Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
Companies Cash in on Patriotism
Media War Without End
Anthrax, Drug Transnationals And TRIPs
Bioterror And Biosafety
Feminist Analysis and the Crisis
A Country Abandoned
Richard alan Leach
Are You A Patriot?
The New World Order Rule â€¦
The Politicization of Terror
Shake, Rattle, and Rolling Over â€¦
On Terror And War
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Richard Alan Leach
After the Soviet system imploded, the U.S. reveled in its role as the world's sole superpower, giving many indications that the consequences for the inhabitants of the periphery were a matter of imperial indifference. Among the hard lessons learned from September 11 is that, on this polarized planet, no unbreachable fortresses can be built, not even a Fortress America. It should come as no surprise, however, that entrenched special interests still support military boondoggles—such as the misnamed “missile defense” system—and still refuse to admit that throwing $100 billion at unworkable missile shields will be economically wasteful and strategically destabilizing. Unless the ambitions of this influential minority of far rightists is constrained, a self-defeating focus on remote, high-end threats such as ballistic missile attacks may also be inimical to self-preservation.
Everybody agrees that we now live in a new world, but it is important to recall the old one. The pre-September climate of opinion already feels like ancient history: the world's most powerful nation had the luxury of exaggerating ballistic missile threats solely to divert public funds into a massive welfare program for aerospace and related industries, and to pave the way for the weaponization of outer space (note: space is already “militarized”). Long before the Bush inauguration in January, analysts pointed out that no designated “rogue state” has the technology to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) against the U.S., which would leave a signature and invite the destruction of their countries. From its inception, the actual motivation behind what the Administration (misleadingly) terms “missile defense” has been to pursue a costly program of offensive preparations against possible later challenges from “strategic competitors” like China, even as China and Russia, along with the majority of U.S. allies, continue to argue for preserving the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), while strenuously objecting to national missile defense (NMD).
The need to shore up the nonproliferation regime is now more urgent than ever, but an influential number of would-be nuclear hegemonists are steadfast in their obsession with building shields to augment the nuclear sword—and they now exploit September 11 to justify the scheme. Despite the likelihood that a shift to misnamed “defenses” will lead to a new arms race, it is a calculated risk that policymakers remain willing to run. The U.S. is still pressuring allies to withdraw objections to the U.S. plan to scrap the ABM Treaty. Both national and global security will be knowingly jeopardized so that the U.S. can break out of established norms, such as the Outer Space Treaty (1967).
Before September 11, the terms “security” and “defense” were largely employed as Orwellisms to justify a buildup in offensive capabilities. The interregnum between the end of the Cold War and the “new war” sparked by the terrorist attacks provided Americans with a short-lived window of opportunity (now firmly shut) to recognize the inherent dynamic of the U.S. military towards ever-greater expansion—enemies or no enemies—with the initial promise of a post-Cold War “peace dividend” long forgotten. Previously, the menace (or mirage) of “rogue states” loomed large in our consciousness: they have since been supplanted by terrorist warlords. Yet this more credible threat will now be used to justify weapons systems that would be useless against them. Meanwhile, President Bush's showing in the polls over the next eight months will continue to be better than his advisors ever dreamed, with Washington capitalizing on the September tragedy to fight an open-ended “new war.” The new GOP agenda will skewer the Social Security budget to combine a new “homeland defense” with the same useless “defense” system proposed in the pre-September climate of nuclear unilateralism.
Instead of heeding the advice of its allies and abandoning the national missile defense scheme, advocates now try to capitalize on public fears to sell their agendas. Formerly, the main argument of pro-nuclear extremists was that a radical shift to “defenses” was necessary to defend the United States against “unreliable nations” or “rogues” like North Korea: they now add that missile defenses were not intended to defend against commercial airliners. True: nor can NMD defend against nuclear, biological, or chemical (NBC) weapons, deliverable in a suitcase or a crop-duster. Given the entrenched interests represented by Eisenhower's military-industrial complex (MIC), actual security or “defense” considerations still represent only a secondary or tertiary consideration. Pro-nuclear forces now expect to receive carte blanche for every “defensive” project from space bombers to unworkable missile shields, and employ every sophistry at their command to stay the course.
