Monday, October 16, 2006

Nuclear Strike on Iran Is Still on the Agenda

What will Congress do?

by Jorge Hirsch

"The Bush administration has radically redefined America's nuclear use policy [1], [2]: U.S. nuclear weapons are no longer regarded as qualitatively different from conventional weapons. Many actions of the administration in recent years strongly suggest that an imminent U.S. nuclear use is being planned for, and this was confirmed by Bush's explicit refusal to rule out a U.S. nuclear strike against Iran. We have all been put on notice. The fact that North Korea is now a nuclear country does not change the agenda – quite the contrary.

The 150,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq will be at great risk if there is a war with Iran, and Americans will support a nuclear strike on Iran once the administration creates a situation where it can argue that such action will save a large number of American lives.

In fact, Bush will use the fact that North Korea has joined the nuclear club, and charges that he was not "tough enough" on North Korea, as justification for attacking Iran before it too joins the club.

The changes in policy have been openly declared in order to gauge public opinion, and to prepare the public for the implementation of this policy. Because reaction to these radical statements [1], [2], [3], [4] unfortunately has been rather muted, the administration will be able to claim that the American people by and large have embraced the new nuclear doctrine of "integration" of nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities" and approve of the use of nuclear weapons when they provide "the most efficient use of force."

There have been many voices across the political spectrum calling for Rumsfeld's resignation for the botched Iraq war [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], yet he "retains the full confidence" of Bush. Why? Because Rumsfeld cannot be fired until he demolishes the "nuclear taboo," by detonating a small tactical nuclear weapon against an enemy.

Why is "downsizing" the military so important to the PNAC crowd? Because the American public has no stomach for a draft nor large losses of American military personnel. If it becomes possible to wage war "on the cheap," without the loss of American life, and in the process we can lower the price of oil and spread "liberty" across the world, opposition will be muted.

Congress will not be asked in advance to authorize the Iran war. Congress has already declared, in passing H.R. 6198, that Iran should be held accountable "for its threatening behavior" (which merely consists in Iran's refusal to give up its rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty).

The nuclear weapons that the administration is planning to use against Iran are low-yield earth penetrating weapons expected to cause "reduced collateral damage." Their real purpose is not to destroy facilities that are too deep underground to be destroyed by conventional weapons: it is primarily to erase the nuclear taboo, and secondarily to shock-and-awe Iran into surrender.

A U.S. attack on Iran will lead to the use of nuclear weapons and will be disastrous for America. It is the path that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, on the advice of Kissinger [1], [2], are hell-bent on pursuing. Whether the military would refuse to carry out immoral orders is uncertain at best. Congress has a role to play, perhaps the most important one in its history. "

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