Nukes get top billing

Columnist : Albert Paschall

by Albert Paschall,
Senior Commentator, Lincoln Institute

Forty five years ago during the ultimate hour of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson said: “Call me a coward, but I hope there is one at the table every time we talk about nuclear war.” Stevenson, who had been branded an appeaser by others in the Kennedy administration, later requited himself brilliantly at the UN, embarrassing the Soviet ambassador on national television. Back then, that diplomatic exchange played a key role in preventing World War III.

Too bad old Adlai isn’t around these days because it looks like we are walking into the next world war. Don’t take my word for it. A couple of weeks ago President Bush himself warned that if Iran developed nuclear weapons, it could lead to World War III. At the same time the Pakistani powder keg sits on top of an atomic arsenal. In 1998, President Clinton told us that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program was over. That was 8 years before their first successful test of an atom bomb.

World War III fans can be assured the world is ready for it. In 1962, the only players were NATO and the Soviet Union. If the big blast came it was Europe, the U.S., and the Soviet Union that crumbled into billions of tons of radioactive ash. Today everybody can play. The Israelis could start it with their 200 or so not-so-secret bombs by taking out Iranian nuclear reactors. If they don’t have them by now, the Iranians could borrow a nuke or two from their buddies in North Korea and level Tel Aviv.

Meantime in Pakistan, a coup wipes out the current government and Al-Qaeda gets control of the country. Old hostilities resurface and India attacks its neighbor. In a flash, 50 million people are dead. China gets nervous and tries to keep India in check. Minutes later 100 million Chinese are ash shadows on charred sidewalks.

Now you might be sitting there in your easy chair thinking we are safe here in the Keystone state. You could also be dead wrong. The North Koreans have hated us a lot longer than the Iranians. If the fanatics running Iran wanted to borrow a couple of North Korean missiles, the whackos running that country would send their best: the Nodong. With a range of about 2,000 nautical miles, legend holds that the North Koreans call it the Honolulu Special.

With America’s 12 million illegal immigrants, what’s going to stop a couple of dozen Iranians from slipping across the Mexican border each carrying a small piece of Hell? They could set the missile up in the desert outside El Paso and fire it at Washington, DC. The problem for us Pennsylvanians is that the Nodong has some serious accuracy issues. If it veers slightly northwest, which it usually does, we get a 2 kiloton atomic air burst right over the capitol dome in downtown Harrisburg.

Goodbye, Dauphin County. Every living thing within about 20 miles, including the cock roaches, is dead or wishes they were. Eastern wind patterns kill or sicken millions as far away as New Jersey, south to Baltimore and central Maryland. The Susquehanna River is now a deadly cauldron of radioactive by-products laced with Strontium 90 and Cesium 137. Both last about 30 years and will poison water ways as far south as Georgia within a few days. No one seems to have really bothered figuring out what happens when radiation is carried by rainfall. I’m no rocket scientist, but my guess is nothing good will come of it.

That’s just the first one. When things start really going according to plan, 75 million Americans would be dead in a couple of hours. As they say: “When it comes to killing, the nukes get top billing!”

There are only about 65 weeks left in the Bush Administration. The administration’s minions appear to be looking for legacy in the all the wrong places. Bush II’s presidential library is likely to be the first with an Iraq room. While the President and his advisors contemplate another world war, they might want to listen to the words of another great statesman of the 20th century. Winston Churchill said: “Do not let spacious plans for a new world divert your energies from saving what is left of the old.” Someday, if Bush isn’t cautious, if anyone is left to build it, his library might be the onerous home of the World War III Memorial.

Albert Paschall
Senior Fellow
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.