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Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Nuclear sabre rattling: The Bush administration is indicating that it may retaliate against any attack on US forces involving so-called weapons of mass destruction with nuclear attacks. This explains why they are so insistent on linking nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons together under the WMD label; they can claim that a nuke killing a million Iraqis is a proportionate response to a mustard-gas shell that kills 50 American soldiers. They hit us with WMD's, we hit them with WMD's. I'm all for the banning of all three kinds of weapons called weapons of mass destruction, but the label is pure nonsense. Many of our larger bombs, such as "daisy cutters" and J-DAM's, are capable of killing dozens or even hundreds of people at a time, so they certainly deserve the WMD label. Small chemical weapons like mustard gas artillery shells are almost certainly incapable of being so deadly unless used in large numbers, and when they are used on a wide scale their users run a significant risk of poisoning themselves. Most biological weapons would be largely useless on a battlefield: making your enemy sick a week from now doesn't do much to save your life right now. The weapons which are clearly in a league of their own are nuclear bombs: they destroy anything and everything within a huge radius of ground zero. Lumping chemical and biological weapons with nuclear weapons under the WMD label is highly deceptive and extremely dangerous, and this recent statement shows why.