Friday, May 06, 2005

t r u t h o u t - Robert S. McNamara | Apocalypse Soon

It is time - well past time, in my view - for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. At the risk of appearing simplistic and provocative, I would characterize current US nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is unacceptably high. Far from reducing these risks, the Bush administration has signaled that it is committed to keeping the US nuclear arsenal as a mainstay of its military power - a commitment that is simultaneously eroding the international norms that have limited the spread of nuclear weapons and fissile materials for 50 years. Much of the current US nuclear policy has been in place since before I was secretary of defense, and it has only grown more dangerous and diplomatically destructive in the intervening years.

What is most puzzling is why there is even a debate about this at all. If it seems pretty clear that a few hundred warheads would effectively accomplish as much as a few thousand, then why have a few thousand? What is their purpose? Deterrence? What a joke. I agree with MacNamara completely when he says:

The Bush administration's nuclear program, alongside its refusal to ratify the CTBT, will be viewed, with reason, by many nations as equivalent to a US break from the treaty. It says to the nonnuclear weapons nations, "We, with the strongest conventional military force in the world, require nuclear weapons in perpetuity, but you, facing potentially well-armed opponents, are never to be allowed even one nuclear weapon."

Why would North Korea or Iran or any other nation on this planet give two shits about what America thinks concerning their nuclear weapons programs? Why would any nation trust America's intentions? The whole 'Do as I say, not as I do' thing gets tired by the time you're old enough to leave home, but apparently that's what passes for American foreign policy these days. So when al Qaeda or whoever gets themselves a nice little Nagasaki bomb and drops it into Times Square, who is America going to retaliate against? Deterrence only works against nation-states, and most of the reason why they want nukes is because America has nukes, and look, they just invaded a sovereign nation because... Uh, why was that, again? Yeah, America can be trusted, sure. Just don't be surprised if the rest of us keep a sharp eye on you while we do what we have to do to survive.


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