Meanwhile, sanitized reportage in the newspaper of record continues to hinder Americans from understanding the issues. The assumption that “security” considerations were always the paramount consideration behind missile defenses remains unquestioned by the media. Today, given the unprecedented siege mentality prevailing in the United States (with skyrocketing sales of flags and shotguns), an agenda that provoked partisan flak before the advent of a “united front” against terror is being shamelessly exploited. To avoid handing the Defense Department a blank check for military boondoggles, it is revealing to review New York Times (NYT) coverage of the missile defense issue in the months leading up to September, when threats were invented or exaggerated to sell a scheme which knowingly imperils U.S. national security, but to which the administration remains committed (for other reasons).
On September 2, the NYT reported that U.S. policymakers, recognizing the inadequacy of China's 18-20 ICBMs as an effective deterrent against the proposed system, planned to inform China that they no longer opposed a Chinese buildup—if this would overcome their opposition to NMD (David E. Sanger, “US To Tell China It Will Not Object To Missile Buildup,” NYT, September 2, 2001). Because the October summit was imminent, the Administration was forced by the calendar to reveal what it could no longer conceal: that, for hawks in the State Department and the White House, a halt to the development of missile defenses represented a worst-case scenario—even worse than a new arms race in Asia, spurred by a Chinese buildup.
The piece implicitly revealed the intention of the Bush administration to rely on “peace through strength, rather than peace through paper,” in the memorable sound-bite of Arizona Senator John Kyl. Abrogating its responsibility to shore up the nonproliferation regime, the White House implicitly acknowledged its willingness to initiate an open-ended arms race, telling China, in effect, “catch me if you can.” This news surprised many, including many who should have known better. All along, the clear pattern has been to postpone such forthright admissions until the eleventh hour. The Bush administration expected to provoke widespread protest against its dangerous shift in nuclear posture, so the strategy has been to release information in stages, and slowly bring its allies on board—along with a bewildered and frightened planet.
Washington immediately attempted to downplay the report. A “restatement” appeared on September 5, with the Administration's denial, stating that they would “not acquiesce” in a Chinese buildup, while conceding on background that the effect of “not acquiescing” would be much the same, since the U.S. “understands” China's need to test their weapons for safety and reliability (David E. Sanger, “US Restates Its Stand on Missiles in China,” NYT, September 5, 2001). Such an obliging collusion between press and state is hardly reassuring.
In the first half of 2001, many slanted editorials informed us that China and Cuba were against missile defenses: if they are against it, of course, it must be “a good idea.” Long before September, the prerogatives of power ensured that a “zero sum” mentality percolated throughout the political culture. However, this radical shift in nuclear strategy alarms U.S. allies as much as China and Cuba. Throughout the year, the mainstream continued to relay the absurd misrepresentation by hawks that the acquisition of a shield to augment the sword is merely a “defensive” maneuver that should threaten no one.
In stark contrast, China echoed the typical world reaction in a written statement by Jiang Zemin: “To reduce the armaments of others while keeping one's own intact, to reduce the obsolete while developing state of the art, to require other countries to scrupulously abide by treaties while giving oneself freedom of action, all these acts make a mockery of international efforts and run counter to the fundamental objective of disarmament” (Jiang Zemin, “The Way to Get On With Nuclear Disarmament,” Los Angeles Times, June 16, 1999). U.S. policy is to side-step such accusations, while depicting China as moving forward to new and threatening heights with research and modernization, even as the U.S. ignores Chinese calls to preserve the ABM Treaty. China signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1986, conducting no explosive nuclear tests since that time. During the Cold War, the Defense Department employed the same ruse: even funding for Reagan's Star Wars was procured by arguing that, otherwise, the Russians would get there first.
On August 24, the NYT readership must have breathed a collective sigh of relief to see an article (penned by David E. Sanger) titled: “Bush Flatly States US Will Pull Out of Missile Treaty.” The sigh of relief would be generated not by the news, which was bad, but because of finally hearing White House intentions flatly stated. Despite being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the new policy is for the U.S. to upgrade and extend its strategic force advantage, rather than work towards eventual disarmament, as pledged. As a result, other nations will be compelled to acquire or enhance stocks of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons (NBC), for protection against the planet's sole superpower.
