Monday, April 17, 2006


The Nuremberg Line: Natanz as Guernica

Lawrence Wittner writes: Furthermore, there are clear signs that the Bush administration is shifting away from the traditional U.S. strategy of nuclear deterrence to a strategy of nuclear use. The nuclear Bunker Buster, for example, was not designed to deter aggression, but to destroy underground military targets. Moreover, in recent years, the U.S. Strategic Command has added new missions to its war plans, including the use of U.S. nuclear weapons for pre-emptive military action. Seymour Hersh's much-cited article in the New Yorker on preparations for a U.S. military attack upon Iran indicates that there has already been substantial discussion of employing U.S. nuclear weapons in that capacity. This movement by the Bush administration toward a nuclear buildup and nuclear war highlights the double standard it uses in its growing confrontation with Iran, a country whose nuclear enrichment program is in accordance with its NPT commitments. Of course, Iran might use such nuclear enrichment to develop nuclear weapons--and that would be a violation of the NPT. But Bush administration policies already violate U.S. commitments under the treaty, and this fact appears of far less concern to Washington officialdom. Logic, however, does not seem to apply to this issue--unless, of course, it is the logic of world power. The difference is that Guernica was a relatively small village used to test out Stuka tactics, while an attack on Natanz would affect a fairly densely-populated area for the major purpose of testing a weapon that cannot legally exist if the United States fulfills its obligations under international law. An attack on Natanz is predicted by The Union of Concerned Scientists to produce as many as 1 million deaths. Other death estimates are, I believe, substantially smaller. But 1 million almost exclusively civilian deaths is possible. If the Bush Administration does this, it will have crossed not the Rubicon, but the Nuremberg line.
With all due respect, I think that you could argue Bush and his cabal crossed that line some time back. We did, afterall, attack, invade, conquer and occupy a sovereign nation which did not pose a threat to the United States. Some of the reports are that bombs were used that are also illegal under the Geneva Conventions. And, of course, there's the issue of torture, for which they are ultimately responsible.
The American business community will be up in arms over the idea of fallout killing millions of Indians. They don't want to lose a reservoir of cheap English-speaking labor for their call centers.

I only wish I were being cynical.
The American business community will be up in arms only if somebody can convince them that yes, atomic bombs really do create fallout and no, we cannot control or limit how far the fallout spreads. Unfortunately, I would expect the American Business Community to think that India wouldn't be affected by a nuclear explosion in an entirely different country. "Not enough business majors will have minored in meteorology," she said sarcastically.
Tabla, all of what you say is correct, but the Nuremberg Tribunal remains unique in the long annals of the punishment of perfidy.

Saddam Hussein invaded a nation though unprovoked, he engaged in torture, and he used illegal weapons. But the calls for him to be tried by an international tribunal have been few. Why? Because almost every nation of any size has done the same, many even in the post-war era. France in Vietnam and Algeria, China in Vietnam, Britain in Iraq (the Falklands War also remains insufficiently justified), the USSR in Hungary and its successor quasi-tyranny in Chechnya... the list is endless. Since many a leader can imagine himself/herself in the dock, none are eager to do this on a regular basis.

Nuremberg represented a combination of three major factors: (1) unprovoked war destructive of the international order, (2) genocide, and (3) cruelty against civilians. Iran is China's primary source of oil. Europe is heavily dependent on Middle Eastern oil. The international order will be substantively disrupted by an attack.
MEC and PW, do you have a link for the fallout distribution?
Here's a video link from the Union of Concerned Scientists that shows fallout predictions, as well as other useful info.
Thanks, Shrimplate!

I am mailing that link to all my friends
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