The Ticking Clock

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I think the fate not only of our own civilization, but I think the fate of world and the future of the human race, is involved in preventing a nuclear war.” ~ John F. Kennedy — Third Nixon-Kennedy Presidential Debate, October 13, 1960

"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table." ~ President George W. Bush, February 2005

Mankind invented the damned thing and has used it twice. Sooner or later mankind will use it again.

We all know what the damned thing is, The Bomb. Despite multifarious efforts to contain and control nuclear weapons through a variety of treaties, the promise of a mushroom cloud looms ominously on the horizon.

Must the 21st century be scorched by a nuclear war? I see little chance of stopping it.

In 1967, Secretary of State Robert S. McNamara said: "No sane citizen, political leader or nation wants thermonuclear war." Do the U.S., Israel and Iran have sane political leaders?

To avoid "mutual assured destruction," the world needs rational decisions of rational governments headed by rational leaders backed by rational citizens.

Where are these rational leaders of governments? You tell me. The U.S. is run by trigger-happy, paranoid gunslingers and several other countries, such as North Korea and Iran appear to be just as reckless.

By the ill-advised invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States exposed a serious vulnerability in its much-vaunted military might. The U.S. cannot fight, or win, a long term, ground-based, guerilla war. The citizens of America do not want a ruthless Empire-building regime… not that what Americans want is of any concern to the Bush Administration or to the "think" tanks which design and drive the policies.

Men who ought to know better are repeating the mistakes made in the Vietnam War.

This "back to the future" state of affairs has not gone unnoticed by Iraq’s neighbor Iran. Hated by the late Saddam Hussein, by the American public, by the manipulators in Washington and by the leaders of Israel, Iran has seen its opportunity for Middle East dominance. Hoping that the U.S. will suffer a serious humiliation in Iraq, does Iran do more than pray for the Shia majority in Iraq? Remember, Iran has a powerful friend in Russia.

A game of defiance is being played out by the Iranian regime. It is a game of brinksmanship to see just how much Iran can get away with… and gain in the process.

As a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses. Israel, Pakistan and India, all nuclear powers, are not signatories. This is the trump card Iran has been playing all along.

Does Iran have a covert nuclear weapons program? Nobody really knows. This is precisely Iran’s idea, to keep the world guessing. The potential of Iran possessing nuclear weapons gives that country clout and leverage in the Middle East.

The possibility of an Iran capable of launching nuclear weapons certainly has much of the world quite nervous… too nervous. Previously committed to non-nuclear policies, other Persian Gulf nations are concerned to the point of reversing those policies and have announced their own plans of developing "peaceful" nuclear capabilities.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has stated quite clearly that Israel will not permit a nuclear Iran.

The United States also considers a nuclear Iran unacceptable. Does the U.S. dare to invade Iran with a conventional ground army? Obviously, this is a ludicrous impossibility. The US military has told Bush only 9,000 troops are available for his "surge" in Iraq. Bush has rejected diplomacy. So what are the remaining options? I think they are fairly obvious. Is wiping Iran off the map one of those "options" Bush has left on the table?

How far does Iran dare to push Israel and the United States? How far do Israel and the U.S. dare to push Iran? At what point will someone lose a nuclear temper? Israel may be standing on the brink right now with reports of plans to nuke Iranian nuclear facilities. Israel denies the report labeling it "incorrect."

Time and time again Israel has shown little mercy to those who threaten her. The state of Israel believes in ensuring its survival. Brutal retaliation for any threat to her security has been Israel’s modus operandi. And now, after last summer’s Lebanese debacle, Israel sits in embarrassed defeat by Hezbollah… and fearful of another Holocaust.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad needs to learn some tact. Recently the Iranian president further taunted Israel with his Holocaust Conference.

Ahmadinejad has been quoted as calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map." Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran’s foreign minister attempted to clarify Ahmadinejad’s speech. Speaking in Brussels, Mottaki said of Israel "We do not recognize legally this regime.” Mottaki asked, "How is it possible to remove a country from the map?" Good question. Ask Israel, ask Bush?

Will the Israelis use the boastings of an increasingly unpopular loud mouth like Ahmadinejad as one of their excuses to attack Iran? It’s been done before… in Iraq.

Will Israel say "enough!" and push the button?

Or will George W. Bush beat Israel to it? As "War President," Mr. Bush has been a failure. Public support for Bush’s "Global War on Terror" has turned against him not because of the illegality, expense or slaughter but because losing another war has embarrassed America and her puffed up president.

Delusional dreams of conquest have addled The Decider’s decision making. Reality is falling dreadfully short of his fantasies.

A second U.S. carrier strike group has been sent to the Persian Gulf, not for diplomatic purposes but as a threat to Iran. Like a sitting duck, these carrier groups are easy targets for Iran’s newly acquired missiles. It’s almost as if Bush is baiting the Iranians to lob a missile at a U.S. aircraft carrier which would give him the green light to push the red button.

Bush means business. A tactical U.S. nuclear strike would serve as a firm warning to the rest of the world that The Will of Bush must be served. Or would it? In the twilight of his second term, Bush is desperate to do something glorious. Is Bush crazy enough to consider nuclear war a crowning glory?

Are any of the involved parties rational enough to back away from Armageddon?

Elizabeth Gyllensvard contributed to and edited this story.

Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.

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