Two days earlier, on August 22, the NYT revealed that an official in the Bush administration had given Russia an unofficial deadline of November to accede to stipulated U.S. changes in the ABM treaty or “face a unilateral American withdrawal.” The piece is euphemistically titled, “U.S. Sets Deadline for Settlement of ABM Argument.” The implicit framework for addressing the issue of missile defense is one that genuflects to power and rejects any such principle as “one nation, one vote.” Further, if the U.S. disagrees with the rest of the world, it is world opinion that is presented as suspect. Throughout the Cold War, Americans were constantly assured that only “they” break treaties—or abrogate, annul, scuttle, or violate them. So today, we amend, go beyond, exceed the constraints of, and now make arguments for—jettisoning a treaty that served as the linchpin of international security for the last 30 years of the nuclear age.
An historic moment of candor occurred on May 1, 2001. After months of disclaimers, George W. Bush, in his first major speech on defense, first conceded the Administration's intention to “go beyond” the ABM Treaty. This candid admission, however, was marred by alarmist rhetoric updated from the Cold War, as Bush cited numerous (and unmentioned) rogue states that might (at some future date) seek to acquire nuclear weapons. The President warned of an inevitable arms race, which we must “win” (since negotiated multilateral reductions are out of the question): “More nations have nuclear weapons and still more have nuclear aspirations… Most troubling of all the list of these countries includes some of the world's least-responsible states. Unlike the Cold War, today's most urgent threat stems not from thousands of ballistic missiles in the Soviet hands, but from a small number of missiles in the hands of these states…”
North Korea, a failed communist state that cannot even feed its own people, is a threat? The most urgent threat to the United States is a ballistic missile launch? Numerous security analysts attempted (in vain) to convince the hawks that it would be easier for a terrorist to smuggle a chemical weapon into the United States in a suitcase. For balanced minds, the means wrought by terrorists on September 11 provided definitive evidence of the futility of constructing missile shields. Yet, proponents of NMD now twist logic to the breaking point, using the terrorist attacks as an absurd justification for implementing, not abandoning, missile defenses. Such chicanery, of course, was inevitable, since the latter term is a euphemism for the long-term project of weaponizing the “ultimate high ground” of outer space.
The day after Bush's speech, the NYT described the radical shift from deterrence to destabilizing “defenses” as an innocuous “strategy overhaul” (David E. Sanger and Steven Lee Myers, “In Strategy Overhaul, Bush Seeks A Missile Shield,” NYT, May 2, 2001). The euphemism masks the most irresponsible strategic gamble since Ronald Reagan's Star Wars speech of 1983. As Bush expected, the more the public learned about missile defense, the less they liked it. So the new Administration resorted to standard practice for pitching the scheme: it changed its arguments, depending on its audience. While in Europe, the NYT reported that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld “presented several arguments. He suggested that antimissile defenses could be reconciled with some arms control treaties, avoiding the bluntness of comments he made in Congressional hearings—and even on the plane flying to the conference—that the ABM treaty was an anachronism” (Michael R. Gordon, “US Tries Defusing Allies' Opposition to Missile Defense,” NYT, February 4, 2001). As noted, only when concealment became impossible did the Bush administration resort to plain talk. Until the May 1 defense speech, the policy was to counter perceptions of unilateralism and to hedge when the subject of space weapons was brought up. As the NYT reported in May, “Mr. Rumsfeld repeatedly side-stepped questions from reporters about whether his efforts to give space operations a higher profile in the Pentagon would inevitably lead to building anti-satellite weapons or other types of space-based military hardware. ‘These proposals have nothing to do with that,' he said” (James Dao, “Rumsfeld Plan Skirts Call for Stationing Arms in Space,” NYT, May 9, 2001). To finesse both public opinion and allied opposition to its designs, Bush released information in stages, always careful to avoid acknowledging the long-term strategy to weaponize space. Planning documents are more candid, but are ignored by the mainstream, on the principle that the Pentagon would never stoop so low as to mislead the media or the American people.
In the preceding months, the President and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld met with foreign leaders more to inform them of the U.S. commitment to NMD than to consult with them concerning the wisdom of this fundamental shift in nuclear strategy. Soon thereafter, worldwide complaints of U.S. unilateralism (and bad manners) prompted Bush's handlers to begin paying lip service to the notion of “consultation with our allies”—which became the President's week-long mantra in Europe in June, 2001. The shift to conciliatory rhetoric was another manifestation of damage control, a mere bid to alter perceptions—before proceeding exactly as planned.
