Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani has, as the Washington Post's Richard Cohen reminds us this week, promised military action against Iran if it develops a nuclear weapon. This was, to put it mildly, a dumb thing to say.
If Iran has a bomb and we attack, won't they use their bomb? Maybe not against us--we're distant--but against, say, Israel which has bombs of its own? And where will we all be then? In some sort of nuclear, regional war probably. Who on earth would wish for one of those?
The United States is the only country that has ever dropped the bomb in wartime - two of them on Japan to end World War Two. Almost all Americans approved of that.
The bombs have gotten much bigger and better since then, of course. Mankind has for the first time, as the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin reminded us a few years ago, the power to destroy God's created order. Whenever I think about that, I'm a little surprised that we haven't done it. We are Pandora as a species; we want to open the box.
But we haven't blown up the planet, haven't attacked each other. We have watched each other, contained each other, and talked to each other. Giuliani may feel Iran is special, but why? Many Americans thought the Soviet Union wanted to rule the world. Many feared Communist China. They became watchers and talkers, like us. India got the bomb. So did Pakistan, not exactly a model of stability these days as Benazir Bhutto's violent homecoming proved. But the planet lives.
What we do, we bomb owners, is watch each other and talk to each other. That's important because it will probably turn out that we can live with each other, can compromise our differences, and let the planet live.
I sometimes wish that Giuliani and the various other wannabe warriors running for president could spend a couple of days on a real battlefield. It isn't pretty, all those wasted young lives. And you never forget the smell.