Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Giving thanks for one brave Republican

I may as well confess this up front: for years, I have been an ardent foe of nuclear-weapons development. There is enough literature...popular and support my postition, so I won't belabor the reasons why, I think. But the "children of God" in the Pentagon and the current administration have continued to support the development of tactical nuclear weapons, in clear defiance of our own nuclear non-proliferation treaties.

So imagine my surprise to read this article in the Washington Post, reporting that it was a Republican, Rep. David L. Hobson of Ohio, who led the successful effort to keep the tactical-nuke programs out of the omnibus appropriations bill adopted Saturday. Hobson, in one of the wisest quotes from any Republican that I've read, said that he had been against developing smaller-yield tactical nuclear weapons precisely because someone might think it would actually be possible to use them safely in battle, without consequence or fear of escalation. (Anyone who believes this line of crap should read Greg Bear's classic Eon, which has the most devastatingly accurate projection of what would happen under those circumstances.)

My major objection to tactical nuclear weapons can be illustrated by this fairly gross image. Most people I know would object strongly to my urinating in a toilet, flushing it twice, and then offering them a drink from that (or any other) toilet...because of the relatively tiny risk of mild biological contamination. But even "small" tactical nuclear weapons will toss immense amounts of radioactive fallout into the atmosphere - and the radioactive half-life of plutonium-239 (the major component of a nuclear weapon) is just a hair over 24,000 years. Now, you might actually believe that if I dropped a "bunker-buster" mini-nuke on a fortified bunker in Iraq, that most of the fallout might be limited in scope, and only a small amount would drift across the world to our side of the globe. But using the same toilet analogy, how much deadly-radioactive plutonium in your breathing air is acceptable?

The other terrifying thought is that there are people in the world who really believe that if I use a "mini-nuke" against an enemy, that my enemy won't respond with a "small nuke," against which I'd have to retaliate with a "medium nuke," and so on, until pretty soon the whole earth is on fire. In fact, the very notion of a "controllable nuclear exchange" is the very worst kind of fiction.

Of course, we won't even talk about what half a billion dollars would do if it went into services and programs for "the least of these," instead of senseless weapons development...

So I give thanks to God for Rep. David L. Hobson of Ohio, and I'd urge you to do the same. He's gonna have a particularly hard row to hoe, after messin' in the current administration's Post Toasties. But thank God there are still some people who will vote their conscience, and not their party line.

1 comment:

bobbie said...

hey steve, thanks for the head's up on this. if you got here:

you can tell him yourself (i have just finished doing so, and will be posting it on my blog too).