Iran has the bomb! No, it doesn’t (yet). But would the world be such a different place if it did?
I have wanted to write an entry on that for at least half a year, even before Iran’s current leader came into power. It was supposed to be an advocatus diaboli piece, in which I would have asked ‘Iran gets the bomb – so what?’
Basically, I have been thinking about proliferation – and how atomic knowledge, after over 50 years, is becoming more and more widespread. In fact, most of the KNOWLEDGE of building a bomb is readily available to anyone, and many hundred thousands of scientists all over the world would be capable of building one, given free access to the materials.
So the logical end result (though not necessarily today, or in 50 years) is that anti-proliferation is going to fail. At some point, every substantial nation may well have nukes, just as any nation in earlier times tried to have battleships or jet fighters.
Yet obviously nuclear bombs change everything. They are kinda EXTREME weapons. Or do they change anything? Arch-enemies Pakistan and India had them for years and years now, without using them. And the cold war probably never turned hot because of nukes (not that it spared the Afghanis or the Vietnamese).
And then there is Iran, which I recently realized I was still very naive about (reading too much Newsweek and then believing you got the whole picture). Turns out that its current president Ahmadinejad was one of the leaders of the movement which sent thousands of children into the war against Iraq as human minefield detonators. Can we hope that such a person will use nukes responsibly (i.e. does NOT use them, except as a threat)?
The article about ‘Ahmadinejad’s Demons’ is here (TNR magazine, free registration required – but well worth it for all kinds of articles). Basically it talks about how he was one of the leaders of the ‘Basji’ movement, which then was a kind of big propaganda machine intended to secure cannon fodder for the front, and nowadays has become one of Ahmadinejad’s main power bases.
An little excerpt (though intentionally an extreme one, I’ll admit): “At one point, however, the earthly gore became a matter of concern. “In the past,” wrote the semi-official Iranian daily Ettelaat as the war raged on, “we had child-volunteers: 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds. They went into the minefields. Their eyes saw nothing. Their ears heard nothing. And then, a few moments later, one saw clouds of dust. When the dust had settled again, there was nothing more to be seen of them. Somewhere, widely scattered in the landscape, there lay scraps of burnt flesh and pieces of bone.” Such scenes would henceforth be avoided, Ettelaat assured its readers. “Before entering the minefields, the children [now] wrap themselves in blankets and they roll on the ground, so that their body parts stay together after the explosion of the mines and one can carry them to the graves.””
And: “Ahmadinejad revels in his alliance with the Basiji. He regularly appears in public wearing a black-and-white Basij scarf, and, in his speeches, he routinely praises “Basij culture” and “Basij power,” with which he says “Iran today makes its presence felt on the international and diplomatic stage.” Ahmadinejad’s ascendance on the shoulders of the Basiji means that the Iranian Revolution, launched almost three decades ago, has entered a new and disturbing phase. A younger generation of Iranians, whose worldviews were forged in the atrocities of the Iran-Iraq War, have come to power, wielding a more fervently ideological approach to politics than their predecessors. The children of the Revolution are now its leaders.”
The children of the Revolution? Well those who survived by sending others ahead, I guess. That (even if it is quite cycnial) is my hope: that Ahmadinejad is smart enough NOT to use the bomb, even if he truly hates Israel, Iraq and the US so much.
So what do you people think? Can we have more nations join the nuclear club all the time? And can we do something about it anyway?