World Rhetoric: Scientists Beware of The GOP

Scientists = valid war targets?

     In the final hours of 2011, Iran prepared an announcement that would create a bit of a firestorm around the globe. It seems that scientists at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran have successfully produced and tested their first nuclear fuel rod. (Fuel rods contain pellets of enriched uranium, and are used in reactor chambers.) In addition, Iran also announced earlier today that they had successfully test-fired a new medium-range, surface-to-air missile during their ongoing Persian Gulf training exercises.(1)

     In response to this, a number of the GOP candidates currently campaigning in Iowa have ramped up their rhetoric. The most worrisome of these are Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Late last year during a GOP debate, Gingrich stated that as part of his strategy on Iran, he would “go after” Iranian scientists. Now Santorum has echoed these sentiments, asserting that Iranian nuclear scientists should be treated like an “enemy combatant, similar to an Al Qaeda member.”(2)

     Before I step up on the blogger’s soapbox and opine, please keep in mind the following facts: first, that Rick Santorum has repeatedly touted his “Born-again Christian” faith out on the campaign trail. Second, that many research programs, especially covert research programs tend to be highly compartmentalised, in that scientists and researchers working in one area may or may not know the entire scope of what they are working on, beyond their own restricted area(s) of research. Third, most scientists are civilians; they’ve never fired a weapon, never been to a qualification or zeroing range and their expertise lies, in the words of King Julian from “Madagascar,” in “…many brain things.”

     Again these are simply my opinions, but for us to go after civilian scientists, to seek to assassinate them would be like Nazi Germany going after J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi or Albert Einstein. Even more than that, it would be tantamount to declaring that any civilian involved in anything related to the ability to prosecute a war, is a valid target. Think about it, my fine young readers. That means that Joe Q. Public, who works as a machinist at the Fabrique Nationale (maker of the M-16) manufacturing plant in Columbia, South Carolina is now a valid target. That means that Jane A. Citizen, who works at Motorola (a communications equipment manufacturer) is now a valid target. If anything, Joe and Jane would be more valid targets than the Iranian scientists, simply because Joe and Jane know what they’re building and supporting, where it is going and what it will be used for. If Muhammad the Iranian scientist knows what he’s working on, then he’s just as valid of a target in this way of thinking, as Joe and Jane, and vice versa.

     Targeting innocent civilians does not seem to me, to be a very “Christian” thing to do, or even talk about doing. Breaking this down to “Barney-level,” it is hypocrisy of the worst sort. Not only that, it obfuscates the line between combatant and non-combatant, in much the same way as…radical Islam did on 9-11! So what are Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich trying to say; that for Al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden to target civilians is wrong, but for us to use the same approach against Iran is somehow justified? Puh-leeze! Again, hypocrisy.

     In the interests of starting out the new year right, we’re going to try something new: I’m going to ask you what you think! You know what my opinions are on the issues, now I want to know what you, my fine young readers have to say!

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