The only thing less surprising than the continued existence of the “axis of evil” for the Right is that it apparently also includes France now. Attempting to connect what he calls “the nuclear daisy chain” (with links even flimsier than daisies, evidently), the Wall Street Journal‘s Bret Stephens gleefully lists all of the countries that have swapped nuclear secrets — including the cheese-eating surrender monkeys themselves:

Britain gave France the secret of the hydrogen bomb, hoping French President Charles de Gaulle would return the favor by admitting the U.K. into the European Economic Community. (He Gallicly refused.) France shared key nuclear technology with Israel and then with Iraq.

Whatever unspecified nuclear cooperation may have occurred between France and Iraq in this unspecified time frame, the deviously clear insinuation here is that Iraq once possessed nuclear weapons. Coupled with the cryptic formula that Stephens sketches out earlier in the post — that the “Newtonian law of proliferation [the action-reaction complex]…is only broken with the intercession of an overwhelming outside force” — this sleight of hand seems designed to (still!) peddle the falsehood that had the United States not invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein would have his hands chock full of nuclear weapons right now.

This revisionist history is worth taking into account when listening to some of the more spastic commentary on Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs. Not that they don’t pose a threat — but that the lesson the hawkish Right seems to have drawn from an entirely fabricated version of the Iraq war is that preemptive invasions are the only way to quell a danger that doesn’t yet exist. Worse, they cloak this war-mongering in the sheep’s clothing of nuclear non-proliferation — as if “moderniz[ing]” the U.S. stash of nuclear weapons or threatening “overwhelming outside force” to any potential nuisance constituted legitimate non-proliferation policies. In this perverse logic, the only way to prevent the nuclear proliferation of, say, Japan, is to, well, proliferate our own nukes – and launch a few preemptive strikes along the way.

(image from flickr user Publik15 under a Creative Commons license)

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