By DALE McFEATTERS
Scripps Howard News Service
June 07, 2006
Tehran acts as if the principal benefit of a nuclear weapon is to annoy the United States. Long term, the U.S. is not the problem; Iran's neighbors are.
If Iran gets the bomb, everybody else in the region is going to want one - Egypt, Turkey, Syria, maybe Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states, and, after we leave, even Iraq. That's in addition to its two already nuclear-armed immediate neighbors, Russia and Pakistan. And not so far away is nuclear-armed Israel, whom Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already threatened.
Iran might want to get a taste of what's in store for it by conducting a national program along the lines of "What America Went Through in the Cold War," when we were - and the Iranians could be - constantly reminded that we were only seconds away from "the threat of nuclear annihilation." We really talked like that back then.
As a first step, the Iranians should be treated to those old newsreels that we were exposed to constantly of atomic tests in Nevada and the Pacific, huge mushroom clouds engulfing ships, armored vehicles and buildings. One that was especially repeated showed the effect of an atomic blast on an average suburban house. Not pretty.
Iran's publications should regularly print, as ours did, maps of cities with concentric rings of nuclear damage imposed on them - complete incineration in the innermost ring, lesser levels of devastation going outward, until in the outer ring people and buildings escaped unscathed except for lethal levels of radiation. Try that with your morning coffee every time world tensions rise.
The school children should have regular "Duck and Cover" drills, crouching under their desks with their hands over their heads, and periodically be marched off to the basement to duck and cover in the darkened hallways. We probably still have an instructive cartoon movie for kids called "Duck and Cover" featuring Bert the Turtle with cheerful advice on how the little tykes can cut their chances of being fried in an attack. The flick made a nice break from regular classes.
Oh, yes, every public building should have an air-raid shelter relatively safe from radioactivity. We probably still have some of those black-and-yellow stickers the Iranians can now have. We probably even have warehouses stuffed with the rations that went into the shelters. The rations were close to inedible, but we were assured that as starving survivors we would be grateful to have them until it was safe to emerge into the post-nuclear wilderness.
Tehran should urge every family to build its own bomb shelter and stock it with water, canned goods, blankets, batteries, reading material and weapons to shoot down the desperate neighbors who didn't have the foresight to build their own shelter and are now trying to break into yours. We actually had TV dramas about that very situation. You'll want to make your own.
And to make sure the threat of annihilation is never too long out of the public mind, you'll want to have our equivalent of CONELRAD, a periodic interruption of the broadcast media by a penetrating and irritating "eeeee!" followed by, "This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. If this had been an actual emergency ..." We can get you the tapes.
This may be going a little far, but throw up some imitation Nike missile bases in prominent locations around your biggest cities. We had about 300 of them. They had radar towers, bunkers, launchers, magazines and barracks and they were hard to miss.
Their purpose, unless any of us were so oblivious as to forget, was to intercept what our publications regularly depicted as waves of Soviet missiles and bombers descending over the top of the globe on a sleeping United States as Joseph Stalin leered in the background. You can redo this one to suit yourselves.
The Cold War is over. The Nike bases are abandoned. One old base near my wife's hometown is used during the week to treat alcoholics and on weekends to host family reunions.
Not to meddle in you Iranians' affairs, but if you can go straight to treating alcoholics and hosting family reunions without passing through the threat of nuclear annihilation, do it.
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Scripps Howard News Service.