Plenty of Nukes


A little more than half of the U.S. population lives in 75 metropolitan areas. Russia has 4,399 nuclear warheads deployed. Except for 624 to be carried by bombers, they are all land-based and submarine missiles.

Furthermore, this past week Russia test-fired a land-based missile, the RSM54, and a submarine-launched missile. Both were intercontinental. Both hit their targets dead-on. The sub launch was, by the way, the sixth such test-firing conducted this year.

In the meantime, Iran has no nuclear weapons and no intercontinental ballistic missiles or long-range bombers. North Korea might have two or three nuclear missiles. Yet the administration, and most of America’s news media, seems obsessed with Iran, no doubt because Israel is obsessed with Iran. A story by the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee played a lobbying role in deleting a provision in the defense bill that would have required the president to get Congress’ OK before launching a war against Iran.

So what’s my point? First, when assessing threats, all but fools look at capability, not intentions or rhetoric. Russia has the capability of wiping us out. Iran would be hard-pressed to sink one destroyer. Therefore, it would behoove us to put good relations with Russia very high on a diplomatic agenda. Yet, on the contrary, the Bush administration goes out of its way to insult Russia and to interfere in what Russia sees as its internal affairs.

Secondly, because of the cowardice of Congress, the U.S. government has allowed a little country in the Middle East to distort our priorities. Our first priority should be getting along with Russia. Iran is a small country we can squash anytime. Russia is not small, and it can squash us anytime. How darn stupid does one have to be not to realize that?

We’ve already blundered by not seizing the opportunity of the collapse of the Soviet Union to disband NATO and seriously pursue helping Russia join the West. Instead, we sent some financial sharpies in to help a few Russians steal most of the country’s wealth. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is 100 percent correct to go after the oligarchs who bought up the state’s resources for pennies on the dollar and became overnight billionaires. One is in jail, another fled to England, and several others have sought refuge in Israel.

When you hear Putin being maligned by people in the West, whether they’re in government, journalism or academia, just remember that money buys whores, and whores service their customers.

Future historians may view the failure to bring Russia into the West, when the opportunity was there, as one of history’s all-time strategic blunders.

The only legitimate interest we have in the Middle East is access to oil. Notice I said access, not control. It doesn’t matter who controls it, because whoever does will be willing to sell it, since oil is inedible. Other than that, we have no — I repeat, no — legitimate interests, national or otherwise, in that region of the world.

American politicians need to get over their fear of the Israeli lobby and attend to America’s business. Israel is a sovereign state with one of the world’s most powerful military machines and a higher per-capita gross domestic product than some of our NATO allies. We should cut the strings, stop the tax giveaways, repeal all of the special legislation and tell the Israelis they are on their own.

But, as John Wayne once said, that’ll be the day.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.