Saturday, August 20, 2005

Islam and American WMDs

I belong to , an organization dedicated to solving the world’s problems — initially the nuclear arms race, and now other looming dangers too. One member of the international council of Pugwash is Pervez , a Pakistani professor of nuclear and high-energy physics in Islamabad. I want to quote small portions from his paper, entitled “Bin Laden and .” In it he traces the still-unfolding consequences of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For one thing, other countries immediately began seeking nuclear weapons of their own. Most fateful among them, in the world, was Israel. Prime Minister David Ben Gurion ordered his agents to seek out East European Jewish scientists who could “either increase the capacity to kill masses or to cure masses.”

America’s continuing military dominance has perpetuated hatred against it around the world. Hoodbhoy reveals Bin Ladin’s aspirations as shown in one of his taped messages:

“Bin Laden called up the image of the bombing of Japan, claiming: ‘When people at the ends of the earth, Japan, were killed by their hundreds of thousands, young and old, it was not considered a war crime; it is something that has justification. Millions of children in Iraq is something that has justification.’”

Hoodbhoy has his own moral objections to American . He continues:

“The United States has bombed 21 countries since 1948, and recently killed tens of thousands of people on the pretext of chasing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It claims to be a force for democracy and rule of law despite a long history of supporting the bloodiest of dictators and rejecting the International Criminal Court. And now it threatens its adversaries – those with and without weapons – with nuclear attack. George Bush’s “Nuclear Posture Review 2002” identifies as possible targets China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya. The review also recommended new facilities for the manufacture of nuclear bombs, research into bunker busters, a new ICBM in 2020, and much more….

“The US currently will spend $455 billion on its armed forces in 2005, with another $82 billion to be spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is more than the total sum spent by the next 32 countries down the list, and is close to 50% of total world military spending. US military doctrines have shifted away from deterrence to pre-emption, unilateral military intervention, and simultaneously fighting several local wars overseas. The US military has put in place a 2004 “Interim Global Strike Alert Order" from Donald requiring it to be ready to attack hostile countries that are developing weapons of mass destruction, specifically Iran and North Korea. The military claims to be capable of carrying out such attacks within ‘half a day or less’ and to use nuclear weapons for this purpose.

“There are demands from the US Air Force for authority to put weapons in . A former Secretary of the Air Force explained ‘We haven't reached the point of strafing and bombing from space… nonetheless, we are thinking about those possibilities.’ Full spectrum dominance – in land, sea, air, and space – is necessary to achieve the goal of total planetary control.”

Hoodbhoy quotes Major (P) Ralph Peters, a planner in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, as saying:

“We have entered an age of constant conflict. We are entering a new American century, in which we will become still wealthier, culturally more lethal, and increasingly powerful. We will excite hatreds without precedent.

“There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.”

But now the cat is out of the bag. The nuclear monopoly is breaking down. Hoodbhoy writes,

“…The physics of nuclear explosions can be readily taught to graduate students. By stealing fissile materials present in the thousands of ex-Soviet bombs marked for disassembly, or even a tiny fraction of the vast amounts of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium present in research reactors and storage sites the world over, it is unnecessary to go through complex processes for uranium enrichment or reprocessing.”

In Hoodbhoy’s opinion, the danger of nuclear conflict comes not from Muslim states, but from radical individuals inside those states. Pakistan, for example, has airlifted some of its nuclear weapons to safer, isolated areas. Yet a high-ranking nuclear engineer, Syed Bashiruddin Mahmood and a materials specialist have traveled to Afghanistan. Mahmood was photographed with Osama Bin Laden. Hoodbhoy notes,

“The possibilities for nuclear attack are not limited to the so-called suitcase bomb stolen from the arsenal of a nuclear state. In fact, this is far more difficult than the use of improvised nuclear devices fabricated from highly enriched uranium, constructed in the very place where they will eventually be detonated. Still more likely is an attack on a vulnerable nuclear or spent fuel repository.

“Some nuclear weapon experts (who I am not at liberty to name) privately believe that it is not a question of if but when the attack is to happen. This may be too pessimistic, but obviously tight policing and monitoring of nuclear materials (and rapid reduction of stockpiles) and nuclear weapons knowledge must be the first step. There should not be the slightest delay in moving on this. But this is far from sufficient…. Humanity’s best chance of survival lies in creating taboos against nuclear weapons, much as already exist for chemical and biological weapons, and to work rapidly toward their global elimination. We cannot afford to live in a savage dog-eat-dog world. Instead, we must dare to imagine and work urgently towards a future that is based on universal, compassionate, human, secular values. For this to happen, the civilized world will have to subdue the twin ogres of American and Islamic radicalism.”


So how do we achieve this? In a democratic society, the government responds to public pressure. There’s a huge difference between living one’s own quiet, private life, hoping for the best, and becoming engaged in the extraordinary public responsibility to save the world.

You can pick your issue (I choose the nuclear issue) but please don’t waste your time. We need you to help save the world.


Anonymous Rodrick Arras said...

Hello. I just wanted to give a quick greeting and tell you I enjoyed reading your material.

9:02 AM  

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