tell you about a defense analyst that he would suggest any effort at disarmament is merely a placebo?
That 111 countries met, many of whom we consider allies, to formalize a treaty that would, in essence, neutralize our artillery power speaks volumes about our descent not merely from the moral high ground, but from honoring a generation of international efforts away from the chaos of war, and towards the survival of the planet. This treaty isn’t just about cluster bombs — it is a breathtaking indictment, and condemnation of American militarism, and war profiteering, we’ve seen in a long time.
We have a right to answers from those we elect as to who’s making the money from these cluster bomb parts, as well as other wartime manufacture, and how much of our tax dollars are going to subsidize these companies, and ensure that they meet their bottom line.
Arguably, the only difference between a drug dealer and a defense contractor is that a defense contractor gets government subsidies. While some might argue there are drug dealers, largely in our inner cities, who might be getting government subsidies, too, the point is that war is not only toxic, it’s heroin, and we must eradicate the demand before we can touch the supply. But, how can we do that when the world’s richest countries are growing richer on war?
Nobody can deny that there is some serious erosion in the moral high ground when, as some human rights groups assert, the U.S. allegedly holds detainee, and terror suspects, on prison ships out at sea. If this is how we intend to maintain “national security” by egregious human rights violations while, at the same time, allowing Osama bin Laden to text message his Al Qaeda pals in Afghanistan, then something is seriously awry.
If we can figure out that there may be life on Mars, we can find a way to have a peace-based global economy, and it has to start in our own backyard. This is a message both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama share — moving towards a green economy, and if Obama wins in November, he must be held to account for a hyperactive Defense Department every bit as much as John McCain. It is our tax dollars that stoke their fire for war.
Think about the hypocrisy of any government that boycotts negotiations to destroy cluster bombs, spitting in the face of disarmament, when you hear the tired, counterfeit argument about Ahmadinejad, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, as we get closer to war with Iran.
By Scott Ritter
Don’t worry, the White House is telling us. The world’s most powerful leader was simply making a rhetorical point. At a White House press conference last week, just in case you haven’t heard, President Bush informed the American people that he had told world leaders “if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” World War III. That is certainly some rhetorical point, especially coming from the man singularly most capable of making such an event reality.
Pundits have raised their eyebrows and comics are busy writing jokes, but the president’s reference to Armageddon, no matter how cavalierly uttered and subsequently brushed away, suggests an alarming context. Some might note that the comment was simply an offhand response to a reporter’s question, the kind of free-thinking scenario that baffles Bush so. In a way, this makes what the president said even more disturbing, since we now have an insight into the vision, and related terminology, which hovers just below the horizon in the brain of George W. Bush.
When I was a weapons inspector with the United Nations, there was a jostling that took place at the end of each day, when decisions needed to be made and authorization documents needed to be signed. In an environment of competing agendas, each of us who championed a position sought to be the “last man in,” namely the person who got to imprint the executive chairman (our decision maker) with the final point of view for the day. Failure to do so could find an inspection or point of investigation sidetracked for days or weeks after the executive chairman became distracted by a competing vision. I understand the concept of “imprinting,” and have seen it in action. What is clear from the president’s remarks is that, far from an innocent rhetorical fumble, his words, and the context in which he employed them, are a clear indication of the imprinting which is taking place behind the scenes at the White House. If the president mentions World War III in the context of Iran’s nuclear program, one can be certain that this is the very sort of discussion that is taking place in the Oval Office.
A critical question, therefore, is who was the last person to “imprint” the president prior to his public allusion to World War III? During his press conference, Bush noted that he awaited the opportunity to confer with his defense secretary, Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following their recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. So clearly the president hadn’t been imprinted recently by either of the principle players in the formulation of defense and foreign policy. The suspects, then, are quickly whittled down to three: National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Vice President Dick Cheney, and God.
Hadley is a long-established neoconservative thinker who has for the most part operated “in the shadows” when it comes to the formulation of Iran policy in the Bush administration. In 2001, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Hadley (then the deputy national security adviser) instituted what has been referred to as the “Hadley Rules,” a corollary of which is that no move will be made which alters the ideological positioning of Iran as a mortal enemy of the United States. These “rules” shut down every effort undertaken by Iran to seek a moderation of relations between it and the United States, and prohibited American policymakers from responding favorably to Iranian offers to assist with the fight against al-Qaida; they also blocked the grand offer of May 2003 in which Iran outlined a dramatic diplomatic initiative, including a normalization of relations with Israel. The Hadley Rules are at play today, in an even more nefarious manner, with the National Security Council becoming involved in the muzzling of former Bush administration officials who are speaking out on the issue of Iran. Hadley is blocking Flynt Leverett, formerly of the National Security Council, from publishing an Op-Ed piece critical of the Bush administration on the grounds that any insight into the machinations of policymaking (or lack thereof) somehow strengthens Iran’s hand. Leverett’s article would simply underscore the fact that the Bush administration has spurned every opportunity to improve relations with Iran while deliberately exaggerating the threat to U.S. interests posed by the Iranian theocracy.
