Thursday, February 17, 2005

We’ve done it now

US foreign policy has summoned an “axis of evil” into being, as Iran and Syria, nations without a lot in common – other than marginal status in the world community – have declared a mutual defence pact.

The problem is, you just can’t bully a State into giving up nuclear aspirations, and it’s inevitably going to be counter-productive. Think of it this way, you feel threatened by the US, the world’s largest nuclear power. It has the capacity to nuke you into non-existence and leave your territory glowing for several centuries more or less at will.

Substantial disincentive to acquiring nuclear weapons, no? Well, no. Owning a few nuclear devices and having the capacity to project them as far as a key US ally (read Israel, the UK, Saudi Arabia, etc) is all you need. Mutually assured destruction is never going to be a strategic option for you, but the capacity for limited retribution if a nuclear strike is launched against you might still be all the deterrent edge you need to feel an awful lot safer.

Then it becomes a chicken and egg diplomatic issue. Do you persuade these guys to abandon WMD ambitions by first integrating them into the mainstream of the international community, or do you refuse them that privilege until they agree to dismantle their nuclear programs in a verifiable and irreversible way?

Personally, I’d like to see the EU-3 (Britain, France and Germany) given more time to work on a diplomatic solution with Iran. The best outcome would be if that process was lent an urgency by US intransigence and pressure on the Security Council to impose sanctions. A “look you can talk with us, or stay out in the cold and get beaten with a stick by the other guy” approach.

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have made much headway yet.

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