Collisions: prospective, present & past

President's perspective

This month people marched through the streets of Sydney in the traditional Hiroshima day demonstration under the banner: 'Hiroshima, Never Again'. There are approximately 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China alone. In Australia we must have a debate about these, the ultimate in terrifying weapons of mass destruction. During the same week, a little publicised meeting took place in Omaha, Nebraska, under the auspices of the US Strategic Command, as the Bush Administration sought to codify its plans for acquiring a new generation of nuclear arms. The White House representatives were examining their plans for nuclear weapons with the Pentagon, Department of State, State Weapons Labs, the Energy Department, and its National Security Organisation. Topping the Bush agenda is the development of small nuclear weapons, although the wish list ranges from weapons a fraction of the size of the Hiroshima bomb to several times larger.

As President Bush seeks to assert his military dominance, he seeks to pursue weapons to penetrate deep into the earth. The Pentagon believes that more than seventy nations, big and small, now have some 14,000 underground command posts and sites for ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. The Bush hubris fails to take into account that any sensible person should fear that the relative smallness of the mini nukes will breach the firewall between conventional and nuclear war. The list of dangers, including testing, nuclear fallout and the precedent it creates for other countries, are not being dealt with adequately because of the relative secrecy.

The 'war and order', 'war on terror' hysteria in the United States dominates the news. Our own Prime Minister can be expected to follow this neo-conservative led move away from a long tradition of Nuclear Disarmament initiatives. What Bush and Howard have to face is that, when their bellicose statements on pre-emptive war are linked to nuclear weapons, we will become further alienated from the world community.

This is clearly demonstrated in Iraq today, where the United States government is claiming 13 countries in its coalition. The facts are that the United States has 144,000 service personnel in Iraq and there are 12,400 others, mostly British and a handful from another 12 countries. The Bush Administration is desperately trying to get 19 other countries to contribute troops and spread the financial burden. The three Anglo leaders - Bush, Blair and our own comprador Prime Minister, John Howard - initially benefited from the strong decisive leadership image that was projected in the war on Iraq. But now that war propaganda machine is being challenged, and their reputations and approval are sinking.

Larry Elliott, writing in The Guardian, has pointed out that the US trade deficit is running a