So Long, Mom, I’m Off to Drop the Bomb

Has anyone noticed how in the space of just a couple of years this country’s gone from fighting the conflict of the 1990s that the Bush administration had no interest in prior to 9/11 (aka the War on Terror) to fighting the conflict of the 1960s that the Bush administration has no interest in (aka halting nuclear proliferation)?

This came into my mind while listening to Tom Lehrer’s 40+ year old ditty “Who’s Next?” (lyrics below). Prior to 9/11, the Bush administration dropped the ball on both terrorism and attempts to stem the spread of nuclear materials and technology.

After 9/11, the US was haphazardly mobilized to battle terrorists. But that front quickly turned into a supposed search for WMDs in Iraq, a “victorious” shutdown of the Khan nuclear network in Pakistan, upcoming attempts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, and — of course — the nuclear debacle that is North Korea.

The sad thing is, we’ve been here before. Not only that, it was so long ago that it was satirized in a Golden Oldie song that plays on the Dr. Demento show, is on a Rhino Records collection, and appeared on an album (“That Was the Year That Was”) in which another nuclear-themed song mentions co-anchors Chet Huntley and David Brinkley as contemporary figures.

Forty years of on-again/off-again work to contain the nuclear threat plus followed by four years of George Bush and company equals squat. Zero. Nullification.

Tom Lehrer, “Who’s Next”

First we got the bomb and that was good
Because we love peace and motherhood
Then Russia got the bomb but that’s OK
Because the blance of power’s maintained that way
Who’s next?

France got the bomb but don’t you grieve
Because they’re on our side, I believe
China got the bomb but have no fears
Because they can’t wipe us out for at least five years
Who’s next?

Then Indonesia claimed that they
Were gonna get one any day
South Africa wants two, that’s right
One for the black and one for the white
Who’s next?

Egypt’s gonna get one too
Just to use on you-know-who
So Israel’s getting tense
Wants one in self-defense
“‘The Lord’s our Shepherd,’ says the Psalm
But just in case, we better get a bomb!”
Who’s next?

Luxembourg is next to go
And who knows, maybe Monaco
We’ll try to stay serene and calm
When Alabama gets the bomb
Who’s next? Who’s next? Who’s next?
Who’s next?