Wednesday, October 20, 2004

He Will Be Missed

Paul Nitze, one of the foreign policy giants of the twentieth century, has passed away at the age of 97.

Just a few of the positive words on a life well lived can be found below. I am certain we will be hearing a lot more about this over the next few days.

In a speech last week at SAIS, as the Johns Hopkins school is known, Secretary of State Colin Powell called Nitze "an icon to those of us who are in the State Department."

"It was like having Moses at the table. This man who had 50 years under his belt when I was just trying to figure out how to be National Security Adviser," Powell said of his tenure in the Reagan administration.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who wrote a book on Nitze entitled "The Master of the Game," called him a "really major figure both of the Cold War era and of the transition to the post-Cold War era."

"He was a man at the center of things — both when he was in government and outside government — on the toughest issues of nuclear war and peace. He was a hard-headed analyst and a ferocious negotiator and solution-maker (as well as) a ferocious opponent of policies he disagreed with," said Talbott, now head of the Brookings Institution.

When only 43 years old, Nitze became principal author of a highly influential secret National Security Council document, which provided the strategic outline for increased U.S. expenditures to counter the perceived Soviet threat.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who once headed SAIS, told a recent conference the document was a "landmark contribution to national security" and Nitze's "foresight produced a plan for the postwar world characterized by creativity and boldness."

My prayers go out to his friends and family. He was truly an amazing man.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Tom Friedman on Iraq

Tom Friedman spoke at Brandeis University last night. Friedman, a member of the class of 75, spoke on the topic of Iraq. Specifically, he said he wanted to try to fit the events there into a larger perspective and make sense of our successes, failures, and future there.

I had intended to try to live blog the event, but there was no wireless access in the venue and I only had one battery in my laptop. Instead, I took five pages of notes and starting typing them up this afternoon. I will post all of them on here.

In the places where he went too fast or I wrote too slow, I made notes. I also inserted some comments/questions that occured to me during the presentation. Everything should be clearly marked and my presentation is as accurate and unbiased as humanly possible.

Before I begin, I just want to say that Friedman is someone I really admire. I respect his approach to journalism, his desire to make sense of the world, and his ability to relate that to millions of people around the world in an interesting and understandable manner.

I use From Beirut to Jerusalem in one of my introductory classes and The Lexus and the Olive Tree in a upper level IR theory class. I have used these books three years running and I have never had a student express any dislike for them. In fact, time and time again, students love the Friedman books and say they are the best books they have read in college.

Ok, Friedman worshipping completed, here goes...

(Friedman's words in plain text - mine in bold. I use bold just so no one will confuse the two and there are lot more of his than mine).

I never believed there were WMD in Iraq. If you go back and look at my columns, you will not find a single column on this written by me. I did believe that anything Saddam did have was deterrable and therefore did not necessitate invasion for those reasons.

This did not make a whole lot of sense to me. He started out by saying he didnt think they had any, then went on to say what they did have was deterrable. I could not figure out exactly what he meant based on the comments so I just left them as is.

I did believe something needed to be done with Saddam and in regards to the Islamic world. It is important to view 9/11 in a far broader context that we have to this point. If you view Iraq in this context, it is then possible to make sense of and draw conclusions from Iraq.

I view 9/11 as the beginning of battle of the Third Totalitarian Era in international politics. The first was the challenge from the Soviets and communism. The second was the war against Fascism/Nazism which used Germany as a vehicle for its ideology. The third is the battle against radical Islamists who use globalization to impose their view of the perfect faith – political Islam.

People ask me, how the threat posed by AQ can be compared to that of the Soviet Red Army, which was backed by tens of thousands of tanks and nukes. I believe AQ poses a threat more dangerous and more pernicious than the USSR ever did.

There are three reasons for this:

1. Soviet threat was deterrable

2. US and Soviets shared assumptions on what was acceptable, what was civilized, what the rules of the game were.

3. With AQ and radical Islam, there are no shared assumptions – the boys of 9/11 hated the US more than they loved life. How can you reason with or deter that?

The threat posed by AQ is so scary because it cant be deterred plus because it uses the instruments of daily life (planes, cars, shoes) and uses them as weapons to attack the essence of what keeps open societies open. They target trust.

I trust you not to be strapped with an explosive vest. You trust me in the same way. I trust the person next to me on a plane not to have a shoe bomb etc. He used a number of examples here.

It is impossible to guard everything in an open society. AQ and radical Islam aim at the heart of open society. This must serve as the starting point for any discussion of 9/11.

Where did the boys of 9/11 come from?

They came from 2 sources:

  1. The Saudi’s or sitting around guys
  2. The Europeans

Sitting Around Guys

These were the muscle and drawn from OBL’s rolodex. There is a vast pool of these people throughout the Middle East.

