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Presidential Race Ignores Arms Race

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Posted on May 21, 2008

By Amy Goodman

  As the U.S. presidential race continues, so does the arms race worldwide. People—civilians, children—are being killed and maimed, on a daily basis, by unexploded cluster bombs and land mines. Thousands of nuclear missiles remain at hair-trigger alert. The U.S. government rattles its saber at Iran, alleging a nuclear-weapons program, while at the same time offering uranium to Saudi Arabia. And with the war in Iraq well into its sixth year, one of its architects, Douglas J. Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy under Donald Rumsfeld, has predictably penned a revisionist history of the war and the decisions behind it.

  Feith said this week: “So while it was a terrible mistake for the administration to rely on the erroneous intelligence about WMD—and, I mean, it was catastrophic to our credibility—first of all, it was an honest error and not a lie. But even if you correct it for that error, what we found in Iraq was a serious WMD threat. Even though Saddam Hussein had chosen to not maintain the stockpiles, he had put himself in a position where he could have regenerated those stockpiles in three to five weeks.”

  In an interview I asked Hans Blix about Feith’s comments. He was the United Nations’ chief weapons inspector, in charge of the WMD search. Reflecting back five years, he said: “To prove that there is nothing is almost impossible. I think that if we had been in Iraq for a couple of months more, it would have been enough to make it extremely clear to everybody that the chances were real that there were no weapons of mass destruction.” Instead of waiting for the inspections, the Pentagon was busy trying to discredit Blix. I asked him about the allegations that the U.S. was bugging his office and home. He said, “I wish to heaven that they had listened a little better to what I had to say, if they did listen.”

  Blix describes the current state of the world as a “Cold Peace”: “It is hard to avoid the impression that—almost 20 years after the end of the Cold War—military calculations still dominate the long-term thinking about major global relations. Terrorism is formally made the chief enemy, but precautions are taken against the growing power of China and Russia.” President Bush’s nuclear-cooperation pact with India, Barack Obama’s stated willingness to unilaterally strike nuclear-armed U.S. ally Pakistan, Hillary Clinton’s promise to Iran to “totally obliterate” the nation of 70 million (should it attack Israel), and John McCain’s hard-line position on Russia, including the deployment of a missile defense in eastern Europe, all point to a reliance on military solutions that Blix sees as a path to conflict and war.

  In a remarkable demonstration of hypocrisy, the Bush administration has pledged to deliver enriched uranium to Saudi Arabia. Anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman said: “The idea of giving enriched uranium to the Saudis while threatening war with the Iranians for enriching uranium is astonishing. The idea that the Saudis are going to somehow lower the price of oil on the basis of possibly getting nuclear reactors in the future is just almost staggering to think about.”


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  I asked Blix what is the single most important thing the U.S. could do to support world peace. Sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, he said: “Then I think it’s very likely that the Chinese, who have not ratified, will follow. If China does it, maybe India does. If India does, Pakistan does, etc. And the treaty would enter into force. It would be a great thing if we outlawed any nuclear-weapons tests in the future.”

  Nuclear weapons are not the only weapons of mass destruction. As I spoke to Blix, hundreds of people were meeting in Dublin, Ireland, to craft an anti-cluster-bomb treaty, the cause Princess Diana championed in the last years of her life. The Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions is dedicated “to negotiate a new instrument of international humanitarian law banning cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.”

  The conference in Dublin has 128 participating nations. Absent is the leading producer of cluster munitions, the United States. Russia and China are also not there.

  From nuclear proliferation to the use of cluster bombs—coverage of the presidential campaign should focus more on the arms race, less on the horse race.

  Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 650 stations in North America. Her third book, “Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times,” was published in April.

  © 2008 Amy Goodman

  Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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By leequin, May 23, 2008 at 6:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

On military force against a nuclear Iran, this is what I found (

Clinton: “if we do have to take offensive military action against Iran, it would be far better if the rest of the world saw it as a position of last resort, not first resort”

McCain: “every option must remain on the table. Military action isn’t our preference. It remains, as it always must, the last option.”

Obama: “I don’t think the President of the United States takes military options off the table, but I think that we obviously have to measure costs and benefits in all the decisions that we make.”

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By webbedouin, May 22, 2008 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The US is the Number 1 arms dealer in the world. Defense contractors get 1.8 billion a year in orders from Israel, our tax dollars, given as military aid which must be spent in America.  Flush with military aid/US tax dollars laundered through Israel, defense contractors contribute greatly to Presidential and all other candidates to keep the Merry-go-Round spinning.  Polititians won’t mention this, because (A) they need the money and (B) they are bought & paid for by the arms manufacturers.

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By Shenonymous, May 22, 2008 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment

The Bush failed regime is grabbing at straws, nuclear straws, in its scramble to try to save its already lost ass by its usual acts of insanity.  The Arabs are putting the thumbscrews to Bush over the price of oil.  We all know the price of crude is a complete fabrication of the Saudis who absolutely understands that to limit the amount of oil on the market will screw Bush in the only way they can.  They want something, nuclear, uh like uranium.  We know there is no shortage except the shortage on brains in Bush and his henchmen.

Americans must learn to eliminate their dependence on oil and oil products.  It isn’t just gasoline that is dependent on the oil industry, but all the oil derivative products.  The whole story needs told, not just what is being given from a small lens view.

There are more than 4,000 petrochemical products that are made from petroleum (crude oil).  The following is just a short list. 

artificial limbs, bags (garbage bags, shopping bags), balloons, bandaids, candles, clothing (polyester, nylon), combs, computers, calculators, crayons, credit cards, dishwashing liquids, disposable diapers, eye glasses, sunglasses, fishing rods, flooring (linoleum, tiles, carpets), garden hose, hand lotion, cream, petroleum jelly, heart valves, helmets (bicycle, hockey, etc.), insect repellent, insecticides, life jackets, milk jugs, paint brushes, panty hose, parachutes, pens, perfume, rope (nylon),safety glass, shampoo, shower curtains, shower doors, soft contact lenses, soft drink bottles, plastic bottles, telephones, tennis rackets, tires (synthetic rubber), toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, trash bags,  waterproof jackets, boots, pants

I’m sure I can do without balloons.  We can party without them.

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By rhw, May 22, 2008 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is collecting a million signatures for its Appeal to the next US President, calling for him or her to provide US leadership for a world free of nuclear weapons.

You can sign today at

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By JimM, May 21, 2008 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

Write to Georgetown U, and inquire as to why they are employing a war criminal as a professor.

It is the least we can do

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By troublesum, May 21, 2008 at 4:52 pm Link to this comment

Whenever people talk about the arms race or disarmament I remember Dr Helen Caldicot speaking to an audience in up-state New York 20 years or so ago.
There is an Air Force base not far from where she spoke and she said, “If you care about your children’s future shut that Air Force base down; go over there and shut it down!!”
It is we who have allowed this war psychosis to go on.  An outside, objective observer would conclude that the purpose of the US to destroy life on earth.  Ours is a culture of death.

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By PatrickHenry, May 21, 2008 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

Why do you think he has been so “blacked out”?

Corporate media parent companies include the “Military Industrial Complex”.

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By TadK, May 21, 2008 at 3:10 pm Link to this comment

This isn’t an issue because Superpower ignores all attempts to limit its power.  The assumption is that we own the world therefore any international treaties that restrict our movement is illigitimate.

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