Tag Archives: atomic weapons

Martin van Creveld asks: the more, the better for nuclear proliferation?

Summary:  For over a decade the US and Israel have scared us with stories about the imminent threat of Iran’s nukes, a louder version of a game they’ve played since 1984. Here Martin van Creveld gives a very different view of the problem.  (1st of 2 posts today.}

Nuclear Kraken

Release the Kraken! Art by lchappell

 

More May Be Better

By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 2 April 2015

Here with his generous permission

 

Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May be Better was the title of an article published back in 1981 by the redoubtable political scientist Kenneth Waltz. Going against the prevailing wisdom, Waltz argued that nuclear proliferation might not be all bad. Nuclear weapons, he wrote, had prevented the US and the USSR from going to war against each other; as, by all historical logic since the days of Athens and Sparta in the fifth century BC, they should have done. Instead they circled each other like dogs, occasionally barking and baring their teeth but never actually biting. Such was the fear the weapons inspired that other nuclear countries would probably follow suit.

To quote Winston Churchill, peace might be the sturdy child of terror.

Since then over thirty years have passed. Though Waltz himself died in 2013, his light goes marching on. At the time he published his article there were just five nuclear countries (the US, the USSR, Britain, France, and China). Plus one, Israel, which had the bomb but put anybody who dared say so in jail. Since then three (India, Pakistan, and North Korea) have been added, raising the total to nine. Yet on no occasion did any of these states fight a major war against any other major, read nuclear, power.

And how about Iran? First, note that no country has taken nearly as long as Iran did to develop its nuclear program. Started during the 1970s under the Shah, suspended during the 1980s as the Iranians were fighting Saddam Hussein (who had invaded Iran), and renewed in the early 1990s, that program has still not borne fruit. This suggests that, when the Iranians say, as they repeatedly have, that they do not want to build a bomb they are sincere, at least up to a point. All they want is the infrastructure that will enable them to build it quickly should the need arise. That is a desire they have in common with quite some other countries such as Sweden, Japan, and Australia.

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Madness walks the streets of America. We can defeat it.

Summary: The front pages of major American newspaper these days read like the community newsletter for a high-class asylum, written by and for educated but mentally dysfunctional people. Those of the far Right read like the Arkham Asylum newsletter, written for and by brilliant but deranged people. While a natural reaction, it’s wrong. They prey upon our fears because it works, and generates cash for their patrons.  Understanding that is the first step to reform. This post gives two unusually clear examples.   {2nd of 2 posts today}

No Fear

Contents

  1. ISIS: a threat as big as the NAZIs!
  2. We must risk a nuclear war!
  3. For More Information.

(1)  The Islamic State poses a threat as serious as NAZI Germany

To our warmongers it’s always 1939. Threats are always like NAZI Germany. Negotiation always risks a repeat of Munich. Why don’t we laugh at the work of these people — such as “The Evil of our time” by Frederick W. Kagan at the American Enterprise Institute, 10 June 2015 — Excerpt…

The Islamic State (ISIS) is not a terrorist organization. It is an army of conquest destroying all traces of civilization in the lands that it holds. It has taken root in Iraq and Syria, but its evil threatens the whole world. The US must find an answer.

The greatest evil of our time has taken root in Iraq and Syria. … Comparing ISIS to the early Nazis is not hyperbole. … The threat of ISIS is more complex and insidious than that of Nazism.

… It is causing a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not seen since World War II.

… There is no easy answer to the question: “What should we do?” But we must find the hard answer soon and gird ourselves for the pain and effort it will require. If not us, who? If not here, where? If not now, when?

Political rhetoric masquerading as analysis is the tool of choice for modern warmongers, and it has worked well. After 15 years of almost uniformly bad advice, the Kagan clan still has a prominent role in American geopolitics — a remarkable demonstration of our inability to learn from experience.

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What is Iran’s 9-point plan to destroy Israel?

