Midweek Essay: Bomb Iran? (Or Anyone Else) – Fallout from a Flawed US Nuclear Weapons Policy

Fallout shelter by kmls

Many years ago at our annual Christmas gathering, my cousins and I started singing “Bomb Iran” to the tune of “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys. We were having loads of fun coming up with various violent verses when my Dad and an uncle or two came into the room to give us a gentle yet firm reprimand.

We were just kids, but we knew better. In a brief unguarded moment, we had allowed the current mainstream warlike attitude of the country to usurp our pacifist Mennonite values. Even more unfortunate is that even to this day I can recall many of the so-called “fun” lyrics we came up with that day.

So it came as a pleasant surprise all of these years later to witness the recent nuclear weapons agreement between Iran and the US (and other countries).  In a nutshell, Iran will not pursue the development of nuclear weapons in exchange for the gradual lifting of economic sanctions. While of course there are the usual naysayers and there are details to be worked out, most experts agree that this is a good deal.

Even for Israel, the principal opponent to the deal.

President Obama rather bluntly stated that war had been avoided, which in my opinion is always a good thing. Benjamin Franklin, as Ambassador to France, writing  to an acquaintance in 1783, agreed:

I JOIN with you most cordially in rejoicing at the return of peace. I hope it will be lasting, and that mankind will at length, as they call themselves reasonable creatures, have reason enough to settle their differences without cutting throats; for, in my opinion, there never was a good war or a bad peace. What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of life might mankind have acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of utility!

Imagine my dismay then to read an article yesterday detailing a new nuclear smart bomb, the B61-12, being developed by the US military. As the article states:

“The concern over the B61-12 — and the thing that could make it the most dangerous bomb in the US arsenal — is that such an accurate and usable nuclear weapon could encourage military thinkers to start imagining a wider variety of situations in which the use of nuclear weapons would be acceptable. “

“Once the B61-12 is fully tested and deployed, it will be integrated into existing NATO forces and the F-35 in order to enhance the alliance’s nuclear posture in Europe. “

The entire article is found here.

So with one hand the US makes deals to stop nuclear weapons proliferation while at the same time it continues to develop nuclear-enhanced weapons. What is even more alarming about the B61-12 is that as stated above it may make the use of nuclear weapons “more acceptable” in combat. Not only is this a horrible idea from the standpoint of greater loss of life, especially collateral, but this could set off an entirely new and different kind of nuclear arms race as other nations follow suit.

The B61-12 is just the latest in a whole series of smart bombs, but its development, to put it mildly, is just plain dumb.

Midweek Essays are published every Wednesday. Please see the publication schedule page for more details.

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