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The Cockroaches are Celebrating: U.S. Leads Way Toward New Nuclear Arms Race
Published on Monday, December 8, 2003 by
The Cockroaches are Celebrating
U.S. Leads Way Toward New Nuclear Arms Race
by Sean Gonsalves

The Energy and Water Appropriations Bill signed by President Bush last week is being celebrated by cockroaches the world over.

The bill, among other things, provides funding for research in developing nuclear weapons with first-strike capability.

We are now one step closer to nuclear war and if the path we are following is pursued to its logical conclusion, the Information Age will be followed by a radioactive Cockroach Era.

The tragic irony here is that while the president speaks forcefully about the need to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, his administration is pursuing policies that is likely to enflame the global threat.

"The Energy and Water Appropriations Bill... is a milestone in the further nuclearization of U.S. foreign policy," cautions Greg Mello, director of the Los Alamos Study Group.

"The weapons to be developed are explicitly for potential use against targets in many countries, not just one or two," he says.

The fact that these weapons are of little use to the military, to say nothing of the predictable health, political, legal, and moral consequences of such policy directives, suggests that this is being driven more by an ideological "push" than any military "pull," Mello says.

"It is unlikely that the drive for new nukes can be stopped unless Democrats and arms controllers are willing to rethink their support and legitimization of the other 99.9 percent of Department of Energy and Department of Defense nuclear weapons programs."

John Burroughs, executive director of the New York-based Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy and co-editor of the book "Rule of Power or Rule of Law?" reminds us that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- the very same agreement the United States insists North Korea and Iran respect by submitting to international inspections -- requires its signatories to eliminate existing nuclear arsenals through good-faith negotiation.

But, at the U.N. General Assembly this past fall, the United States voted against resolutions calling for compliance with the program -- compliance that is supposed to be transparent, irreversible and verifiable, which is what U.S. diplomats agreed to in 2000, Burroughs points out.

How can we claim to be the leaders of the free world when we don't abide by the same standards we demand other nations follow, even to the point of threatening pre-emptive strikes?

It's a bit like beating your child in order to drive home the point that violence is wrong. As a parent, I can say unequivocally that such thinking is the antithesis of what being a role model is all about.

I like how Jacqueline Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, poses the question:

"If the world's only remaining superpower feels that it must threaten the first use of nuclear weapons to ensure its 'national security,' why shouldn't we expect other countries to follow suit? As responsible global citizens, we must insist on a more sustainable concept of universal 'human security.' Nuclear weapons have no place in this new security paradigm," Cabasso says.

To buttress their "free-market" theories, neocons love to talk about the harmful effects of "unintended consequences." But I think it's much more fruitful to focus on predictable consequences.

And what are the predictable consequences of pursuing first-strike nuclear capabilities?

Lloyd Dumas, professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas and author of "Lethal Arrogance: Human Fallibility and Dangerous Technologies," offers this assessment:

"By signing a bill that allocates nearly $40 million for research on new nuclear weapons and readying the Nevada nuclear test site for quicker reactivation, the administration has found yet another way to weaken American security, while claiming to strengthen it.

"Building these weapons can only undercut diplomatic efforts to prevent other nations from building their own. And the idea that we can protect ourselves against proliferation with nuclear 'bunker-busters' by going around the world blowing up underground storage sites that our intelligence reports claim contain weapons of mass destruction is too ludicrous for words. Have we learned nothing from Iraq?"

Strong words that only a fool would ignore. Long live the cockroaches!

Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and syndicated columnist. E-mail him at

(c) 2003, Cape Cod Times


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