The Middle East has the highest birthrate and unemployment rate in the world. (He reeled off a bunch of stats here). This serves as the raw material for the Bin Laden’s to shape, mold and use.

They are created by the Wheel of OBL, which has three spokes:

  1. deficit of freedom
  2. deficit of popular education
  3. deficit of women’s empowerment

The ME is the only region of the world where there is not one single democratic government. For these regimes to gain legitimacy, they prop up anti-modern clergy who in exchange for a platform bless the regime in place. The one thing these regimes and the clergy are good at producing is people who lack the ability to thrive and even survive in a modern, globalizing world.

The ME and Arab world are suffering a crisis of human development of serious serious proportions. He used the example of patents. Over the past 20 years, the ME has produced 267 patents. In the same period, South Korea produced over 16 thousand. Hewlett Packard produces 11 per day. In less than a month, HP produces more patents than the entire ME produces in 20 years.

The Europeans

These were the brains of the operation, opposed to the muscle. All of them were radicalized in Europe. Add on to this, Richard Reid, the assassins of Massoud in Afghanistan and any number of other terrorist plots and you find a common theme – they are coming out of European mosques.

This represents a failure of the melting pot in Europe. In the US, we have a poorly working melting pot, but one that is at the heart of the American experience. In Europe, there is no such thing.

Arabs were invited to Europe post WWII for labor much the same way that Mexicans were/are invited to the US. There has been little effort and much resistance to integrating them into their host societies. Now, we are in the third generation of Arabs that have grown up in Europe. The young especially are angry, disaffected and resentful. They gravitate toward mosques where they are radicalized by clerics selling a vision that is attractive to them.

There is an incompatibility to Islam and modern life. For Muslims, the Koran is more than a religious book and Islam more than a religion – it is the precise and accurate world and will of God.

I often try to describe this incompatibility and its consequences in computer terms. Think of it like this:

  • Muslims raised with view of Islam as God 3.0
  • They view Christians as God 2.0
  • They view Jews as God 1.0
  • They view Hinduism as God 0.0

Young Muslims are raised in this way yet as they grow up they cannot figure out how and why God 3.0 came to be below the other inferior operating systems. Radicals explain it as either 1.0 and 2.0 have cheated and keep the Muslims down or the leaders of ME states have sold Muslims out to the other operating systems.

The other non 3.0 versions have achieved multiple and improved releases – 1.01 or 2.02 etc. They have grown and transformed and modernized and this has had important repercussions for their followers, the religion, and the ability to survive in a globalizing world. For 3.0, there has been no updated release. It is important that Muslims do this and do this on their own.

This moves us to the discussion of Iraq. It provides a context and if I have learned anything in my career it is the importance of context.

The context within which people live their lives is vital. For many Muslims, this context is producing rage. Yet, if you can change the context this changes. Look at India, the world’s second largest Muslim country. There were no Indian Muslims involved in 9/11 or any that we now of involved in AQ. (He told several stories to illustrate them but I couldn’t get them all down).

The US has ignored context in the Arab world for the last fifty years. Our view of the Arab world has been similar to that of run down, dumpy gas stations. For much of this period, we wanted them to keep the pump open, keep the price cheap and otherwise do what you want. The only thing that changed was an addition to this – be nice to the Jews.

On 9/11 we got hit with everything that was growing and living in that context. I borrow this analogy from Larry Summers – “In the history of the world, no one has ever washed their rented car.” The same is true for countries. The Iraqi people and the people of the ME in general have rented countries, first from imperial powers and then from their own dictators.

I believe changing this context was worth invading. I am not a neo-con and do not believe all their nonsense… (I fell behind here but he took some shots at the neo-cons and their vision).

We ran into trouble due to Turkish domestic politics and the Bush administrations bungling of diplomacy with Turkey. This meant the war was never finished. The Sunni triangle was largely untouched and two divisions of Republican Guard took of their uniforms and went home. They now are key to the insurgency.

The second major mistake was in not establishing our authority. Zell Miller railed about calling US troops occupiers. Well, we needed to be occupiers. We needed to control the country to fix it. You cannot liberate what you do not control.

We have never had enough troops in Iraq based on these two mistakes. Rumsfeld’s view of this as a lab test has really hurt us.

There is no army in the world that can defeat our own. There is no country in the world we can rebuild on our own.

The result was looting on an epic scale – unless you saw it take place, it is near impossible to fathom the scope of it.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Hugh Hewitt's Symposium: Why Vote for GW?

Hugh Hewitt asks "Why vote for Bush, and whats wrong with Kerry?" In the briefest possible form, here is my answer.

