Proliferation Press

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

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Archive for the ‘Security Studies’ Category

Proliferation News Alert: Critical Chinese Hurdle Cleared by US-India Nuclear Deal?

Posted by K.E. White on August 7, 2007

Summary: China appears to give green-light to US-India nuclear deal, an agreement that gives India–a nation that has not joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty–unprecedented access to nuclear technology from the United States. Chinese approval suggests the deal will be approved by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an international body that regulates international nuclear trade. The recently renegotiated deal must still be re-authorized by the United States Congress.

The Press Trust of India reports on cooling Chinese opposition to the US-India nuclear deal. When asked about the deal, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jiancho responded:

“It is hoped that the international community can explore and properly handle the issue [the US-India nuclear deal] by creative thinking,” Liu said, indicating a significant change of stance.

This is an apparent shift from earlier reads on the Chinese position regarding the US-India nuclear deal. From The Tribune:

China is not happy with the nuclear deal which gives India a de facto nuclear power status. Beijing has so far not disclosed what stance it is going to take when the 45-nation NSG meets to discuss a special waiver for India to allow New Delhi nuclear commerce with the world.

According to voices emanating from Beijing, the Chinese position on the Indo-US nuclear deal has two broad points. One, India should first sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) before it can reap the fruits of the nuclear deal. Two, the nuke deal would alter the strategic balance in the region and fuel an arms race.

The Press Trust article includes more from Liu Jiancho:

“China believes that countries can develop the cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy abiding by their respective international obligations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jiancho said.

“At the same time, relevant cooperation shall be conducive to the maintenance and strengthening of the effectiveness of international nuclear non-proliferation principles,” Liu told PTI here when asked to comment on the recent agreement between India and the US on nuclear deal.

With the Bush administration pushing for a NSG meeting by the year’s end, 2008 may just be the year the long-stalled US-India Nuclear Deal comes into force.

Posted in China, India, Liu Jiancho, NPT, NSG, Nuclear Deal, Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Nuclear Suppliers Group, Security Studies, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, United States | Leave a Comment »

Proliferation Press Rewind: Joe McGraw’s Response to “Debunking the Sovereignty Solution”

Posted by K.E. White on March 28, 2007

Below is Joe McGraw’s March 12 response to an earlier Proliferation Press post.

The post reviewed “The Sovereignty Solution,” a new US Strategy written by Anna Simons, Don Redd, Duane Lauchengo, and Joe McGraw presented in The American Interest.

The co-author’s response:

Mr. White is indeed correct in his posted response from 3 March. We do consider our concept quite distant from strategies of Pax-Americana. And this point is paramount: The Sovereignty Solution is fundamentally different from other proposed strategies. It is not isolationism, nor Empire, nor ‘new’ containment (and certainly not multilateralism). The foreign policy that we advocate is predicated on collaborative bilateral relationships, and these relationships we define and describe in the article.

The article in The American Interest provides a glimpse at this foreign policy that we term ‘SSR’, but even the careful reader might miss the other two pillars of our proposed Grand Strategy: ‘Indivisible America’ or IA (a complimentary domestic policy), and the creation of an operational capability that we term ‘Ethnographic Intelligence’ or ‘EI’. Together, SSR, IA, and EI provide a complete and yes, simple framework for national strategy that is both direct and clear. We do strongly reject the ad-hoc strategies of ambiguity that have been the hallmark of American leadership since the end of Cold War Containment.

Good blogging-edicate demands that I not redress all of Mr. White’s points in one sitting, but I do appreciate the opportunity today to take up his bifurcated critique of the Sovereignty Solution. Mr. White, with the powers of Janus, takes issue with “Sovereignty” both through analogies to the past, and predictions of the future.

THE PAST. Historical analogies are always a tad tricky to pull off; aside from casual comparisons between eras and societies, they just aren’t very useful for analysis. The comparison of our concept to the Austrian policies of 1914 is one such stretch. Our concept relies on functioning Constitutional government, liberal democracy, and unchallenged military dominance in air, sea, and space. Things not to be found in Austria at the turn of the 20th Century. One could easily make a more profound historical analogy between our concept and the strategy of the 1979 Pittsburg Steelers (who at least did have dominance in the air, and stout domestic support).

