Thursday, September 20, 2007

Two Democrats Take Nuclear Attack Threat Off the Table — For a Minute

(600 words)
By John LaForge

Two leading democratic presidential hopefuls have recently said they’d take the threat of nuclear attack “off the table,” hinting at their deep psychological discomfort with the idea of deliberate mass destruction. Call it the Hiroshima Syndrome.

Both New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton — albeit before she announced her run — and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, dismissed the long-standing U.S. threat to keep “all options open,” regarding the government’s willing readiness to wage nuclear war anywhere in the world.

On August 2, Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press, “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,” pausing before he added, “involving civilians.” Although Obama quickly retracted the statement saying, “Let me scratch that,” his message needs repeating: H-bombs cannot be used without the grossly indiscriminate killing of civilians.

Senator Clinton publicly chastised Obama for temporarily ruling out the threat to push the button, but she has also said that she would not use nuclear weapons.

In April 2006, nine months before she announced her Oval Office bid, Clinton was asked in a TV interview about her position toward Iran. She said, “... no option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table. This [Bush] administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we haven’t seen since the dawn of the nuclear age. I think that’s a terrible mistake.”

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LaForge works on the staff of Nukewatch -- an environmental action group -- and edits its quarterly newsletter. His articles on nuclear weapons and reactors and militarism have appeared in Z magazine, the Progressive, Earth Island Journal, the New Internationalist and on the opinion pages of the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis StarTribune and the Madison Capital Times.

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