George Bush leads the US toward a policy of unilateral, pre-emptive counterproliferation warfighting strategy.
On September 16, Bush got his way when the US Senate voted to
allow research into smaller nuclear weapons that could be used in
battlefield situations. The so-called "bunker buster" mini-nukes
would, in theory, be used to destroy command and control bunkers
buried deep underground. Voting to lift a 10-year ban against
research and development of these low-yield battlefield weapons,
the Senate caved in to Pentagon hawks who have actively been
pushing to get their hands on such weapons.
Although Republican leaders of the Senate claimed the 51-43 vote
(out of 100 senators) was only for research and not actual
development of new weapons, other senators held a contrary view. "I
think there's a very clear march on to develop these weapons," said
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California. NGOs against US
nuclear policies provided Senator Feinstein with information that
she used in her floor speech against the funding, to no avail. But
the debate was really not about facts, or about the risk that the
use of nuclear weapons presents to the world, it was rather another
test of ideological loyalty to the new Dr. Strangelove, Donald
Rumsfeld's Pentagon, now under fire for lies and mistruths about
the Iraq war and occupation.
War planners have grown tired of their own theories of deterring
a foe through the threat of use of nuclear weapons. Now eager to
have nuclear weapons available for use, the Mutually Assured
Destruction (MAD) deterrence theory which was the basis for the
Cold War between the US and Soviet Union has quietly been moved to
the back of the Pentagon's war closet. No longer stylish in
Washington, MAD theory - insane in its own right - is giving way to
clear plans to "go nuclear" in future wars. So what if the facts
show that deeply buried bunkers can't be successfully attacked with
the new weapons? Who cares that they would loft tons of deadly
radioactive dirt and debris into the environment? Well, ummm... we
Nuclear strategy, nuclear madness
It can't be said that Bush hasn't been up front about his
intentions. In his National Security Strategy (NSS), issued by the
White House in September 2002, the Administration gloats over its
"unprecedented and unequaled strength and influence in the world"
and clearly links military and economic policies. Stating that the
US goal is to defend "freedom, democracy, and free enterprise" and
bring "free markets, and free trade to every corner of the world,"
the NSS goes on to lay out how the US will act pre-emptively and
unilaterally as part of a new "counterproliferation" policy. Small
nuclear weapons to carry out "first strikes" as part of this new
strategy are but a part of the wider range of military options that
the Pentagon is pursuing. Likewise, the Nuclear Posture Review from
December 2001 also affirms first-strike, pre-emptive attacks.
Along with the vote for earth-penetrating mini-nukes - one-fifth
the size of the Hiroshima bomb of 20,000 tonnes of dynamite - the
Senate also voted to allow the US Department of Energy to get ready
for nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site and to continue
planning for a new factory that would build the plutonium "pits,"
or cores of all nuclear weapons. All these projects reveal that a
very dangerous picture has emerged: Bush and his generals are
planning to legitimise the use of nuclear weapons. The appropriate
infrastructure for making new weapons, and rebuilding all the older
deployed weapons - which would be around 2000 warheads in 2012,
with thousands more stored - and for testing of old and new weapons
is now on its way to being put in place.
Look over there! Nukes!
Wanting to divert the eyes of the world from what it's up to,
the US has diligently tried to redirect all nuclear proliferation
concern to "rogues" like North Korea and Iran. While the risk of
new countries obtaining nuclear weapons is obvious and must be
addressed, the country with the most aggressive nuclear weapons
policies - and which is trampling not only on the NPT but also
refusing to back the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) - must
likewise be confronted in parallel.
While it is true that proliferation of nuclear technologies and
materials is accelerating at a rapid pace, the US has taken no
steps to establish the norm that possession of nuclear weapons or
weapons-usable fissile materials is illegitmate. While developing
its new first-strike policies, the US has rejected the concept of
leadership through responsible example. Instead, the US has not
only blatantly ignored its nuclear disarmament obligations under
the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but has turned a blind eye to
allies proliferating nuclear technologies and plutonium, the key
ingredient to atomic bombs.
Global peace movement can force disarmament, nonproliferation
In 1984, in the midst of the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan
was caught joking during a radio programme sound check about
policies toward the Soviet Union. Reagan laughed into the
microphone, which he didn't know was live, and said "My fellow
Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which
outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes." While
it was a frightening and rightly caused a global reaction, in many
ways Reagan's gaffe was educational as it revealed to the world
that nuclear annihilation really was on the mind of a US president
and had to be vigorously challenged. That challenge to US nuclear
policies took the form of the "nuclear freeze," a movement that
contributed in unacknowledged ways to the eventually successful
goal of halting the insane US-Soviet nuclear arms race.
Those in the streets protesting Bush's invasion and occupation
in Iraq are modern-day allies of those who marched and protested in
the US and other countries against nuclear weapons. Before things
spin further out of control at the hand of Bush and others bent on
global domination, a global peace movement aimed at curbing the US,
stopping all nuclear weapons and demanding new norms of peaceful
international conduct may well hold the key to a better future. As
we saw in the overwhelming response before the Iraq war, such an
on-going anti-war, anti-nuclear weapons movement is possible.
The action of the Senate this week shows that for Bush nuclear
war is no joke, rather a calmly planned policy to be put into
practice. We need to let him know that all of us who were out in
the streets in February for the largest anti-war demonstration in
the history of the planet are still watching, and not afraid to
Given that the nukes projects are only beginning, there remains
time for an international outcry to pressure the Bush
Administration to roll back its dangerous plans. Reaction by
countries around the world is thus critical. As the signatory
countries to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) will meet at
the United Nations in New York in May 2004, the US can be put in
the hotseat as we head toward this important gathering.
Ask Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden to continue their fight for a non-nuclear world at the Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference by raising their voices NOW against the US move toward weapons and policies that will destabilize our world.
What is plutonium, the fuel for nuclear bombs?
Greenpeace on Disarmament
Bush's "National Security Strategy"
news release from Senators Ted Kennedy and Dianne Feinstein against
funding for new nuclear weapons and other nuclear programs.
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability on nuclear bunker
Union of Concerned Scientists on "The Troubling Science of
Bunker-Busting Nuclear Weapons"
Arms Control Association: "Nuclear Bunker Busters - Technical
MoveOn.org is keeping after Bush by tracking his lies and
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Daily Chronicle of Bush Administration Distortion" at http://www.misleader.org