Thursday, October 24, 2002

Blatantly stealing the idea from The Militant Pagan, I’ll have a swing at Greenpeace as well. Their take on the WMD problem leaves plenty of room for two.



What did we learn from the cold war, the disarmament movement of the last three decades, and the intricate history of arms control?


Mainly, that disarmament has never and will never win a war, cold or not.

Mutually Assured Destruction didn't end the cold war. The escalation of nuclear arsenals stopped when the perception of hostility and threat was diminished, buffered by a global perception of the moral and political limitations of nuclear weapons as tools of diplomacy.


No, the Cold war ended because the USSR could no longer maintain parity in an escalating arms race, when they had to spend 12 per cent of their GDP on their military to match the USA’s 2 per cent. It ended because they had a leader who thought he could ease up on domestic control a little, divert spending into consumer goods, and still remain in charge. It ended the day Mikhail Gorbachev said the USSR would not send troops to assist any Warsaw Pact country that wanted to leave the alliance. One thing that did not have any effect whatsoever on Soviet policy was a “global perception of the moral implications of nuclear weapons”. Only one side was responsive to public opinion, and they’re the winners, baby. Does not compute.

We believe that nuclear disarmament by all nations is a fundamental prerequisite of a sustainable future for Earth in the 21st century. It is therefore imperative that the international community - including the Bush Administration -tackle the question of nuclear proliferation and nuclear disarmament in a coherent manner.


The first realistic attempt to remove a nation from the Nuke Squad, and this is a bad thing?

A full-scale attack on the nation of Iraq for seeking to acquire nuclear weapons would be without precedent. The US did not threaten to attack Israel, India or Pakistan for acquiring nuclear weapons.


So we should have invaded? Please be consistent if you expect consistency from others. Should the US have invaded Pakistan? India? No-one?

There are three military strategies available to prevent proliferation: counter-proliferation strikes, nuclear deterrence, and military assault to create a "regime change". All are flawed.


Greenpeace is being up-front: We want you to end proliferation; here are your options, none will work, and we will make your life a living hell just for trying. And we get to stay in the protest business forever. Isn’t that handy?

Military counter-proliferation -- the Israeli strike on Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 is an example -- may deal temporarily with the technical manifestations of proliferation, yet it raised the very tensions which drive weapons programs in the first place. They're also only as good as the intelligence they're based on. In the case of Iraq, the IAEA dismantled a clandestine programme to obtain nuclear weapons; the threat of a military counter-proliferation response from the US has apparently failed to deter Iraq from further attempts to reinstate the programme.


A “temporary” action that stopped the threat cold for years. Then a bloody great war, that came at the time when even the IAEA says Sammy was within rifle shot of getting a bomb. And now Iraq is back at the table on inspections, but somehow this has nothing to do with the “the threat of a military counter-proliferation response from the US”?

If nuclear deterrence was a viable strategy, it would be working now. In Cold War logic, deterrence would dictate that Iraq -- or any other state -- would be cowed by the overwhelming superiority of the US nuclear arsenal and military machine. This clearly isn't the case.


But as Greenpeace said above: “They're also only as good as the intelligence they're based on”. What’s the chances Saddam is getting the full and accurate picture from a general staff that faces the very real risk of being denounced and imprisoned for suggesting that the Glorious Army might not be up to the job? Deterrence works only if He Who Is To Be Deterred believes that the other guy will attack. If that belief is not in place, whether through poor intelligence, underestimation of the opponent, or just plain lunacy, then deterrence fails. What Greenpeace will have you believe is that deterrence was and end to itself, a result. It is not; it is a stopgap measure taken when there is no chance of an acceptable military or diplomatic outcome.

< blockquote> Can the US successfully disarm Iraq by invading the country, taking over its infrastructure, and placing a puppet regime in power? Possibly.
Possibly? They can’t even bring themselves to admit that a US victory is even probable. They prefer inaccuracy, so they don’t appear to be waaarrrmongers.

Will a regime change bring peace to the region and deter other states or agents from pursuing weapons of mass destruction? Of course not. Quite the opposite.


How could it be otherwise? Drive across Iraq like it’s a crack house, the rulers get thrown in the scorpion pit, their Swiss accounts confiscated. Oil drops to US$12 per barrel, food shows up in shops, elections are held. Prosperity rises, refugees return. Can’t see any warning signs there for neighbouring dictators. What about you Gorbachev? Anything to add?

To Iran, the lesson of an invasion on Iraq will be to ensure the swift development of its own weapons of mass destruction, and to develop them while America is focused elsewhere.


