Says Schell: After the Soviet Union was no more, the US military machine kept on rolling with virtually no debate. And that was the road to invading Iraq. Will it also lead to an attack on Iran?


Story Transcript

JONATHAN SCHELL, AUTHOR: Now we hear that new wars, even endless wars, may be on the horizon. Isn’t it time we debated whether a foreign policy that weakens our economy and costs the lives of hundreds of thousands of people is in the interests of most Americans?

~~~

SCHELL: The United States built up a fantastic military machine to match or over-match the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Then the Soviet Union collapsed, and the United States alone was left with this machinery of war. And the question really at that point was would we embrace it for the new age? Was there something now to do with that machinery which really had been built for another purpose altogether? That debate never really took place. Instead, the military machine just rolled forward, and eventually new purposes were found for it, but especially, of course, after September 11. And that [inaudible] was the road into Iraq. Then if you look at the whole question of the military budget, which is skyrocketing and which is about to reach about $750 billion, the question never gets put: “Does the United States actually want to have a military budget on this fantastical scale? And does the public really want the United States to have this military dominance in effect or to seek it—we don’t really have it—to seek it over the entire globe?” The Iraq war is a case in which an entire false picture of a reality was foisted by one country upon the other. In my opinion, it goes way beyond the deceptions regarding the weapons of mass destruction, in which the news media were complicit. In the aftermath, of course, the United States start setting up a so-called government, but that very word government is a misnomer for what you have there in Iraq. It’s like calling wallpaper a room. It’s a lie to use the word government. It has none of the qualities that define a government. It doesn’t have police. It doesn’t have an army. It doesn’t have an air force. It can’t deliver electricity, medical care. It can’t pick up the garbage in its own capital city. You know, what you have in Iran is a different situation from Iraq, because without question Iran does have a nuclear program. The problem with nuclear programs is that the first nine out of the ten steps towards the bomb are also steps towards having the nuclear fuel cycle. And all countries under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty are permitted, actually, to have the nuclear fuel cycle. So Iran is perfectly in its rights in taking nine out of ten steps towards the bomb. Now, so that seems to be pretty well-established factually, that they are indeed starting up a large centrifuge program and so on and so forth. The questions that arise there are twofold, and neither kind of question is really being investigated thoroughly. First, how close Iran would be to actually having a bomb, owing to its nuclear power program, which it certainly has. And the second would be whether the array of policies now under consideration or in effect towards Iran are really a proper or feasible way of heading off such a threat. My own opinion is that countries that start down the path towards nuclear weapons are not likely to desist because of sanctions or some such thing, because they know very well they’re going to be living in a nuclear-armed world: there’s a nuclear-armed Israel next door; there’s Russia, England, and France over the horizon. England and France, as well as the United States, have already stated clearly that they regard attacking countries that support terrorism as being one of the missions of their nuclear forces. And this, by the way, has gone completely unreported. There were major speeches by both Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac—they were reported in their own countries, but not in the United States. And the Bush administration too has adopted a series of policy, again completely underreported. The program is called “Global Strike,” which is specifically designed to give the United States a capacity to very quickly attack with nuclear as well as conventional weapons any target in the world with non-proliferation or counter-proliferation very much in mind.

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Story Transcript

JONATHAN SCHELL, AUTHOR: Now we hear that new wars, even endless wars, may be on the horizon. Isn’t it time we debated whether a foreign policy that weakens our economy and costs the lives of hundreds of thousands of people is in the interests of most Americans? ~~~ SCHELL: The United States built up a fantastic military machine to match or over-match the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Then the Soviet Union collapsed, and the United States alone was left with this machinery of war. And the question really at that point was would we embrace it for the new age? Was there something now to do with that machinery which really had been built for another purpose altogether? That debate never really took place. Instead, the military machine just rolled forward, and eventually new purposes were found for it, but especially, of course, after September 11. And that [inaudible] was the road into Iraq. Then if you look at the whole question of the military budget, which is skyrocketing and which is about to reach about $750 billion, the question never gets put: “Does the United States actually want to have a military budget on this fantastical scale? And does the public really want the United States to have this military dominance in effect or to seek it—we don’t really have it—to seek it over the entire globe?” The Iraq war is a case in which an entire false picture of a reality was foisted by one country upon the other. In my opinion, it goes way beyond the deceptions regarding the weapons of mass destruction, in which the news media were complicit. In the aftermath, of course, the United States start setting up a so-called government, but that very word government is a misnomer for what you have there in Iraq. It’s like calling wallpaper a room. It’s a lie to use the word government. It has none of the qualities that define a government. It doesn’t have police. It doesn’t have an army. It doesn’t have an air force. It can’t deliver electricity, medical care. It can’t pick up the garbage in its own capital city. You know, what you have in Iran is a different situation from Iraq, because without question Iran does have a nuclear program. The problem with nuclear programs is that the first nine out of the ten steps towards the bomb are also steps towards having the nuclear fuel cycle. And all countries under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty are permitted, actually, to have the nuclear fuel cycle. So Iran is perfectly in its rights in taking nine out of ten steps towards the bomb. Now, so that seems to be pretty well-established factually, that they are indeed starting up a large centrifuge program and so on and so forth. The questions that arise there are twofold, and neither kind of question is really being investigated thoroughly. First, how close Iran would be to actually having a bomb, owing to its nuclear power program, which it certainly has. And the second would be whether the array of policies now under consideration or in effect towards Iran are really a proper or feasible way of heading off such a threat. My own opinion is that countries that start down the path towards nuclear weapons are not likely to desist because of sanctions or some such thing, because they know very well they’re going to be living in a nuclear-armed world: there’s a nuclear-armed Israel next door; there’s Russia, England, and France over the horizon. England and France, as well as the United States, have already stated clearly that they regard attacking countries that support terrorism as being one of the missions of their nuclear forces. And this, by the way, has gone completely unreported. There were major speeches by both Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac—they were reported in their own countries, but not in the United States. And the Bush administration too has adopted a series of policy, again completely underreported. The program is called “Global Strike,” which is specifically designed to give the United States a capacity to very quickly attack with nuclear as well as conventional weapons any target in the world with non-proliferation or counter-proliferation very much in mind. DISCLAIMER: Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Jonathan Schell

We deeply regret the passing of Jonathan Schell. We will do
everything possible to keep his life long mission for peace and
disarmament a central part of TRNN coverage.

Jonathan joined the board of TRNN in 2005, he was at our very
first board meeting, smiling ear to ear. Since that day he never
missed an opportunity to stress the importance of our work.

As a journalist and anti-war activist he condemned conflicts
from Vietnam to Iraq and warned of a nuclear holocaust in
terrifying detail in his prize-winning book, The Fate of the
Earth (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize).

He was a writer and journalist, Peace and Disarmament
Correspondent for The Nation magazine, a fellow at the Nation
Institute, visiting lecturer at the Yale Law School, and a staff
writer at The New Yorker magazine from 1967 to 1987. He was a
native of NY.

Schell's companion, Irena Gross, reported that Schell died of
cancer on Tuesday at their home in New York City.

Here is a link to his work with TRNN:
The Real News

The Nation Magazine:
The Nation