Washington is also circumspect regarding its long-range plans to jettison other arms control agreements, although in July it signaled its intention to resume nuclear testing, in clear violation of the unratified comprehensive test-ban treaty (CTBT). Recently, arms control expert Richard Butler warned, “If the United States now destroys the test ban treaty and moves to resume nuclear testing, other nuclear-weapons states will follow suit, and still other states will consider acquiring nuclear weapons. The nonproliferation regime will perish.” (Richard Butler, “Nuclear Testing and National Honor,” NYT, July 13, 2001). The 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which forbids the weaponization of space, must also be scrapped because it interferes with “new thinking”—where outer space is regarded as the next American “frontier.”
In elite circles, debates are confined to pragmatic considerations (cost-benefit analyses), while a sycophantic media frames the debate according to the principle that all decisions made by Washington must be “well-intentioned.” When stated openly, the axiom produces comical effects, such as in this editorial: “If his missile defense plan makes new missiles and generates nuclear turmoil in Asia, it will not succeed despite the President's good intentions” (Business Week, May 14, 2001). The standard picture of a security policy guided by “good intentions” is marred by a refusal to acknowledge the vested interests behind military appropriations. In keeping with this myth, some classic Orwellisms frequently appear, such as the title of this editorial: “Bush Decides Discarding Treaties Aids Peace” (Walter Shapiro, Detroit Times, May 4, 2001).
The U.S. plan to eventually scrap the Outer Space Treaty (1967) and to “dominate” planet Earth is still presented by the U.S. media as defensive, although the new justification is the threat of terrorist warlords. At least this threat did not have to be invented: today, we hear almost nothing about the former menace of “rogue states” like North Korea: East Asia has been replaced by the Middle East. Prior to September 11, the irresponsible scheme to erect missile shields required demonizing anemic enemies and diplomatic gridlock to keep North Korea out in the cold. Today, a real threat (domestic terrorism) is cited to justify an antimissile scheme that would be useless against it.
Until September, the newspaper of record was largely a forum for nuclear hawks to employ sophistical arguments urgently calling for ballistic missile defenses. NYT bias has consistently favored far rightists who present little evidence, rather than left-liberals who present a lot of evidence. In the early 1980s, former Pentagon official Frank Gaffney was kicked out of the Reagan administration because he became apoplectic when his boss began talking to the Russians. Gaffney's Center For Security Policy (CSP) is less a think tank than the leading Star Wars lobby. Gaffney's group has received over $2 million in donations since CSP began operation, mostly from Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The media monitoring group FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) noted the tactic: “In a New York Times article, Gaffney is quoted calling ads from the disarmament group Peace Action ‘misleading.' But it seems far more misleading that the article failed to mention that Gaffney's CSP receives more than 15 percent of its annual revenue from corporate sponsors, including Boeing and Lockheed Martin”—Michelle Ciarrocca, “Holes in The Coverage: What's Left Out of Reporting on Missile Defense,” FAIR, November/December 2000).
It should be added that nowhere did Gaffney provide evidence for his dismissive reaction, nor was he asked for any. His skeptical snort sufficed.
The “false balance” tactic frequently recurs. Another NYT article featured the dissenting viewpoint of Senator Carl Levin, who, in mid-2001, called for a review of technical requirements before making a deployment decision. To achieve a spurious “balance,” the NYT again consulted Gaffney, describing him as the “president of a conservative defense analysis group…” They failed to add that this analyst advocates nuclear-armed weapons in space (that is, detonating nuclear bombs in space as part of a missile defense strategy, among other Strangelovian fantasies). Gaffney used his NYT forum to denounce the Senator's prudent advice as “a delaying action” (Thom Shanker, “Missile Defenses Need More Tests, Key Senator Says,” NYT, June 1, 2001). Characteristically, Gaffney was not asked to offer evidence for his diametrically opposed position: that the U.S. should proceed to develop and deploy an unworkable system, despite the fact that it will most likely lead to a strategic cul-de-sac.
