Nuclear weapons make me nervous. Ideally I would like to see all the megatons in the world converted to megawatts, peacefully generating electricity for all of us for years to come. Yes, I am in favor of nuclear energy and I prefer a world of cheap megawatts than of dangerous megatons. Now on to Iran.
In a neighborhood in which Israel, Pakistan, India, Russia and many others have nuclear weapons, I tend to understand that the Iranians want to have them as well. Still, it does make me especially nervous to see nuclear weapons in the hands of fundamentalists. To me there are mainly two kinds of religious people: those who are simply religious and believe in a perfect God followed by imperfect human beings, and those who are fundamentalists and believe in a perfect God followed by perfect human beings who got it right (while everyone else got it wrong). The Iranians make part of the latter group. So does Al Qaida.
When I think of the government of India for example, a government that manages to balance an incredible amount of religions, and I think of them having the atomic bomb I imagine that they will be extremely reluctant to use it. Same of Israel, a country of Jews, Muslims and Christians, in which the biggest divisions are among Jews. I see tremendous hesitation on the part of any ruler of Israel to use its nuclear arsenal. But when I think of Iran´s mullah dominated government and the country´s history of sending martyrs to die in the Iraqi war, for example, I worry. I am reminded of Spalding Gray, who said that he would not fly an airline in which the pilots believed in reincarnation. When a country has nuclear weapons they become global pilots. Personally I don´t want our global pilots to be fundamentalists, to believe that they, only they, got it right and we did not. And worse of all, I don´t want them to trivialize or idolize death. I am not saying that fundamentalists will be the first to detonate nuclear weapons. As we know the first ones were the Americans in a brutal and unnecessary attack. But in 2005 I believe that the group of people who are less likely to hesitate at using nuclear weapons are fundamentalists who believe in martyrdom. And that is my problems with the Iranians making nuclear weapons. I think that Al Qaeda would certainly use these weapons if they could get hold of them. Iran either has them or will have them very soon. Another worry is of course Pakistan. The Pew Institute conducted a poll in Pakistan that showed that if there were elections in Pakistan and Osama Bin Laden ran for president, 60% of the people there would vote for him. And Pakistan HAS nuclear weapons. How could we deal with an Osama type figure running for president in a democratic Pakistan and winning?
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