I was a child during the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, but I remember the fear and anxiety in the faces of my parents. At the time, I did not understand what was occurring or what was at stake, but I knew that my parents were worried about something very big.
Now, it's my turn to worry about something very big. As any reader of this column knows, I adamantly opposed President George W. Bush's illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. My feeling about the situation with Iran is even stronger.
There is a serious discussion under way about attacking Iran. Connected to this discussion is the idea that the use of nuclear weapons by the United States is not off the table. It is often framed in terms of "tactical" weapons — "bunker busters," etc. — anything that will mislead the average person into believing that we are talking about something slightly more serious than a cherry bomb.
Ladies and gentlemen: This is a bit more than a cherry bomb.
Nuclear weapons have been used in war only twice, both times at the close of World War II and both times by the same country — the United States. Despite the fact that many countries have nuclear weapons, we have dodged the bullet, so to speak. During the Cold War, we all knew that if the United States used nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union would as well, and the whole planet would become an ember floating in space.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the cabal in the White House believes that the United States has the right to use whatever weapons it chooses to in order to advance its ends. Nuclear weapons, despite various treaties signed over the last 40 years, are back as an option.
If nuclear weapons, regardless of how "small," are used in Iran, the world forever changes in that instant. At that very moment, the first use of nuclear weapons becomes justified doctrine — which means, for example, that India can hit Pakistan, or Pakistan can hit India. But it also means that someone can decide that there are no longer any noncombatants in the United States, and that we can and should be hit as well.
The Bush administration is fueling a very complicated situation with Iran through the use of the same sort of demagoguery used in advance of the Iraq invasion. Half-truths, speculation, Islamophobia and defamation are all being brought together to justify aggression. Rather than pursuing diplomacy and engaging in the discussions the Iranians have requested, the Bush team would rather rattle its sabers. This time, however, the saber is a nuclear weapon.
We have watched this administration use fear of terrorism to usher in policies that have made us less safe rather than safer. We are now looking at a situation that might leave some parts of the world, including but not limited to Iran, glowing in the dark. Is this not "terror"?
So, we can sit back and get scared. We can also sit back and hope that if the lunatics let slip the dogs of war that we will somehow be saved. Or, we can instead choose to make our voices heard in the halls of Congress, in the media and in the streets, that we are not interested in aggression, nuclear or otherwise, against Iran, Syria, North Korea or anyone else.
We are, however, interested in bringing to a close an administration that, in the name of its God, is prepared to dance to the song of Armageddon.
I came across a story the other day that bears on this. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, was once asked what weapons would be used in World War III.
Eistein replied that he did not know, but he was absolutely sure that World War IV would be fought with rocks and sticks.
Bill Fletcher Jr. is a longtime labor and international writer and activist.