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SEVERAL STEPS CLOSER TO ARMAGEDDAN

John Chuckman

The United States apparently has fitted out the Harpoon missiles it previously supplied Israel to accommodate nuclear warheads. These missiles are carried on three German-built submarines, making a reality of Israel’s grandiose plan for a nuclear-triad force, a miniature replica of America’s land-air-sea nuclear force in a country with a total population smaller than greater Chicago. Perhaps more pertinent, the missiles’ nuclear capability extends a threat towards Iran, bringing home to its leaders the possible consequences of “going nuclear.”

A step like this, taken by either side during the Cold War, would have been regarded as a serious escalation in arms, but now it causes barely a ripple in the United States. There are, of course, signed obligations that American-supplied weapons are to be used only for Israel’s defense, yet these have been violated many times, most notoriously during the invasion of Lebanon – a bloody, aggressive war led by the very man who now leads Israel.

Iran almost certainly wants to become a nuclear power, and it has nothing to do with being “evil.” It is for all the reasons that Israel secretly went nuclear, for all the reasons that South Africa secretly went nuclear before the end of apartheid, and for all the reasons that North Korea has gone nuclear. When you have determined enemies, and especially when they include, as they do in Iran’s case, the world’s great power, nuclear weapons must appear reassuring.

This is certainly the case for North Korea, another country branded as “evil,” and Bush is directly responsible for destroying a framework of understanding and cooperation with that country established through years of hard diplomacy, all in the interest of bluster and demonstrating how tough he is. There have been many threatening words and activities aimed at North Korea under the Bush version of foreign policy, as for example significant changes being made to the deployment of American forces at North Korea’s southern border.

The United States has invaded and occupied Iran’s neighbor, Iraq, has pointedly designated Iran as “evil,” and during the long and vicious Iran-Iraq war, it supported the aggressor, Iraq, even to the point of shooting down an Iranian airliner in error without so much as a proper apology and disgracefully tolerating Iraq’s extensive use of chemical weapons. The older generation of Iranians must remember, too, that the United States overthrew their democratically-elected government and supported the Shah who for decades terrorized all who opposed him. Much of the excess of the Iranian Revolution sprang from grievances over that.

Of course, we have to put in the balance the so-called Bush Doctrine, a rather exalted-sounding expression for a crude threat against anyone suspected of wrong-doing by America’s narrow and paranoid reckoning, something that has sent shivers through much of the world and will almost certainly drive still others towards more sophisticated weaponry. My, what a contribution to peace and stability.

Israel launched an attack against Syria (again using those American weapons supposedly restricted to defense), claiming it was against bases harboring terrorists. The President of the United States almost welcomed this open act of war, whose stated reason remains about as well demonstrated as Iraq’s strategic weapons stockpile, but then Bush had talked around invading Syria himself before coming to understand into what a hornet’s nest he had heedlessly thrust his fist in Iraq.

Someone in Gaza has killed Americans. It may well have been an accident because it truly does not serve the interests of residents. One has to admire the restraint shown by Palestinians all these years since America has hurt them many times with unfulfilled promises and unbalanced policy, a situation now grotesquely pushed to extremes by Bush. Almost any brutal thing Israel does is an act for peace. The Palestinians are told even who their leader cannot be and are treated like wayward children by a President himself never elected to office.

Sharon’s concrete-monster wall, called a neighborly-sounding fence in the odd political language of Israel, continues abuilding, taking additional Palestinian land here and there as its millions of pounds of concrete are poured. The wall effectively serves as a giant tourniquet applied to the arteries of any future Palestinian state, but that almost certainly is the idea, a new and less violent approach to ridding the area of undesirable residents. Greater Israel remains a dream for many, but especially for the party in power and its key allies.

I just received an e-mail vividly reminding me of that. It was from an Israeli still dreaming about Arab states taking the Palestinians, even naming the places they might go, as though these economically-depressed places with some of the world’s highest birthrates could absorb about 3 1/2 million immigrants. In his dreaming there was no awareness that he truly was describing a form of ethnic-cleansing, no awareness that the hideous Nazis tried exactly same thing during the 1930s. Their effort to export Germany’s innocent Jews, to expel those their blind ideology insisted were a problem, failed. This man’s dream, too, cannot but fail, and God knows where that will take us.

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