A friend of mine, talking about the justification George Bush has for having attacked Iraq, tried to draw a distinction between “potential” and “emerging” threats. The problem is that the use of “potential” or “emerging,” even by his definition, will depend upon who is applying the label…and to whom. Many—in fact a growing number—of countries see the United States, for example, as an “actual” threat. Not “potential”; not “emerging”; but actual.
And that we are. After all, so far, of all the countries of the world, we are the only country ever proven to have both a large stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and the willingness to use weapons of mass destruction. Not only have we used them in the past, but George Bush and others have stated that we “would not rule out” using them now if we felt we needed to do so.
No other country, so far as I’ve ever heard, has been proven to have launched an actual weapon of mass destruction against another. Some countries have used pretty potent weapons (the Germans using mustard gas, for example), but only ONE has used a weapon that could, and has, destroyed over 200,000 people—quite a number of them by basically being vaporized. And that country didn’t do it just once, either; they did it TWICE.
It should be noted that development of this weapon of mass destruction was done even though some scientists of the time—some full of hubris and probably half-jokingly (like Edward Teller), but others with less hubris, and also less certainty—wondered whether the bomb might ignite the atmosphere. Fermi pondered whether it would merely destroy New Mexico (when the first atomic bomb was tested) or destroy the world. (It must be noted that there were scientists who thought it theoretically impossible for this to happen; there were scientists, however, who thought it could. That there were scientists who were uncertain, but continued working on the projects anyway means there were scientists willing to risk the destruction of the entire planet.)
But my friend is right about one thing. There are other people out there like the Americans. They might be “potential” or even [using my friend’s definition] “emerging” threats to the United States. And since they know, because both distant and recent events have shown them, that Americans are capable of anything in their rapacious desires to consume the earth’s resources, and those stupid people over there are living on top of our g-ddamned oil, no less! Well, they MIGHT…they just MIGHT, if they could get their hands on some weapons of mass destruction, try to use them against us.
If they should try to do this—but not before—we would be entirely within our rights, just as a man surprised in the street by a thug with a threat and a gun, to use all reasonable means to stop them (like disarming them, wounding them, or finding other non-lethal ways of stopping them). (But then we wouldn’t get access to all that lovely oil now, would we? And Bechtel and Halliburton and Cheney and Bush and friends wouldn’t be able to make a profit “rebuilding” what they had destroyed.)
And so now the desperate search goes on (without success so far) for the weapons of mass destruction.
But as I said before, the puppeteer has them.
And that would be us…us…U.S.