Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Bankruptcy of U.S. Nuclear Doctrine

An analysis in today's New York Times, characterized as a "diplomatic memo" and entitled, "Sanctions Against Iran Grow Tighter, but What's the Next Step?" by Helene Cooper, shows just how bankrupt the United States' nuclear doctrine is.

The central, abhorrent idea of Cooper's analysis is that, while there is a distinction between possessing nuclear technology and pursuing military power based on nuclear weapons, the only acceptable model for that distinction is Japan, "which has a deep aversion to nuclear weapons dating to the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki." It is outrageous that such a suggestion could be made in a United States newspaper, and even more outrageous that it almost certainly reflects the nuclear doctrine of the United States government.

In other words, the stability of the world hangs on three axioms: (a) one nation -- the United States -- and its allies control the ability to wield nuclear death; (b) other countries have nuclear technology but have already tasted nuclear devastation at the hands of the United States, so they know their place; and (c) everyone else must be prevented from having nuclear technology. How long does anyone imagine the rest of the world is going to put up with that model of stability?

It is in this context that so many of the other suggestions in the article would be laughable, if they were not so disgusting. It is Iran that must "demonstrate that it could be trusted" and it is Iran that must "drop its veil of secrecy." Cooper speaks cavalierly of tactics which, oh, just happen to be war crimes: "What could also shove Iran to the negotiating table are the kind of covert programs that have slowed its development of a nuclear program," such as the assassination of nuclear scientists.

Over and over, Cooper talks in the most naive terms: about how to "calibrate the impact of sanctions" . . . "tightening the noose" . . . officials who have "gamed out" the possibilities . . . choosing between more or less "unpalatable" alternatives . . . . It is terrifying that, when war is in the balance, a publication with the level of readership of the New York Times could engage in such irresponsible talk.

With the New York Times publishing "analysis" like this, is it any wonder that Americans can say things like . . . "It won't be a war. We're just going to drop a few well placed bombs on them" . . . "the object of fighting a war is to 'cause devastation'" . . . "my finger is on the button. Run back to your mud hut or I am going to press it!" . . . "when war is devastating, then people will do everything possible not to get into it!" . . . as some of my high school classmates wrote on Facebook today?

Related posts

As the Obama administration prepares in the days ahead to pivot from its focus on Syria to something truly startling -- talking to Iran! -- it is important that the American public devotes some time and energy to learning and thinking about Iran, the history of the U.S.-Iran relationship, and what the U.S.-Iran relationship means in the larger context of the effort to reduce the risk of war and violence in the world.

(See IRAN: 3 Reality Checks on the Emerging U.S. Narrative)

So there are these terrible things called nuclear weapons, and it just turns out that they hover around the Korean peninsula, as if "Korea" and "crazy nuclear terror" belonged together. And I thought to myself, "Where have I heard this before?"

(See The Cynical American Scapegoating of Korea as a Cover for Nuclear Terror )

How do you formulate a statement that can somehow convince the United States to eliminate its threatening nuclear weapons?  How do you formulate the 10th request? Or the 100th? Knowing all the time that the United States is in the position -- will always be in the position -- to say, "No" ?  At what point does it dawn on you that the United States will never give up its nuclear weapons, because it has the power and the rest of the world doesn't?

(See 360 Degree Feedback in New York (2014 NPT Prepcom and How the World Views the United States))