Bottles and Genies
January 19, 2006
Never leaving the U.S. wanting for a dull moment, French President Jacques Chirac let the genie out of the bottle and put the nuclear option back on the table. From a French nuclear submarine base in Brittany, Chirac warned “The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using in one way or another weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part.... This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind”
In a departure from France's long-standing strategic nuclear policy of "force de frappe (force of dissuasion)", Chirac left little doubt that he was threatening the use of tactical nuclear weapons as a response to certain acts of terrorism. But, exactly to which genre of terrorism does he refer?
The New York Times believes that, “...this was the first time that a French president had publicly spelled out the possibility of nuclear retaliation for state-backed terrorism.” But, Chirac was more ambiguous than that.
It isn’t certain that Chirac’s latest nuclear doctrine would have applied to Afghanistan had the Louvre been destroyed by al-Qaeda piloted airliners. Within the obscure breadth of diplomatic double-speak, “the leaders of states” did not attack the U.S. on 9-11. Al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. and that is, by the letter of Chirac’s statement, vastly different from the “leaders of states”. Strictly speaking, the Taliban wasn’t even the lawful government of Afghanistan. Remember that only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate government.
So, what looks like a strong stance by Chirac might actually be a classic case of French capitulation before the first shot is even fired.
Chirac’s statement is obviously in response to Iran shortly (or already) becoming a nuclear power. What Chirac said, in a strict interpretation, might only be applied to the Iranian government. Nowhere in his statement did anybody see a reference to “state-backed” terrorism (except the NYT’s and Jayson Blair).
If (or should I say “when”) weapons of mass destruction reach the French shores, it’s not as if they will be delivered by an Iranian ICBM. The delivery boys will be the usual suspects twice removed from any “state”. All it takes are a few crazed wackos with al Qaeda-Hamas- Hezbollah training who are surreptitiously “supported” by a faction or factions of a “state”. The “state”, of course, will issue the usual fervent denials. Ipso facto, “state” terrorism becomes “non-state” terrorism and France is left crying in their white flag.
Let’s be honest here...half of Europe, including France, peddled nuclear technology to terrorist states for years. When you add the damage done by Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan to the mix, it is almost a certainty that Iran already has a nuclear weapon...and Chirac knows this. By talking tough at this late stage of the game, Chirac is merely softening up his people for the certainty of Iran’s imminent emergence from the nuclear closet.
The ultimate responsibility for this mess lies at the doorstep of the U.S..
The trouble with genies is that they always get out of the bottle. If the U.S. was ever serious about nuclear non-proliferation, the time to start work on that worthy cause was August 6, 1945.
By the time the U.S. dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, the Soviet Union was at least 2 years into a full blown nuclear weapons development project. Add to this the fact the F.D.R. and Truman administrations were full of liberal traitors who gladly either gave or sold nuclear secrets to the Soviets and it became only a matter of when, not if, the Soviets would pop their nuclear genie out of the bottle.
When the U.S. Venona intelligence intercepts led to the 1950 arrest of Los Alamos physicist Klaus Fuchs for transferring everything he knew about atomic weapons to the Soviet Union, by way of Harry Gold, David Greenglass and the Rosenbergs, nuclear proliferation had already germinated. Too bad the NSA wasn’t eavesdropping on U.S. “citizens” when this crew walked the earth.
Fuchs was given 9 years in prison and then released to East Germany where he became a lecturer in physics. Harry Gold (who had been a spy since 1934) was sentenced in 1951 to 30 years imprisonment. In May, 1966, after serving just over half of his sentence he was paroled. Fortunately the Rosenbergs were finally executed in 1953. Unfortunately, the Rosenbergs where not executed before siring Robert Meeropol who in turn sired Rachel Meeropol.
The short version of the Soviet path to nuclear statehood is a follows: (1) physicist Igor Vasilievich Kurchatov started the research phase of Soviet nuclear development in 1943; (2) the first Soviet nuclear reactor went critical on December 25, 1946 and (3) the first Soviet bomb was detonated on August 29, 1949.
Throughout the timeline of Soviet nuclear development, the U.S., as the only nuclear state at the time, stood idly by and allowed this to happen. Even more revolting is the fact that many liberals within Democratic Presidential administrations were actually spying for the Soviets.
Who is so certain that the tactical use (or even the credible threat) of nuclear weapons by the U.S. could not have prevented world-wide proliferation? Truman was too preoccupied defending daughter Margaret’s singing voice to properly defend the U.S.. In addition to the Rosenbergs, many other people deserved a trip to old sparky...but the U.S. was governed by wimps.
Did you ever notice the similarities between “peaceful” nuclear research and a teenage couple in the backseat of a car? First you start “peacefully” kissing and somehow it ends up with a baby.
In 1948, India established an Atomic Energy Commission to explore for uranium ore. In 1963, India purchased two 210-megawatt reactors for the Tarapur Atomic Power Station from General Electric and assured the U.S. that the plutonium from India's reactors would only be used for “peaceful” purposes. In 1974, India detonated what they referred to as a 15 kiloton “peaceful nuclear explosion”.
In 1972, Canada sold Pakistan a reactor for the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant. In 1986, Pakistan and China sign a pact to develop nuclear energy for “peaceful” use. In 1998, Pakistan detonated a nuclear weapon.
In 1967, the Tehran Nuclear Research Center was established by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. In 1995, Iran contracted with the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy to complete “peaceful” reactors in Bushehr under IAEA “safeguards”. In 2003, The IAEA declared that there is no evidence that Iran is attempting to build an atomic bomb while Iran maintains its intentions are “peaceful”. And very recently, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that “We don't shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world...Israel must be wiped off the map”. You tell me where this is headed.
If Chirac was even partially serious about his nuclear option, he would have articulated that “state” terrorism also included “state-backed” terrorism. Let’s face it; Hezbollah is crafty, but not capable of building a nuclear weapon. They are however capable of detonating one.
Until the French are as serious about defending their nation from terrorism as they are about their right not to bathe...all of Chirac’s rhetoric is just...rhetoric.
The Western democracies, including the United States, have either aided or stood impotently on the sidelines while nuclear weapons have proliferated faster than a rabbit’s seed. If the Western democracies do not recognize the inevitable outcome, and work in unison (which they won’t) to eliminate these threats, it is only a question of when.
And...considering that the French never really made up their minds if they sided with the Nazis or not during WW II, don’t waste much time listening to Chirac’s latest hot air.