Gaffney's Center For Security Policy is less interested in “security” than in implementing Star Wars II by any conceivable rationale and its opportunistic arguments show how desperately logic will be contorted to pursue ends undertaken for other reasons. His corporate-sponsored lobby masquerades as a think tank, hosting conferences and writing speeches for proponents of missile defense. In 1999, Gaffney's alarmist rhetoric was primarily aimed at Northeast Asia, not the Middle East: “We must not only worry about rogue states like North Korea that are now acquiring the means to attack their enemies with such weapons of mass destruction. Russia and China already have significant numbers of these long-range missiles”—conveniently omitting that both have been consistently clamoring for the United States to agree to multilateral reductions of nuclear weapons. For opponents of arms control, the standard ruse is to accept that the race is on, and that the United States has no other choice but to “win.”
Gaffney goes on to remark that “Nevada and other parts of the western United States will shortly be in the cross-hairs of one of the most brutal and irrational totalitarian regimes on the planet” (Frank Gaffney Jr., “Nevada: Defended or in North Korean Crosshairs?” Nevada Journal, 1999). However, that was before September 11, which provided him with “proof” of America's vulnerability to terrorist attacks: the well-worn pretense being that opponents of missile defenses were soft on defense. Shaping facts to suit their commitments, CSP promptly averted its eyes to the Middle East: “Does anyone think for a moment that if those waging holy war on this country, people fully prepared to die in the process of doing so, had access to [weapons of mass destruction] they would refrain from using them?” The straw person argument caricatures arms controllers with their heads in the sand: a ridiculous claim never backed up with quotations, because none exist. What proponents of the missile defense scheme argue against is the futility of wasting $100 billion on a fundamentally flawed system which cannot protect the United States against the far greater threat of domestic terrorism.
If Washington places politics above laws of physics, it is not for the NYT to reason why. On the contrary, the “false balance” ploy is used to discredit the views of dissenting critics. Last year, when a group of 50 Nobel Laureates wrote an open letter to the White House to denounce missile defenses as “wasteful and dangerous,” the final “balance” line of the NYT piece was a classic in the Trust Big Brother genre: “A spokesman for the Pentagon said that the group, while prestigious, had no access to secret information about the proposed system's feasibility or to intelligence on global missile threats.” The message is marred by this tactic, as the last line leaves the reader with a more “optimistic” assessment, courtesy of a Pentagon spin doctor. Fortunately for Americans, the Defense Department has information which will always be used for their benefit, but which will be kept secret from them (also for their benefit). (William J. Broad, “Nobel Winners Urge Halt to Missile Plan,” NYT, July 6, 2000.)
On July 18, the NYT uncritically relayed another attempt at misrepresentation, when Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz dismissed concerns by claiming that NMD is merely a “defensive” system, which threatens no one (James Dao, “Democrats Are Warned on Missile Stance,” NYT, July 18, 2001). Such pronouncements, of course, are intended for the benefit of a credulous and uninformed public. Because of shared (bipartisan) disdain for public participation and open discussion, such rhetoric is not challenged by liberal opponents of the missile defense scheme, who realize that it will “play well in Peoria.” Abroad, the reassuring and misleading pronouncements offered by Assistant Secretary Wolfowitz fell on deaf ears: the attempt to acquire a shield to complement the sword was recognized worldwide as an attempt to achieve a first-strike capability, to break out of the condition of mutual vulnerability which characterizes deterrence. Lacking the tender mercies of the U.S. media (towards the powerful) the rest of the world received information and perspectives that made clear that the U.S. is instigating a new arms race.
A sterling example of rhetorical innocence was provided by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in an article critical of Bush policy towards North Korea. Rather than pointing out the obvious, he argues with feigned naivete: “The Bush administration points to the North Korean missile threat as a major reason why we need to proceed with such a defensive system. This makes its hesitant approach on missile talks with Pyongyang all the more puzzling. If we can reduce or eliminate the threat posed by North Korea's missile program, why wouldn't we push ahead?” (John F. Kerry, “Engage North Korea,” Washington Post, March 30, 2001.)
Kerry's rhetorical pose of “puzzlement” at this seeming contradiction is based on the pretense that policymakers always present forthright explanations to the American people, rather than inventing ballistic missile threats to bamboozle them—on behalf of Boeing.