The silencing of informed critics is in keeping with Hadley’s deliberate policy obfuscation. There is still no official policy in place within the administration concerning Iran. While a more sober-minded national security bureaucracy works to marginalize the hawkish posturing of the neocons, the administration has decided that the best policy is in fact no policy, which is a policy decision in its own right. Hadley has forgone the normal procedures of governance, in which decisions impacting the nation are written down, using official channels, and made subject to review and oversight by those legally and constitutionally mandated and obligated to do so. A policy of no policy results in secret policy, which means, according to Hadley himself, the Bush administration simply does whatever it wants to, regardless. In the case of Iran, this means pushing for regime change in Tehran at any cost, even if it means World War III.
But Hadley is simply a facilitator, bureaucratic “grease” to ease policy formulated elsewhere down the gullet of a national security infrastructure increasingly kept in the dark about the true intent of the Bush administration when it comes to Iran. With the Department of State and the Pentagon now considered unfriendly ground by the remaining hard-core neoconservative thinkers still in power, policy formulation is more and more concentrated in the person of Vice President Cheney and the constitutionally nebulous “Office of the Vice President.”
Cheney and his cohorts have constructed a never-never land of oversight deniability, claiming immunity from both executive and legislative checks and balances. With an unchallenged ability to classify anything and everything as secret, and then claim that there is no authority inherent in government to oversee that which has been thus classified, the Office of the Vice President has transformed itself into a free republic’s worst nightmare, assuming Caesar-like dictatorial authority over almost every aspect of American national security policy at home and abroad. From torture to illegal wiretapping, to arms control (or lack of it) to Iran, Dick Cheney is the undisputed center of policy power in America today. While there are some who will claim that in this time of post-9/11 crisis such a process of bureaucratic streamlining is essential for the common good, the reality is far different.
It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this has never been truer than in the case of Cheney. What Cheney is doing behind his shield of secrecy can be simply defined: planning and implementing a preemptive war of aggression. During the Nuremberg tribunal in the aftermath of World War II, the chief American prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, stated, “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Today, we have a vice president who articulates publicly about global conflict, and who speaks in not-so-veiled language about a looming Armageddon. If there is such a future for America and the world, let one thing be certain; World War III, as postulated by Dick Cheney, would be an elective war, and not a conflict of tragic necessity. This makes the crime even greater.
Sadly, Judge Jackson’s words are but an empty shell. The global community lacks a legally binding definition of what constitutes a war of aggression, or even an act of aggression. But that isn’t the point. America should never find itself in a position where it is being judged by the global community regarding the legality of its actions. Judge Jackson established a precedent of jurisprudence concerning aggression based upon American principles and values, something the international community endorsed. The fact that current American indifference to the rule of law prevents the international community from certifying a definition of criminality when it comes to aggression, whether it be parsed as “war” or simply an “act,” does not change the fact that the Bush administration, in the person of Dick Cheney, is actively engaged in the committing of the “supreme [war] crime,” which makes Cheney the supreme war criminal. If the world is not empowered to judge him as such, then let the mantle of judgment fall to the American people. Through their elected representatives in Congress, they should not only bring this reign of unrestrained abuse of power to an end, but ensure that such abuse never again is attempted by an American official by holding to account, to the full extent of the law, those who have trampled on the Constitution of the United States and the ideals and principles it enshrines.
But what use is the rule of law, even if fairly and properly implemented, if in the end he who is entrusted with executive power takes his instructions from an even higher authority? President Bush’s relationship with “God” (or that which he refers to as God) is a matter of public record. The president himself has stated that “God speaks through me” (he acknowledged this before a group of Amish in Pennsylvania in the summer of 2004). Exactly how God speaks through him, and what precisely God says, is not a matter of speculation. According to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, President Bush told him and others that “God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.” As such, at least in the president’s mind, God has ordered Bush to transform himself into a modern incarnation of St. Michael, smiting all that is evil before him. “We are in a conflict between good and evil. And America will call evil by its name,” the president told West Point cadets in a speech in 2002.
