Jacksonians and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

My last two posts have been about the ways that the right seeks to undo the international system built up over the last 65 years. Robert Farley of Lawyers, Guns and Money assesses that they have also succeeded in ruining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well (“The NPT is Dead,” 13 October 2007):

The strike [by the Israeli air force on a possible Syrian nuclear reactor], and especially the apparent acquiescence of the United States in its planning and execution, means that the NPT is pretty much a dead letter… and has been replaced by a de facto arrangement in which states that the US approves of are allowed to have nuclear power, while states we dislike get airstrikes. … Combine this with the recent nuclear deal with India, and I’d have to say that the Bush administration’s effort to kill a legal cornerstone of international stability have been remarkably successful.

To which Matthew Yglesias adds (“The End of the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” The Atlantic.com, 14 October 2007),

Iraq was the neocons’ big chance to show that the approach to WMD policy they prefer — basically an ad hoc regime enforced by American military power and undergirded by nothing more principled than American whim — was workable. To make it work, they needed to show that we could successful topple a regime we didn’t like and replace it with one we liked better cheaply and easily enough to make it credible that we’d go and do it again. But it failed. The low-cost airstrike approach isn’t going to succeed against any kind of determined adversary, and the more we act like a rogue superpower the harder it will be to get our way.

This is another masterstroke for the Bush administration. They rip to shreds the one bulwark we do have against nuclear proliferation — one that has been fairly successful over the last 40 years — and have ready in its place absolutely nothing. In this case not even the credible threat of U.S. force.

Advertisements

Syria Gets the Osirak Treatment?

Also in nuclear news, despite some pretty severe smack-downs from some prominent names in the arms control community, Glenn Kessler and the Washington Post are apparently sticking by their story that Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear installation on 6 September 2007 (“Israel, U.S. Shared Data On Suspected Nuclear Site,” 21 September 2007, p. A1).

Joseph Cirincione, coauthor of the widely consulted reference, Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Threats, calls this story “nonsense” (“North Korea-Syria Nuclear Ties: Déjà Vu All Over Again?,” Foreign Policy, Passport, 14 September 2007) and Jeffrey Lewis of Arms Control Wonk goes so far as to call it “bullshit” (“Did Israel Strike a Syrian Nuclear Facility?, 16 September 2007). Mr. Cirincione writes and Mr. Lewis excerpts approvingly:

The Washington Post story should have been headlined “White House Officials Try to Push North Korea-Syria Connection.” This is a political story, not a threat story. The mainstream media seems to have learned nothing from the run-up to war in Iraq. It is a sad commentary on how selective leaks from administration officials who have repeatedly misled the press are still treated as if they were absolute truth. Once again, this appears to be the work of a small group of officials leaking cherry-picked, unvetted “intelligence” to key reporters in order to promote a preexisting political agenda.

This is definitely the administration that has cried wolf too many times, but the Washington Post article seems pretty heavily sourced. And I don’t believe that Syria is an Israeli bombing range where the IDF just flies out for practice missions. If they went in, they must have had some pretty serious concerns. I’m going to need a lot more than unnamed Bush officials and bluster before passing judgment on this story.