As someone who works in academics, I can say this is a question most faculty and administrators have never asked themselves. On a daily basis, I listen to the shots, snipes, and broadsides directed against the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, and the United States in general. Most of the time, I pay little or no attention to this stuff. If it were thoughtful and/or rational criticism, I would have to consider it. In fact, I have a laundry list of my own regarding this administration and its failures. Despite those criticisms and the candidacy of John Forbes Kerry for President, I plan to vote for President Bush come November.

In the past, I would compare candidates based on my political preferences and decide who to vote for. In this election, my calculus is even simpler. My vote is being cast solely on the basis of foreign policy. Even though Bush has been from fair to poor (at various points) on all of the above, it is his consistent foreign policy vision (not application) that has convinced me that he is not only the best man to lead the US going forward, but perhaps also the only one capable of doing so at this time.

Bush will forever live in a post 9/11 world. 9/11 shaped and molded this man, recasting his politics, his purpose, and his presidency. In his speeches and actions, he has put the US on a course designed to place us in the best possible position to prevent another 9/11. It can be said simply that Bush deserves to be reelected because he lives in a post 9/11 world. If you believe this, then the many failures and missed opportunities under Bush can be accepted (not excused or ignored) as such by this supporter. The reason is simple. Even a Bush who struggles translating his vision of the post 9/11 world into reality is better than a Kerry who insists that, regardless of 9/11, the security environment of the US has not and did not fundamentally change on that fateful day.

Big News on Climate Change!

I found this link via Andrew Sullivan, but cannot find a permalink on his blog.

I am not an expert on climate change and I am a walking statistics disaster. That out of the way, this appears to be major, major news that should have dramatic repercussion on the discussion of climate change.

It certainly does not negate the threat of a long-term global temperature increase. In fact, McIntyre and McKitrick are careful to point out that it is hard to draw conclusions from these data, even with their corrections. Did medieval global warming take place? Last month the consensus was that it did not; now the correct answer is that nobody really knows. Uncovering errors in the Mann analysis doesn’t settle the debate; it just reopens it. We now know less about the history of climate, and its natural fluctuations over century-scale time frames, than we thought we knew.

If you are concerned about global warming (as I am) and think that human-created carbon dioxide may contribute (as I do), then you still should agree that we are much better off having broken the hockey stick. Misinformation can do real harm, because it distorts predictions. Suppose, for example, that future measurements in the years 2005-2015 show a clear and distinct global cooling trend. (It could happen.) If we mistakenly took the hockey stick seriously--that is, if we believed that natural fluctuations in climate are small--then we might conclude (mistakenly) that the cooling could not be just a random fluctuation on top of a long-term warming trend, since according to the hockey stick, such fluctuations are negligible. And that might lead in turn to the mistaken conclusion that global warming predictions are a lot of hooey. If, on the other hand, we reject the hockey stick, and recognize that natural fluctuations can be large, then we will not be misled by a few years of random cooling.

Critics of climate change have always argued that the data and science on climate change is very weak and propped up more my politics than empirical evidence. This will provide the critics of climate change some real evidence, as it appears the scientists who came up with the "hockey stick" made some critical and, perhaps, unexcusable errors.

McIntyre and McKitrick obtained part of the program that Mann used, and they found serious problems. Not only does the program not do conventional PCA, but it handles data normalization in a way that can only be described as mistaken.

Now comes the real shocker. This improper normalization procedure tends to emphasize any data that do have the hockey stick shape, and to suppress all data that do not. To demonstrate this effect, McIntyre and McKitrick created some meaningless test data that had, on average, no trends. This method of generating random data is called “Monte Carlo” analysis, after the famous casino, and it is widely used in statistical analysis to test procedures. When McIntyre and McKitrick fed these random data into the Mann procedure, out popped a hockey stick shape!

That discovery hit me like a bombshell, and I suspect it is having the same effect on many others. Suddenly the hockey stick, the poster-child of the global warming community, turns out to be an artifact of poor mathematics. How could it happen? What is going on?

The short answer appears that we know a lot less about climate change than we did prior to this evidence coming out. The study of climate change, always somewhat difficult, just took a significant hit. While the activists will not acknowledge this and the opponents of climate change will seize on this news, it certainly suggests that until further research is completed we all ought to be somewhat leery of grand claims on climate change.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

China Supporting Sudanese Genocide?

A tip of the cap to Glenn Reynolds, whose Instapundit blog is my favorite, for the heads up on this story from the Independent.

In short, the story claims that China is using diplomacy to water down and/or prevent the UN from taking action in Sudan. Why run cover for genocide? Oil. The Chinese use diplomacy to generate favor and to continue purchasing Sudanese oil for China's rapidly industrializing economy.

