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The Empty Power of America's Nuclear Arsenal

When it comes to the U.S. government, outrage at weapons of mass destruction has always been a selective thing. Americans who got foamy at the mouth and screeched for an immediate invasion of Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons (turned out he wasn't even trying) conveniently overlook the fact that the Bush Administration has, in a friendly mood, allowed Pakistan to continue making more nuclear weapons, in spite of the fact that Pakistan's government is a military dictatorship just like Saddam Hussein's, and supported Al Quaida and the Taliban for years.

Americans also are fond of forgetting that their own government invented nuclear weapons, and is sitting on the biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world.

"But, huff huff, the leaders of Iraq were insane!", shout the Republican nationalists, their shrill moral outrage causing their lips to quiver. "You can't compare the American government would never go off and use a nuclear weapon! Those nuclear weapons are for peace!"

Oh, Republicans. They thrive on the American public's ability to forget that the United States of America is the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons - and forget that we used our nuclear weapons on civilian populations. Think September 11, 2001 was bad? We annihilated the two entire Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not just two towers.

"Yeah, but, huff huff, they deserved it," grunt the Republican militants.

This is the level that politics has come down to these days - that some nations are supposed to be wicked and destabilizing the Earth when they try to develop nuclear weapons, but others, including America, are supposed to be virtuous stabilizing nations of freedom and peace who only will use their nuclear weapons for justice, destroying cities full of evil people who deserve to be vaporized. It doesn't make sense, of course. But then, sense is not a powerful currency in the dominant politics today.

What really doesn't make sense is that the Bush Administration is budgeting about 40 billion dollars this year on nuclear weapons, while Bush is cutting 150 much smaller programs, like Medicaid for children and Perkins loans that help low income students get a college degree. President Bush says he's only cutting programs that don't work. I suppose that means that he believes that our nuclear weapons programs are great models of efficiency and wonderful results.

The truth is that President Bush is not just protecting American nuclear weapons programs from cuts. He's increasing spending on nuclear weapons, taking that money from eliminated budget items like after school programs for kids. The disgusting fact is that this year, spending on nuclear weapons in the coming year will be almost twice as high as it was in 1995.

7 billion dollars in the budget of Bush's government is allocated to developing new, more "modern", more "reliable" nuclear weapons. Now, perhaps this is a silly liberal question, but if America doesn't ever intend to use its nuclear weapons, why does it need them to be more reliable? It seems to me that the atomic bombs we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki about 60 years ago were plenty reliable. Sometimes, reliability is not a good thing.

There's a new report out from the Natural Resources Defense Council that came out just yesterday, entitled US Nuclear Weapons in Europe. According to the report, the United States still deploys 480 nuclear missiles in Europe. That's about twice as many nuclear weapons in Europe as was previously estimated.

The Cold War ended about 15 years ago. Whatever are our nuclear weapons in Europe for? Those 480 American nuclear missiles in Europe could easily destroy all of Russia, China, plus the nations of South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Does America really need a plan for such a level of destruction - just in case someone "deserves" it?

It's no wonder the ayatollahs in Iran are considering building nuclear weapons of their own. The United States has clearly demonstrated that nuclear weapons are the path to power. So much for setting a shining example that will reform the entire Middle East. Before we go down the route of increased sanctions, UN resolutions, and eventual invasion of Iran, we ought to put a little bit of our own preaching into practice, and pull our nuclear weapons arsenal out of Europe. It is unreasonable to expect nations in the area not to fiddle around with building 5 or 10 nuclear weapons, when we have 480 nuclear missiles ready to rain down on their cities at a moment's notice.

It's also, by the way, illegal. You see, the treaty that George W. Bush cites as reason to beseige Iran was also signed by the United States of America. The Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970 required non-nuclear nations to promise never to build nuclear weapons. In return, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and the United States promised to get rid of their nuclear weapons. Every day that we keep our own nuclear weapons stockpile, we are breaking international law.

"But, huff huff huff, those nuclear weapons are the only things that are keeping America secure!" sputter the Republican patriots.

Bunk. Our nuclear weapons didn't prevent the attacks of September 11, did they? Are the 1500 dead Americans in Iraq more secure because of America's nuclear weapons? No, actually, those soldiers went to Iraq and died there because of the threat conjured up when the United States of America invented nuclear weapons back in the 1940s.

Besides, if nuclear weapons are truly the only thing that's keeping us secure, that's a pretty bad indictment of our society. The leader who is only able to stay in power by keeping all his followers at gunpoint is not a leader who deserves to remain in power.

The Earth would be a much more secure planet if America led by sharing its wealth instead of by frightening the rest of humanity into obedience.


For more pacifist idealism visit Magniloquence Against War
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