Thursday, August 26, 2010

How I Learned to Love the Bomb

By Alan Caruba

As a child in the 1950s, I learned how to “duck and cover” in order to protect myself from an atomic bomb explosion. Little did I know that the instruction should have been “Kiss your asterisk goodbye.”

The Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the Soviets wanted to put nuclear-tipped long range missiles there, led to a confrontation between President John F. Kennedy and Nikita Krushchev that had both sides changing their underwear after it was over.

What do the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea in common? They all have nuclear weapons and, of course, Iran has been working toward that goal and is now very close to achieving it.

Some will argue that Israel should not be on the list because it has never acknowledged its nuclear capabilities, but everyone knows they have them. Presumably the Iranian mullahs do as well, but they are a bunch of nuts waiting for the mythical Twelfth Imam to come out of a well and smite the enemies of Islam.

It is instructive that both Pakistan and India acquired their nuclear weapons without anyone being aware of it until after the fact. At CIA headquarters, when India announced its successful test, it came as a very big surprise. These days, the U.S. is busy reassuring Israel that Iran is “at least a year away” from nuclear status and you can imagine how relieved they are to hear that.

North Korea is a wild card and, given the lack of success the U.S. and anyone else has had to get them to abandon their nukes, the same can be assumed for Iran when they make their announcement. Meanwhile they have to content themselves with announcing new missiles, the latest of which they dubbed “the ambassador of death.”

The Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization has designated Sunday, August 29, as “The International Day against Nuclear Tests.” Given the total lack of success in thwarting any nation that wants a nuke, my confidence in the United Nations’ treaty is zero.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN component, has been kicked out of North Korea, Iraq and Iran on several occasions, so one might rationally assume it is useless when it comes to stopping the manufacture of A-bombs.

Olli Heinonen, the former chief of UN nuclear inspections worldwide, told Le Monde, a French newspaper, that Iran has stockpiled enough low-enriched uranium for 1-2 nuclear arms, but he thought doing so made no sense. Betting on the rationality of the Iranian ayatollahs is not a good idea.

Who doesn’t want a ban on nuclear weapons testing? The United States Senate for one.

While the U.S. has “signed” a number of the test ban treaties that have been around since the 1960s, the Senate has not ratified any of them, thus avoiding having to commit the nation to no longer testing new nuclear weapons. For some reason, the U.S. Senate does not trust Russia or the other nuke nations.

In April, our ever-hopeful President Barack Obama journeyed to Russia to sign a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Dmitry Medvedev dubbed “New Start.” For Obama it was another empty photo opportunity on a par with accepting the Nobel Peace Prize (soon to be available everywhere in boxes of Cracker Jack). For the Russians it was a reason to break out the vodka.

Robert R. Monroe, a retired vice admiral in the U.S. Navy and former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency from 1977-1980 explains why. “The treaty has many problems from being unverifiable to giving Russia virtual veto power over U.S. missile defense, and more.” That’s bad enough, but it’s worse than that.

Two days before meeting with the Russians, the Obama administration released its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). Monroe says, “The NPR is joined at the hip with New Start, and together they take this country down a dangerous path. For 65 years, the very existence of our nation has depended upon a strong nuclear deterrent. The new NPR wipes out this proven policy, substituting one of weakness in its place.”

Liberals love test ban treaties. They love the idea of unilaterally disarming the United States in a world where there are nations who may not love us.

Not surprisingly, the nations with nukes have not signed onto anything that would take away their deterrent factor and, of course, Iran is hell-bent on getting them for itself.

Not a single conflict since the U.S. dropped two A-bombs on Japan in 1945 to end a war they started has used nuclear weapons. Rational people, even if they have nuclear weapons know that using them is probably suicidal. Irrational people like the Iranian ayatollahs are probably the exception.

© Alan Caruba, 2010


Rich Kozlovich said...

Rational people...yes, but who said these people are rational. Any organization that allows or encourages its members, to rob, kill and rape in the name of their group isn't a religion. It is a criminal organization masquerading as a religion.

LarryOldtimer said...

The Cuban Missile Crisis is the 2nd time the US and USSR were on the verge of nuclear war, and was published in newspapers.

The first time that I am aware of was in about September of 1954, when I finished USAF Basic Training and was sent to Intelligence Operations Tech School. Don't know to this day what that "flap" was about, but at the last minute my after Basic training assignment was changed to report to a brand new Intelligence Operations training squadron at Sheppard Field instead of the first step in attending the Army School of Language in Berkley, CA which was taught at Kelly Field, Texas.

The high brass obviously thought that the USAF was suddenly going to need lots more personnel in Operations, which would have involved plotting "flak charts" and routes for heavy bombers for bombing missions in the USSR.

As it turned out, that flap blew over, and I never did any Operational intelligence work, but was assigned to the 544th Reconnaissance Tech Squadron at SAC HQ for other Intelligence duties.