The key paragraphs:

China was identified by diplomats as the member responsible for watering down last month's Security Council resolution which threatened to halt Sudan's oil exports if it did not stop atrocities in the Darfur region, where Arab militias are terrorising African villagers.
Beijing oil imports jumped 35 per cent this year and its reliance on a growing number of rogue states to meet its needs is putting it on a collision course with the United States. Sudan and Iran together supply 20 per cent of China's oil imports, and if economic sanctions were applied to either, Beijing would be unable to sustain its high growth rates.
As China industrializes, cheap and plentiful oil are necessary to fuel economic growth. Given the recent instability of the global oil markets, this might seem hard to engineer for anyone. However, China has sunk a significant amount of capital, in the form of trade agreements, cash, loans, and diplomatic support, into Sudan. It seems that even wholesale slaughter is not enough to stop this.

The article then goes on to sum up China's not so nice foreign policy partners:

Beijing is already under fire for its support of Burma, North Korea and Iran, countries also accused of breaches of international law. China was also singled out in the recently released Charles Duelfer report on Iraq's WMD, along with Russia and France, for breaching the UN sanctions against Iraq and subverting the oil-for-food programme. But China is almost alone in supporting Sudan. After the US imposed sanctions in November 1997, the rest of the world - apart from companies from Pakistan, India and Malaysia - have kept their distance.
The future of China is an important one for the entire world. Glenn Reynolds is correct in showing that this demonstrates again the limits of multilateral diplomacy. Correctly, he points out that it can only work in a world and on specific issues where all the great powers have a common interest. Unfortunately, this is not often the case and does not appear likely to become a more frequent occurence in the future.

On a larger note, the US has invested significantly in China. We have delinked trade and human rights after the Chinese called Clinton's bluff on MFN. American companies have invested and will continue to invest as much as possible in China. We have worked, even under Bush, to keep China as a friend and done much to accomodate them. The US is heavily invested in the strategy of engagement paying off with China.

As someone who watches China from afar, I am not so certain this will work. The Chinese have shown themselves to excel at foreign policy. They consistently seem to take the long view, which we struggle with in an electoral based democracy. The Chinese have ties with some of the world's worst regimes. They have assisted in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and, much of the time, work at cross purposes with the US. Engagement might come back to haunt us in the future.

More on this later.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Iran: No Signs of Backing Down

The AP is reporting that Iran remains committed to continuing down the road towards developing nuclear weapons.

Iran said Saturday it would reject any proposal to stop uranium enrichment for nuclear fuel, the central part of a package Washington's European allies are proposing to avoid a showdown over Iran's nuclear program.

The European countries notified the United States on Friday that they intend to offer Iran a package of economic incentives next week in hopes of persuading the country to permanently give up uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to make nuclear weapons.

While the U.S. administration did not endorse the offer to Tehran, they also did not try to stop the Europeans, said a U.S. official, who spoke Friday on condition of anonymity. The U.S. is pushing for U.N. sanctions against Iran.

"Iran will not accept any proposal which deprives it of the legitimate right to the cycle of (nuclear) fuel," state-run television quoted Hossein Mousavian, a top nuclear official, as saying.However, Mousavian, Iran's chief delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said his government would study any proposal that would allay concerns over its nuclear program as long as it respected Iran's right to enrich uranium.

I mentioned in a previous post that it is highly unlikely Iran will agree to any significant compromise that would prevent them from developing nuclear weapons. They might be willing to consider delaying it or, perhaps, making and breaking an agreement to delay progress in the program. However, the Iranians believe that going nuclear is a vital strategic interest and are unlikely to negotiate that away for any price.

Update: The Washington Post has more on this, here. The article contains this cheerful section:

The initiative emerged not only because the Europeans want to try at least one more time, but also because of the potential difficulties of winning agreement at the IAEA meeting next month and then at the U.N. Security Council if Iran does not comply, European envoys said. Non-aligned countries such as South Africa, Brazil and Malaysia fear that any move against Iran would set a precedent limiting their potential to develop nuclear energy programs, thediplomats said.

"It's one thing to say we'll go to the Security Council," said a European informed about the new diplomacy, "and another thing to get there."

That's what I call determination...

Friday, October 15, 2004

Marines Attack Fallujah

So much for the big letup in the weeks before the election. Over the past week to week and a half, it appears our major attacks are increasing.

So far, I have not seen anyone admitting that the earlier stories were wrong. I am not stupid enough to hold my breath while waiting...

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bush Administration and Congress Tackle Nuclear Proliferation

A PDF of the language can be found here.

