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If You Think Bush's Policies Make Us Safer, Think Again

Rowan Wolf

 

We keep being told that the Bush approach to the world is making us safer. It makes no difference whether that policy relates to the "war on terrorism" (whoops, the "struggle against violent extremism"), or the U.S. nuclear policy, or who will be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Let's start with the easiest first - the appointment of John Bolton to the UN.

John Bolton's Appointment to the UN
While John Bolton has certainly been loyal to the administration, there are few words of praise for the man - particularly as diplomatic material. A lot of folks think it doesn't make any difference who represents the United States at the United Nations. I happen to think it is quite important for at least three reasons.

First, a nation's representative to the UN sends a message about how that nation feels about the organization. John Bolton has volubly derided the United Nations. He sees no purpose for it - except where it totally backs U.S. policy and action, and maybe not then. Bolton is characterized as someone with an anger management problem, and virtually uncompromising in his opinion. He is reportedly willing to twist both arms and facts to support his own (or the administration's) position. This sends a number of clear messages about how he will likely function at the United Nations, and it will not be as a colleague or a diplomat.

Second, we are at a point in history that requires cooperation and collaboration. Both Bush's approach to the UN, and his appointment of Bolton, only reinforces the "cowboy" image of "We'll do whatever the hell we want, and if you don't like it - tough." Why do I have images of packages of dog doo showing up in paper bags at Bolton's UN office?

Third, the United Nation does need to change and grow. There needs to be more equal voice from all member nations, and the roles - particularly the peacekeeping role of the organization - needs to be revamped and strengthened. Clearly, there are oversight issues when it comes to UN sponsored programs. However, there is no other organization with as many member nations to deal collectively with the problems the world is facing - poverty, AIDS, hunger, environmental issues, etc. The U.S. is sending the message that any "reform" will be one to make the UN an arm of the United States government. This is beyond counterproductive.

The appointment of Bolton is a slap in the face to the nation, the Senate (including Republicans), and to the world. It reinforces the general tone of the Bush administration's "foreign policy."

US Nuclear Policy
The official policy of the United States is to return to the development and deployment of nuclear weapons (as well as other weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, high energy weaponry, space-based, etc). In combination with the now clear US policy to engage in preemptive war, the world is noticing and reacting. Certainly part of the failure of nuclear negotiations with both North Korea and Iran is because of the renewed nuclear actions on the part of the United States (and Israel and Britain).

If we look at Iran as a case in point, we find that negotiations are on the brink of failure again, and Iran is threatening to break the U.N. seals to its nuclear power plant. Why would they do such a thing? Perhaps because of the growing number of reports that the U.S. has plans for a nuclear attack on Iran.

To preempt the propaganda attack over Iran's actions, it is important to note that according to U.S. intelligence, Iran is 10 years from a nuclear bomb of its own. However, another set of speculation says that Iran already has weapons grade uranium from a U.S. B-52 that was "lost" in 1991. The plane was carrying three nuclear missiles and deployed over Baghdad. In returning to refuel at Diego Garcia, a fire forced the dumping of the missiles off the coast of Somalia. The plane went down shortly thereafter, and the missiles were never recovered.

George Monbiot discusses the implications of the U.S. and Britain breaking the nuclear non-proliferation agreements in his August 2, 2005 article The treaty wreckers. He argues, and I agree, that the move by the United States - and now the UK - into the development of "mini-nukes" is starting a new arms race. The official message is that somehow "mini-nukes" are less hazardous that "regular" nukes. Well they aren't less hazardous and they are not "precision" weapons.

According to a report from the National Academy of Science, and reported in the August 2005 edition of Popular Science, the Department of Defense' specifications for "bunker busting" mini-nukes would be disastrous.

"Nuking a bunker, in four steps

1. A B-2 bomber flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet drops a modified B83 nuclear weapon carrying a 1.2-megaton warhead. It travels 2,000 feet per second toward its ground target.

2. Assuming the soil is composed of granite, the nuke will penetrate to a depth of 20 feet within 100 milliseconds. Radar sensors on the warhead detonate the nuke once it has plowed to its target depth, releasing the energy of more than a million tons of TNT.

3. The blast creates a 1,200-foot-wide crater and sends a shock wave traveling 1,116 feet per second through the ground. The wave will destroy everything down to 1,000 feet. Any bunkers deeper than that could survive the blast.

4. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that the explosion will shoot some 300,000 tons of radioactive debris up to 15 miles into the air. The total number of casualties will vary but could exceed one million, depending on weather, wind velocity and the blast's proximity to towns and cities."

The threat of nuclear proliferation in Asia finds the only nation to actually experience a nuclear attack - Japan - stockpiling plutonium. If Japan is stockpiling, then you can bet others are as well. More nuclear bombs and materials in the world do not make us safer.

The "Struggle Against Violent Extremism
This name change for the "war on terrorism" fools no one. If anything, it simply takes an already vague policy and expands it. It does not seem that the tactics of this war/struggle really are making us safer. Afghanistan is falling apart, Iraq definitely is.

The Bush administration has institutionalized pre-emptive war, the incarceration of "enemy combatants" and terrorist "suspects" indefinitely and without charges or access to counsel. The use of torture to extract "intelligence" seems to be a common practice, and the use of "extraordinary rendition" to states that do commonly use torture is part of normal procedure. There is no rule of law in the Bush "war on terrorism," and apparently no rule of humanity either. How else would one explain the incarceration of more than 107 Iraqi children in U.S. prisons inside Iraq? How can you explain the reports that a number of these children are being abused, raped, and tortured - either to get information from them or their parents? Can such actions really make us safer, or is it just giving a new generation very personal reasons to see the U.S. (and its allies) as enemies?

The process of extraordinary rendition doesn't seem to be working too well either. One of the bombing suspects being held by British police - Benyam Mohammed - was held and "rendered" by the United States for two and half years. The US moved him from nation to nation - "Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan, before he was sent to Guantanamo Bay." He spent his time in Morocco being tortured . Now he is held as one of the planners of the failed subway bombings in London.

Do you think the children held in Iraq might follow the same path.

We are not safer
The policies of the Bush administration are not making us safer, but they are leading to an insane ... and dangerous ... world.

More nuclear weapons and material scattered across the globe does not make us safer.

Legitimating preemptive war does not make us safer.

Taking a unilateral, screw you if you don't like it, approach to international policy and law does not make us safer.

Violating the rules of law, decency, and even war, does not make us safer.

Torture does not make us safer.

The overriding to the Constitution and division of powers does not make us safer.

Having one party rule the country does not make us safer.

"Christian" extremism is not a mechanism of peace in a "war" framed as a "crusade," and does not make us safer.

If one were going to engage in a policy to destabilize the world and dramatically increase threat while decreasing freedom, then one would accept the Bush approach with open arms. What has been successful is generating so much fear (of both terrorist and U.S. attacks) that people will accept fascist states for "safety." The policies of the current administration have not made the U.S. safer, nor have they made the world safer.

Rowan Wolf is a columnist for Project for the Old American Century,  
and the editor of Radical Noesis and Uncommon Thought Journal . 
Her email is 
[email protected]


 

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