Summary:  As Obama’s deal with Iran comes home for review it’s important to understand not just how we see Iran (inaccurately), but why. Here’s a case study of the news given us. It’s from a leading Israeli newspaper, but that’s where so much of our perspective on Iran originates. As you read it please remember that we can do better.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

War between Israel and Iran

Iran supreme leader touts 9-point plan to destroy Israel

Ayatollah Khamenei says West Bank should be armed like Gaza, and
Jewish population should return to countries it came from.

From the Times of Israel, 10 November 2014.

Quite horrific headlines from the Times of Israel. It’s the usual fare of course, showing us that Iran is the implacable irrational enemy. I wonder how many people read the article (it’s an oddity of the western press that the story’s text so often contradicts the headline, understandable when you remember that the headline must sell the papers). The opening:

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called over the weekend for the destruction of Israel, stating that the “barbaric” Jewish state “has no cure but to be annihilated.”

So what means does he recommend to destroy Israel? Nukes? Terrorism? Jihad?  The article refers us to a tweet.

Tweet  from Iran

Iran's 9 negotiating points

What are the horrific actions he recommends that justifies our bombing Iran as a follow-up to our cyberattacks, economic sanctions, and Israel’s assassinations of their scientists?

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Obama’s great deal with Iran: getting Iran’s “yes” was the easy part.

Summary: Obama takes a second step to greatness with his proposed deal with Iran. It’s a sensible step towards peace and hence arouses passionate opposition in America, largely on delusional grounds. How this plays out will reveal much about our future. If we cannot push back our extremists for something so obviously beneficial, then short-selling America looks like a good bet.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Celebration in Tehran after nuke deal announced (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP).

Celebration in Tehran after nuke deal announced (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP).

Contents

  1. The big picture.
  2. First, the key thing to know.
  3. About the deal.
  4. Voices raised against the deal.
  5. Updating my prediction.
  6. For More Information.

 

(1)  The big picture

A deal with Iran might be a second major accomplishment by President Obama, ending four decades of struggle with Iran — a conflict that Obama has pushed to undeclared war, as the US and Israel have assassinated Iran’s scientists and staged the first “electronic Pearl Harbor” with Stuxnet. It’s an accomplishment only if Obama can overcome the hawks that dominate US foreign policy. That includes the war-now-war-forever militarists plus the Israel-first-America-second lobby.

America tends not to esteem its peacemakers, but perhaps Obama’s surge into Afghanistan, attempted surge into Syria, widespread bombing (7 nations so far!), assassination of US citizens, and expansion of Africom will provide sufficient cover so we can cherish this great deed. If he can pull it off…

(2)  First, the key thing to remember

Since 1984 we’ve been told that Iran is about to have nukes really soon. Sobered by their craven bow to VP Cheney’s desires for fake certainty about Saddam’s nukes — and the resulting public humiliation — the US intel agencies have been clear about the lack of evidence that Iran has an illegal bomb program. Since this is America, our leaders just make stuff up — since we inflict no punishment (and even cheer if they’re in our tribe).

Defense One: “When a politician, analyst or pundit mentions an Iranian ‘nuclear weapons program’ they are referring to a program that the intelligence community is not aware of.”

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John Bolton reveals a serious threat to America

Summary: Since 9/11 our leaders have become increasingly militant, urging America to attack an even invade an ever-growing list of nations for flimsy or imaginary reasons. We’re powerful but not omnipotent. War is a game that cannot be played forever with painful consequences. Eventually we’ll attack someone (a nation or group) who either retaliates irrationally but severely, or we’ll spark growth of a coalition of nations determined to restrain our military adventures. Our leaders work to make such disasters happen. A little bad luck and they will get their way.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Flames

An op-ed in today’s New York Times shows what might be the greatest threat to America: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran” by John R. Bolton. It’s another volley in the well-funded multi-decade propaganda campaign to involve America in an endless series of foreign wars, a program that no series of failures and revealed lies can derail. Let’s review the high points.

