This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, May 13, 1998.
Today, the nation of India – the world’s largest democracy of sorts - set off two more nuclear bombs in addition to the three yesterday. Five tests in two days, for the admitted purpose of adding nuclear warheads to existing delivery systems that could reach China, Russia, Pakistan, and Australia, for that matter.
In one of the more febrile lucubrations since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the second world in general, there was a great fear that nationalistic morons, fed and cared for by rising, ignorant theocracies, would come into possession of nuclear weapons – and use them. This nightmare lurked behind the wars against Iraq and – if you count communism as a religion – Cuba. It is nightmare of our own making, since the United States is the only nation to have actually used atomic bombs, and it highlights the hypocrisies of our own actions: we used them, they worked, they won the war for us, you cannot have them because of the ethics involved. In short, you are not worthy.
It is hypocritical and pompous but it is true: they are not, so to speak, worthy. None of them. This is not racist, or prejudice against their religions, or a signed check for the ethical glories of ourselves, it is just a fact. Our intellectually pathetic Christians in power are every bit as terrifying as their patriarchal priests, Druids, and Imams. The difference rests only with the fact that we have demonstrated that a discourse exists in our nation and that a majority really do not believe that a God of any sort would smile upon an incinerated world. But then, we look out upon a diverse nation of unbelievable wealth and natural beauty. This is not necessarily true of bitter Muslims in desert backwaters, for example.
Our peers in India look out upon a nation every bit as lovely and nearly as wealthy but they are encumbered by a history of racial, religious, and petty wars of unbelievable ferocity and violence that make our own struggles look like fraternity high jinks. India is now led by a consortium of parties headed by a Hindu nationalist organization with the admitted aim of institutionalizing their religion above all others, and perhaps worse. If that seems vague, think Untouchables. It is almost as if the most pathetic Christian Yahoo element from the hills of Appalachia came to power in the United States, or the most anal of the orthodox parties in Israel came to power, or the most petty, hate-filled village theocrats came to the leadership of a large Islamic nation, which has happened in Iran. And if they all had nuclear weapons, and had, as part of their religion, a belief in some sort of apocalypse or day of reckoning, then the stage is set for a series of insults and border disputes literally putting the world in jeopardy. If Pakistan admits to a nuclear arsenal, the Kashmir and not the Balkans, the Beaufort, or the Middle East may provide the spark for the first nuclear war.
Of course, the United States bears end game blame for the existence of the weapons, but it is Pakistan that scares India, given their three wars in my lifetime. And Pakistan merely reacts to India. Unlike nuclear China, India and Pakistan elect their governments. Unlike China, no Himalayas separate India and Pakistan.
It is a truism that there have never been wars between democracies, and although Pakistan and India only meet that standard in the broadest sense, they do have governments that rule at the behest of electorates, however fragmented and manipulable. The assumption has always been that electorates, the great mass of people, always do the right thing in the end. Here is a case where it would have been nice if the Indian electorate had done the right thing in the beginning, and not put into power those whose self image increases with danger, with a platform that only those who elected them are worthy of safety.
Separation of God and State looks real good from here this afternoon.