Descent into Anger and Despair

Seymour Hersh, citing a ”former official,” reported that US warplanes near Iran ”have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions — rapid ascending maneuvers known as ‘over the shoulder’ bombing — since last summer.” Such an exercise puts on display an American readiness to use tactical nuclear weapons against Iranian nuclear facilities. Whether the maneuvers have actually been carried out or not, even authoritative reports of them represent an extraordinarily irresponsible brandishing of the heretofore unthinkable weapon: To keep you from getting nukes, we will nuke you.

As if that were not irrational enough, the Bush administration chose this month, in the thick of its nuclear standoff with Tehran, to reveal plans for a new nuclear weapons manufacturing complex of its own — a major escalation of US nuclear capacity. This represents a movement away from merely maintaining our thousands of warheads to replacing them. The promise of new bombs to come, including the so-called bunker-buster under development, may be the final nail in the coffin of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which binds Washington to work for the elimination of nukes, not their enhancement.

Set the cauldron of Iraq to boiling even hotter by daring Iran to join in against us. Justify Iran’s impulse to obtain nuclear capacity by using our own nuclear capacity as a thermo-prod. How self-defeating can our actions get?

Surely, something besides intelligent strategic theory is at work here. Yes. These are the policies of deeply frustrated, angry, and psychologically wounded people. Those of us who oppose them will yield to our own versions of anger and despair at our peril, and the world’s. Fierce but reasoned opposition is more to the point than ever.

James Carroll | Boston Globe (read more. . .)