The legislation calls for the program to undertake the following:

(A) Accelerated efforts to secure, remove, or eliminate proliferation-attractive fissile materials or radiological materials in research reactors, other reactors, and other facilities worldwide.
(B) Arrangements for the secure shipment of proliferation-attractive fissile materials, radiological materials, and related equipment to other countries willing to accept such materials and equipment, or to the United States if such countries cannot be identified, and the provision of secure storage or disposition of such materials and equipment following shipment.
(C) The transportation of proliferation-attractive fissile materials, radiological materials, and related equipment from sites identified as proliferation risks to secure facilities in other countries or in the United States.
(D) The processing and packaging of proliferation-attractive fissile materials, radiological materials, and related equipment in accordance with required standards for transport, storage, and disposition.
(E) The provision of interim security upgrades for vulnerable, proliferation-attractive fissile materials, radiological materials, and related equipment pending their removal from their current sites.
(F) The utilization of funds to upgrade security and accounting at sites where proliferation-attractive fissile materials or radiological materials will remain for an extended period of time in order to ensure that such materials are secure against plausible potential threats and will remain so in the future.
(G) The management of proliferation-attractive fissile materials, radiological materials, and related equipment at secure facilities.
(H) Actions to ensure that security, including security upgrades at sites and facilities for the storage or disposition of proliferation-attractive fissile materials, radiological materials, and related equipment, continues to function as intended.
(I) The provision of technical support to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), other countries, and other entities to facilitate removal of, and security upgrades to facilities that contain, proliferation-attractive fissile materials, radiological materials, and related equipment worldwide.
(J) The development of alternative fuels and irradiation targets based on low-enriched uranium to convert research or other reactors fueled by highly-enriched uranium to such alternative fuels, as well as the conversion of reactors and irradiation targets employing highly-enriched uranium to employment of such alternative fuels and targets.
(K) Accelerated actions for the blend down of highly-enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium.
(L) The provision of assistance in the closure and decommissioning of sites identified as presenting risks of proliferation of proliferation-attractive fissile materials, radiological materials, and related equipment.
(M) Programs to— (i) assist in the placement of employees displaced as a result of actions pursuant to the program in enterprises not representing a proliferation threat; and (ii) convert sites identified as presenting risks of proliferation regarding proliferation-attractive fissile materials, radiological materials, and related equipment to purposes not representing a proliferation threat to the extent necessary to eliminate the proliferation threat. (2) The Secretary of Energy shall, in coordination with the Secretary of State, carry out the program in consultation with, and with the assistance of, appropriate departments, agencies, and other entities of the United States Government. (3) The Secretary of Energy shall, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, carry out activities under the program in collaboration with such foreign governments, non-governmental organizations, and other international entities as the Secretary of Energy considers appropriate for the program.

Good news - lets hope it becomes reality.

Our Friends the Russians

The Washington Post is reporting that the Russians have finished building a nuclear plant in Iran. Please! Do not worry. After all, as the Post reports:

Russia has been building the Bushehr plant since the early 1990s. Both Moscow and Tehran maintain Iran's nuclear programme is peaceful.

Right. The Russians, (along with France, Germany, and China) continue to profit by assisting proliferators while maintaining a holier than thou attitude that these differences with the US are the result of philosophy and nuance, instead of cold hard cash.

Taiwanese Nuclear Program

This is not too big of a story. The events in question took place back in the 1980s. One piece stands out:

Questions about Taiwan's past nuclear ambitions resurfaced in August after an editorial in one of the island's leading newspapers suggested that nuclear weapons would be an effective deterrent for the threat posed by mainland China, which considers the island a renegade province and refuses to renounce the use of force to assert its sovereignty.

If the US ever withdraws its support for Taiwan or appears to be pulling out of the region, it is likely Taiwan will attempt to acquire/develop nukes immediately. The same would also be true of South Korea, which has dabbled with such a program in the past. Finally, Japan would also quickly go nuclear. The Japanese already have the ability and could do so in a matter of months.

It is truly frightening to consider what repercussions would follow from Japan going nuclear. To me, there is no better argument for keeping US troops abroad and engaged throughout Asia than simply discussing the nuclear scare scenario if they were to be brought home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

More News on Iran

U.S., G-8 Nations to Discuss Iran Penalty

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. It is unlikely to see much bending on the US, European, or Iranian sides in the weeks to come.

The US, Iran, and Nuclear Weapons

Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association weighs in on the nuclear crisis in Iran in this months Arms Control Today. The article in question, entitled “Iran: Getting Back on Track,” criticizes US policy on Iran and suggests an approach more in sync with the European model - incentives and negotiations.

