A juvenile does something rash, then is surprised at the consequence. An intelligent adult, in deciding what to do, will try to anticipate the reactions of an opponent and, above all, avoid repeating past mistakes.
President Bush's pre-emptive war against Iraq gave little thought as to the consequences and brought us disaster, yet in his speech to this year's graduating class at West Point, Bush again asserted his belief in pre-emptive war. Has he learned nothing?
We should expect the leaders of Iran and North Korea to read Bush's speech and take it personally. Some think the only protection against being hit with a nuke is to be in a position to retaliate in kind. We should therefore expect that speech to affirm their intent to achieve nuclear weapon capability.
With 60-plus years since Hiroshima, including two major wars without victory, there has not been one military use of a nuclear weapon. This is powerful evidence that they are useless as war-fighting weapons. They are the most indiscriminate killers of innocents, and to go nuclear would be an act of terror, a crime against humanity. Any sane, intelligent leader would not ever be the first to take that fateful step. It would cost us nothing, then, to tell Iran and North Korea that we will not use a nuke against them, unless they were first to use one against anyone. Were we to so assure nuclear wanna-bes that nukes are legitimate only in response to nuclear attack, nuclear proliferation most likely would be peacefully resolved.
It is past time that the world recognizes that using a nuke for anything other than response to being nuked would be a war crime, punishable at some future Nuremberg-like court. It is unlikely that Bush would agree, but we need the discussion to enlighten the choice for the next president.
Victor Reilly, Aiken, S.C.
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