from Russia and China, the traditional targets of the cold
war era, the list of countries that might one day glow in
the dark includes the "axis of evil" Iraq,
Iran, North Korea and also, incredibly, Syria and Libya.
The key to understanding the inclusion of these last two
is the revelation, in the leaked document, that the US military
has been told to prepare the nuke option in case of an all-out
Arab-Israeli war. Here is the second circumstance in which
we will wield the nuclear stick: Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon will be allowed to conduct a pogrom in Palestine
and create a Greater Israel under the protection of a US
nuclear umbrella. The portions cited in the Los Angeles
Times refer to the nuclear option as an American response
to an Iraqi assault on Israel. By including Syria, however,
the message the administration is sending and I wouldn't
be at all surprised if they leaked this report themselves
is all too clear: Israel must be given a free hand, or
course, it is entirely unnecessary to make such a threat,
since everybody knows that Israel has nukes of its own
and is much more likely to use them than we are. I find
it hard to believe, even now, that George W. Bush would
give the order to nuke the entire Middle East, but Sharon
would nuke it all and beyond if he believed Israels
survival was at stake. What the US is really saying,
with this second criterion, is that they dont mind
if Sharon takes the initiative and spares them the trouble.
LEAK SPRUNG FROM THE TOP?
this manifesto of nuclear madness rendered by an anonymous
team of Dr. Strangeloves essentially states that we will
use nuclear weapons just as we damn well please, no longer
as a last resort when our national survival is at stake,
but to put down regional revolts on the farthest frontiers
of our global empire. In short, as a response to "surprising
military developments," nukes will now be used as weapons
of conquest. Let's say we invade Iraq, and the war starts
to go badly, perhaps because other Arab countries enter
the fray and US troops are caught in a general conflagration,
a replay of what
happened at that Marine barracks in Beirut only on a
much larger scale. According to the new policy, in that
case we can always nuke 'em into submission. Indeed, the
mere threat is enough to at least temper the thought of
resistance, which is another reason I tend to think this
"leak" was sprung from the top.
AND THE SPACE ALIENS
just dont buy the explanation for this new Doomsday
Doctrine trotted out by anonymous "analysts" cited
in the Times news story, which sees it as a possible
response to the development of some new super-weapon by
a "rogue state":
Iraq busy developing space-based particle beams so that
Saddam can pulverize American cities with the touch of a
button? Does Al Qaeda have the help of space aliens, whom
they have converted to Islam? What planet are these people
living on? Hello! Earth calling self-appointed experts:
the terrorists have already unleashed a weapon difficult
to counter with the conventional US arsenal and there's
a big empty hole in downtown Manhattan because of it.
TO THE MAX
by William M. Arkin the apparent recipient of this
sensational leak in the Sunday Los Angeles Times
makes the point that the new doctrine is a measure of how
much this administration has been "shaken" by
9/11. Traumatized is more like it, and the result as often
occurs is a state of insanity.
FIRST TIME AS TRAGEDY, THE SECOND AS PURE HORROR
goes on to make the point that "officials are looking
for nuclear weapons that could play a role in the kinds
of challenges the United States faces with Al Qaeda."
By this is meant "bunker-busters" that could collapse
the deep caves where bin Laden's troops are holding out,
and the development of technology that would, somehow, make
"surgical" nuclear strikes possible. We are told
that "everything's changed" post-9/11, and that
this isn't Vietnam, but I recall a little phrase an echo
of a bitter reproach from a bygone era about destroying
the village in order to save it. If we amend that to
nuking the Middle East in order to save Israel, then it seems we
are indeed fated to live through the same horror again
only, this time, it's going to be a lot worse.
this line of argument that the Doomsday Doctrine is seriously
meant to combat Al Qaeda and its allies worldwide so misconstrues
the nature of the terrorist challenge that it seems downright
suspicious. Might this "leak" have been the first
major project of the supposedly
aborted "Office of Strategic Influence"? Certainly
the public exposure of America's first-strike scenario achieves
one of the goals of the "war on terrorism" to
instill fear and trembling in our enemies. That it also
instills the same degree of fear in our friends is a consequence
the ideologues who run our foreign policy are likely to
embrace in the name of a proud "unilateralism."
THE PANIC BUTTON
beneath this imperial demeanor, and the self-conscious arrogance
of American policymakers, is an equally self-conscious sense
of vulnerability, an undercurrent of weakness. For all of
our triumphalist cries of "Victory! Victory!"
in taking the war to the enemy in Afghanistan, the US is
still very much on the defensive. If we take seriously the
number of urgent alerts issued by various government agencies,
warning of imminent terrorist attacks in the very heart
of the Imperial metropolis, then it could well be this sudden
disclosure is a measure of the administration's desperation a disturbing indication that panic has set in.
terms of its propaganda value, the "nuke 'em"
doctrine would be aimed at an international audience: putting
the Arab world, and Europe, on notice that we'll poison
the region for generations unless they submit. (Think, for
a moment, how close Libya is to France.) On the other hand,
that we'll retaliate with nukes is cold comfort to most
Americans or, at least, to those of us who are still sane.
As we queue up at airports, and take in the news that terrorist
alerts will now be color-coded,
the reality of this war is all too clear: the nature of
the battlefield rules out nukes altogether. In fighting
the real war against Al Qaeda sealing our borders and
rooting out the terrorists in our midst, and internationally
nuclear weapons are laughably useless.