Among numerous journalistic shortcomings on this issue, the most irresponsible is the widespread assumption that the missile defense scheme, given sufficient time and money, can “eventually” work. This untenable presupposition was noted in the excellent article by Michelle Ciarrocca quoted earlier, and underlies most commentary and analysis. The misleading frame asks: do we have the political will to “go beyond” treaty obligations in order to “defend America”? If so, a viable and reliable “shield” can result: or so the shoddy thinking goes. Meanwhile, rigged tests should continue to help alter perceptions, with a compliant media reporting a “successful” test with great fanfare, while downplaying subsequent revelations that it was rigged.
Yet the most likely possibility is that no amount of money can change laws of physics, and that the “umbrella” fancied by ideologues will be a mere “scarecrow.” This view prevails in the scientific community, but is scandalously absent from media coverage, obscured by a commonplace journalistic reflex, illustrated by this one sentence: “Formidable technical difficulties remain before Son of Star Wars can become a reality, but the main legal obstacle to the plan is the ABM Treaty banning national missile defense systems” (Marcus Warren, The Daily Telegraph, July 28, 2001). The casual reader could be forgiven for inferring that the main obstacle is legal, and that the technical difficulties, while formidable, can be surmounted.
While the Defense Department continues its course towards a bid for global omnipotence (“full spectrum dominance”), terrorist acts undertaken by committed cadres of suicidal fanatics revealed the limitations of relying primarily on high technology to achieve security. “Technolatry” (blind worship of technology) is a factor, which underlies American unilateralism and its tendency to “go it alone.” Such nuclear hubris led to Reagan's Star Wars speech (1983) and continues in its current incarnation, NMD. Earlier, I mentioned that strategic security was actually a secondary or tertiary consideration for the MIC. The scheme to weaponize space with lasers and ASAT (Anti-Satellite) weapons, and to blanket the planet with sea-, land- and space-based interceptors was not concocted to “protect Americans” but to protect profits for aerospace and related industries. The Big Four (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW, and Raytheon) are still poised for payback after multi-million dollar contributions to both parties, along with more than $10 million political action committee (PAC) money to the Republicans. For beneficiaries, a new arms race sparked by a U.S. imposition of this fundamentally flawed and risk-fraught system is “worth it.” To knowingly embrace the risk of a catastrophic nuclear weapons launch (by accident or design) in order for the U.S. to retain the luxury of projecting power can hardly be called a “defensive” strategy. To create a multi-billion dollar scarecrow, and the perception of nuclear invulnerability (in order to issue ultimatums to recalcitrant middle powers) is a reckless and irresponsible gamble, which must be firmly opposed by Americans who recognize the need to direct resources to actual security measures.
Throughout 2001, even staunch U.S. allies opposed this dangerous bid for nuclear supremacy and its underlying obsession with preparation for future wars (which hawks like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz regard as “inevitable,” thus ensuring their inevitability). Meanwhile, the mainstream media reported only that the Bush administration has formulated a new strategy overhaul, nothing more than a modest proposal to provide for the common defense. Judging from numerous letters to the editor of the NYT, many Americans prior to September were nodding in assent, grateful that the leadership was doing its job to “protect Americans”—from the remote threat of ballistic missile attack. Ironically, even as Americans approve of what is presented as an attempt to shore up defenses, the U.S. has undermined its security with its willingness to scotch the nonproliferation regime for the sake of deploying this unworkable and destabilizing missile defense system. Embracing unacceptable risks to achieve a nuclear force advantage, U.S. policy has resulted in a sharp diminution in both U.S. and global security, which, as noted, runs counter to commitments made under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which remains the best agreement to prevent nuclear-weapons grade material from being acquired by “non-state actors,” i.e., terrorist groups.
In this new atmosphere of heightened international insecurity, Washington has conceded that uni- lateralism is counterproductive, but has yet to listen to the rational objections of its allies, including Canada, which counsels abandoning this perilous pro-nuclear policy. Avoiding this outcome must entail a progressive shift towards a reinvigorated arms control and disarmament policy, as Russia, China, and traditional U.S. allies have strenuously advocated. In order to help defend the continental United States from real, not invented, threats, Americans can no longer afford to leave crucial decisions concerning U.S. security to the vested interests of an enlarging state apparatus. As hawkish reactionaries pursue punitive wars without and enhanced police state tactics within, only growing protest can divert the current Administration from its irresponsible conflation of real security needs with the hubristic pursuit of nuclear hegemony. Z
Richard Alan Leach is an English instructor and editor at the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in Pohang, a major research university in South Korea.