U.S. WAR POLICY VS. OBAMA’S RHETORIC ON REDUCING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

On August 6, 1945, the U.S. detonated an atomic weapon in a defeated Japan, killing 150,000 people. Three days later, a different sort of atomic bomb was dropped on another defenseless city, killing another 75,000.

If there is an argument for the attack on Hiroshima, there can be none for that on Nagasaki – a weapons test with live subjects. And we in America have no memory at all of the “finale” described in the official Air Force history, a 1000-plane raid on civilian targets organized by General “Hap” Arnold to celebrate the war’s end, five days after Nagasaki. According to survivors, leaflets were dropped among the bombs announcing the surrender.

Sixty-five years later the U.S. – the only country ever to use such weapons in war – spends more each year on war than the entire rest of the world. And our country has maimed, killed and made homeless more noncombatants than all the rest of the countries in the world combined since World War II.

If Americans knew what was being done in their name around the world, they would be appalled.

Right now Iran’s nuclear ambitions dominate the headlines. The warnings are that Iran may be concealing something from the International Atomic Energy Agency and violating U.N. Security Council Resolution 1887, passed last October and hailed as a victory for Obama’s efforts to contain Iran.

Meanwhile, a debate continues on whether Obama’s recent decision to reconfigure missile-defense systems in Europe is a capitulation to the Russians or a pragmatic step to defend the West from Iranian nuclear attack.

Silence is often more eloquent than loud clamor, so let us attend to what is unspoken.

Amid the furor over Iranian duplicity, the IAEA passed a resolution calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear facilities to inspection.

The United States and Europe tried to block the IAEA resolution, but it passed anyway. The media virtually ignored the event.

The United States assured Israel that it would support Israel’s rejection of the resolution – reaffirming a secret understanding that has allowed Israel to maintain a nuclear arsenal closed to international inspections, according to officials familiar with the arrangements. Again, the media were silent.

Indian officials greeted U.N. Resolution 1887 by announcing that India “can now build nuclear weapons with the same destructive power as those in the arsenals of the world’s major nuclear powers.”

Both India and Pakistan are expanding their nuclear weapons programs. They have twice come dangerously close to nuclear war, and the problems that almost ignited this catastrophe are very much alive.

Obama greeted Resolution 1887 differently. The day before he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his inspiring commitment to peace, the Pentagon announced it was accelerating delivery of the most lethal non-nuclear weapons in the arsenal: 13-ton bombs for B-2 and B-52 stealth bombers, designed to destroy deeply hidden bunkers shielded by 10,000 pounds of reinforced concrete.

It’s no secret the bunker busters could be deployed against Iran.

Planning for these “massive ordnance penetrators” began in the Bush years but languished until Obama called for developing them rapidly when he came into office.

Passed unanimously, Resolution 1887 calls for the end of threats of force and for all countries to join the NPT, as Iran did long ago. NPT non-signers are India, Israel and Pakistan, all of which developed nuclear weapons with U.S. help, in violation of the NPT.

Iran hasn’t invaded another country for hundreds of years — unlike the United States, Israel and India (which occupies Kashmir, brutally).

The threat from Iran is minuscule. If Iran had nuclear weapons and delivery systems and prepared to use them, the country would be vaporized.

To believe Iran would use nuclear weapons to attack Israel, or anyone, “amounts to assuming that Iran’s leaders are insane” and that they look forward to being reduced to “radioactive dust,” strategic analyst Leonard Weiss observes, adding that Israel’s missile-carrying submarines are “virtually impervious to preemptive military attack,” not to speak of the immense U.S. arsenal.

In naval maneuvers in July of 2009, Israel sent its Dolphin class subs, capable of carrying nuclear missiles, through the Suez Canal and into the Red Sea, sometimes accompanied by warships, to a position from which they could attack Iran – as they have a “sovereign right” to do, according to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Not for the first time, what is veiled in silence would receive front-page headlines in societies that valued their freedom and were concerned with the fate of the world.

The Iranian regime is harsh and repressive, and no humane person wants Iran – or anyone else – to have nuclear weapons. But a little honesty would not hurt in addressing these problems.

The Nobel Peace Prize, of course, is not concerned solely with reducing the threat of terminal nuclear war, but rather with war generally, and the preparation for war. In this regard, the selection of Obama raised eyebrows, not least in Iran, surrounded by U.S. occupying armies.

On Iran’s borders in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, Obama has escalated Bush’s war and is likely to proceed on that course, perhaps sharply.

Obama has made clear that the United States intends to retain a long-term major presence in the region. That much is signaled by the huge city-within-a city called “the Baghdad Embassy” [in Iraq] – unlike any embassy in the world. He has also announced the construction of mega-embassies in Islamabad [capital of Pakistan] and Kabul [capital of Afghanistan] and huge consulates in Peshawar and elsewhere.

Nonpartisan budget monitors report that the “administration’s request for $538 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal 2010 and its stated intention to maintain a high level of funding in the coming years put the president on track to spend more on defense, in real dollars, than any other president has in one term of office since World War II. And that’s not counting the additional $130 billion the administration is requesting to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, with even more war spending slated for future years.”

The U.S. war in the Middle East will continue until more Americans speak up loudly and reject it. A majority of Americans do reject it, but that is not enough for our government. If you are appalled that the US is conducting an unjustified war – and misrepresenting the reason for it – call your Congressional representatives. Congressman Tim Johnson, Senator Roland Burris, and Senator Dick Durbin can be reached through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Tell them that the US has no business killing people in the Middle East for resisting our invasion and occupation. (Your protest makes a difference: Congressman Johnson, who voted for the invasions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, now says that he was wrong to do so and refuses to vote for any more funding for war in the Middle East.)

You can also join a local peace group that is working to end the war in Afghanistan. In Champaign-Urbana, one local peace group is AWARE, the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort (see our page on Facebook), members and friends of which produced this leaflet for our monthly peace demonstration in downtown Champaign. We meet every Sunday 5-6:30pm at the McKinley Foundation, 5th & Daniel streets in Champaign. Visitors and new members are welcome.

AWARE presents “AWARE on the Air” each Tuesday 10-11pm on Urbana Public Television, cable channel 6. Each week we bring you comments by members and friends of AWARE about the war and the opposition to it, locally and nationally, by Americans who oppose our government’s betrayal of our democratic principles. AWARE is composed of people opposed to the war, but it is not affiliated with any other group or political party.             ###

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“Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.” –Noam Chomsky