PARABLE OF THE RING
also, that, as in the case of the airliners that hit the
WTC and the Pentagon, these, too, could conceivably be turned
on their makers.
ring to rule them all,
One ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them,
the land of Mordor,
where the Shadows lie."
has written a book claiming that J.
R. R. Tolkien is "the
author of the century," and as I contemplate the
developing crisis the poetic leitmotif of Tolkien's The
Lord of the Rings plays in my head, background music
to the unfolding tragedy. Remember that, in Tolkien's epic,
the mere possession of the Ring the ultimate weapon
is the wearer's undoing. For that kind of power induces
madness: not anything so mild as mere megalomania, but a
really unique form of hubris one that makes for
a unique vulnerability.
Tolkien's famous fantasy trilogy, the Fellowship of the
Ring a multicultural team representing all the races of
earth: human, half-human, and half-divine arises to challenge
the Dark Lord of Mordor. As orcs and other half-men swarm
over the Shire and ravage Rivendell, home of the Elves,
the Fellowship goes on the offensive and takes the battle
to Mordor, overcoming the most horrendous obstacles on the
way. Finally cornering the Dark Lord in his den, a brave
hobbit faces down the Evil One with the courage not to use
the One Ring but to destroy it once and for all
and with it the evil dream of absolute Power that possessed
SEARCH OF GANDALF
afraid, however, that there is no Fellowship, no Frodo,
no Sam Baggins, and, sadly, no Gandalf. We could use a wizard
right about now. For nothing else, other than divine intervention
of the most direct kind, can possibly avert the disaster
that is coming. In Tolkien's story, a couple of simple hobbits
brought the Dark Lord down, and Mordor was defeated. In
the real world, however, we are faced with quite a different
plot-line, at least so far. The Dark Lord is triumphant,
and now he is so confident of victory that he is showing
his true face in all its brutal ugliness. As our jet-fighters
rip through the Afghan sky, screeching like the Nazgul,
and our leaders threaten to nuke the cradle of human civilization,
it is clear what country is Mordor and who is Sauron in
the real world.
leaking of this Doomsday Document is significant in two
possible ways, one, as I have said, it was done deliberately
a scenario I can't quite bring myself to believe or,
more likely, the deed was done by a group of dissidents
within the government, who are taking the long-brewing factional
war within the administration to the world public. If the
latter, then the decision to do so must have been taken
under extreme circumstances that we can only imagine: for
the consequences, internationally, are grave indeed.
stunning news radically isolates the US from all of
its allies, not just among the Arabs who are no doubt
unsurprised by further proof of this administration's infinite
capacity for treachery but the French, the British, the
Germans, the Italians, the Turks, indeed any and all nations
geographically close to the announced potential targets
of our nuclear wrath.
IN THE PACIFIC
Japanese, who each year commemorate the anniversaries of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki with growing resentment, have every
right to hate us for even suggesting a repeat performance
next door in Korea. Another explicit threat contained in
the Doomsday Document that the US would use nuclear weapons
in defense of Taiwan against China doesn't help, either.
Koizumi poised to make painful reforms in Japan's teetering
economy, at America's behest, the idea that the Americans
would willingly sacrifice the whole region in a nuclear
conflagration in order to face down a challenge to their
unquestioned hegemony undermines American interests in the
region. The rise of anti-American sentiment could bring
down the reformists in which case the fall of the Japanese
economy would be so precipitous as to take the Americans
down with it.
it is in Europe where the exposure of this Doomsday Doctrine
will give a huge impetus to growing anti-Americanism. The
rather prosaic left-wing variety, which is all too familiar
in its aristocratic disdain for vulgar American capitalists,
is too boring to capture the imagination
of the masses. But on the European Right, the idea that
the Americans would send a cloud of radioactive debris falling,
like rain, from Tuscany to Wales, in order to save Israel
is sure to induce a paroxysm of pure rage. This startling
news is bound to throw the conservatives who vote for the
mainstream right-wing parties, in France, the Low Countries,
Italy, Austria, and Spain, into a panic. The nice middle
class people who voted for, say, Berlusconi, who are usually pro-American,
are not going to be all that pleased by the prospect of
the nuking of Libya, whose shoreline practically kisses
the tip of the Italian boot. In Britain, dissent in the
Labor Party over Blair's support for a war on Iraq is already
noisy: indeed, this kind of unilateralism basically renders
NATO and Atlanticism irrelevant. That could lay the basis
for a Tory nationalist reaction based on the sudden realization,
by at least some in the Conservative leadership, that 'those
damn Yanks don't really care about us, do they?'
BANKRUPTS RULE US
moral bankruptcy of our rulers has never been made plainer.
Americans would do well to contemplate the implications.
If they'll do this to achieve their foreign policy
goals, if they'll unleash the nuclear genie and bid it build
an empire, perhaps killing tens of thousands even millions in the process, then what won't they do? Steal
an election? Cancel an election? Circumscribe the Constitution?
Frame up and jail their political enemies? Shut down the
free media and establish a dictatorship? If they are now
willing to consider nuking the entire Middle East, then
God is dead and all is permitted.