To be fair, the comparison was drawn over the mechanism of ‘demands’. Demands are a critical component of our strategy. They fit into the bilateral relationship framework. If US sovereignty is attacked (if our citizens are slaughtered), we deliver demands to the state which owns the problem. If the owning state refuses, the state is part of the problem, and the SSR response is to destroy the state’s levers of power–the government. But not to occupy, not to re-build, not to recast better governance. Simply to punish and destroy it. And those are things that American power can do rapidly. Had Austria the power of 2 aircraft carrier groups and an airborne division, AND the strategic clarity to punish and destroy, AND the balance of Constitutional power to seek and approve a representative sanction for defensive war, the analogy would fit a degree better.

The comparison to the WWI balance of power is not lost. Surely, the alliance structure of Europe is the quintessential vision of Westphalia philosophy come to terrible fruition. “Sovereignty” does rest heavily on the philosophy of Westphalia; we do believe the state structure is the best way to put the non-state ‘genies’ of disorder back into their respective state-lamps. But we adopt the philosophy of Westphalia to 21st Century realities. The Peace of Augsburg was defined through the line “cuis regio, eius religio” (whose region, his religion). We adapt it to the realities and requirements of today: cuis regio, eius reus (whose region, his responsibility). Because, dear readers, it is all about responsibility. If you want to be treated as sovereign of your state, fine. You got it. But you get it with all the trappings: the respect of your sovereignty from the United States comes with the accountability for it. And the United States will now hold you accountable. Such simplicity does not equate to unrestrained US power, the decision on if and when to use military force depends upon the bilateral relationship following an attack on US sovereignty. So, our citizens have just been attacked and killed. And the perpetrators crawled out from within your borders. What has your relationship been with the US? What do you want it to be now?

THE FUTURE: Mr. White cautions that future US strategy will grow out of the eventual end to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. How terribly sad, and possibly prophetic, that assertion is. To say that it might be so is frightful commentary on American perception of strategy, to say that it will be so is to declare that such decisions are beyond the confines of national debate and reason. We, the light bulb installers, optimistically disagree.

The policy school that declared strategic planning was a thing of the past grew out of the late 1960s and exploded in the 1990s. The reasoning was that international events unfolded too fast to ever make a single, comprehensive strategy feasible. One might say this is simply laziness on the part of policy makers to establish an overarching doctrine of US security interests tied directly to sustainable ends, ways, and means. A cynic might add that this is nothing more than a way in which to conduct policy by the seat of one’s pants without holding firm to a position that political opponents might call to account. Either way, ad-hoc strategy has proven for the past 20 years to be a dangerous and costly proposition. One that the nation could certainly do without.

As we point out in the article, the reason that so many societies around the world can point to the United States and scream “hypocrite” is that, simply, we are. It stems from ad-hoc policy that is wielded largely for the best of intentions. And it doesn’t work. Democracy for Egypt…but not for Pakistan. Autocracy for Saudi Arabia…but not for Syria. Communism for China…but not for Venezuela. Reform for Gaza…no wait. This is realpolitik, global chess one might say, in action. This is what strategic ambiguity provides.

What we propose is containment of threats through cultural relativism and the power of state sovereignty. Furthermore, we underscore the primacy of bilateral relationships, and the rights, responsibilities, and accountability state sovereigns have over their respective populations. Read the article. Even if you disagree with one, some, or all of our concepts, we firmly promise that you will watch the news tonight through a different eyes: our concept has a 72 hour ‘flash to bang’ detonation process that will make you more a believer than you ever thought (or possibly wanted).

These opinions are my own. I, a single component of the ‘et al’, and but one of four light bulb installers. Mr. White, the floor is yours!

Posted in American Interest, Anna Simons, Debunking the Sovereignty Solution, Joe McGraw, Security Studies, United States | 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 »

Did Israel Punt Peace With Syria Last Summer?

