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April 09, 2006

The Bush Doctrine in Iran: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Posted by Bill Perkins

It certainly felt like I was watching a Stanley Kubrick film when I learned that the Bush administration has plans to use "bunker buster" tactical nuclear weapons against Iran to prevent them from obtaining nuclear weapons.  And I might have darkly laughed as I did when I saw Dr. Strangelove, if I did not see in my head the faces of brave men and women I know and knew, and so many I didn't, who have selflessly sacrificed their well-being or even life itself in defense of our nation's policies.  To even keep the nuclear option on the table is an outrage against everything our nation purports to stand for.

The plans were brought to light by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in this extraordinary just-published New Yorker article (and this morning on CNN).  I highly recommend reading the full article, in which he details the alarming behind-the-scenes push within the U.S. administration to destroy Iran's nuclear program, with the ultimate goal of regime change.  Hersh states in the article that

"One of the military's initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites."

A former senior intelligence official is quoted as saying:

"'We're talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years.  This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don't have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get [removing the nuclear option] out they're shouted down.'"

Hersh goes on:

"The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, [the former intelligence official quoted above] added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran--without success, the former intelligence official said.  'The White House said, 'Why are you challenging this?  The option came from you.''"

The article details the momentum which national leadership has given to the option for striking Iran.  A "government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon" is quoted as saying that the President believes he must do "what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do" and "that saving Iran is going to be his legacy."  Speaking of an interview with a "senior member" of the House Appropriations Committee, Hersh writes:

"'There's no pressure from Congress' not to take military action, the House member added.  'The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it.'  Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, 'The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.'"

Perhaps the best summary of the situation came when Mr. Hersh, a veteran investigative journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting the My Lai massacre in 1970, related this interview in Austria:

"'This is much more than a nuclear issue,' one high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna...'The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years.'"

We should not be surprised at the idea that the use of nuclear weapons against Iran is being considered.  It is the logical conclusion of a foreign policy philosophy, i.e. the Bush Doctrine, that believes a preemptive strike is always justified if it is in defense of our national interest, however those in power choose to define it, international law and any moral considerations be damned.  It assumes that the Westphalian idea of national sovereignty and even the decisions of the United Nations or other theoretically supranational bodies do not apply when the short-term economic interest of America is at stake.

Although the 2006 National Security Strategy appears to limit preemption to stopping terrorist groups from obtaining Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), a much older strategy appears to be at play here: deterrence theory.  Traditionally applied only to the Cold War, it may be making a resurgence in U.S. foreign policy.  Defined as a "military strategy under which one power uses the threat of reprisal effectively to preclude an attack from an adversary power," the stability and effectiveness of the policy is heavily tied to the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction.  In the wildly asymmetrical case of the U.S. and Iran, however, such one-sided brinksmanship based upon the idea that Iran could provide nuclear weapons to terrorists should it produce them borders on insanity.    

Even if one assumes the validity of the Bush Doctrine, it is difficult to believe that a nuclear strike on Iran could be in our national interest.  Is it in our national interest to execute the first nuclear strike in anger in 61 years to, of all things, prevent the spread of nuclear weapons?  To strike before diplomacy can be given a chance, when the International Atomic Energy Agency's best estimate, as Hersh notes, is that the Iranians will not have a nuclear bomb for five more years? Is it not a hopelessly Faustian bargain in the first place to use a WMD to prevent the proliferation of WMDs?  What about the horrific human cost of even "tactical" nuclear strikes in terms of radiation, fallout and human suffering?

As a final thought, the most hardened neocon should be given pause by the following question posed in Hersh's article by the "Pentagon adviser on the war on terror": "What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?"

Will we have made a self-fulfilling prophecy of Samuel Huntington's idea of the "Clash of Civilizations"? 

Also posted at Freedom Blog.


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I also wonder what Japanese reaction would be if the United States made Iran the second country it attacked with nuclear weapons. I can't imagine any good coming to our relationships there either.

Given that things are going SO WELL in Iraq, I'm glad we believe we have the capacity to handle another conflict at the same time. Especially if it escalates to include Israel, Jordan, etc....

I just hope that King George and his Republican Guard shows the same understanding if several major powers, like, say Russia, China, Japan, England, France, Germany and others just happen to decide that King George, who not only threatens world peace, but the very existence of the world, must be "taken out" by preemptive nuclear strike to insure survival of the planet.

And if we preemptively use nukes against a nation that has broken no laws or treaties, they would be justified in deciding King George has gone insane and that regime change must be effected in America. Who could blame them?

It seem pretty simple: Use nukes, get attacked overwhelmingly and simultaneously by almost every country in the world and DESTROYED in order to save the world.

Congrats! religious right and Republican Guard! Armageddon 'r' U!

For the past couple of years all we've heard about is Iraq (oh well, we heard about gay marriage just before the 2004 election) and now Iraq is being overrun by the immigration issue. I don't think that went as planned as protesters have taken the punch out of the Republican Americana.

All Bush's wedges have been wedged, so that the only thing he has left to do to get the flag waving is to move a member of the Axis of Evil to terror's center stage. Ronald Reagan once said to a political foe, "here we go again."

Here we go again, now, among stale members of an administration that's become insane.

After all insanity is making the same mistakes and expecting different results.

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