Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for February, 2007

Blast from the Past: Madeleine Albright Comes Up to Bat for Hillary Clinton

Posted by K.E. White on February 26, 2007

An e-mail blast for Hillary Clinton’s campaign from Madeleine Albright:

 

Madeleine AlbrightI’ll never forget that moment in 1995 when I watched Hillary Clinton stand up in Beijing and declare that “women’s rights are human rights.” In front of the whole world, Hillary spoke out for every woman who suffered from inequality, injustice, and repression. Every person in the hall knew she was making history. Her act of courage still reverberates through women’s lives.

I’ve known Hillary for nearly 20 years. I’ve stood side-by-side with her as she took on the fight for women’s rights at home and abroad, and let me tell you: no one will stand up for all of us as she will. She is the experienced leader this country needs.

The very first day of her presidency, Hillary will transform America’s role in the international community because of the deep admiration she has long enjoyed on the world stage. She will restore the respect that is the foundation of our alliances and the source of our strength.

Don’t let this opportunity pass by. Don’t stand on the sidelines as Hillary walks through the critical early weeks of her amazing journey.

Support Hillary’s “One Week, One Million” campaign right now.

Click to Contribute:
http://www.hillaryclinton.com/oneweek

Thank you so much for acting early to get Hillary’s campaign — and America’s future — moving forward.

Sincerely,

Madeleine Albright


Hillary’s calling out the big guns: I can’t wait until the actual election gets into gear.

Next two years = election nightmare of epic proportions. Just ask our nation’s governors.

But returning to the cottage industry of foreign policyRichard Holbrooke guru endorsements, it seems Richard Holbrooke should be watched.

But, unlike Secretary Albright, Ambassador Holbrooke seems to be out of the game: recently accepting a professorship at Brown University.

But then again, he did become ‘political’ again by calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq late last week.

 But he’s no where near as political as Albright, whose hard swings on the Bush Iraq policy are nothing new but far more vociferous as of late.

Could this Albright-Clinton alliance be an attempt to shore up Hillary Clinton’s very weak anti-war credentials against Obama?

Will it matter to any primary voters?

Or perhaps more importantly, will Albright bring in more money for Clinton warchest?

And for policy wonks: Is this a sign that Hillary will return the National Security team of her husband?

Posted in 2008 Election, Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke | 3 Comments »

Proliferation Press News Flash: Pakistan’s Busy News Day

Posted by K.E. White on February 26, 2007

What’s going on in Pakistan? 

Well, a lot.

First there are reports of a seven nation meeting taking place in Islamabad on the issue of Middle East stability. 

The countries attending? Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan.

Interesting that Iran wasn’t in the mix: But they did just sign a pipe-line deal with India that would go through Iran. So perhaps the crude flow of cash made up for diminished dialogue. 

What did the meeting come up with? Well here’s coverage from TurkishPress.com:

“The ministers viewed with deep concern the dangerous escalation of tension, especially over the Iranian nuclear issue,” said the statement, read at a news conference by Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.

“It is vital that all issues must be resolved through diplomacy and there must be no resort to use of force,” it added.

“There is need for de-escalation instead of aggravation and confrontation in the Gulf region. All countries must work towards that objective.”


But it seems that America might be sending mixed signals. From the Peninsula:

Cooperation between Pakistan and the US in science & technology sector is set to expand manifold in terms of funding as well as areas of mutual cooperation.

In recently concluded talks between the two countries, Islamabad has offered to increase its share to $15m from the already committed $3.5m in the science & technology cooperation programme, it has been learnt.

US officials have agreed in principle to increase their share but have yet to decide the revised figure. According to previously announced breakdown of $5.5m, the US side had committed $2m against $3.5m of Pakistan’s share.

So what is going on?

Pakistan has been skating on thin ice. A vital ally, its tensions with Afghanistan and recently concluded peace treaty with Taliban militants have made it (at best) a nuanced ally of the United States. 

Musharraf’s recent book tour in the United States—he was on the John Stewart show!—didn’t mollify concern.
 
