Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Nation mag story on war
Foreword from my Russian Catholic friend with long excerpts as highlights:

This is a long story. A few things caught my attention - including the reference to the Cuba anomaly at the end of the story:



"The lesson so far? Exactly the opposite of the intended one: If you want to
avoid "regime change" by the United States, build a nuclear arsenal--but be
sure to do it quietly and fast.
As Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of
the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said, the United States seems to
want to teach the world that "if you really want to defend yourself, develop
nuclear weapons, because then you get negotiations, and not military action
."

"Although the third of the "axis" countries presents no immediate crisis,
events there also illustrate the bankruptcy of the Bush policy. With the help
of Russia, Iran is building nuclear reactors that are widely believed to
double as a nuclear weapons program. American threats against Iraq have
failed to dissuade Iran--or for that matter, its supplier, Russia--from
proceeding. Just this week, Iran announced that it had begun to mine uranium
on its own soil. Iran's path to acquiring nuclear arms, should it decide to
go ahead, is clear. "Regime change" by American military action in that
half-authoritarian, half-democratic country is a formula for disaster.
Whatever the response of the Iraqi people might be to an American invasion,
there is little question that in Iran hard-liners and democrats alike would
mount bitter, protracted resistance."

"The collapse of the overall Bush policy has one more element that may be
even more significant than the appearance of North Korea's arsenal or Iran's
apparently unstoppable discreet march to obtaining the bomb. It has turned
out that the supplier of essential information and technology for North
Korea's uranium program was America's faithful ally in the war on terrorism,
Pakistan, which received missile technology from Korea in return. The
"father" of Pakistan's bomb, Ayub Qadeer Khan, has visited North Korea
thirteen times. This is the same Pakistan whose nuclear scientist Sultan
Bashiruddin Mahood paid a visit to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan a few
months before September 11, and whose nuclear establishment even today is
riddled with Islamic fundamentalists. The BBC has reported that the Al Qaeda
network succeeded at one time in building a "dirty bomb" (which may account
for Osama bin Laden's claim that he possesses nuclear weapons), and Pakistan
is the likeliest source for the materials involved, although Russia is also a
candidate. Pakistan, in short, has proved itself to be the world's most
dangerous proliferator, having recently acquired nuclear weapons itself and
passed on nuclear technology to a state and, possibly, to a terrorist group."

"The reductio ad absurdum of the failed American war policy was illustrated
by a recent column in the Washington Post by the superhawk Charles
Krauthammer. Krauthammer wants nothing to do with soft measures; yet he, too,
can see that the cost of using force against North Korea would be
prohibitive: "Militarily, we are not even in position to bluff." He rightly
understands, too, that in the climate created by pending war in Iraq,
"dialogue" is scarcely likely to succeed. He has therefore come up with a new
idea. He identifies China as the solution. China must twist the arm of its
Communist ally North Korea. "If China and South Korea were to cut off North
Korea, it could not survive," he observes. But to make China do so, the
United States must twist China's arm. How? By encouraging Japan to build
nuclear weapons. For "if our nightmare is a nuclear North Korea, China's is a
nuclear Japan." It irks Krauthammer that the United States alone has to face
up to the North Korean threat. Why shouldn't China shoulder some of the
burden? He wants to "share the nightmares." Indeed. He wants to stop nuclear
proliferation with more nuclear proliferation. Here the nuclear age comes
full circle. The only nation ever to use the bomb is to push the nation on
which it dropped it to build the bomb and threaten others. As a
recommendation for policy, Krauthammer's suggestion is Strangelovian, but if
it were considered as a prediction it would be sound. Nuclear armament by
North Korea really will tempt neighboring nations--not only Japan but South
Korea and Taiwan--to acquire nuclear weapons. (Japan has an abundant supply
of plutonium and all the other technology necessary, and both South Korea and
Taiwan have had nuclear programs but were persuaded by the United States to
drop them.) In a little-noticed comment, Japan's foreign minister has already
stated that the nuclearization of North Korea would justify a pre-emptive
strike against it by Japan. Thus has the Bush plan to stop proliferation
already become a powerful force promoting it. The policy of pre-emptive war
has led to pre-emptive defeat. "

