When the Republican majority in the Senate voted down the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on October 13, President Clinton called their act "partisanship at its worst." The Washington Post agreed, charging that the vote was "the product of short-term domestic political calculation." The New York Times, too, saw party interest at work: The vote, it editorialized, amounted to "a narrow and misguided show of partisanship." Evidence for this view was not hard to find. Two off-the-cuff comments by Republicans sum up the case.
The first comment pertained to "the unthinkable"-a phrase that, ever since the nuclear strategist Herman Kahn titled a book Thinking About the Unthinkable in the sixties, has been a kind of shorthand for nuclear danger. During the Senate debate, John Czwartacki-an aide to majority leader Trent Lott-found occasion to say it would be "unthinkable." Well, what would be unthinkable? Would it be nuclear war in South Asia, where the military forces of nuclear-armed Pakistan have just seized power from the civilian government and where, according to Newsweek, Pakistan and India are "weaponizing" their bombs-that is, mounting them on delivery vehicles? Would it be the use by terrorists of a "loose nuke" against one of the world's great cities? Would it be that ten, or twenty, or thirty additional nations, following the example of the United States, would see fit to build and test nuclear arsenals? Would it be accidental war with Russia, whose deteriorating arsenal of some 7,000 strategic warheads is still on hairtrigger alert? It was none of these. The thing Czwartacki found unthinkable was the danger that a few Republican senators might join with Democrats to vote for a procedural motion against Lott and in favor of …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Unthinkable. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: The Nation. Volume: 269. Issue: 15 Publication date: November 8, 1999. Page number: 7. © 1999 The Nation Company L.P. COPYRIGHT 1999 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.