But is this really about Afghanistan? Or is it about Iran? About both? Or an extremely shrewd move to allow Musharraf space to ‘stand up’ to America, as to combat his own, home-grown radical threat?

Who knows. 

What is known is this: Pakistan—a nuclear state with a fragile regime—is a critical part of the WMD puzzle and the war on terror.

And most frightening is that there is little U.S. policy can do to improve the situation in Pakistan, but much U.S. policy can do to hurt the situation there.

Posted in Musharraf, Pakistan, Taliban | Leave a Comment »

Bolton Speaks: Selections from Bolton’s Interview for AI

Posted by K.E. White on February 26, 2007

One can read the entire interview by purchasing the March/April 2007 edition of The American Interest or going to their web-site and subscribing there.John Bolton

Bolton on the threat from international terrorism:

  • “I think the problem is not being able to keep people focused on the real threat. The real threat is not terror coming from already known and defined places. It’s terror combined with weapons of mass destruction in the hands of states or terrorist groups anywhere that might be inclined to use them. That doesn’t mean that the threat is not acute, and it may be growing, but it should be clear to the American people what kind of threat it actually is.
  • “I think part of the problem is that too many Americans don’t live in a climate of fear. Five years after September 11, without a subsequent attack of that size on American territory, people have been led to think the threat has disappeared. Yet we can see even now in Somalia, where elemnts of al-Qaeda tired to regroup, that the threat is still there. A rogue state or a terrorist group with weapons automatically into weapons of mass terror. And that is why the notion of preemption to make sure that attacks don’t take place in the first instance is a proper response to the kind of enviroment we face.”

Bolton on the International Criminal Court and sovereignty:

  • “This goes to an issue that is not well understood–in academic circles, certainly, but even among policy professionals in the United States and overseas–and that’s the concept of sovereignty. Sovereignty is not an abstraction, in America at least. Sovereignty is a reflection of the will of the people. In America, the people are sovereign–not a monarch or distant government. We are sovereign. So infringements on our sovereignty have a direct impact on our control over our own government and governments that deal with us. That’s what I was concerned about as much as anything: the transfer of potential authority over us without having the ability to bring it into account.”

On refusing the neoconservative label:

  • “I am not now, nor have I ever been (general laughter) a neoconservative. I remember the original definition of a neoconservative in the early Reagan days was that of a “liberal mugged by reality.”
  • “I was never a liberal. As I said, my first campaign involvement was for Barry Goldwater, back at a time when many future neoconservatives were debating the fine points of Marxism and socialism. I describe myself not as a neoconservative but as a national-interest conservative, if I can use that phrase.”
  • “I look to define and defend American interests, and to protect and expand them. I think the whole foreign policy discussion these days has gotten lost in a war of bumper-sticker-length phrases that obscure as much more than elucidate. Self-described neoconservatives can fend for themselves. I’ve awlays considered myself a realist, but I also consider myself very profoundly anti-communist. American interests and values in equal measure were and remain implicated in my anti-communism, and in my anti-totalitarianism more broadly construed, and I don’t see any inconsistency there.

On human rights:

  • “My general view is that genuine human rights are a pretty narrowly defined category, principally what today would be called political rights. Even the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights has too many “rights”, and I’m uncomfortable generally with delineating rights that themselves become entitlements. I personally prefer a narrow definition that, precisely because it’s narrow, means that preserving those rights becomes critically important….Today virtually everything is a right in a UN context, like the right to development, for example. God knows what that means. Thanks to that sort of expansion of the concept, advocates for human rights have gotten to a point where the phrase is losing its meaning. I think that’s tragic, because nothing is more important than protecting real human rights.”

Posted in American Interest, John Bolton, neoconservativism | Leave a Comment »

Debunking the Sovereignty Solution: Simons’ ‘Old Is New’ Grand Strategy Won’t Save Us

Posted by K.E. White on February 26, 2007

Introduction: Austria All Over Again?

 

Undoubtedly you’ve been asked the ever elusive quandary: How many people does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Now what if we scaled that question up a few notches?

How many people does it take to create a new paradigm for American foreign policy?