"We cannot know, but we do know that White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card
has stated that if Iraq uses weapons of mass destruction against American
troops "the United States will use whatever means necessary to protect us and
the world from a holocaust"--"whatever means" being diplomatese for nuclear
attack. The Washington Times has revealed that National Security Presidential
Directive 17, issued secretly on September 14 of last year, says in plain
English what Card expressed obliquely. It reads, "The United States will
continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with
overwhelming force--including potentially nuclear weapons--to the use of
[weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad,
and friends and allies." Israel has also used diplomatese to make known its
readiness to retaliate with nuclear weapons if attacked by Iraq. Condoleezza
Rice has threatened the Iraqi people with genocide: If Iraq uses weapons of
mass destruction, she says, it knows it will bring "national obliteration."
(Threats of genocide are flying thick and fast around the world these days.
In January, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes threatened that if
Pakistan launched a nuclear attack on India--as Pakistan's President Pervez
Musharraf has threatened to do if India invades Pakistan--then "there will be
no Pakistan left when we have responded.") William Arkin writes in the Los
Angeles Times that the United States is "drafting contingency plans for the
use of nuclear weapons." STRATCOM--the successor to the Strategic Air
Command--has been ordered to consider ways in which nuclear weapons can be
used pre-emptively, either to destroy underground facilities or to respond to
the use or threats of use of weapons of mass destruction against the United
States or its forces."

"We do not have to wait for war in Iraq, however, to consider the likely
impact of Washington's new policies on democracy's global fortunes. The
question has already arisen in the period of preparation for war. The Bush
Administration has not forced the world to read between the lines to discover
its position. It proposes for the world at large the same two-tier system
that it proposes for the decision to go to war and for the possession of
weapons of mass destruction: It lays claim to absolute military hegemony over
the earth. "America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond
challenge, thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras
pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace," the
President said in his speech at West Point. The United States alone will be
the custodian of military power; others must turn to humbler pursuits. The
sword will rule, and the United States will hold the sword. As the Yale
historian John Lewis Gaddis has pointed out, the policies of unilateral
pre-emption, overthrow of governments and overall military supremacy form an
integral package (the seizure of Middle Eastern oilfields, though officially
denied as a motive, also fits in). These elements are the foundations of the
imperial system that Ignatieff and others have delineated. However, empire is
incompatible with democracy, whether at home or abroad. Democracy is founded
on the rule of law, empire on the rule of force. Democracy is a system of
self-determination, empire a system of military conquest. The fault lines are
already clear, and growing wider every day. By every measure, public opinion
in the world--its democratic will--is opposed to overthrowing the government
of Iraq by force. But why, someone might ask, does this matter? How many
divisions do these people have, as Stalin once asked of the Pope? The answer,
to the extent that the world really is democratic, is: quite a few. In a
series of elections--in Germany, in South Korea, in Turkey--an antiwar
position helped bring the winner to power. In divided Korea, American policy
may be on its way to producing an unexpected union of South and
North--against the United States. Each of these setbacks is a critical defeat
for the putative American empire. In January, the prime ministers of eight
countries--Italy, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, the Czech
Republic and Hungary--signed a letter thanking the United States for its
leadership on the Iraq issue; but in every one of those countries a majority
of the public opposed a war without UN approval. The editors of Time's
European edition asked its readers which nation posed the greatest threat to
world peace. Of the 268,000 who responded, 8 percent answered that it was
North Korea, 9 percent Iraq and 83 percent said the United States. Britain's
Prime Minister Tony Blair is prepared to participate in the war without UN
support, but some 70 percent of his people oppose his position. The
government of Australia is sending troops to assist in the war effort, but 92
percent of the Australian public opposes war unsanctioned by the UN. Gaddis
rightly comments that empires succeed to the extent that peoples under their
rule welcome and share the values of the imperial power. The above election
results and poll figures suggest that no such approval is so far evident for
America's global pretensions. The American "coalition" for war is an alliance
of governments arrayed in opposition to their own peoples."

The passage of time since the failure in 1946 has also provided us with some
advantages. No insuperable ideological division divides the nuclear powers
(with the possible exception, now, of North Korea), as the cold war did.
Their substantial unity and agreement in this area can be imagined. Every
other nonnuclear nation but one (the eccentric holdout is Cuba) already has
agreed under the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to do without
nuclear weapons. Biological and chemical weapons have been banned by
international conventions (although the conventions are weak, as they lack
serious inspection and enforcement provisions)."

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