Now they tell us that Osama bin Laden’s nascent state may have acquired the nation state’s proudest product: nuclear weapons. They should have thought of that back in 1942 when the federal government began the Manhattan Project — appropriately named since Manhattan is one of the most likely targets for a bin Laden nuke. What were these federales thinking, that other evil people would never steal their nuclear secrets? In spite of unprecedented security measures, Stalin knew almost as much as Roosevelt about what the mad scientists in Los Alamos were down to.
Now we have these nukes and what do we do with them? What use are they? The Ukraine recently got rid of its arsenal, apparently realizing that countries with nukes are more likely to get nuked than countries without nukes. Our well-paid national security geeks are smarter than the Slavs. They figure we need nukes to protect us from the countries that produced nukes because we did, so they could destroy us after we destroyed them. Nobody wants to be dead all by himself. We needed to make them first because if we didn’t, other countries would have done so. Then, we would have had to make them to destroy other countries after they had destroyed us. These days, we need them to stop China from landing five million troops at Los Angeles. (Aren’t there already five million Chinese in L.A.?)
Truth is, I don’t know why we need nukes. The only person who does know is Edward Teller. I have never been able to decipher his accent but I gather he likes them because making the H-bomb was the all-time great power trip. Bully for him, but what about the rest of us? E. T. is scribbling Alzheimerized calculus on the walls of some nursing home’s rec room, while we have to live in a nuclearized world for the rest of our lives. Thanks, Ed!
(For speaking engagements)
(For mass murder)
With apologies to my friend Dr. Thomas Szasz, for years I have thought that the systematic production of nuclear weapons was a manifestation of mass hysteria, a kind of collective mental illness. I have thought that the production, use or even possession of such ghastly weapons should be declared a crime against humanity and subject the guilty to the most rapid and extreme forms of punishment civilization can justify. At other times, though, I thought to myself, all these wise men who promote these weapons as the guarantor of world peace must know something I don’t. Maybe I’m the crazy one. Let’s put it this way. Let’s just say that if we survive this century (this year?) without seeing mushroom clouds rising over our greatest cities, I will have been happily proven wrong. Would you like to bet your life on it? You already have.
November 3, 2001
James Ostrowski is an attorney practicing at 984 Ellicott Square, Buffalo, New York 14203; (716) 854-1440; FAX 853-1303. See his website at http://jimostrowski.com.