The matter of how and when an individual chooses to practice his faith, or lack thereof, is a deeply personal matter, one which should be kept from public discourse. For a president to so openly impose his personal religious beliefs, as Bush has done, on American policy formulation and implementation represents a fundamental departure from not only constitutional intent concerning the separation of church and state but also constitutional mandate concerning the imposition of checks and balances required by the American system of governance. The increasing embrace by this president of the notion of a unitary executive takes on an even more sinister aspect when one realizes that not only does the Bush administration seek to nullify the will of the people through the shackling of the people’s representatives in Congress, but that the president has forgone even the appearance of constitutional constraint by evoking the word of his personal deity, as expressed through his person, as the highest form of consultation on a matter as serious as war. As such, the president has made his faith, and how he practices it, a subject not only of public curiosity but of national survival.
That George W. Bush is a born-again Christian is not a national secret. Neither is the fact that his brand of Christianity, evangelicalism, embraces the notion of the “end of days,” the coming of the Apocalypse as foretold (so they say) in the Book of Revelations and elsewhere in the Bible. President Bush’s frequent reference to “the evil one” suggests that he not only believes in the Antichrist but actively proselytizes on the Antichrist’s physical presence on Earth at this time. If one takes in the writing and speeches of those in the evangelical community today concerning the “rapture,” the numerous references to the current situation in the Middle East, especially on the events unfolding around Iran and its nuclear program, make it very clear that, at least in the minds of these evangelicals, there is a clear link between the “end of days” prophesy and U.S.-Iran policy. That James Dobson, one of the most powerful and influential evangelical voices in America today, would be invited to the White House with like-minded clergy to discuss President Bush’s Iran policy is absurd unless one makes the link between Bush’s personal faith, the extreme religious beliefs of Dobson and the potential of Armageddon-like conflict (World War III). At this point, the absurd becomes unthinkable, except it is all too real.
Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s greatest founders, made the separation of church and state an underlying principle upon which the United States was built. This separation was all-inclusive, meaning that not only should government stay out of religion, but likewise religion should be excluded from government. “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself,” Jefferson wrote in a letter to Francis Hopkinson in 1789. “Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.” If only President Bush would abide by such wisdom, avoiding the addictive narcotic of religious fervor when carrying out the people’s business. Instead, he chooses as his drug one which threatens to destroy us all in a conflagration derived not from celestial intervention but individual ignorance and arrogance. Again Jefferson, in a letter written in 1825: “It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it [the Apocalypse], and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.”
Nightmares, more aptly, unless something can be done to change the direction Bush and Dobson are taking us. The problem is that far too many Americans openly espouse not only the faith of George W. Bush but also the underlying philosophy which permits this faith to be intertwined with the governance of the land. “God bless America” has become a rallying cry for this crowd, and those too ignorant and/or afraid to speak out in opposition. If this statement has merit, what does it say for the 6.8 billion others in the world today who are not Americans? That God condemns them? The American embrace of divine destiny is not unique in history (one only has to recall that the belt buckles of the German army during World War II read “God is with us”). But for a nation born of the age of reason to collectively fall victim to the most base of fear-induced theology is a clear indication that America currently fails to live up to its founding principles. Rather than turning to Dobson and his ilk for guidance in these troubled times, Americans would be well served to reflect on President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, delivered in the middle of a horrific civil war which makes all of the conflict America finds itself in today pale in comparison:
“Both [North and South] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other…. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes…. [T]hat He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?”
God is not on our side, or the side of any single nation or people. To believe such is the ultimate expression of national hubris. To invoke such, if one is a true believer, is to embrace sacrilege and heresy. This, of course, is an individual right, granted as an extension of religious freedom. But it is not a collective right, nor is it a right born of governance, especially in a land protected by the separation of church and state.
The issue of Iran is a national problem which requires a collective debate, discussion and dialogue inclusive of all the facts, and stripped of all ideology and theocracy which would seek to deny reasoned thought conducted within a framework of accepted laws and ideals. It is grossly irresponsible of an American president to invoke the imagery of World War III without first sharing with the American people the framework of thought that produced such a comparison. Such openness will not be forthcoming from this administration or president. Not in the form of Stephen Hadley’s policy of no policy, designed with intent to avoid and subvert both bureaucratic and legislative process and oversight, or Dick Cheney’s secret government within a government, operating above and beyond the law and in a manner which violates both legal and moral norms and values, and certainly not in the president’s own private conversations with “God,” either directly or through the medium of lunatic evangelicals who embrace the termination of all we stand for, and especially the future of our next generation, in a fiery holocaust born from the fraudulent writings of centuries past. The processes which compelled George W. Bush to speak of a World War III are intentionally not transparent to the American people. The president has much to explain, and it would be incumbent upon every venue of civic and public pressure to demand that such an explanation be forthcoming in the near future. The stakes regarding Iran have always been high, but never more so than when a nation’s leader invokes the end of days as a solution.