Apparently four, at least according to Anna Simons, head writer for the recently published “The Sovereignty Solution”. Simons, teaming up with Don Redd, Joe McGraw and Duane Lauchengo, offer a new American Grand Strategy for the readers of The American Interest.

Their thesis:

The grand political bargain we propose is this: America will guard its sovereign prerogatives, responding to violations of sovereignty with overwhelming force, in return for which it promises other states that it will not infringe on their sovereign prerogatives, including rights to cultural integrity, national dignity and religious freedom (pp 34).

This becomes, as you read their circuitously written article, to mean this: Countries do things that violate of sovereignty (a la fund terrorist groups who actively advocated terrorist attacks on U.S. allies or America itself, provide funds or protections to terrorists who have killed U.S. troops or have carried out another 9-11), should be delivered a list of demands.

These demands would be roughly this: stop the policies that are directly threatening the United States. If the country does this, they get rewarded: aid and political support from the United States.

And if they refuse?

America will launch devastating attacks that cripple the nation, with no promise for reconstruction.

If this seems familiar, that’s because it’s been tried before: Austria once sent a list to Serbia with similar demands.

This, being cooperated by Germany, led the world into World War I.

Call it Austria 21st Century: U.S. Special Forces Edition.

 

Sovereignty 2.0: Simons et al Take Their Shot

 

Besides failure to mention this historical parallel, there are other problems with the Simons et al paradigm.

Despite the attractive elegance of their model, it doesn’t 1) solve the actual problems that will dictate our next national security strategy and 2) offers little to American security.

On the first point, let’s look at Iran. The authors propose that America send a list of demands to Tehran, demanding they stop kill American forces in Iraq.

According to the authors, America will then be in the privileged position of responding to a wrong, instead of preempting one. This, argue the authors, will put more legitimacy on American actions.

From the article:

Here’s what should happen the next time U.S. sovereignty is attacked. The attackers’ host or source—the state that “owns the problem”, in other words—would be delivered a list of U.S. demands that might include “eliminate al-Qaeda from your territory”, “disarm and disable Hizballah”, “turn over terrorist X”, OR “Stop sending fighters to country Y.” The level of compliance we receive would then determine the category into which that state would fall—partner state, struggling state, adversarial state or failed state—and that in turn would shape our course of action (35-36).

 

Unfortunately this approach offers little help on Iran. Iran considers the U.S. invasion of Iraq a violation of their sovereignty. Remember they too were a member of the “axis of evil”, so it would seem they have good reason for fighting U.S. forces covertly in Iraq: they consider the U.S. forces to already be covertly fighting them.

The authors offer us clarity: shining light on the gray of neo-conservatism. Yet they do not address America’s gray starting point.

Iran will demand concessions, and frankly so will other regional powers (China, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and India) from the Bush administration before this new paradigm can take place. For Iran this will assuredly revolve around the nuclear question.

And, unfortunately for America, if the United States unilaterally bombs all good going into Iran and their military sites, the response is predictable: Iraq and Afghanistan will be lit up by suicide bombers and guerrilla fighting that will make the American long for today’s tragic headlines.

This point does not cripple the paradigm itself, merely the immediate expectations the authors put on it. For this paradigm to rise up, the diplomatic tensions of today (chiefly the nuclear quandaries of North Korea and Iran) will have to be worked out.

Unfortunately these practical concerns dovetail with the sovereignty model’s profound structural limitations.

 

A Strategy Whose Tenets Fall Short

 

America will not be able to continuously bomb ‘bad’ countries without any responsibility to care for the injured. The lightening attacks the authors endorse (which, admittedly, would match our military’s strengths and eliminate its weaknesses) would cause wide-sweeping damage and have civilian causalities.

These features will merely strengthen the regimes of these troublesome nations.

This is especially true when you look at the other end of their bargain: rewarding ‘good’ regimes that follow our demands.

 

  1. Where’s the Trust?

 

This reciprocal system would have a hard time starting. Europe, let alone Iran, has trouble believing the United States acts in any other way than power-maximization.

