According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a psychopath is “a person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behaviour without empathy or remorse”.
This is certainly an apt description of Ducan Hunter, the Southern California Congressman who this week said, “I don’t think it’s inevitable but I think if you have to hit Iran, you don’t put boots on the ground, you do it with tactical nuclear devices and you set them back a decade or two or three. I think that’s the way to do it with a massive aerial bombardment campaign”.
He was echoing Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate and one of the GOP’s shareholders, who suggested dropping bombs in rural Iran by way of threatening the country.
These people are sick and dangerous. They are casually advocating not only preventive violence, which is illegal. They are casually advocating that illegal war be waged with some of the worst weapons we have at our disposal. Not only do nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise, have the capacity to instantly kill large numbers of people in an indiscriminate fashion. They also cause serious health and environmental degradation, even in the addled Adelson’s imaginary unpopulated Iranian desert.
The idea that the possibility of another country acquiring nuclear energy is worth starting a nuclear war shows just how far from reality the right-wing of the Republican Party and its backers have moved. And the fact that they would say these terrible things just as the President is working to secure a peaceful deal with Iran which would avert the conflict for which the warmongers in the GOP have been clamouring for years shows that their desire for bloodshed has nothing to do with national security.
I suspect that Duncan Hunter doesn’t even understand what he’s saying when he advocates that we use these awful weapons to attack a country in which most of the people have no quarrel whatsoever with the U.S., and the government of which appears to be negotiating with international parties in good faith.
I expect he hasn’t given a moment’s thought to what it would mean to casualise and naturalise the use of despicable weapons which no country has dared to use since the U.S. annihilated two Japanese cities in 1945 to prove to the world that it had come of age as an imperial power.
The bloodlust of Republican Party politicians and their backers reminds me of Stephen Vincent Benet’s touching poem, written in 1940, which is a sober reminder of why those like Hunter and his colleagues who reach reflexively for the sword are so dangerous:
SONG FOR THREE SOLDIERS
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, fine soldier,
In your dandy new uniform, all spick and span,
With your helmeted head and the gun on your shoulder,
Where are you coming from, gallant young man?
I come from the war that was yesterday’s trouble,
I come with the bullet still blunt in my breast;
Though long was the battle and bitter the struggle,
Yet I fought with the bravest, I fought with the best.
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, tall soldier,
With ray-gun and sun-bomb and everything new,
And a face that might well have been carved from a boulder,
Where are you coming from, now tell me true!
My harness is novel, my uniform other
Than any gay uniform people have seen,
Yet I am your future and I am your brother
And I am the battle than has not yet been.
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, gaunt soldier,
With weapons beyond any reach of my mind,
With weapons so deadly the world must grow older
And die in its tracks, if it does not turn kind?
Stand out of my way and be silent before me!
For none shall come after me, foeman or friend,
Since the seed of your seed called me out to employ me,
And that was the longest, and that was the end.