Posted by K.E. White on January 16, 2007

Last summer many of us watched the footage of the most recent military altercation between Lebanon and Israel.

Many have come to see Israel’s decision to escalate the conflict a strategic blunder. Some, considering the fight as a United States-Iran proxy, viewed the episode as another American failure in the Middle East.

Today’s Guardian offers another wrinkle to last summer’s dangerous diplomatic dance: reporting that Israel punted off unofficial peace talks with Syria:

Ha’aretz said the secret meetings were held in Europe and began in September 2004, initiated by the Syrians. The talks involved Alon Liel, a former director general of Israel’s foreign ministry, Geoffrey Aronson, from the Foundation for Middle East Peace, in Washington, and Ibrahim Suleiman, a Syrian businessman living in Washington who is from the same Alawite sect as the Syrian president, Bashar Assad. The group met at least seven times in a European capital, together with a European mediator and sometimes two other Israelis, the paper said…

Ha’aretz quoted the mediator as saying Syria was intent on reaching peace with Israel. “Farouk Shara told me radical Islam constitutes a threat to Syria and that peace is the only way to halt it,” the paper quoted him as saying.

A document was drawn up among the group, dated August 2005, and which covered security, water, borders and normalisation of ties. It said a demilitarised zone would be established on the Golan Heights, along with an early warning ground station on Mount Hermon to be operated by the US. Both sides would then have military zones on their side of the border. Syria would work towards a peaceful solution to problems with Palestinians and in Lebanon and Iran.

However the contacts ended last July, just after the start of the war between Israel and Hizbullah in Lebanon. Ha’aretz said the Syrians had asked for secret official meetings between the two sides and that Israel had refused. It appears the negotiations ended there.

Israel today denied knowledge of the meetings. “This is the first we have heard of the talks. We have never sanctioned anybody to speak to the Syrians and the prime minister first learned of these conversations through the newspaper report this morning,” said an Israeli spokeswoman, Miri Eisin. In Damascus a Syrian foreign ministry official described the newspaper report as “completely false.”

Posted in Diplomacy, Israel, Lebanon, Security Studies, Syria | Leave a Comment »

Massive, Grassroots Action Against the Iraq Escalation?

Posted by K.E. White on January 11, 2007

Will we see a resurgence?Here’s an interesting post on Campus Progress showing the surprising “surge” of anti-war sentiment after President Bush’s announcement.

He’ll be going to the MoveOn.org protest at LaFeyette, in Washington, D.C. reporting for CP.org. He’ll send any extra information and photos our way.

How will the Democratic Congress respond? Will it be non-binding resolutions or more committee meetings?

Or will there be a more muscular response, such as cutting off funding?

And how does this growing dissent effect President Bush’s ability to handle America’s international affairs?

Posted in Bush administration, Congress, Iraq, Iraq Protest, Security Studies, Wartime Powers | Leave a Comment »

Blog on Blog: Negroponte’s Move

Posted by K.E. White on January 5, 2007

Soon-to-be Deputy NegroponteHeather Hurlburt, over at Democracy Arsenal, lays out some intriguing and entertaining thoughts on now-Intel Chief Negroponte’s move to the State Department.

Hurlburt 1) stresses the failure of the Intel Chief to coordinate our nation’s intelligence gathering, 2) sees it as more proof that–big shock–we’re staying the course in Iraq, 3) and offers some good conspiracy theories.

To me, her first point bares repeating: Negroponte, while seen as doing a credible job as Intel Chief, could not overcome the structural limitations of the position.

I find the Bush administration’s “game of musical chairs” (borrowed from WaPo’s Walter Pincus) shocking. Rice has operated without a deputy, just as Negroponte has operated throughout his tenure.

Shouldn’t there be a bi-partisan push to smooth this bureaucratic terrain, since this detail work– a) assembling and linking small data points,  b) building databases, and c) coordinating our nation’s 16 intelligence agencies–is critical to America’s homeland security?

Pinus told NPR that the position has not “gelled quite as quickly” as Congress would like with a undesired bureaucratic size (approx. 15,000 employees).