Simons et al seem to intuit trust in American motivations as the first step in their legitimacy repair kit. Will Iran really wait to see if America rewards it for ‘good’ behavior?

Don’t hold your breathe.

And what about those fragile regimes America is desperate to keep afloat lest a terrorist group takes control of the state. It seems those states (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt) have a lock on American aid.

 

  1. Destroying our Imperfect Friends

 

And what happens to these fragile regimes after they are ‘decked’ by American bombers. Either the regimes turn virulently anti-U.S. or are replaced by radicals who possess bona-fide anti-American credentials.

This is not to mention other flaws in this paradigm. Will the American public really not be rattled by intra-state atrocities? Will U.S. elites really cede more influence to ‘rival’ states if they agree on terror? And will America not loose allies by cavaliering bombing countries we deem not meeting our demands?

 

C. A Quick Note on Other Flaws: What about the Benjamin’s ($$$)?

And what about non-military approaches to international stability. How can America encourage a growing and prosperous global middle class? The economic portion of this strategy is next to non-existent.

No strategic plan can be maintained unless it reflects the marco-economic challenges facing America and economically rewards America’s partners. In the Cold War it was the Marshall Plan. What should it be today? The authors don’t answer.

The authors only glance of this aspect, detailing only is how to keep America competitive, not how better to integrate the economic interests of regional powers. But there quick reccomendation that America take more of a led in global medical challenges does win them some points in improving the U.S. image around the world. (Unfortunately these tasks are already being taken up by private charities: a la the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or Bill Clinton’s charitable organization).

 

What Should Be Done?

 

But these criticisms are not meant to take away the value of this working paper. America must prioritize its strategic aims. Do we care about security or do we continue to pursue regime change at all costs?

If we care about both, where will we make our difference and how to do maximize our chances of success?

The “list” concept the authors aver is nothing new. President Bush sent a list of demands to the Taliban (one that the Taliban actually claimed to have met before our invasion). Saddam Hussein did the same thing (remember those missiles he got rid of, and then the whole failure to find weapons).

These examples show the central flaw in this approach: How does America know the sovereignty violator has met the demands, and not merely shift money-flows or push terrorists into another country?

Again, this weakness results from a structural flaw in the strategy: Understanding the state-on-state tensions that allow terrorism to foster.

Until both these challenges are addressed, America will continue to grope around in the dark strategically.

And this Austrian 21st Century: U.S. Special Forces Edition does not get us there.

The next strategy will be borne out of contingency. Iraq and Afghanistan must be solved, and the way those dilemmas are approached will set the parameters of any U.S. grand strategy.

But this criticism applies to all attempts to forge grand strategy today.

We have yet to truly know the dynamics of this evolving world system. And, most importantly, America’s strategic posture in the world remains nebulous to both our allies and foes.

The regional powers of the world are still on the side-lines, waiting for the Iraq outcome (and to a lesser extent the nuclear crisis points in Iran and North Korea).

How will the United States come out over the next five years? America has only begun asking that question, let alone adopting policies that in time will answer it.

Until then no one can purport to offer the new IR roadmap—only shed light on various approaches that may reveal the contours of this still murky world system we inhabit.

Posted in American Interest, Anna Simons, Bush administration, Diplomacy, Don Redd, Duane Lauchengo, Iran, Iraq, Joe McGraw, neoconservatism, North Korea, Pakistan, Victor Davis Hanson, WMD | 5 Comments »

News Update

Posted by K.E. White on February 15, 2007

Loose Lips Alert: Did the U.S. “coerce” India in voting against Iran at the IAEA?

Read how America is stopping India from having an independent energy policy. Are the energy wars upon us?

The ladies should give Musharraf some credit: Pakistan on course to outlaw forced marriage

Why is Australia on an ever tightening nuclear time clock?

Japan’s ‘Whale of a Problem’ with international whaling

Is Germany Going off the Nuclear Juice? Not so fast, says Siemens

Where Germany falls off, Britain picks up. Blair wants nuke plans, stat!

