99 [her luminous eyes distended in horror at the spectacle of a nuclear mushroom cloud]
Oh, Max -- what a terrible weapon of destruction.
Max: Yes. You know, China, Russia, and France should outlaw all nuclear weapons. We should insist upon it.
99: What if they don't Max?
Max: Then we may have to blast them. It's the only way to keep peace in the world.
From the Get Smart Episode "Appointment in Sahara," 1967.
We live in a trans-parodic age. The imagination of the most gifted satirist fails when trying to keep ahead of our descent into surrealistic lunacy.
Witness the fact that what was parody 41 years ago on Get Smart – the idea of nuclear non-proliferation through pre-emptive nuclear genocide – is now the established doctrine of the Bush Regime. Within a few weeks, it could be the official policy of the NATO pact, as well. And Russia, which in defiance of most expectations may soon be a more prosperous nation than the Bushified United States, has openly embraced the lethal logic of nuclear pre-emption as well.
For several years, the Bush White House, its political allies, and its media courtesans have openly and blatantly threatened Iran with a pre-emptive nuclear attack if Tehran doesn't abandon its nuclear program. The threats have generally come in the form of a warning that no “option” will be left “off the table,” which clearly means that the prospect of nuclear aggression is in play.
George Bush and his adult handler have been studiously coy about spelling out what is meant by “all options.” Five Republican presidential contenders have echoed that view. One of them, Duncan Hunter (who has withdrawn from the race) was too thick to understand the need for euphemism, and spelled out his willingness to use tactical nuclear weapons in a first strike against a recalcitrant Iran. In this respect, as in so many others, Ron Paul -- who has condemned Washington's embrace of pre-emptive war -- has distinguished himself as the only truly sane individual seeking the White House.
The nuclear threats grow less subtle the lower we go in the GOP's hierarchy of social control. Take the case of radio host and purported comic Dennis Miller, who just yesterday (January 21) spoke of using strategic weapons, including neutron bombs to “back Israel's play” when it comes time to “kill Ahmadenijad” and any successor to the Iranian president who might be considered unacceptable.
What can I tell ya, it's great to be here in Nuremberg. Like I always say, nobody throws a party like the Nazi Party! Why don't you give yourselves a hand -- oh, yeah, sorta difficult to do while doing that salute; it's a bit like trying to parse Wittgenstein while keeping stride with your Wandervogel group....
Miller, it must be said, is literate and blessed with a certain wit, and is entirely unburdened by ethics. Had his career begun in the demimonde of Weimar Germany, rather than its 1980s equivalent, Miller would have bobbed to the surface at a Nuremberg Rally, warming up the crowd with snarky jokes about the menace of International Jewry.
It's to be expected that the cultists, catamites and knob-polishers who make up the Republican Right would faithfully echo the demented pronouncements of their Dear Leader, even to the point of endorsing nuclear aggression. It is a little unexpected to see the same position being codified as official policy for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the bastard regional offspring of the United Nations and the world body's unofficial military arm.*
A committee composed of “five of the West's most senior military officers and strategists,” including former joint chiefs chairman John Shalikashvili, has endorsed the idea that the threat of a nuclear first strike must be used “to try to halt the `imminent' spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction,” reports the London Guardian.
This proposal comes as part of a “radical manifesto” for a “root and branch reform of NATO and a new pact drawing the US, NATO and the European Union together in a `grand strategy' to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world....” It transliterates the Get Smart doctrine of containing nuclear proliferation through nuclear genocide from parody into policy. My first impression on reading about that proposal was to wonder if Mel Brooks, Buck Henry, Arne Sultan, and the rest of the comic brain trust responsible for Get Smart had covertly drafted the NATO reform proposal.
The NATO alliance is one of the most misunderstood political entities in human history. For decades it was perceived as a defensive bulwark against the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. Yet the dissolution of the eastern Pact didn't result in the dismantling of NATO. Instead, those in charge of the alliance set out in search of new threats to justify its continued existence, while beginning to absorb the military assets of countries that had once been part of Warsaw Pact, and moving its “defensive” perimeter right up into Moscow's grille.
