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Commentary :: Environment : Globalization : Human Rights : International : Politics : Race : Technology
Workers World EDITORIAL: Beware the nukes!
19 Feb 2005
The duplicity of Washington's position on nuclear weapons was recently underscored by a report that, a decade and a half after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. still deploys approximately 480 nuclear warheads in Europe.
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Workers World EDITORIAL: Beware the nukes!
Published Feb 17, 2005 11:19 PM

The duplicity of Washington's position on nuclear weapons was recently underscored by a report that, a decade and a half after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. still deploys approximately 480 nuclear warheads in Europe.

The report of the Natural Resources Defense Council, entitled "U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe," is based on declassified documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, military publications, commercial satellite imagery and other documents. The U.S. weapons currently are located at eight air force bases in six European countries: Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Nether lands, Turkey and Britain.

The report points out that the United States is the only country in the world with nuclear weapons stationed outside its borders, and that most Europeans have no idea they are there.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia withdrew all its tactical nuclear weapons from the former Soviet states. The U.S. withdrew thousands of its weapons, too--but left in place in Europe what is still the largest arsenal of nukes in the world, after the overall figures for the U.S. and Russia. The 480 are more than those held by either Britain or France, the European countries that are the world's next-largest nuclear powers.

Why is there no outcry about the dangers posed by this deployment of the most fearsome weapons ever devised? One accident could be catastrophic in densely populated Europe. And the possibility that the U.S. government might deliberately use them in a conflict--either in Europe or the Middle East--cannot be discounted.

It's not as though the U.S. has a record of peacefully staying within its own borders. No other country on Earth has sent so many troops abroad and carried out so many wars over the last 60 years. And Washington is forever branded by its decision to use atomic bombs in World War II against civilian targets--the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were obliterated by bombs tiny in comparison to the destructive power of today's nukes.

Nor should it be forgotten that the Bush administration has also backed out of earlier U.S. commitments never to be the first to use nuclear weapons. For many countries around the world on this administration's hit list, the nuclear threat has become very real.

And now the Rumsfeld gang at the Pentagon are demanding money to develop a whole new generation of nuclear weapons--so-called "bunker busters" and tactical battlefield "mini-nukes"--to make up for the fact that fewer young people in this country want to die on foreign battlefields for the likes of ExxonMobil and Halliburton.

Yet, with all this, both parties in Washington and the corporate media that parrot their line are obsessed today with North Korea's announcement that it has built a few nuclear weapons. And they speak ominously of Iran's development of nuclear power for civilian use, even though the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed El Baradei, continues to say there is absolutely no proof that Iran is building weapons.

In fact, Washington's response has been to press hard to remove El Baradei from his post. (Associated Press, Feb. 9)

Only people poisoned by class and national hatred and the venom of imperialist arrogance can fail to see that poor countries vulnerable to attack turn to developing nuclear weapons only as a last resort. If any real architecture to prevent imperialist wars and aggressions existed, they would not have to risk so much on self-defense. But there is none.

The United Nations didn't prevent the Korean War--rather, it was used by the U.S. as a cover for its aggression. And some 4 million Koreans died. The UN never even voted on the Vietnam War, which was universally seen as illegal, brutal and unjustified. It didn't try to stop the U.S. invasion of Grenada, or Somalia, or Panama, or Yugoslavia, or Iraq (twice). The majority of the countries of the world may have a few brief moments to orate in the General Assembly, but they have no power to deter the imperialists, who dominate the Security Council.

Thus, a country like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which has suffered on a level unimaginable to most people here from both direct U.S. aggression and decades of economic sanctions, must find another way to ensure its survival or become yet another victim of U.S. "regime change."

What the world needs is an anti-war, anti-imperialist movement on every continent so strong that it can stay the hand of the interventionists and war profiteers. In the meantime, progressives can at the very least speak out against the lynch-mob rhetoric of the politicians and media toward countries like North Korea and Iran.

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