Kimball argues that:

The United States must recalibrate its strategy to complement, not complicate, the European diplomatic initiative to reduce Iran’s incentives to acquire the bomb and keep it within the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

The problem with this statement is that Iran, like North Korea before it, appears determined to acquire nuclear weapons. For Iran, the development of nuclear weapons is in Iran’s national and strategic interest. The reasons why Iran is determined to develop the bomb are numerous, but some of the most important are:

  1. Pakistan might have developed the “Islamic bomb” first, but Iran would also gain credibility within the Islamic world and power in the Middle East.
  2. Developing nuclear weapons would bolster the case that Iran is a great power and deserves to be treated accordingly.
  3. Nuclear weapons would provide a powerful deterrent to any American, Israeli, or Iraqi actions against Iran.
  4. Nukes, coupled with improve missile technology, would allow Iran to project power beyond what it currently can.
  5. Given the removal of Saddam and the subsequent weakening of Iraq, nuclear weapons would raise the prospect of Iran becoming a regional hegemon in the Middle East.

Given these and other reasons why the bomb makes sense for Iran, it is hardly surprising that Iran has put considerable effort, money, and other resources into acquiring the components and materials necessary to produce nuclear weapons. It is unclear to me why they would willingly give this process up as it nears completion for economic and diplomatic concessions. A short term respite might be purchased, but compliance would be questionable and Iran would eventually end up producing nuclear weapons.

Kimball goes on to say:

Last year, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom persuaded Iran to agree to voluntarily and temporarily halt its uranium-enrichment program and aceept tougher International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. The deal created valuable diplomatic breathing space and the opportunity for the IAEA to gather detailed information about the full extent and nature of Iran’s program.

As I mentioned above, it is unlikely that any deal struck to delay Iran achieving nuclear weapon capability would have any long term success. As was the case with the Agreed Framework, it is likely that we might be a couple years. However, it does nothing to solve the problem and address the reasons why Iran wants the bomb.

Kimball is forced to acknowledge the difficulties of such an approach, especially given that Iran is committed to acquiring the bomb:

Iran has grudgingly allowed the IAEA extensive access and information about its covert projects. But several questions remain, including whether Iran has already enriched uranium. And, last spring, Iran began to undermine confidence by delaying the entry of inspectors and by continuing to manufacture parts for centrifuges for the enrichment process.

The leaders of energy-rich Iran insist these activities are for peaceful purposes and are allowed under the NPT. Their assurances are hardly reassuring. Uranium-enrichment technology cannot only be used tro produce low-enriched fuel for power reactors, but also weapons grade nuclear material.

Even after increased inspections have occurred, it is still not clear whether Iran is, in fact, cheating. Will it be possible to conclude with anything approaching 95% confidence that Iran is not developing nukes via these inspections? It seems highly doubtful to me. Iranian attempts to stall inspectors and prevent access to facilities reduce confidence, as Kimball notes. Regardless of the level of Iranian compliance, Kimball and other arms control advocates will continuously push an agenda that consists of inspections and incentives followed by more inspections and incentives. In the case of determined proliferators, this approach simply will not work. If this is ever acknowledged by anyone in the arms control community, it will be a first :)

Arguably, it makes sense for Iran to engage in some diplomatic games to stave off the possibility to major sanctions or preemptive action until nukes have been developed. At that point, sanctions and preemption make far less sense.

Regardless, European – American consensus on sanctions and/or preemptive action will prove near impossible. The likelihood of France, Russia, or China allowing either to occur in the Security Council is slim.

Given the inability of the IAEA to verify compliance, even with increased inspections, it is clear that the NPT can vouchsafe that states are not working on developing nuclear weapons. Again, the regime is in trouble.

Kimball concludes by saying:

Even if Iran complies with NPT commitments now, it may still choose to follow the nuclear weapons route in the future. Given the stakes, the United States must counter arguments from Iranian hard-liners who wrongly believe that nuclear weapons will enhance Iran’s prestige and counter Israel’s nuclear arsenal. To help do so, Washington should reiterate its long-standing commitment to achieve a Middle-East nuclear-weapon-free zone.

Time is running out. The situation demands a new and more sophisticated US strategy that increases Iran’s incentives to halt its dual-purpose nuclear projects and reinforce the view within Iran that it does not need and will not benefit from nuclear weapons.
There is no silver bullet for this issue. Incentives and negotiations only work when you have a partner committed to the process. Iran, due to its own conception of the national interest and its understanding of its strategic environment, is not likely to back down from its decision to acquire nukes. Short of force, Iran will be a nuclear power. All the negotiations, incentives, and diplomatic grandstanding in the world will change this.

It is only a matter of time until Iran joins the nuclear club.

About Face on Iran?

Apparently, the Bush administration is considering positive incentives to encourage Iran to free its nuclear weapons development program. The story, found here, potentially represents a major shift in US policy towards Iran. It will likely be spun as a significant setback for the Bush team based on failed policies.

The problem with the blame game is that it ignores the real problem of dealing with states determined to acquire nuclear weapons. The closer they get, the options become grimmer and grimmer. Short of military strikes, what other choices is left to the Bush administration or a Kerry administration? The Clinton team, which talked very tough on North Korea, was forced into the Agreed Framework. Everyone knew it was a bad deal and had little chance of long term success, but what other choice was there? The costs were just too high for other alternatives.