Scott Ritter is a former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq.
We will not be posting Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007. We are participating in the STRIKE FOR PEACE.
If you’ve had enough, you need to say “When.” Say-when.org
Photographs of Hiroshima and Nagaski – this boy was less than 1/2 mile from the hypocenter (the surface position directly beneath the center of a nuclear explosion). Watch the video below with this photo in mind – and tell us how this is acceptable in the 21st Century. Also ask yourself – what would we do if this was Iranian television – or Chinese…or how about Russian – talking about doing this to us? NOW who has the WMD’s?
This is truly appalling –
“The latest information I have had from the followers of Bush is that he has demanded and received permission to use nuclear ‘bunker busters’ in Iran in a preemptive strike”.
“As a nuclear veteran I can affirm that this is absolute madness. The bunker buster is a cute sounding name for a nuclear horror . . . Using bunker busters in Iran, or anywhere else for that matter, will vaporize hundreds of thousands of tons of earth, water and rock and send this radioactive soup downwind to kill and sicken whole populations. Those immediately downwind will die quickly, in hours or days.” –
Stephen M. Osborne, a freelance writer living on Camano Island in the Pacific Northwest and an ‘Atomic Vet.’ (Operation Redwing, Bikini Atoll 1956)
Interesting article – from RIA Novosti.
…It is clear, though, that Iran does not need the bomb. Whom would it drop it on? The United States is far away, and an attack on Israel would kill not only Jews but also Arabs in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. It is abundantly clear that the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its aspirations to Muslim leadership, would not dare kill millions of its brethren-in-faith.
The bomb has no practical use. Most probably, Tehran plans to stop at the five-minute-readiness level, that is, one step before the bomb. This would allow the Iranian leaders to enjoy unheard-of prestige at home, dominate the Muslim world, and dictate its terms to the West.
Iran is already talking with everyone from a position of strength because it feels invulnerable and is not afraid of an American attack. The Americans are stuck in Iraq and cannot afford to launch another military land operation. Pinpoint air strikes at nuclear facilities may delay the Iranian nuclear program for several years but will not change the regime….
When I was a kid, my mother warned me against making up stories to cover my behavior – she said it was too easy to get caught down the line when my excuses didn’t add up.
I was reminded of those conversations when I read the story below and thought about the continued rhetoric about Iran’s nuclear program.
President George W. Bush is understandably desperate for some kind of foreign policy success. But that cannot justify sacrificing his principled stand against weapons proliferation to seal a nuclear cooperation deal with India. The accord could end up benefiting New Delhi’s weapons program as much as its pursuit of nuclear power.
The deal was deeply flawed from the start. And it has been made even worse by a newly negotiated companion agreement that lays out the technical details for nuclear commerce. Congress should reject the agreement and demand that the administration, or its successor, negotiate a new one that does not undermine efforts to restrain the spread of nuclear weapons.
Any agreement needs to honor the principle Bush set forth in 2004: that countries do not need to make their own nuclear fuel, or reprocess their spent fuel, to operate effective nuclear energy programs. The technology can be all too easily diverted to make fuel for a nuclear weapon.
Unfortunately, Bush’s accord with India jettisoned that essential principle. Washington capitulated to India’s nuclear establishment and endorsed continued reprocessing. And while U.S. law calls for nuclear cooperation to end if India detonates another weapon, the agreement makes no explicit mention of that requirement – while it promises that Washington will acquiesce, if not assist, in India’s efforts to find other fuel suppliers.
Bringing India – which never signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – in from the cold is not a bad idea. It is the world’s most populous democracy, with a dynamic economy. And its record on nonproliferation – aside from its own diversion of civilian technology to its once-secret weapons program – is pretty good. The problem is that the United States got very little back. No promise to stop producing bomb-making material. No promise not to expand its arsenal.
And no promise not to resume nuclear testing.
The message of all this is unmistakable: When it comes to nuclear proliferation, Washington’s only real policy is to reward its friends and punish its enemies. Suspicion of America’s motives around the world are high enough. America cannot afford another such blow to its credibility, especially when it is trying to rally international pressure against nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.
The administration will argue that altering this agreement now would be a slap at India. But there is no good in compounding a bad deal. And there are better ways to deepen political and economic ties.
Congress accepted the administration’s arguments far too uncritically when it approved the first India-related nuclear legislation last December. It must now take a stand against the even more damaging companion agreement. At a time when far too many governments are re-examining their decision to forswear nuclear weapons, the United States should be shoring up the nuclear rules, not shredding them.