Clearly we won’t know the answer to the Negroponte puzzle for years—i.e. when the administration is relegated to the cottage industry of memoir-writing.

But this remains true: Politicians of both parties must pay more attention to the infrastructure of our nation’s intelligence gathering—and keep political posturing to a minimum.

Let’s hope that day isn’t scheduled with flying pigs.

Posted in Bush administration, Homeland Security, Intelligence, Security Studies, Terrorism | Leave a Comment »

U.S.-Japan Strengthen Ties, But Can Japan’s PM Abe Deliver?

Posted by K.E. White on January 4, 2007

Reports show America and Japan coming close to finalizing on coordinated security plans, another sign of the growing military partnership between the two countries.

The American-Japanese relationship is close: both view China as a strategic threat and both would prefer regime change in (now nuclear) North Korea. Yet when viewing this blossoming relationship, demanding reforms to the Japanese pacifist constitution and policies, one must consider the current Japanese regime crumbling domestic support.

The Associated Press (AP) reports on coordinated defense plans being drafted between Japan and America:

The U.S. and Japan are set to draw up joint contingency plans for a possible military conflict on the Korean peninsula — possibly using Japanese bases to attack North Korea — and for defending Taiwan against China, news reports said Thursday.

China quickly expressed concern over the Taiwan plans, reiterating its claims to the island. China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing considers the island a renegade province.

Another AP article reports on Shinzo Abe’s, Japan’s Prime Minister, determination to pursue an “independent” foreign policy:

Abe, who took office in September, has taken a tougher stance on the international stage than many of his predecessors, appealing to a greater sense of nationalism in Japan following more than a decade of economic stagnation.

“The security situation surrounding Japan has changed drastically with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles as well as a series of regional conflicts,” Abe said. “To protect Japan’s peace, independence and democracy and the lives of the Japanese, we need to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance.”

But behind such reports lingers Abe’s dwindling popularity at home, as the Financial Times reported in December:

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s popularity has plummeted in the past few weeks, according to polls published on Tuesday by leading Japanese media organisations.

The polls by the Yomiuri, Asahi and Mainichi newspapers, as well as the public broadcaster, NHK, taken over the weekend show a widespread loss of public faith in the government’s commitment to reform and mounting concerns over Mr Abe’s lack of leadership and the direction of his government’s policies.

A poll by Japan’s most widely read newspaper, the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun, showed Mr Abe’s rating dropped sharply by 9.2 points to 55.9 per cent.

The more left-leaning Asahi Shimbun poll showed a larger drop to 47 per cent from 63 per cent when the Abe government was formed in late September, while the Mainichi poll had Mr Abe’s support rating down at 46 per cent down 7 percentage points from a month ago and 21 points from when he took office.

The Financial Times proves useful today as well, reporting on Abe’s decision not to prusue quick elections to shore up political support. This has put his plans for constitutional reform in a lurch:

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, on Thursday said he would put constitutional reform at the heart of this July’s critical upper house poll, but ruled out calling a general election to strengthen his faltering mandate.

Speaking at his first press conference of the year, Mr Abe said: “My cabinet will aim to revise the constitution and I intend to seek support for it during the upper house election.”

He has pledged to rewrite the pacifist constitution drafted by the US during its postwar occupation of Japan…

In 2005, Mr Koizumi won a massive majority and reversed his political fortunes by calling a snap general election on the divisive issue of postal reform. Some upper house members of Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic party have suggested calling a general election as a way of putting the ruling party’s legendary electoral machinery into full swing.
Mr Abe hinted at the tough battle ahead, saying he would be “responsible for the cabinet”. Some political observers have speculated that he might have to resign if his party were badly defeated in an upper house election.

I am no expert of Japanese politics, but it seems that the American aim of a strong and remilitarized Japan may prove difficult to attain–though by no means impossible.

Only time and Abe’s response will tell show Abe’s recent slip in popularlity as a blip or the beginning of the end for his tenure as Prime Minister.

Posted in Diplomacy, Japan, News, Proliferation News, Security Studies | Leave a Comment »