Time's Arrow: The Coming Nuclear Epiphany in Persia

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Twelve hours.
One circuit of the sun from horizon to horizon, one course of the
moon from dusk to dawn. What was once a natural measurement for
the daily round of human life is now a doom-laden interval between
the voicing of an autocrat’s brutal whim and the infliction of mass
annihilation halfway around the world.

Twelve hours
is the maximum time necessary for American bombers to gear up and
launch an unprovoked sneak attack – a Pearl Harbor in reverse
– against Iran, the
Washington Post reports
. The plan for this "global
strike," which includes a very viable "nuclear option,"
was approved months ago, and is now in operation. The planes are
already on continuous alert, making "nuclear delivery"
practice runs along the Iranian border, as Sy
Hersh reports
in the New Yorker, and waiting only for
the signal from President George W. Bush to drop their payloads
of conventional and nuclear weapons on some 400 targets spread throughout
the condemned land.

And when this
attack comes – either as a stand-alone "knock-out blow"
or else as the precursor to a full-scale, regime-changing invasion,
like the earlier aggression in Iraq – there will be no warning,
no declaration of war, no hearings, no public debate. The already
issued orders governing the operation put the decision solely in
the hands of the president: he picks up the phone, he says, "Go"
– and in twelve hours’ time, up to a million Iranians will
be dead.

potential death toll is not pacifist hyperbole; it comes from a
Academy of Sciences study
sponsored by the Pentagon itself,
as The
Progressive reports
. (Although Bush’s military brass like
to peddle the public lie that "we don’t do body counts"
of the enemy, in reality, like all good businessmen they keep precise
accounts of their production outputs: i.e., corpses.) The Pentagon’s
NAS study calibrated the kill-rate from "bunker-busting"
tactical nukes used to take out underground facilities – such
as those which house much of Iran’s nuclear power program.

Another simulation
by scientists, using Pentagon-devised software, was even more specific,
measuring the aftermath of a "limited" nuclear attack
on the main Iranian underground site in Esfahan, the magazine reports.
This small expansion of the Pentagon franchise would result in stellar
production figures: three million people killed by radiation in
just two weeks, and 35 million people exposed to dangerous levels
of cancer-causing radiation in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Bush has about 50 nuclear "earth-penetrating weapons"
at his disposal, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Nor is the
idea of a nuclear strike on Iran mere "liberal paranoia."
Bush himself pointedly refused to take the nuclear option "off
the table" this week. But what’s more, Bush has made the use
of nuclear weapons a centerpiece of his "National Security
Strategy of the United States," issued last month, The Progressive
notes. While reaffirming the criminal principle of "pre-emptive"
attacks on perceived enemies which may or may not be threatening
America with weapons they may or may not possess, Bush declared
that "safe, credible and reliable nuclear forces continue to
play a critical role" in the "offensive strike systems"
that are now a key part of America’s "deterrence."

In the depraved
jargon of atomic warmongering, a "credible" nuclear force
is one that can and will be used in the course of ordinary military
operations. It is no longer to be regarded as a sacred taboo. This
has long been the dream of the Pentagon’s "nuclear priesthood"
and its acolytes, going back to the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
For decades, a strong faction within the American power structure
has been afflicted with a perverted craving to unleash these weapons
once more. An almost sexual frustration can be discerned in their
laments as time and again, in crisis after crisis, their counsels
for "going nuclear" were rejected – often at the
very last moment. To justify their aberrant desire, they have relentlessly
demonized an ever-changing array of "enemies," painting
each one as an imminent, overwhelming threat, led by "madmen"
in thrall to pure evil, impervious to reason, fit only for destruction.
Evidence for the "threat" is invariably exaggerated, manipulated,
even manufactured; this ritual cycle has been enacted over and over,
leading to many wars – but never to that ultimate, orgasmic

this paranoid sect has at last seized the commanding heights of
American power. Two of its most venerable and faithful adherents
are the central players in the court of the Crawford Caligula: Vice
President Dick Cheney and Pentagon warlord Donald Rumsfeld. And
they have found a most eager disciple in the peevish dullard strutting
in the Oval Office. Under their sinister tutelage, Bush has eviscerated
40 years’ worth of arms control treaties; officially "normalized"
the use of nuclear weapons, even against non-nuclear states; rewarded
outlaw proliferators like India, Israel and Pakistan; and is now
destroying the last and most effective restraint on the spread of
nuclear weapons: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The treaty
guarantees its signatories – such as Iran – the right
to establish nuclear power programs in exchange for rigorous international
inspections. But Bush has arbitrarily decided that Iran – whose
nuclear program undergone perhaps
the most extensive inspection process in history
– must
end its lawful activities. Why? Because the country is led by "madmen"
in thrall to pure evil, impervious to reason, who one day may or
may not threaten America with weapons they may or may not have.

So the NPT
is dead. As with the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution,
it now means only what Bush says it means. Force of arms, not rule
of law, is the new world order. The attack on Iran is coming. And
Bush is insisting that the nuclear option remain in the warplans,
despite resistance from top military officers, as Hersh reports.
The obvious, murderous insanity of such a move in no way precludes
its implementation by this gang – as their invasion of Iraq
clearly shows.

The nuclear
sectarians have waited decades for this moment. Such a chance may
never come again. Will they let it pass, when with just a word,
in just twelve hours, they can see their god rising in a pillar
of fire over Persia?

This is
an expanded version of a column appearing in the April 21 edition
of the Moscow Times.

24, 2006

Floyd, Global Eye columnist for the Moscow Times, is the
author of Empire
Burlesque: The Secret History of the Bush Regime

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