On Sunday, the Washington Post wrote the obituary for the United
States' effort to find Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass
destruction. "Frustrated, U.S. Arms Team to Leave Iraq," read the
headline, confirming what has become an embarrassing truth - that
the central rationale for the invasion and occupation of oil-rich
Iraq was in fact one of history's great frauds.
The arms inspectors "are winding down operations without finding
proof that President Saddam Hussein kept clandestine stocks of
outlawed arms," reported the Post, putting the lie to Colin Powell's
Feb. 6 claim at the United Nations that Iraq possessed a functioning
program to build nuclear bombs and had hoarded hundreds of tons of
chemical and biological materials.
Unfortunately, this does not necessarily mean the world is a safer
place. The deadly weapons of mass destruction have proved phantom
in Iraq, but the Bush administration is now doing its best to
ensure that the world becomes increasingly unstable and armed to
the teeth. Although the nuclear threat from Iraq proved to be
nonexistent, the United States' threat to use nuclear weapons and
make a shambles of nuclear arms control is alarmingly vibrant.
In its latest bid to frighten the planet into a constant state of
shock and awe, our government is accelerating its own leading-edge
weapons-of-mass-destruction program: President Bush's allies on the
Senate Armed Services Committee have approved ending a decade-old
ban on developing atomic battlefield weapons and endorsed moving
ahead with creating a nuclear "bunker-buster" bomb. They also
rubber-stamped the administration's request for funds to prepare
for a quick resumption of nuclear weapons testing.
What's going on here? Having failed to stop a gang of marauders
armed with nothing more intimidating than box cutters, the U.S. is
now using the "war on terror" to pursue a long-held hawkish
Republican dream of a "winnable nuclear war," as the president's
father memorably described it to me in a 1980 Times interview.
In such a scenario, nukes can be preemptively used against a much
weaker enemy - millions of dead civilians, widespread environmental
devastation and centuries of political blowback be damned.
End of writing.
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