 

Posted in Austrailia, Blair, Britain, Bush administration, Germany, India, Japan, Musharraf, Nuclear power, Pakistan, whaling | Leave a Comment »

Pelosi Slips on PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer

Posted by K.E. White on February 15, 2007

Speaker Pelosi

You can listen to the interview here and read the transcript here.

Notice Nancy Pelosi’s long-winded response to Lehrer’s question of gauging the impact of a Congressional resolution critical of the Bush’s administration Iraq policy:

REP. NANCY PELOSI: This nonbinding — the motion of disapproval of the president’s escalation of the war in Iraq is going to set the stage for a whole new debate on Iraq. We’ll take care of this, this week…

JIM LEHRER: A debate among whom?

REP. NANCY PELOSI: In the Congress of the United States, and hopefully the president of the United States will hear what the American people said. They have lost faith in the president in his course of action in Iraq. In the election, they called for a new direction in Iraq.

Democrats are saying to the president: This is not the way to go. It has failed over, and over, and over, and over again. Now, let us make this statement, which is very powerful, which is very powerful, and set the stage for how we take up legislation, whether it’s the funding or the policy legislation that relates to Iraq.

Pelosi failed to succinctly address what this resolution does: Express the frustration the American public feels towards Bush’s Iraq policy.

No where did she quote the percentage of the public against the surge, nor does she explain the immense importance this resolution may have in the future.

It gives Americans accountability, a critical feature of good goverance that has been missing in the Bush administration since the beginning of the Iraq debacle.

And when asked what impact this resolution will have, Pelosi failed to focus on the difference between the war on terror and the war in Iraq.

Had she just talked about the other fronts on the war on terror (homeland security, the fear of Middle Eastern proliferation, and buoying allies like Pakistan), it would have extinguished the perception that Democrats have no plans on Iraq and are unconstructively criticizing the President.

Pelosi missed an opprotunity to show a broad Democratic view on foreign policy, with the primary focus on countering the threat of terrorism.

Instead she babbled and mixed talking points, and then focused on domestic reforms the Congress has passed.

Thus this over 10-minute interview with the face of Democrats in the House must be considered a “C” at best.

While her hands were tied on Iraq–she could not afford to lose support for the Friday vote on the Congress’s Iraq resolution–she missed a great opportunity to show Americans what Democrats stand for (as opposed to against) in foreign policy.

Sen. Jim Webb did a far better job (granted it was well-scripted and rehearsed) in his State of the Union response last month.

Pelosi will no doubt improve and everyone has an off day (she did just shepherd an impressive 100-hours agenda and an Iraq War resolution through the House), but her expansive answers will have to be refined if she hopes to prove to the American public Democrats are the superior party in times of war.

Posted in Bush administration, Congress, Iraq, Pelosi, Webb | Leave a Comment »

Ahmadinejad: Iran Ready to Talk on Nukes and the Holocaust?

Posted by K.E. White on February 14, 2007

Iran Ready for Nuclear Talks…?President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells ABC News his country is open to a nuclear dialogue:

“We are opposed to any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons. We believe that the time is now over for nuclear weapons.

It’s a time for logic, for rationality, and for civilisation,” Ahmadinejad told ABC news.

“We’re always ready to talk within the framework of regulations and as long as the rights of the nations are safeguarded.”

He denied suggestions that he sought conflict with the US, saying Iran was “trying to find ways to love people.”

Proliferation Press’s Read: This is an old line by Ahmadinejad. While he remains open to talks, his refuses to meet the American condition for starting them: stopping all uranium enrichment. Who will blink first, Bush or Ahmadinejad?

Vikram Sood, providing a fascinating Indian perspective on U.S.-Iran relations and America’s mission in Iraq, argues that neither President will blink. Instead President Bush will order a pre-emptive air strike on Iran.

As India’s former intelligence chief, Sood’s column demands attention.

Sood warns that such an attack’s “shockwaves will reach our shores sooner than we imagine.”

How the North Korean nuclear accord will affect Iranian calculus has yet to be seen, but Iran is undoubtedly watching to see if the P-5 members of the six party talks (America, Russia and China) are able to keep a united front.

