[Mb-civic] Nuclear Madness By BOB HERBERT
michael at michaelbutler.com
Mon Mar 6 11:57:33 PST 2006
The New York Times
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March 6, 2006
By BOB HERBERT
The key to understanding the Bush administration and its policies is
contained in the widely cited New York Times Magazine article, "Faith,
Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush," by Ron Suskind.
That's the article in which Mr. Suskind described how a senior Bush adviser
contemptuously dismissed the community that most of us live in, "the
The times have changed and reality isn't what it used to be. As the adviser
explained, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own
This mad-hatter thinking was on display again last week. President Bush, who
used specious claims about a nuclear threat to launch his disastrous war in
Iraq, agreed to a deal in blatant violation of international accords and
several decades of bipartisan U.S. policy that would enable India to
double or triple its annual production of nuclear weapons.
The president turned his back on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
(dismissed, like reality-based thinking, as passé) and moved the world a
step closer to an accelerated nuclear arms race in Asia and elsewhere. In
the president's empire-based, otherworldly way of thinking, this was a good
For decades, U.S. law and the provisions of the nonproliferation treaty have
precluded the sale of nuclear fuel and reactor components to India, which
has acquired an atomic arsenal and has refused to sign the treaty. President
Bush turned that policy upside down last week, agreeing to share nuclear
energy technology with India, even as it continues to develop nuclear
weapons in a program that is shielded from international inspectors.
The attempt to stop the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the five original
members of the so-called nuclear club the U.S., Russia, Britain, France
and China has not been perfect by any means. But it hasn't been bad. Back
in the 1960's there was a fear that before long there might be dozens of
additional states with nuclear weapons. But so far the spread has been held
to four Israel, India, Pakistan and most likely North Korea.
A cornerstone of the nonproliferation strategy has been the refusal to share
nuclear energy technology with nations unwilling to abide by the provisions
of the nonproliferation treaty. Last week George W. Bush decided he would
change all that by carving out an exception for India.
Presidents from both parties from Richard Nixon through Bill Clinton had
refused to make this deal, which India has wanted for more than three
"It's a terrible deal, a disaster," said Joseph Cirincione, the director for
nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment. "The Indians are free to make as
much nuclear material as they want. Meanwhile, we're going to sell them fuel
for their civilian reactors. That frees up their resources for the military
side, and that stinks."
With President Bush undermining the nonproliferation treaty, critics are
worried that it's only a matter of time before other bilateral deals are
made say, China with Pakistan, which has already asked Mr. Bush for a deal
similar to India's and been turned down.
"We can't break the rules for India and then expect other countries to play
by them," said Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who is
one of the leading opponents of the deal, which will require Congressional
In the early 1960's, President John F. Kennedy, a member in good standing of
the reality-based community, tried to convey the menace posed to mankind by
nuclear weapons. "Today," he said, "every inhabitant of this planet must
contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man,
woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the
slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or
miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before
they abolish us."
Today, in 2006, as Congressman Markey reminds us, terrorists as well as
rogue governments are racing to get their hands on nukes.
"We've had a consensus for a generation," he said, "that the world will
cooperate to restrict the spread of these nuclear materials. If this
consensus breaks down, then we increase exponentially the likelihood that
the catastrophic event that Kennedy warned about will, in fact, occur."
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