Monday, June 18, 2007

Nukes for All

Left to their own devices and given a few nukes, Dick Cheney and John Bolton would turn France into an ash tray prior to handing out Halliburton 'reconstruction' projects, but will they persuade Bush to attack Iran? Latest assessments suggest the argument may be swinging their way. The prospect of this Iranian regime having nukes is terrifying. But, equally, America's ability to do anything about it has been severely diminished by the Iraq debacle. Furthermore, any nation potentially in dispute with the US must regard getting nukes as essential. (Or, indeed, any nation in dispute with Iran - if the Iranians build a nuke, the Saudis will not be far behind.) There would be no question of attacking a nuclear-armed Iran and North Korea doesn't exactly seem ripe for a Halliburton 'reconstruction'. Bone-headed neocon aggression has created a 'get a nuke, get a life' mentality across the world. But, ultimately, all of this merely distracts from the reality with which, either now or later, we will all have to cope - massive nuclear proliferation. Stopping Iran will make no difference to this. I have nothing useful to say about this other than: the human species being what it is, I find it hard to believe there will not be a nuclear war in my lifetime and impossible to believe there will not be one in the lifetime of my daughter.

24 comments:

  1. Oh dear, just what we needed at the start of the week. I suppose its being so cheerful that keeps you going.

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  2. I do try to look on the bright side, Anon.

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  3. Yes, Nuclear Armageddon first thing on a Monday is pretty tough. Is it cos Pietersen got himself out last ball of the day?

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  4. Silence interrupted by weeping.

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  5. I missed the last few overs, Brit, so I did not know that. Now I'm really depressed.

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  6. Nuclear apocalypse is progress, Bryan. You're not atgainst progress, I hope?

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  7. I can't be against something that doesn't exist, Andrew.

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  8. We ultimately owe the present mess to the Georgia peanut farmer who insisted on undermining the Shah of Iran even as he described Iran as 'an oasis of stability' in the Middle East. His cant about human rights under the Shah led to the installation of a clerical regime that killed more people in its first year than the Shah's SAVAK had murdered in twenty-five, including all 3000 of the political prisoners Carter was so exercised about, together with another 20,000 leftist opponents of the Shah's regime. The same human rights cant led to the wholesale dismissal of all Baathists in the Iraqi army/police. Who do you imagine we had running the police in Dusseldorf and Hamburg in 1945-65?

    While the neo-cons blunder and bluster about bombing Iran (see an excellent piece by Anatole Kaletsky in last week's Times) the Iranians have reminded us why they are one of the most ancient civilisations in the world. With Hizbollah installed on Israel's northern border, they have now encouraged a Hamas putsch in Gaza, effectively warning the West what it will activate if a US bomber comes anywhere near Iran. The kidnappings of Brits in Iraq are also a little warning as well as testing the coalition's weak link- vide blubbing Big Brother contestant type sailors. Meanwhile, as you say, every Sunni power, and especially Saudi, will be looking to neutralise the Iranian bomb. You are also right in thinking that proliferation will lead to local/regional nuclear wars (see William Langewiesche's recent The Atomic Bazaar). One of the problems has been that, yet again, a UN agency, this time Mohammed Elbaradei's atomic monitoring outfit, has been revealed to have no teeth, and too 'sensitive' to 'sensitivities' to take the Iranians on. A recent TV documentary was very revealing. After the usual pleasantries between ElB and the Iranian foreign minister on a sofa- 'how is your daughter Mohammed?'- ElB thanked the Iranians for allowing inspectors in to Natanz after three years. 'Not at all, not at all' said the Iranian. 'But we were a little surprised to find that all the top soil had been removed' replied ElB. And that our radiation monitors still indicated remarkably high levels there. 'Perhaps they were not working?' replied the Iranian. And so it went on, and on, quite brilliant. And we send little Margaret, (actually she phones from her caravan) a Frenchman and a German, to sweet talk these people? Incredible.

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  9. Captain, so good to have you back. We have missed your caustic wisdom and erudition.

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  10. I think you should have mentioned, Captain, the removal of Mossadeq from office by a coup organised by the British and US regimes because of the loss of their control of the Iranian oil industry as a result of Mosasdeq's policies, which led to the puppet regime of the Shah which led to the populist and the Ayotollahs. The US & Britain are directly, or indirectly if we wish to quibble, for the extremists of the Ayotollahs by scuppering the moderate, anti-imperialist Mossadeq regime.

    "In March 2000 then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated her regret that Mossadegh was ousted: "The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America." In the same year, the New York Times published a detailed report about the coup based on alleged CIA documents."

