Mar 04, 2024
Mar 04, 2024
America was the first to design and use nuclear weapons. It shared the destructive expertise with Britain and France and initiated the atoms for peace under Eisenhower. Russia had enough smart scientists of its own and detonated its own atom bomb soon thereafter. This led to an escalating arms race with Teller's thermonuclear weapon and again a few years later Russia followed. It shared nuclear expertise with China, allowing it to become the fifth and final member of the exclusive club, which barred further entrants.
There is much crowing in the American press and administration currently about the recent nuclear concessions by Iran and the renunciation of WMD by Libya. This is promoting a further hardening of the attitude towards North Korea and Syria. There is substantial benefit and rationality in using military and economic threats to coerce vulnerable small and fanatically religious unfriendly states to forego the WMD option.
As is not uncommon with all nations and especially great powers, we forget or conveniently fail to acknowledge, that it is our own foolish shortsightedness that generates our future nightmares. It was the arming and supporting of Saddam to attack Iran that created the bogeyman, and creating Islamic fundamentalism to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan that gave birth to the Islamic militancy of Al Qaeda.
It was China that gave Pakistan nuclear know-how. It is China that is supporting North Korea and it would not be surprising to learn thirty years from now, that just as it shored up Pakistan to counter and stunt India, it may currently be using North Korea, its second enfant terrible to thwart and worry America.
Pakistan is a failed rogue state and has shared nuclear expertise with North Korea and now Iran and possibly Libya. It is the midwife that birthed Taliban and while pretending to be an ally of America, is still sheltering and supporting Taliban and Al Qaeda clandestinely through its ISI and rogue elements. Yet we turn a blind eye to all its transgressions, sweep them under the rug and shower it with profuse military and economic aid. The time to act tough is now, by warning Pakistan and China while they are still vulnerable. Economic pressures can still make them toe the line before the former disintegrates and passes its WMDs to Islamic terrorists or the latter holds America and the dollar hostage.
There are three types of states that generally cannot be prevented from having a nuclear arsenal. These are:
(1) geographically large states with economic wherewithal and a pride in a historically glorious past,
(2) those with economic power and located in dangerous neighborhoods, and
(3) those with economic and scientific capabilities even if they are small.
Many Western and other developed nations have given up the nuclear option by relying on the US guarantees. Other large Latin American nations have dismantled their nuclear weapon programs and Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and South Africa have given up their nuclear weapons after they became independent, lacked economic power and saw no threats or prior threats vanished. India and Israel have used indigenous expertise to acquire nuclear weapons because they had the economic power (the former withstood US sanctions, now lifted) and live in dangerous neighborhoods (in India's case, China has such weapons and has attacked India and still occupies its territory).
India used Canadian technology secretly from the CANDU reactor and tried to gatecrash by the backdoor by detonating a device in 1974 and claiming it was an explosion for peaceful purposes. Indian Homi Bhabha had trained at the feet of the Master, Bohr. Earlier S. Bose had made seminal contributions with Einstein about the statistics of crucial particles conveying the weak nuclear force, which were called bosons after him.
The economic dependence of India, the craven Morarji government and the immense American clout, prevented India from declaring itself a nuclear power. Insecure and paranoid Pakistan under Bhutto, vowed that it would survive on grass if it had to, but would match India. All of this was common public knowledge, but foolish America connived at Pakistan's clandestine efforts for its help in a rapprochement with China.
Pakistan feels threatened even though India has no territorial designs on it. Thus it may have paranoid justification for having WMDs. The problem is that its technology is stolen from the West or borrowed from China, with the connivance of America. What is worse is that it is spreading it to North Korea and Iran and as a failed state with fanatic religious zealots, could easily give it to Islamic terrorists. Iran has the justification of memory of historic grandeur, economic power and being in a dangerous neighborhood. It may even be a state that could handle such weapons responsibly in the future, if it rids itself of Islamism and theocracy. If it is left without investments and technology, the youthful population may even reject Islam and assuage American worries, but that is an extreme hope. Its current bellicose relations with America has tainted the vision of both sides and muddied the waters. A just and amicable Israel-Palestinian settlement is the key to stop the spread of danger from nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
The dastardly terrorist attacks of 9-11 have led to an obsessive paranoia of recurrence. It was America, a monitor blinded in the past by historic paranoid fears of imaginarily magnified threats of Communist enemies and the desire to be elected or re-elected by incumbent presidents that held the economic future and security of the nation hostage. This is how a nation is betrayed by a selfish lust for power by its leaders. George W. Bush like many other leaders of America and the world manipulates the fears and ignorance of an apathetic electorate to ensure his own election and the financial benefit of his rich contributors to the detriment of the nation and the public good, just as Reagan did by turning a blind eye to the mischief of a rogue state like Pakistan.
The amazing stupidity of America at the cost of its own detriment is sweeping under the rug, the rogue proliferation of WMDs by Pakistan to America's own category of the axis of evil. The self-serving philosophy of all politicians to do everything expedient to ensure their precarious hold on power is the ruin of nations and all mankind. As Darwin so rightly said and predicted the survival of the individual is paramount even to the detriment of the species. Politicians, we need to remember and be constantly aware of are the lowest common denominators of all pest species. Some of them surprisingly have been pest-controllers. They like cockroaches are something we have to learn to live with, because they have evolved natural defenses against extermination and at best can only be controlled.
More by : Gaurang Bhatt, MD