Saturday, April 15, 2006

# Posted 5:21 PM by Patrick Porter  

THE UNSPOKEN ASSUMPTIONS OF THE CND: In a weak moment, I just had a browse of the website of the UK Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament. I was hoping to see what they had to say about Iran.

Anyone unfamiliar with the politics of the CND movement might have thought that this organisation would be extremely concerned about the nuclear ambitions of Iran's leadership, given that it has openly called for the eradication of another state, a state which is a member of the United Nations.

The jury may be out on whether Iran wants to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes or otherwise. However, the CND on the same website calls for countries generally not to develop nuclear power even as a peaceful source of energy. Its defensive attitude to Iran's right to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes, therefore, looks a little desperate. Possibly because it doesn't want to clutter its condemnation of America's behaviour, or risk taking a similar position to Bush or Blair. The horror.

The website, as far as I can find, expresses hardly any specific opposition to such a state arming itself with nuclear weapons. More startlingly, it argues that Israel's covert nuclear program makes it no better than Iran:
But there is no doubt that the fact that the US ignores Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons but singles Iran out for sanctions or worse, over a suspicion, is out and out nuclear hypocrisy.
And it also condemns America’s tolerance of India’s nuclear program as another instance of ‘nuclear hypocrisy.’

Beg to differ. Israel and India have not, as far as I know, insisted that another state and member of the UN be exterminated. Their governments have not repeatedly made the call for genocide an official, celebrated national purpose.

Iran's pursuit of nuclear power has not just been criticised because it is a state that wants nuclear power. It has been criticised because of the exterminationist rhetoric of its regime. I personally have doubts about whether there are viable military solutions to this. But the facile moral equivalence of the CND on this issue is, well, tiresome.

The debate about the legality or propriety of Israel and India's pursuit of a nuclear capability can rage on. But the attempt by the CND to equate the states of Israel and India with Iran exposes the poisonous doctrine that lies at the heart of their pacifism: that there is no moral distinction between liberal democracies and dictatorships (or theocracies).

As Orwell noted,

Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States.

This pattern also reflects a struggle between two political positions identified by Nick Cohen,

we are seeing a fight between “anti-imperialists” and “anti-fascists”. The anti-imperialists see US power as the greatest threat of our day. The reckless brutality of the Bush administration appals them, as does Tony Blair’s willingness to go along with it...The anti-fascists see totalitarianism as the greatest threat of our day and say that in the struggle against it any democracy is better than every dictatorship.
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion

While I agree that the breaches are not comparable, the extent to which the United States is ignoring the Non-Proliferation Treaty with regards to the India deal and the development of new warhead designs diminishes their credibility in this area.

An earlier post on this
The United States' decision to extend to India the privileges that the NPT restricts to a cabal of five nations does not indicate that it is "ignoring" the treaty - quite the opposite. In recognizing the reality of the Indian nuclear program, the US has made a bold and principled effort to restore the practicality of the non-proliferation effort. The NPT has been an extremely successful global pact. However, it no longer reflects either an accurate world-view, or a level-headed effort at nuclear arms control.
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