A US satrapy next door? Doesn’t scare me in the least!

President Bush has said that the real issue in Iraq is not the acceptance of UN weapons inspectors, but verifiable disarmament. This is true. The problem is the enormous inconsistency of such a statement coming from the possessor of more then six thousand nuclear warheads.



The US and the other "official" nuclear weapon states have legal obligations to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. They should be leading by example.


Shame they can’t come right out and say it: the US must disarm and/or accept weapons inspections in order to have the moral authority to impose disarmament on Iraq. Read that sentence again, just to get an idea of the truly monstrous world view that could try this on.

The case against these weapons must be a moral one, not a strategically convenient one.


Cause you know that Saddam; he’s one moral dude. You get the drop on him in the ethics debate, and he’s likely to plumb give up!

Pressure from other Arab states as well as western countries is clearly important, particularly as a contribution to a more effective and positive US Middle East policy.


The US is not moral enough, but Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen are.
Solving the Palestinian issue is a necessary prerequisite for any movement by Israel to join negotiations on weapons of mass destruction in the region. The


No problem there. The Israelis stayed out of the last one, despite have their citizens killed and their nation attacked. I don’t see them moving on this one, unless of course, someone was to hit them first. Greenpeace may not like pre-emptive strikes, but do they have a problem with retaliation as well? So leave the Palestinians out of it.

Thirdly, containment followed by engagement. Continued pressure on Iraq must include a comprehensive approach to the problem of the proliferation of nuclear technology and know-how, particularly but not exclusively from Russia. There must be a containment of the feasibility of the weapons programme. But there must also be a containment of the ambition behind it. Furthermore effective measures need to be taken to stop the spread of weapons usable material ,and technology, thus further reducing the threat.


What a good word is “containment”. We could contain them by restricting their access to the technology to make biological agents. But that also means no domestic drug industry. We could contain their ability to make nuclear devices, but that would mean no manufacturing, machine shops, blood labs etc. I know of no way to contain ambition while the person still has breath and the means to achieve that ambition. Short of imprisonment or death that is. And judging by the total absence of suggestions on how to achieve ”containment”, neither does Greenpeace.

Ultimately, what we need is a new theory of deterrence when it comes to nuclear weapons. At its root, deterrence is and always has been a matter of perception: the perception of threat, imagined response, and a close calculation of exactly what either of two combatants believe they can get away with.


One of the reasons deterrence comes undone is when one of the actors adopts a different morality to the others. For instance, would Saddam trade the nuking of Basra for the control of the Saudi oil fields? My guess: he already has the plans drawn up. Will the US trade Cleveland for Baghdad?

As we move toward a globalisation of civil society, we need to build a world-wide moral deterrence against the possession of nuclear weapons. The cornerstone of any state's claim to moral authority, and any leader's, must be based on their accountability to civil society. They must abide by global agreements for the global good, they must conform to the most global definitions of acceptable behaviour.


Civil society might include an undertaking not to torture, imprison and kill political opponents. If someone wants to strut the stage of “global” civil society, wouldn’t facing regular fair elections seem to be the passport? Otherwise, well, anybody could declare themselves to re representing some group or interest, with no way of checking. And that would be a Bad Thing.

The ability of a state to exert its will upon the world community should be measured in its demonstrable commitment to the common benefit of that community. The authority of its leaders, at home and abroad, must rest in a new, global and inclusive definition of the public trust.


But not on its level of democracy, its foreign aid budget or it’s funding of the very bodies that make up these “inclusive definitions”.

Any state thinking about acquiring nuclear weapons would have to be deterred by the strength of global repugnance


Nuclear weapons are now as bad as smoking.

Any leader driving a state in that direction must know that they will face a credible worldwide outrage,untainted by hypocritical inconsistencies, and with a moral authority that will be daunting to their futures as leaders, domestically and abroad. This moral outrage needs to be effectively backed by agreed obstacles and sanctions that can be applied in an impartial and objective manner.


Nothing like global outrage to send the right message to the Emperor For Life. “El Presidente! The Quakers are here! You must flee!”

It is evident that the Bush Administration is unenthusiastic about the use of multilaterialism in general and the United Nations in particular as tools for conflict resolution, preferring instead to use its military power to ensure that its strategic objectives are met.


Now let’s bit see the same hand this time. Military goals are accomplished by what means? Anyone? Carthage, you’re awfully quiet back. Stop talking Mussolini!

A world in peril needs world leaders, accountable to the needs and moral imperatives of our common future.

But not, it seems, accountable to voters.

It’s not about ooooiiiillllll. It’s about Prrroooooteeessst.

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