The media and government have helped to paint a picture of a bloodless war. In fact, the war against Afghanistan is anything but. The tallies of dead civilians are in the thousands simply from "traditional" methods of the US Armed Forces. Suppose however the US, and the world for that fact, look to something less bloody, say, nuclear warfare.
This war has been fraudulently without blood. We've been treated to a daily dose of misery -- the desperate lives of Afghan people -- but they're now "liberated." So we're to believe kite-flying girls and clean-shaven men roam Kabul. No more blood. Yet the bombing continues, and all the real stats and stories are held up in news rooms, presumably for patriotism's sake. (See the Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) Report on The New York Times
Marc Herold, a University of New Hampshire Economics' professor, concludes that at least 3,500 Afghan civilians (non-combatants) have been killed in Afghanistan to date. He compiled the number from various newspapers, cross-collaborating where possible. However, that number was released December 10. Surely the number has since grown.
The point is that no war is bloodless. In fact, more than we fear war, we should fear bloodless wars. A bloodless war means either those in the know are not telling us the whole truth, or that they've devised something so ungodly that it kills without spilling blood. Of course, you know they have discovered something that kills without those troublesome bloodstains long ago -- it's called the nuclear bomb.
I'm not just talking about the little ones that terrorists are purported to be carrying around in suitcases. I'm talking about the big ones. I'm talking about the ones that we dove under our desks in Elementary school to prepare for their awesome destruction. We weren't exactly safe then, and we aren't exactly safe now.
Earlier this month the Bush Administration issued a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR, not the radio station). The NPR is a report on the status of nuclear weapons. In a special briefing on the unclassified results of the NPR, Assistant Defense Secretary J.D. Crouch didn't exactly assure us of our safety.
When a reporter asked Crouch to explain "... what it is you are doing and why it is important" for the "average American," without using the word "triad," Crouch shot out a vague and unresponsive response:
"Right. The Cold War is over. We have a nuclear capability that was built then ..."
Now we're up to speed. He then goes on to use the word "transform" three times and, defiantly, the word "triad" once. But he doesn't actually explain, for the average American, what this transformation really entails, besides these mysterious triads and the "paper" reduction of nuclear missiles. No wonder Washington Post columnist and military analyst William M. Arkin wrote that the NPR "... is little more than hollow marketing of a less than reassuring product."
Right now the United States has close to 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads pointed toward Russia, and Russia has about the same, give or take 200 missiles, pointed back. But our new posture is supposedly based on "mutual confidence" not "mutual assured destruction." Crouch said, "The Cold War is over." Isn't it?
Maybe not. At least as far as nuclear weapons are concerned.
The NPR calls for reduction in the "active stockpile" of nuclear weapons, from around 6,000 to between 1,700 and 2,300. But the Administration won't say how many of those weapons are going to be destroyed and how many are going to be put away for a later time, effectively undermining the idea of nuclear disarmament. Those weapons that are stored and not destroyed would be able to go back on line within a few weeks pending a new arms race.
The administration seems to be behind the times. In 1996, 60 retired generals from 17 different countries, including the US, Russia, India, and Pakistan, signed a statement opposing nuclear weapons:
"The United States and Russia should -- without any reduction in their military security -- carry forward the reduction process already launched by START. They should cut down to 1,000 to 1,500 warheads each and possibly lower. The other three nuclear states and the three threshold states should be drawn into the reduction process as still deeper reductions are negotiated down to the level of hundreds. There is nothing incompatible between defense by individual countries of their territorial integrity and progress toward nuclear abolition."
There is also a general fear the Bush Administration is developing new nuclear weapons. Asked about it at the special briefing, Crouch hinted that new weapons were being considered in regard to "hard targets and deeply-buried targets," although he stated the NPR has no specific recommendations for new nuclear weapons. Crouching nukes, hidden target.
We still face the threat of nuclear war. Maybe not immediately, but it's just a matter of time. It seems the weapons we will develop won't be the clumsy bombs that killed 350,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No, they'll just take out a cave somewhere like Tora Bora with only a few thousand dead or dying. It will be easier than ever, and it will all happen without a drop of blood.
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