2002 December 14 Saturday
Jim Hoagland on Trying To Control The Proliferators

The US government faces so many different weapons of mass destruction proliferation problems that it can't try to solve them all at once. Attempts to get China to pressure North Korea have met with no success.

"We have to deal with one urgent problem at a time right now," said a U.S. official. The implication was that Pakistan's past proliferation has to be overlooked while Washington pursues the war on global terrorism, disarming Iraq and shutting down any new nuclear leaks to North Korea. "What Pakistan does right now on those fronts is getting our intense attention."

China is another country of concern for the administration on North Korea. I am told that Bush delivered a private but crystal clear warning to President Jiang Zemin in October that China's willingness -- or lack thereof -- to help contain North Korea's nuclear ambitions would now affect U.S.-China relations. But the Chinese have not applied pressure on Kim Jong Il since then. Their private inaction during a time of leadership transition matches their public statements that they can do nothing about North Korea, says one knowledgeable and therefore worried American.

The US government has to worry about state sponsorship of terrorism, state tolerance of terrorists, states that serve as suppliers of WMD technologies, and states that are attempting to develop WMD technologies. Once the Iraqi regime is overthrown the US will need to move on to what to do about Libya, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and North Korea. It remains to be seen whether the Bush Administration will be willing and able to prevent all those states from doing WMD development and buying more WMD supplies from each other. Some of those regimes must fall in order for all state sponsorship and toleration of terrorism to be stopped. Some of those regimes will need to be invaded in order to put an end to their WMD programs.

So does the Bush Administration have what it takes to do all that needs to be done? Michael Ledeed says that the Bush Administration's caving on the Scud shipment shows they are not serious.

My understanding is that it took weeks to plan and coordinate with the Spaniards. Then the operation is launched, everything goes according to plan (or even better than planned), and we've got them, we've shown the ghastly North Koreans who's boss, we've exposed yet another pipeline to the terrorists and then the Yemenis (the Yemenis!) have a failure of nerve (they must have taken a lot of heat and listened to a lot of threats), and they caved, and we caved right along with them.

I don't know what all the factors were that played into that decision. But its not encouraging.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 December 14 04:19 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment


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