Thanks to William M. Arkin (Opinion, Jan. 26), I now know that Dr. Strangelove is alive and well and living in the White House. I can't believe that President Bush could entertain the thought of using nuclear weapons in a preemptive strike. Has anyone given any thought to what sort of Pandora's box this would be opening? We would be giving the "it's OK" sign to all the despots of the world who now have, or soon will have, nuclear weapons that using them is no biggie. We are going to use "bunker busting" warheads to get to the weapons of mass destruction, thereby unleashing that which we hope to wipe out on the rest of the world. Are we so naive as to think that we can keep the chemicals, viruses and radiation fallout only on the Iraqi people? Is our own military going to be somehow immune?
The government is just now getting around to admitting that the Agent Orange used in Vietnam is responsible for serious medical problems in veterans (Jan. 24). Now we risk putting not just our military in danger but the rest of the world as well. What a sad legacy for a country that started out with such high ideals to leave for future generations. Of course, Bush and his cadre have nothing to fear. They will be deep in their bunker waiting for Die Gotterdammerung.
The U.S. is considering using nuclear weapons in Iraq to attack deep underground facilities containing weapons of mass destruction. To bomb the facilities we have to know where they are. If we know where they are, why not send the weapons inspectors there now and avoid the whole problem? We have a cowboy in the White House.
When I saw the Opinion headline "The Nuclear Option in Iraq," with the subhead, "The U.S. has lowered the bar for using the ultimate weapon," I literally became nauseated. Apparently, Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, et al., have no morals or consciences if they would stoop so low to have their way. The "new thinking" is that of madmen. Our leaders are projecting onto Saddam Hussein the phrase "mass destruction": what they themselves are planning.
Arkin reports that the Bush administration is considering attacking Iraqi facilities located so deep underground that they might be impervious to conventional explosives. Putting aside the exceedingly dangerous consequences the use of a nuclear weapon would bring about in terms of destroying nonproliferation and arms control efforts, it should be pointed out that the use of a nuclear weapon might not achieve its goal.
Several independent scientists have noted that success would depend on a number of factors and that there may be unintended consequences. For example, if a defender blocks off portions of the facility with heavy, insulating walls, agents beyond those walls are unlikely to be neutralized. For poorly designed underground facilities in soft rock or earth, damage may extend beyond the rupture zone, even though the fireball does not extend that far; in such cases live agents may be released into the atmosphere.
British American Security
How can we tell Hussein that Iraq has to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction while we ourselves are considering the use of nuclear weapons in a possible war against that country? Yes, Iraq and the rest of the planet would be better off if Hussein were removed from power. But are nuclear weapons the way to accomplish that? Are the members of the Bush administration so sure of themselves that they now flaunt this hypocrisy before the rest of the world? It's a wonder the U.N. doesn't pack up and move.
The mere suggestion that the U.S. might use nuclear weapons in a first strike provides greater legitimacy to such use by any other nation or terrorist group. This is not a good day for the U.S. or any other civilized power.
By all means, let's use nuclear weapons on Iraq. Let's use them on North Korea, Iran, Libya and everyone else we fear and hate. Let's turn this human species into ashes, so that the Earth can evolve something better; something softer, weaker; something that is less compelled to reach out and destroy what it sees of itself in others.
As I sat with my newborn son in my arms on Saturday, I wept as I read the headlines. I am terrified of that which the administration and its Pentagon planners are threatening to unleash on our world. I pray for my child.