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Saturday, April 04, 2009


Nuclear proliferation

In Strasbourg yesterday, President Obama talked about nuclear weapons. While he talked about "a world without nuclear weapons," when it came to his own, it was only "serious steps to actually reduce our stockpiles"; the "elimination" had become "reduction" kind of like the "complete" withdrawal of troops from Iraq which will leave 50,000 U.S. troops there (if it gets that far - so far it's all talk and no action, and even the talk refers to how "plans may change").

But if you listen to what he had to say, while he did refer to reducing the U.S. stockpile (or at least to having discussions with Russia on that subject), most of what he had to say on the subject was about proliferation. Which, I suspect, is where this is all going. He'll be talking about reducing U.S. stockpiles, but using that as a lever to ratchet up international pressure against countries like Iran (who don't even have a nuclear weapons program) and North Korea.

Which brings me to the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus earlier this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Here's what Petraeus had to say:

"The [Iranian] regime’s obstinacy and obfuscation have forced Iran’s neighbors and the international community to conclude the worst about the regime’s intentions. As a result, other regional powers have announced their intentions to develop nuclear programs."
I, for one, know of no "other regional power" which has announced its intentions "to develop nuclear programs" as a result of anything, much less as a result of anything Iran is doing or suspected of doing. Now this may be a situation where the famous Donald Rumsfeld dictum ("Donsense") applies: "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence," so if any reader knows what Petraeus was referring to, please chime in. However, the lack of specificity in his statement (i.e., no naming of names) leads me to believe he was just talking through has hat, building up the Iranian "threat" by throwing out imaginary consequences of Iran's imaginary actions.

Here's the funny thing. Petraeus in this statement, and many others before him, talk about how an Iranian nuclear weapon would start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. But the biggest enemy of all of the countries in the Middle East is Israel, not Iran. Israel, a country which has on multiple occasions invaded its neighbors and routinely threatens others (like Iran) with attacks. And we know (we don't "suspect," as some absurd news articles have it) that Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons. Surely if anything was going to trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, it was Israel acquiring nuclear weapons, not the possibility that Iran might acquire them some time in the future. Strangely, however, that never comes up when U.S. politicians and pundits are speaking; it's only Iran which is going to trigger that arms race. What utter nonsense, but, as I noted above, nonsense with a purpose - the purpose of keeping the American public aroused about the non-existent Iranian "threat," ready at the drop of a hat to support war against Iran.

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