Let me ask you a question: If you were running Iran, would you try
to develop nuclear weapons?
Apparently the editors of the Los Angeles Times would also answer "Yes."
The lead editorial in Friday's Times was comment on the release of the U.S.
government's latest "National Security Strategy." That's the one in
which President Bush's introduction begins, "America is at war," and
then goes on to specifically name Iran as an enemy of the United States. The
document also reiterates the U.S. commitment to pre-emptive or preventive war.
The Times puts it this way:
"In invading Iraq, Bush has created his own nightmare. Iraq is now a
magnet for jihadists. And Iran is even more determined to develop nuclear
weapons to forestall a fate similar to Iraq's. ... A document that names as
enemies Iran and North Korea ... provides all the justification those regimes
need for a nuclear deterrent of their own. And it virtually guarantees a continuation
of the very proliferation that Bush has identified as the greatest threat
In plainer language, the bomb is the symbol of maturity in the world today.
Nations that have the bomb are treated as grown-ups. Nations without the bomb
get no respect. To many Iranians, not all of them fanatic clerics who dress
funny, building a bomb is the only protection against Americans trying to take
over their world. Non-proliferation would make more sense if you are not afraid
of the Americans.
Again, what would you do? The United States says it is at war, you
are the enemy, and it will strike first if it decides that is in its national
interest. But that is not likely to happen if you have nuclear weapons.
That is a lesson learned for many bad guys -- including Saddam Hussein. It
seems that the reason the Iraqi tyrant was pretending to have weapons of mass
destruction was not to scare the Americans, but to deter the Iranians. According
to the new book by Michael Gordon and retired general Bernard Trainor, "Cobra
II," Saddam was afraid that if Iran knew that Iraq no longer had stocks
of poison gas -- both sides used gas in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war that ended
in 1988 -- then Iran might not be deterred if it had visions of moving into
President Bush, judging from the 49-page National Security Strategy, seems
to have learned no lesson, including the fact that America is not really at
war. The government and its volunteer military and the new brand of privatized
paramilitary corporations are at war. But the whole thing is just television
to most of the citizenry -- at least, those who do not have servicemen and women
in the family, or do not have a financial stake in keeping this thing going.
Besides, this adventure is not going to be paid for by us, but by our children
and grandchildren, who will be the ones paying the bills. In case you do not
follow such things, the national debt has increased by 50 percent during this
"War," to me, is not the most disturbing word in the strategy document.
What scares me is the word "our." As in: "It is the policy of
the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions
in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our
It is not "our" world. It is "the" world, still a planet
of nations wallowing in their own history, ambition, fantasies -- and self-interests.
The American fantasy these days is that we are better than other people and
they all want to be just like us.
What other people want is what we have, "things." Things like cars
and iPods, clean water and good health. And they want us to leave them alone
or treat them as grown-ups.
We are drowning in our own hype. If God really made us so much better than
other people, we would have been able to beat the South Koreans and Mexicans
in the opening rounds of the World Baseball Classic last week.