These three countries ability to find common ground towards the Iranian nuclear question is critical to any diplomatic solution.

Ahmadinejad Connects the Holocaust with Palestine

Asked if he was willing to travel to Auschwitz and Nuremberg for documentations on the Holocaust, the Iranian leader asked what purpose this would serve.

“One of the methods used for concealing the truth is diverting the topic. The question is, if Holocaust is true, how is it related to the Palestinian issue?”

“Why, for the excuse of the Holocaust, we have an illegitimate government in the Palestine?”

“Why in the name of the Holocaust do we allow people to occupy the land of some and make them refugees and kill children and innocent people on the street?”

“These are the questions which must be answered by American politicians,” Ahmadinejad said.

Proliferation Press’s Read: Ahmadinejad is not standing down from his controversial Holocaust rhetoric. The substantial point here—not meant in any way to minimize the grossly offensive, dangerous, and deceitful rhetoric Ahmadinejad sprouts—is Ahmadinejad’s focus on Palestine: by supporting Palestine, Ahmadinejad is winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Arab Street.

Not a difficult task when you use America as your foil.

Dislodging Ahmadinejad and his country’s growing influence in the region will require the United States to pay attention to this issue, something that is being down now after many years of neglect.

But if rhetoric like this convinces Israel that it is under existential threat from Iran, some nations (Israel and America) will consider the Iranian regime irrational and hell-bent on destroying Israel.

Thus before Iran has the technological ability to do that through nuclear weapons, it will become likely either Israel or the United States will launch a pre-emptive strike. Such an action would bring international instability not seen for a generation.

Source for Ahmadinejad interview: Hindustan Times

Posted in Bush administration, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Hindustan Times, India, Iran, Iraq, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Palestine, Proliferation News, Security Studies, Six Party Talks, Vikram Sood, WMD | 11 Comments »

Worldview Clash on Russia: PINR & Commentary’s contentions

Posted by K.E. White on February 14, 2007

Putin grabbed headlines with his weekend speech in Berlin deriding unilateral American foreign policy, earning himself a polite, but stern rebuttal by Secretary Robert Gates.

So is this Cold War II, or World War V? (That latter reference considers the Cold War and the War on Terror as WWIII and WWIV respectively.)

To get some insight on Russian foreign policy and its ramifications, Proliferation Press brings you two worldview snippets.

But before we get there, The Boston Globe offers this response to Putin’s speech.

Two Viewpoints on Putin’s Russia

 

 

PINR’s Yevgeny Bendersky:

 

 

Moscow has been closely observing U.S. hegemonic practices since 1991, and has extracted several important lessons. The level of influence exercised by the United States throughout the world is costly and problematic, even if it yields important short-term results. Superpower status also has its limitations, as the U.S. invasion of Iraq demonstrated both the scope and ability of its armed forces and initial political pressure, as well as the need for extensive alliances in the medium and long run. The said invasion also showcased Russia’s ability to launch at least a partially successful challenge to the United States in tandem with France, Germany and China. Thus, Russian foreign policy can be expected to utilize extensive alliance-building, covering as many “bases” as possible without damaging its international credibility.

It would be difficult for Russia to rise once again as a global superpower in the absence of an ideology capable of polarizing the international community into two camps, thus aiding alliances and constructing independent economic and political spheres of influence. The world in the coming decades will still be dominated by the United States, but will undergo a transformation, as more countries will assume greater economic and political clout.

Therefore, Russia will seek to build “alliances of convenience” with these countries — whether they be China, India, the European Union, or even Indonesia or Brazil — in order to extend its influence around the world. This is premised on the fact that Russia’s foreign policy will follow Putin’s doctrines, for he is expected to step down in 2008. Much can take place after that year if his successors will not be able to sustain the country on a track launched by him when he took office in 2000.