… the president’s own director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not stopped Iran’s progressing its nuclear program. There is now widespread acknowledgment that the rosy 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which judged that Iran’s weapons program was halted in 2003, was an embarrassment, little more than wishful thinking. Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident.

Bolton’s acknowledgement that there is no proof is the only fact in this essay. He offers no evidence of the “widespread acknowledgement” about the 2007 NIE. Bolton’s statement about Clapper’s testimony is incorrect since he does not say that Iran has a “nuclear weapons program”, let alone that it’s “progressing” (international agreements allow Iran — like other nations — to have a civilian nuclear program). Clapper said:

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Reviewing Netanyahu’s performance before Congress: 1st class fear-mongering!

Summary: The Prime Minister of Israel spoke to Congress today. Most of his speech defies analysis for logic or fact; it was first class propaganda. As such it is perfectly suited for review by Twitter; some gems appear here. For those of you who prefer facts, see the posts at the end. As usual these days in US public policy, so much of what we’re told is false.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Say "no" to fearmongering

Reviewing today’s fear-mongering by the Prime Minister of Israel

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The Obama Doctrine: we will attack and destroy all non-nuclear rivals

Summary:  Obama announced a new grand strategy for America, and we didn’t notice (being in a deep stupor).  It’s a logical evolution of our increasingly aggressive strategy since 9-11.  It’s almost certain to end badly for us.  Today Tom Engelhardt explains the path our leaders have put us on.  Listen and you can hear the rapids in the distance.

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Today’s guest post:  “War as the President’s Private Preserve – Obama Breaks New Ground When It Comes to War With Iran
By Tom Engelhardt, originally published at TomDispatch, March 2012 — Reposted with the author’s generous permission.

Contents

  1. The Obama Doctrine
  2. The Power of Precedents
  3. War and the Presidential “I”
  4. About the author
  5. For more information

(1)  The Obama Doctrine

When I was young, the Philadelphia Bulletin ran cartoon ads that usually featured a man in trouble — dangling by  his fingers, say, from an outdoor clock.  There would always be people  all around him, but far too engrossed in the daily paper to notice.  The  tagline was: “In Philadelphia, nearly everybody reads the Bulletin.”

Those ads came to mind recently when President Obama commented  forcefully on war, American-style, in ways that were remarkably  radical.  Although he was trying to ward off a threatened Israeli  preemptive air strike against Iran, his comments should have shocked  Americans — but just about nobody noticed.

I don’t mean, of course, that nobody noticed the president’s  statements.  Quite the contrary: they were headlined, chewed over in the  press and by pundits.  Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich attacked them.  Fox News highlighted their restraint.  (“Obama calls for containing Iran, says ‘too much loose talk of war.’”)  The Huffington Post highlighted the support for Israel they represented. (“Obama Defends Policies  Toward Israel, Fends Off Partisan Critiques.”)  Israeli Prime Minister  Netanyahu pushed back against them in a potentially deadly U.S.-Israeli  dance that might bring new chaos to the Middle East.  But somehow, amid  all the headlines, commentary, and analysis, few seemed to notice just  what had really changed in our world.

The president had offered a new definition of “aggression” against  this country and a new war doctrine to go with it.  He would, he  insisted, take the U.S. to war not to stop another nation from attacking  us or even threatening to do so, but simply to stop it from building a  nuclear weapon — and he would act even if that country were incapable  of targeting the United States.  That should have been news.

Consider the most startling of his statements: just before the  arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, the  president gave a 45-minute Oval Office interview to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.  A prominent pro-Israeli writer, Goldberg had  produced an article in the September issue of that magazine headlined “The Point of No Return.”  In it, based on interviews with “roughly 40 current and past Israeli  decision makers about a military strike,” he had given an Israeli air  attack on Iran a 50% chance of happening by this July.  From the recent  interview, here are Obama’s key lines:

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