Jonathan Schell: Are we headed to endless wars?

July 12, 2007

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?

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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.


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