Plans leaked to the press for a U.S. nuclear attack on Iran are intended to be taken for granted by a hypnotized citizenry that has come to believe, thanks to a steady drum beat of fear-mongering by the media, that the Islamic state is some kind of a threat to us.
Indeed, threatening a U.S. attack itself helps instill fear among Americans of the mullahs who control Iran. But the Pentagon doesn't need H-bombs to obliterate other governments - Panama's in 1989, Afghanistan's in 2001 and Iraq's in 2003 have been demolished using so-called "conventional" or "non-nuclear" weapons.
Leaving aside the U.S. and Britain's use of "depleted" uranium munitions, which are neither conventional nor non-nuclear - what is the practical and political usefulness of threatening to use nuclear weapons, when all the world knows that any such attack would be a monstrous crime against civilization?
At least two government functions are served by repeating the Mother of all Bomb Threats. First, U.S. threats to nuke Iran (and Iraq in 1991 and 2003, and North Korea in 1994) serve psychological purposes. Once everyone is reminded that the Pentagon's terrorism is real, then the waging of "conventional" military aggression can be portrayed as "limited," "measured," "restrained" and "moderate."
As long as the H-bombs don't massacre millions, then fuel air explosions, thermobaric bombs, Daisy Cutters, napalm, cluster bombs, cruise missiles, land mines, drone aircraft, bunker busters, "smart" bombs and even depleted uranium shells can be sold to a bombed-out collective consciousness as "precision" "guided" "surgical strikes" used with a humanitarian's heartfelt concern for the civilian population.
One hundred thousand dead Iraqis prove the point.
The second function, also psychological, is to train the taxpayers to practice cognitive dissonance, the vapid embrace of self-contradictory ideas. That is, U.S. nuclear threats are "good" when made by us, but "evil" when employed by certain demonized others. The public is expected to calmly digest shockers like "Attack could include nuclear 'bunker buster bombs' " (St. Paul Pioneer), and to simultaneously demand that Iran give up a program that may produce a bomb in 10 to 14 years.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld responded to the leaks with this lesson in dissonant double-talk: He called the reports of his war plans "fantasy land" and at the same time he declared that "all options are on the table." The secretary's use of the word "all" means the Hiroshima option. The implication is the now-debunked but officially approved excuse for the U.S. atomic bombing of Japanese cities: that mass destruction can produce a positive good, end war and "save lives."
(Imagine the White House response if Iran made the same case after smashing a major U.S. city in what it might call, using Bush's own doctrine, "preventive war.")
Yes, it's hard to make U.S. terrorism appear rational and definitive while arguing that Iran's nuclear ambitions are proof of power-hungry coldbloodedness and warlike belligerence. Indeed, it's nuclear madness.
But you have to hand it to the military propagandists and their lap dogs in the media. They've convinced a lot of people that it's only common sense.
John LaForge of Luck is on the staff of Nukewatch, a peace group based in Wisconsin. He is currently serving six months at the Duluth Federal Prison Camp for trespassing at the Army's Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (School of the Americas) in Fort Benning, Georgia, last November.
© 2006 The Capital Times