The NATO Blob: All of the countries colored anything but blue are members of the alliance, with more to come. Some neo-"Conservatives" have suggested that membership should be extended to Israel.
After half a century in which it never fired a shot, NATO celebrated its 50th anniversary by conducting its first military exercise – the 78-day terror bombing of Yugoslavia, for the purpose of ending an anti-Albanian “genocide” that was as phony as the Iraqi WMD arsenal. Rather than repelling Soviet armor, NATO was attacking Serbian bridges, hospitals, power plants, and television stations -- even the occasional column of Albanian refugees displaced by NATO's attacks on the Serbs. Eventually the Serbs were forced to concede control over Kosovo to a radical Muslim terrorist group that was chummy with both Osama bin Laden and the Albanian mafia, and – of course – the CIA.
Now we're told by the authors of the NATO “reform” blueprint that the option of a nuclear first strike is justified because the alliance has to gird its loins to confront “political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism ... [as well as] international terrorism [and] organized crime....” The so-called Kosovo Liberation Army, the beneficiary of NATO's terror bombing of Serbia, embodies all of those attributes.
NATO's attack on Serbia, a nation with religious and cultural ties to Russia, nearly led to the shooting war with Russia we've thus far avoided. That war could easily have erupted had Sir Michael Jackson, the unfortunately named British General in charge of securing the Pristina airport, been as short-tempered as NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clarke in dealing with the 206 Russian paratroopers who “secured” that facility. Clarke wanted Jackson to remove the Russian troops forcibly; Jackson agreed that the Russians had to leave, but he preferred to negotiate their exit rather than “starting World War III.”
General Jackson, whose troops would have been the ones exchanging fire with the Russians, exercised a field veto over the orders he received from Wesley Clarke. The NATO “reform” proposal, which envisions “faster action through an end to national vetoes” and an “end to national caveats,” would probably foreclose the similar exercise of discretion by field commanders in the future. This isn't a comforting thought when coupled with the idea that NATO will probably get into the business of counter-proliferation through nuclear aggression.
As mentioned above, NATO has moved its sphere of operations into Russia's “near abroad,” a development that must be looked upon with both frustration and anger by Moscow. Putin's regime has a decent intelligence capacity (which we'd expect with a “former” KGB officer and his cadre of siloviki in charge).
Oh, great: As if we didn't have enough to worry about, Russia has apparently entered an alliance with the Spaceballs.
So it's not a surprise that Moscow apparently scooped the western press on the new NATO “reform” document, and wanted to fire a rhetorical warning shot at the western Alliance. At least that's how I read last week's announcement by Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, Russia's military chief of staff, that in defense of “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and its allies,” military force would be used “preventively, including with the use of nuclear weapons.”
Accordingly, Russia has the nuclear safeties off and is prepared to throw down in order to defend the “territorial integrity” of its allies – a category that might include Iran.
For its part, NATO has the safeties off and is prepared to go nuclear against “rogue states,” a category that, in practice, refers to countries that don't bend to Washington's will – like Iran. NATO is already involved in "out-of-area" action in Afghanistan, and there have been serious discussions about deploying NATO forces in Lebanon or even the West Bank, venues that would offer plentiful opportunities for "pre-emptive" action of all kinds.
So the odds of a nuclear exchange in the not-distant future are growing shorter -- and the incineration of millions would be treated as a grim necessity -- in the words of the NATO reform proposal -- "to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction."
Yes, that's what the document actually says. So George Orwell shakes hands with Maxwell Smart, and I'm starting to contemplate the wisdom of building a backyard fallout shelter.
*NATO was designed as a political and military subsidiary of the UN. Foreign Affairs Outlines: Building the Peace, a State Department document published in Spring 1949 explained that NATO was designed to "bring about world conditions which will permit the United Nations to function more efficiently." Secretary of State Dean Acheson (CFR) elaborated on that view in a March 1949 speech in Washington: “[NATO] is designed to fit precisely into the framework of the United Nations and to assure practical measures for maintaining peace and security in harmony with the Charter.... The United States government and the governments with which we are associated in this [NATO] treaty are convinced that it is an essential measure for strengthening the United Nations....”
Dum spiro, pugno!