In the case of Iran today, the likelihood of American preemption remains low. With US troops busy stabilizing Iraq, we cannot afford another major conflict in the Middle East. If anything, we need to keep relations on friendly (relative when speaking of US-Iran) terms with Iran to solve the problems of Iraq. Further, military strikes on Iran by the US would likely inflame nationalism in Iran and shore up the crumbling base of the ruling government there. The worst case scenario would be Israeli preemption on Iran's nuclear facilities.

When compared to the above, the two options are to do nothing and talk tough or to hash out the best deal we can for the time being. Make no mistake, Iran wants nuclear weapons and sees it as a strategic imperative to acquire them. They will go nuclear at some point, unless physically stopped by the US. It will be interesting to see whether, if Bush strikes a deal with the Iranians, he is hailed for his diplomatic coup as the Clinton administration was when the Agreed Framework was signed.

On a broader note, the old nuclear nonproliferation regime is crumbling. The NPT has taken hammer blows from nonmember states developing nukes (India, Pakistan and most likely Israel) and from member states (Iran and North Korea) using the treaty as a shield as they worked on nuclear weapons programs. The NPT recognizes five nuclear weapon states (NWS) - US, Russia, France, Britain, China - and now we can add India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and possibly Iran to that list. That represents a doubling in less than 10 years of the number of nuclear weapon states. South Africa, which developed nukes then gave them up, did so without anyone being the wiser.

A number of other states (Germany and Japan) could easily develop nuclear weapons if they so desired and do so in a very short time. Only their current security guarantee and place under the nuclear shield of the US renders this unnecessary.

In the case of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), it is possible for states to develop nukes without physically testing a bomb. South Africa, Israel, and (most likely) North Korea have already done this.

The future is dark indeed when it comes to nuclear proliferation. The old regimes are failing in the aftermath of the Cold War. New measures are required. Preemption was held up by the Bush administration, but we have already seen its limitations and, dare I say, failings? Absent other effective policy options, short term agreements to delay rather than end a states nuclear aspirations might be the best we can hope for...

Australia to Preempt!

Australia will preempt when necessary. It appears newly reelected PM John Howard views the vote as a mandate on support for the US and the Bush Doctrine.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Which is it?

On the one hand, we have stories discusisng increased US military activity in Iraq prior to the elections (here) and on the other we have stories saying such attacks are unlikely prior to the election (here).

Personally, I hope the LA Times (no major offensives leading up to elections) turns out to have egg on its face on this one...

Friday, October 08, 2004

Good News from Syria: Part II

In what appears to be another piece of good news (see link here) regarding US-Syrian relations, Syria is poised to take dramatic steps to improve its relations with the US.

WASHINGTON - Syrian President Bashar Assad is offering to make peace with Israel and says he is ready to cooperate with the United States in stabilizing Iraq (news - web sites), a former senior State Department official said Wednesday.

"Something is going on in Syria and it is time for us to pay attention," said Martin Indyk, assistant secretary of state for the Near East and U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Clinton administration...

On peacemaking, Assad offered to hold talks with Israel without preconditions, Indyk said, and had made several overtures to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (news - web sites) that Sharon rebuffed.

In the past, Indyk said, Syria had insisted that any peace talks should resume where they left off during the Clinton administration — with Israel offering to give up all of the Golan Heights, a strategic area Israel won in the 1967 Mideast war.

And, Indyk said, Assad had dropped a demand that Israel reach an agreement with the Palestinians before Israel could resume negotiations with Syria.

On the domestic side, Indyk said, Assad spoke "about the need to reform the government."

This certainly represents a dramatic change in Syrian foreign policy. It was less than a year ago that Syria was still being considered as the next target on the US "regime change" world tour. Syria appeared to be a charter member of the "nearly" Axis of Evil, along with Libya. Now, Libya represents a powerful example of the ramifications of the Bush Doctrine. Syria is apparently moving down a very similar road, driven by fear of being the next Iraq or Afghanistan.

Relations between the US and Syria need to be followed closely in the coming weeks and months. If Libya and Syria are frightened into changing their behavior by the Bush Doctrine, it makes a powerful case that it can succeed where traditional diplomacy, engagement, and positive inducements have failed for years.

If George Bush loses the upcoming presidential election, it will be interesting to see whether Syria and Libya will continue down this path to international respectability with a President Kerry in charge of the US.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A Worthy Read

Check out Jane Galt's thoughts on global warming/climate change. Since finding Jane's blog, Asymmetrical Information, I have become a big fan. She is a great writer and someone who always has a clear argument to make, whatever the issue.

