Thursday, 6 February 2014

The 'mushroom cloud' we no longer hear about

One very effective theme utilized to sell us the Iraq war a decade ago in the face of uncertainty about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction was the What if? scenario. While there was some vague evidence there might be dangerous, chemical or biological weapons or precursor nukes in Saddam’s arsenal, no one in the Bush entourage of war enthusiasts could produce a ‘smoking gun’.

But recall Condoleeza Rice’s notorious comment turning the ambiguity about whether these weapons existed or not to official purpose. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN in January of 2003, Rice said:

The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he [Saddam] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

What a brilliant manipulation of the public’s hesitation and reluctance to authorize war against a faraway state that posed no threat to American wellbeing. We don’t really know the situation, but look how terrible the consequences will be if we get this wrong. To be on the safe side, trust us with this—just in case.

How ironic then to listen to the political class twiddling its intellectual thumbs over the accelerating disaster to our human habitat. In this case of massive scientific consensus over real dangers, the What if? scenario doesn’t get a hearing at all. There’s no recognition from sensible Democrats—much less the wacko brigades of the theocon right—that humanity might want to err on the side of caution if climate change is real and as dangerous as many believe.

Instead, even Obama’s protected NSA is now known to have spied on the Copenhagen climate change conference to undermine the negotiating positions of those wishing to take the problem seriously, all to benefit U.S. ‘national interest’, narrowly defined as the profits of the fossil fuels industry. While sold to us as a necessary evil to ‘protect’ us from terrorist attack, the NSA/CIA/Homeland spy apparatus is in fact preparing our doom, not merely politically, but concretely and physically.

The ‘smoking gun’ won’t be a mushroom cloud after all, nor need we worry about paltry nuclear reactions produced by a Middle East dictator. The nuclear devastation produced by our old friend the sun’s fusion and fission reactions will do the job just fine, as soon as we finish permitting the carbon-happy, military-industrial-financial complex to destroy the livable planet we inhabit.

No comments: