An Option that Should Be Off the Table
This is a critical time for humanity, on multiple fronts. We need to figure out what to do about global warming, and pollution in general. We need to find ways to keep from destroying the other species that share this planet with us.
And, while we're doing that, we have to manage not to blow ourselves up, turning the entire planet into a dead, radioactive rock.
A recent article by George Lakoff, in the Huffington Post, points out a disturbing pattern in current U.S. politics. It's the use of the phrase "all options are on the table" as a euphemism for a preemptive nuclear strike.
Lakoff quotes the following exchange between George Bush and a reporter:
Reporter: "Does that include the possibility of a nuclear strike? Is that something that your administration will plan for?"
Bush: "All options are on the table."
He also points out that similar statements have been made by Dick Cheney, John McCain, John Edwards, Hilary Clinton, and Barack Obama.
This is not a conservative thing, or a liberal thing. It's a human thing.
My generation, my children's generation, and now my grandchildren have to live with the possibility of nuclear war. Ever since we stumbled on the technology, the human race has been struggling to find a way to keep a nuclear holocaust from being triggered.
For much of my life we did this by a sort of agreement among nations—that those of us who had nuclear weapons would not use them first, and that enough of us would have them that we would all be afraid to use them first.
One of the reasons this worked was that we drew a very clear and solid line between nuclear and conventional weapons. There was only one question that was going to be asked if a bomb was dropped: "Is it atomic?" If the answer was "yes" there would be grave consequences. Period.
But we (The United States) have now fuzzed that issue. We have created "tactical nuclear weapons", and started talking about them as though they are exceptions to the old rules.
The US decides to use "tactical" nukes on a foreign country.
The foreign country, or their allies, decide to strike back with "tactical" nukes as well.
We decide to use slightly more powerful "tactical" nukes in our next strike.
They do the same.
Before we even reach the limit of what we have already defined as "tactical", both sides are using bombs ten times as powerful as the one we dropped on Hiroshima.
It's time that we, the people, called for a halt to this madness. We do not need, and cannot afford, to use nuclear weapons.
I propose two things:
First, that Congress pass a law, defining the use of nuclear weapons of any type, except as retaliation for a direct nuclear attack on US territory, as a "high crime and misdemeanor" and as "mass murder" by definition, with an appropriate penalty for whoever issues the order.
Second, that each and every US citizen take a pledge not to vote for any candidate who will not promise to vote for such a law, and to abide by the idea behind it, even if it is not passed.
We are not playing games here. We are not even talking about what kind of future our children and grandchildren will have.
We are talking about whether they will have one at all.