Nonetheless, Russia can be expected to continue its policy of “superpower on the cheap” — that is, building credible alliances to share the costs of global influence, instead of paying these costs themselves, as the Soviet Union did in the Cold War. This approach can potentially allow it to increase its global influence and status without extensively damaging its domestic and international standing. Russia may even end up as an ally of the United States if the right opportunity presents itself. Its foreign policy could stay as one of well-calculated pragmatism, making it a very important international player in the coming decades.

 

 

Joshua Muravchik from Commentary’s blog contentions:

 

Move over, Borat. The hottest new voice in comedy is Vladimir Putin, otherwise known as the man who saved Russia from freedom and democracy. Putin convulsed his audience at the Munich Conference on Security with this sparkling one-liner: “Nobody feels secure any more, because nobody can take safety behind the stone wall of international law[,]”…

Putin is understandably peeved that the expansion of NATO has already diminished Russia’s security by depriving it of its historic freedom to invade its neighbors. Now, adding insult to injury, Washington is considering placing anti-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. This would mean that Russia could not even fire rockets at these countries just to send them a message about, say, the advantages of buying more Russian gas at higher prices.

Putin has been forced to parry further assaults on Russia’s security, waged by American NGO’s that have set up operations inside Russia to promote democracy and human rights. “Russia is constantly being taught democracy,” he protested.

Is this how we repay Putin for all that he has done to enhance our security? He has furnished Iran with nuclear technology in order, so he explained, to make sure that Iran does not “feel cornered.” He has gone to great lengths to protect us from the likes of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Anna Politkovskaya, and Alexander Litvinenko. Above all, is this the reward that Putin deserves for having worked so hard to keep the world safe from Chechnya?

Posted in contentions, Joshua Muravchik, PINR, Robert Gates, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Yevgeny Bendersky | 1 Comment »

Japan and the North Korean Nuclear Agreement: In or Out?

Posted by K.E. White on February 13, 2007

The Japanese Prime Minister seems unsure as to whether he is ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the recently concluded North Korean nuclear accord.

From signonsandiego.com:Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

‘Out’ Prime Minister Abe: “We cannot provide (energy) aid unless there’s progress over the abduction issue.”

‘In’ Prime Minister Abe: “We will cooperate in the efforts to move forward this framework aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear programme.”

Japan is one of the six parties that heralded the recently struck North Korean accord. Abe’s gymnastic exercise in diplomatic double-talk points to just how murky the North Korean nuclear issue remains.

What is this abduction issue? And why is it so important?

Breitbart offers this:

Abe took office last September, especially after winning public support for his work in trying to resolve the long-standing abduction issue.

Japan and North Korea are deadlocked in a dispute over the whereabouts of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and the two countries are divided over the number of kidnapped Japanese as well as over what happened to some of them.

On top of that, Japan last year slapped a series of economic sanctions on North Korea following Pyongyang’s ballistic missile test-launches in July and its first-ever nuclear test in October. The sanctions are still in place.

And Abe’s low popularity isn’t helping things:

Less than five months after taking office, Abe’s popularity is plummeting amid scandals and doubts over his ability to address problems including welfare costs and a rising disparity in incomes. Abe, 52, may face pressure to step down if his Liberal Democratic Party does poorly in July elections for parliament’s upper house.

A Kyodo News survey published Feb. 5 found that only 40.3 percent of Japanese approve of his performance, while 44.1 disapprove; his ratings have plummeted 25 points since he took office.

Proliferation Press has taken up the effects of Abe’s declining popularity before (with respect to America’s security strategy in the Pacific).

These two PINR reports provide an excellent overview of both Abe and the challenges now facing Japan.

Posted in Japan, North Korea, Proliferation News, Shinzo Abe, Six Party Talks | 1 Comment »

News Round-Up: Nuclear Accord with North Korea Reached

Posted by K.E. White on February 13, 2007

In the Press:

  • Time Magazine (Offers some insight into the negotiation of the deal, and points out: “is less a comprehensive solution than it is a starting point.”)
  • Reuters (offers John Bolton insight) and AP (offers the same) deuling reports, both offer skepticism of the deal
  • Asia Times (goes through the steps of the deal, explaining the primary hurdles still to overcome)

Posted in North Korea | Leave a Comment »