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  11. ooh, I'm struggling to get a handle on this point in the pessimist-optimist spectrum, Bryan. Please can you tell me how long you believe you've got left to live?

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  12. Ian, according to the Death Clock, I have 566,845,624 seconds left and I shall buy the farm on June 5th 2025. However, if you change my mode to 'pessimistic', then I will die on March16 2009, a Monday wouldn't you know it?

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  13. better after the weekend than just before it. But you'll miss Glastonbury! Hotblack Desiato is on that year.

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  14. Great 100 from Collingwood, with able support from Prior. I can see the threat of nuclear proliferation diminishing already.

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  15. i think it's fair to say that The War is coming, and soon. Those of us still around in, say 20 years time, will get to engage in hand-to-hand combat and cannibalism on a regular basis.

    If i were a mad dictator, i'd see the Iraq thing as evidence that if you have any valuable resources, e.g. oil, and DON'T have weapons of mass destruction, as Saddam didn't, then the Americans will invade you. i don't know, would they have invaded if he had a ready-to-go nuclear arsenal? Surely the alleged reason for the invasion - that he was extremely dangerous - had it been true, would have prevented the invasion. i dunno.

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  16. Each to his own, Elberry, and thanks, Brit, for keeping our feet optimistically on the ground.

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  17. Well, in for a penny, in for a dollar.

    The invasion of Iraq was brilliantly successful. The occupation was brilliantly successful ("was" because it ended in 2004 when sovereignty was returned to the Iraqis.) The alliance period has, thus far, been successful, although not brilliantly. It's impossible to regret, but the biggest problem with the whole deal, from the American point of view, has been that the war as a whole has been so cheap that it has been insufficiently impressive to the neighbors. This is all from the American point of view, of course. From the British point of view, it's been devastating to the idea of a small nation that punches above its weight.

    As for nuclear proliferation, the idea that it's all down to the neocons is, hmm, unfettered by the chains of history. Israel didn't get the bomb because it was worried about us. India and Pakistan didn't get the bomb because they were worried about us.

    North Korea, if it has the bomb, might be worried about us, but could just as easily be worried about Martians. In any event, (a) the North Koreans started chasing a nuke in earnest in the 90s, when the neocons were on the outs and received needed cover from Jimmy Carter and the sainted Madeleine Albright; and (b) no one wants to do anything about North Korea. The great fear with North Korea is that it's going to collapse and destabilize South Korea and China.

    Saddam, of course, was dedicated to getting a nuke while George HW Bush was president, pre-dating the neocons who are GHWB's natural enemies and remained dedicated to that idea until more pressing issues distracted him. From the Saudi's point of view, they might prefer an Iranian nuke to a Iraqi nuke.

    Iran's program dates from, probably, the mid-90s.

    In other words, I'm not aware of any nation that has started a nuclear weapons program during the Bush Administration. There is one nation, Libya, who gave up its nuclear weapons program, at least in part, because of Bush Administration policies.

    The real reason for proliferation seems to be that the price has gone down. The basic science is well understood and is not particularly difficult. Uranium is a relatively abundant element. Peaceful nuclear power programs are often economically justifiable in and of themselves while necessarily getting a nation pretty far down the road to a nuclear weapon. Enriching the Uranium is still a big messy program that's hard for outsiders to miss and actually manufacturing the bomb is still probably just beyond the capabilities of standard industrial machine tools, but these are by no means insurmountable problems.

    What to do about Iran is a genuinely hard question. No one, including the neocons, is eager to invade. The Iranians have learned from Osirak and their program is hardened and dispersed. Still, large scale enrichment is, as noted, difficult to hide and will likely be a weak link in the chain. Better yet would be a revolution, but I'm not optimistic.

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  18. Interesting stuff, David, but I think even the neocons would be surprised to discover they had won in Iraq.

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  19. Oh, and fission bombs going off is a bad thing, but by no means the worst thing. The erstwhile 50 years of post-war stability that people seem to be lamenting were brought to you by fission bombs.

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  20. And the suffering of distant millions.

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  21. I think at least part of the reason that countries like Iran and North Korea want nuclear weapons is that they see what happens to regimes that don't have them!!! If Iran felt that the world was a happy, peaceful place then perhaps they wouldn't want nuclear weapons to defend themselves with.

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  22. River of DeceitJune 18, 2007 5:52 pm

    Nukes are probably tame compared to the nightmare weapons they're thinking up -or have actually created- with our money.

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