Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Bunker Buster Could Stimulate Arms Race

In the absence of diplomacy, new weapons always run the risk of increasing the likelihood of a worldwide arms race. Arms races in themselves increase the likelihood of war. We know there are people in the defense industry who would gladly welcome such circumstances. We know political insiders have been making money off of Bush's war in Iraq.

I've been watching out of the corner of my eye the development of bunker busters for some time. Here's the story from a month ago on one of the more advanced, non-nuclear models:
Boeing issued a press release today, crowing about the detonation of company's new, ginormous bomb. DANGER ROOM's David Hambling had the lowdown on the test, ten days back...

The U.S. just detonated an absolutely enormous bomb, in an underground test: a king-sized bunker-buster, six times larger than what's currently in the American arsenal.


But, unlike competing technologies MOP is very simple and won’t take much work - you just need a big enough plane to carry it (a B-2 should do).

Sometimes you don’t need to actually use a weapon. MOAB was only a prototype, but the video of the test was a potent propaganda weapon. MOP is being funded (to you, $30 million) by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA),which “safeguards America and its allies from weapons of mass destruction by providing capabilities to reduce, eliminate, and counter the threat, and mitigate its effects.” In other words, it’s aimed at WMD sites, especially those dug too deep for the BLU-113. Perhaps this test is a really signal to someone that their deep bunkers are not deep enough.

Given the recklessness and incompetence of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, I'm not sure I appreciate the editorializing in the article. Bunker busters are two-sided swords that risk creating more problems than they solve. There are also strategic considerations that are difficult to discuss on an open blog but those considerations point even more strongly towards the need for comprehensive diplomacy. To be honest, I suspect the chance of war with Iran is probably less than it was fifteen months ago but the chance fifteen months ago wasn't all that small. Bush and Cheney are slowly being boxed in by their own arrogance and increasingly apparent criminality. They know if they go much further in their behavior, such as starting their second illegal war, they run the very real risk of actual prison time. Yet, Iran is a serious international problem and its leaders should think long and hard about how close they are to joining the community of nations before they go much further on the road to nuclear posturing. Nuclear proliferation is no joke and if Iran develops nuclear weapons, all kinds of international rearrangements and diplomacy will likely be necessary.

One thing that should be kept in mind is that real diplomacy in regard to Iran has yet to be tried by the Bush Administration. The odds of war have become less but there are too many variables to rule out military action that leads to a wider war. It may be time for a completely new approach. It's time for the United States and other major industrial powers to sit down with the nations of the Middle East and talk about a simple subject that everyone is avoiding: the finite amount of oil that is left in the oil producing countries of the Middle East and where things should go from here. Everyone, including the industrialized nations, the Third World nations, and the Middle East oil producers have a right to a future: it's time to start talking. And every topic should be on the table in the diplomatic sense. Americans can no longer afford political leaders who play ostrich as the future begins to rush towards us. Our country needs to talk and the world needs to talk.

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