Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Return to the Nuclear Age

Ok, for those of you who haven't heard, the US is planning on testing the largest conventional bomb in history on June 2 in Nevada. Code-named "Divine Strake" (uh huh... no fundamentalists in the White House these days, right? Right...), the bomb will use ammonium Nitrate explosives (sound familiar? It should... this is the same explosive mix that was used in Oklahoma City to blow up the federal building there), and will weigh 700 tons!!!! The military expects that people will be able to see the mushroom cloud from the explosion as far away as Las Vegas.

For those of you playing at home, 1 ton = 2000 pounds. That adds up to a 1.4 million pound bomb.

Now, why are we doing this? The stated aim of the test is to see if an explosion of that size would be sufficient to penetrate subterranean bunkers in which nuclear and biological stockpiles are stored... in countries like... say... Iran? There's just one problem: the bomb weighs 1.4 MILLION POUNDS! The biggest aircraft in the world can only carry 225 tons, so there's no way to deploy a weapon of this size.

Unless, of course, the military were to "do the math" and create the same blast with a smaller nuclear weapon. But wait, you say... if they're planning on using a nuclear weapon to penetrate these bunkers, why not just test a nuclear weapon? The answer is: they can't. Even though Bush withdrew the US from the Anti-Ballistic missile Treaty, we're still a party to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. We aren't allowed to test nuclear weapons. We can, however, test conventional weapons and then create nuclear weapons to produce similar results. Hence the "Divine Strake" test in June.

So... lets go over the details. Our President plans to go to war with Iran. I think we can all pretty much agree on that. All conspiracy theory aside, ever since last year's State of the Union speech he's been rattling his saber and making threats against the Iranians just like he did in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Ok, so he's insane enough to go to war with yet another Middle East country even though US forces are over-stretched in Afghanistan and Iraq, and with neither of those conflicts resolved or under control. Being as Iran actually has weapons of mass destruction (unlike, ya know, Iraq... oh, we're supposed to forget about that. Right...), he and his good buddy Rumsfeld plan on blowing up the bunkers that contain them. Great!

There's only one problem: chances are nuclear weapons won't do the job, and the cost to the entire Middle East could be disastrous. I realize that science isn't exactly a popular subject for fundamentalist conservatives, but come on... there's a reason why we pulled back from the nuclear brink in 1962!! Put simply, no one wins a nuclear war.

Look folks, this is just another reason we we MUST elect Democrats to the congress in 2006. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm no fan of the Democratic Party. They've made a lot of decisions I don't agree with, and I'm sure that after this election I'll be banging the drum for a third (or fourth or fifth) party. This year, however, we have to get them into the majority in congress. It's a must if our country is going to survive this crazy president!

Our government is founded on the principle of checks-and-balances. You remember that from High School civics, yes? We need an opposition party to oversee the party in power precisely so situations like this one don't happen. How is it that Bush has gotten away with so much while he's been in office? It's simple - congress is in his back pocket, and they're the ones who are supposed to be keeping the executive branch honest. The Republicans in control of congress have let things like Iraq, Katrina, and even 9/11 happen because they haven't been doing their job of overseeing the President, and it has to stop. If we're going to move forward, we have to get an opposition party into the legislative houses.

So, pay attention to those local voter pamphlets, folks. It's not too early to start thinking about November. This might very well be the most important mid-term election our country's ever faced.