Some highlights from her blog entry include:

When most westerners talk about living "sustainably", they certainly aren't thinking about what this would really mean: living with rotten teeth, frostbite in winter and heatstroke in summer, once-a-week baths, the majority of the population working as farmers or manual labourers, washing 10 or 12 dirty diapers every day with water you heat yourself on the stove (hell, washing all your clothes in water you heat yourself on the stove . . . and washing the floor that way . . . and the children . . . ), going for years without eating a meal you didn't cook at least some part of, living within walking distance of where you work (and think, in New York City, of what close quarters this would entail in midtown!) Most people, I think, imagine themselves buying a hybrid car and doing a little gardening. But for carbon to stay in balance, everyone on the planet would be able to consume about, oh, what Americans did in 1900. People can't imagine that, for two reasons. First, because they are not educated; they have no idea how big the gap between their consumption and ours really is. But also, people who are at all educated about the era are generally educated by novels . . . but the novels are almost always written about the upper-middle class, or above. So that even someone with a more-than-passing familiarity with the era has little emotional grasp of how many people had to live in really quite abject poverty in order to support the thin layer of affluent Edwardians they've read about. Also, they tend to overgeneralise from their experience of spending a few weekend hours clearing brush or canning strawberries to what it was actually like to spend your whole life working on a farm. I'm really astonished at how little grasp women seem to have of the fact that what has freed women to work outside the home is not the feminist movement, but General Electric and the processed foods industry.


the biggest worry for environmentalists right now isn't the US -- it's the fact that China has 1.2 billion people getting richer very fast. They'll surpass the US as the leading emitters of carbon dioxide sometime in the middle of the next decade, and their government lacks even America's cordial disinterest in environmental protection. Not only that -- it looks like it's getting ready to get rid of the one-child policy. Then there's India's 900 billion coming up fast from the outside. It seems quite unlikely that these countries will endorse emissions reduction while they still have people living in dire poverty. There may be literally nothing the West can do about climate change short of invading two nuclear powers.

She captures the core of the climate change debate. The only way to address the issue is to take drastic action. There are two problems with this. First, there is no way an American politician is going to advocate this type of action, regardless of party. Second, the likelihood of crafting a global agreement that everyone can get on board with is about nil. Even Kerry was forced to admit this fatal flaw in the Kyoto accord (I wish I had the link and the quote but I threw out the magazine and its not available online) in the October issue of Field and Stream magazine.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

US - Syrian Relations: A Win for the Bush Doctrine?

A Washington Times story from October 2 claims that US-Syrian relations are improving and it just might be due to the Bush Doctrine.

The article, found here, reports that:

Syria seeks to curry favor with the Bush administration...

Powell had what he described as "good, open and candid meeting" with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa on the sidelines of last week's United Nations General Assembly meeting.

He praised Syrian pledges to do more to control the notoriously porous border with Iraq, which U.S. officials say has been a primary crossing point for Islamist radicals fighting U.S.-led forces.

The Bush administration also praised Syria's decision -- under heavy international pressure -- to redeploy some of the estimated 20,000 Syrian troops in neighboring Lebanon...

Syria under Mr. Assad is desperate for economic growth; it watched the U.S. military campaign against Saddam Hussein with growing alarm.
If these promises and pledges become reality, it will certainly be a coup for the administration. Syria, previously defiant in the face of US criticism and threats, is now apparently willing to play ball and, apparently, is looking for the best possible way out of a bad situation.

Any Syrian crackdown on cross border traffic to Iraq would ease the task currently faced by US-Iraqi authorities in closing off Iraq to foreign fighters. Clearly, this would not solve the problem (even along the Syrian border), but would provide some breathing room for the US to get this situation under control.

It would indeed be a major accomplishment and vindication for Bush if this were to happen. The invasion of Iraq would have produced dramatic changes in two rogue states that have sought to acquire WMD and have sponsored terrorism. Outside of the formally named Axis of Evil, Libya and Syria would be next on any list of problem states. Both publicly changing longstanding behavior due to the US military actions post 9/11 would provide solid evidence that the Bush Doctrine is working.

The two areas that present potential bumps in this scenario are, of course, Israeli actions and the reaction of the neo-conservatives in the US.

And Mr. Landis said Mr. Powell's relatively benign remarks about Syria's recent moves are rejected by hard-liners in the Pentagon and elsewhere, who feel that a weakened Syria is now even more likely to bow to direct pressure rather than diplomatic rewards.
If it is possible to induce Syria to change its behavior (via diplomatic pressure, the threat of force, and even some incentives) and Syria will demonstrate this by taking tangible/verifiable steps in this direction, it is important that the US respond to these overtures. Failing to do so would weaken the Bush Doctrine and potentially turn a bad situation into one with a lot of upside without firing a bullet.