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Hiroshima and Baghdad By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, August 07, 2002


AS JAPAN REMEMBERED HIROSHIMA on the August 6 anniversary of its 1945 meltdown beneath the mushroom cloud of an American atomic bomb, the news that this week shook Japan caused scarcely a ripple in the West.

Documents have just been returned to Japan by the widow of one of its World War II nuclear scientists, Kazuo Kuroda, who fled with them to the United States in 1945 and later became a professor at the University of Arkansas.

As the Red Army closed in on Japan’s secret nuclear research facilities in occupied Korea, the military leadership in Tokyo ordered all nuclear weapon plans and other evidence destroyed. But as Britain’s The Independent reported Monday based on a story in the Japanese liberal newspaper Asahi Shimbun, fellow scientists from Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research "decided to save at least part of the plans by giving them to Mr. Kuroda," who kept the documents secret until he died in April 2001.

What these diagrams reveal, as some historians had long speculated, is that Japan may have been within days of testing its own atomic bomb.

My friend and fellow radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock, while visiting the peace memorial at Hiroshima, met an elderly Japanese veteran of the war. They agreed that this bomb had been terrifying and terrible.

But if you had developed an atom bomb before we did, Hedgecock at last asked him, would you have used it on us? Replied the elderly warrior matter-of-factly, with little emotion, "Of course we would."

"Every day Saddam [Hussein] remains in power [in Iraq] with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States," said Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, last weekend on "Fox News Sunday."

"We have no choice but to eliminate that threat [that Iraq might develop nuclear weapons]," said Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware, Sunday on NBC’s "Meet the Press."

"The question is the means by which we eliminate the threat and the means by which you build support to be able to do that," Senator Biden continued. "I think Saddam either has to be separated from his weapons or taken out of power…. We’re talking about the United States pre-emptively moving upon a country…."

How close is Saddam Hussein to obtaining one or more nuclear weapons? Hussein’s former weapons chief last week told Senator Biden’s committee that the Iraqi dictator has developed the capability to produce at least three such weapons by 2005. (Thank God Israel preemptively destroyed the French-made Osirak reactor near Baghdad in 1980 before it became operational, or we would have faced an atom-armed Saddam during the Gulf War more than a decade ago.)

And as with Japan during World War II, Saddam may be closer to possessing nuclear weapons than we know, either through foreign technological help or black market purchase. This wild card possibility could come to pass at any moment.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota, this week joined Senator Biden in rebuffing Saddam Hussein’s invitation to members of Congress to visit and inspect Iraqi facilities. This, said Senator Daschle, "seems to be yet another attempt by the Iraqi leadership to deflect attention from their unwillingness to fulfill a commitment they’ve already made to the international community."

Iraq has confronted Democrats with the two horns of a dilemma. Leftists in the party want no war. Responsible Democratic leaders want a military and diplomatic victory for America and/or an end to Saddam’s potential use of weapons of mass destruction — but they prefer victory without any political gain for President Bush and the Republicans, especially prior to the November elections.

On Monday the cynical Executive Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Jim Jordan, raised the specter of "General Rove" (as he called Bush senior political advisor Karl Rove) calling in "airstrikes in October" to give Republicans a political boost in popularity days before the nation votes.

"Of course, I hope I’m wrong," Jordan told the Washington Post. "I think the temptation will be strong."

The father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud called such statements "projection," the tendency, e.g., of a thief to see all other people as thieves like himself. It reminds us that President Bill Clinton was willing to kill innocent Sudanese with a cruise missile attack just to switch newspaper headlines away from his breaking Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. Jordan’s confession of temptation tells us more about how Democrats might put American soldiers in harm’s way for political purposes than it does about Republicans.

Seeking escape from the Democrats’ dilemma, Senator Biden a week ago launched hearings and asserted that President Bush must not launch a war against Iraq until those hearings are finished. By such maneuver, former Presidential aspirant Biden has tried to tie the President’s hands with hearings that Chairman Biden can at his whim stretch beyond election day. (Experts say that President Bush will probably not attack until winter anyway.) The American people in their wisdom, however, chose not to elect Joe Biden nor other Democrats now demanding delay, notice, and prior Congressional approval as our Commanders-in-Chief.

While a vote of bipartisan support for defanging or deposing Saddam Hussein is likely and would be helpful, it nowadays (the Constitution no longer being the law of the land) is legally unnecessary. Last September 14 the Senate passed a resolution authorizing the President "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided" the September 11, 2001, attacks against America. The President has "determined" that collusion existed between an Iraqi intelligence agent and September 11 skyjacker Mohammed Atta.

Yet in force, too, is Public Law 102-1, enacted in early 1991. This law, wrote former Justice Department lawyers David Rivkin and Lee Casey in the July 28 Wall Street Journal, authorizes the President "to use the ‘United States Armed Forces’ to enforce the United Nations Security Council resolutions against Iraq…‘to restore international peace and security in the area.’" This also gives President Bush the authority to act without additional Congressional approval.

The threat from Iraq includes not only incipient nukes but actual chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Last weekend The Times of London reported evidence that Saddam Hussein was not only "developing a range of biological agents that can be ‘delivered’ by an aerosol system," but also that Iraq is recruiting Palestinian terrorists to serve as delivery systems for such weapons.

Biological warfare of a sort is already underway against Israel. "Israeli doctors have learned that many of the suicide bombers are infected with diseases ranging from hepatitis to HIV," writes Michael Ledeen at National Review Online. "When they blow themselves up, there is danger of blood exchange, or of flesh projectiles penetrating the bodies of their victims."

I would add to this some questions. Could this mean that many suicide bombers believe that they have already received a "death sentence" from AIDS? Could it be that some have deliberately been infected by sexual or other contact — or been falsely told they were infected — as a means of bomber recruitment? Have groups such as Hamas cynically targeted homosexual Palestinians for recruitment both because they are vulnerable and, to fanatical Muslims, sinful? Is Saddam Hussein paying $25,000 apiece to the families of HIV-infected bombers as a way to use not only explosives but also biological warfare against Israel — and perhaps also against America and Americans, five of whom died days ago in the Hebrew University bombing in Jerusalem?

Many American politicians of whatever party make a mini-max calculation when they take positions. We should not be surprised if they give "qualified" support to President Bush to deal with Iraq — so that if we triumph they can share credit, but if the war goes badly they can say "we warned Mr. Bush not to do what he did."

But as Senators and House members back home this August try to shake your hand and ask for your vote this November, have with you a copy of the Ponte Pledge and ask them to sign it:

Recognizing the danger that leaders of both parties see in Saddam Hussein’s potential use of weapons of mass destruction, I hereby agree that if I do not vote to give full support to the President’s request for approval in removing Saddam Hussein — and if thereafter weapons of mass destruction provided to terrorists by Hussein are used in the United States to kill Americans — I shall immediately resign my position of public trust as a lawmaker and shall relinquish my pension(s) as a lawmaker, directing that any such monies or benefits I would have received be given instead to families of these terrorist victims.

Signed:________________________ Dated:_______________

Do not be surprised when your Congressman or Senator refuses to sign this document. All politicians are eager to have power, but few want to accept responsibility for how they misuse that power by putting partisan or ideological politics above the common good.

They should acknowledge that Senator Joseph Lieberman is right: "Every day Saddam remains in power…is a day of danger for the United States."


Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.


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