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With Friends Like These
by Tommy Ates
January 10, 2004

"With friends like these, who needs enemies?"

No doubt those are the words rumbling from the headquarters of the European Union, Russia, India, and Pakistan as the unofficial American contingent, led by Stanford professor emeritus of international relations John W. Lewis, conclude their observation of North Korea's nuclear facilities as a prelude to possible multi-lateral negotiations with the rogue state.

However, the nuclear policy which applies to the negotiations as well as other nuclear powers offers a prism in which President Bush views 'friendly' and 'non-friendly' nations with nuclear weapons.

All may be potentially suspect.

The Pentagon report leaked in 02, called The Nuclear Posture Review (regarding American nuclear weapon contingencies), offers a frightening, possible 'end-game' solution for the war on terror from rogue nation states. According the policy review, the United States has identified those nations as Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Syria. However, in that same report, there are countries among which we have normalized relations (Russia and China). The question then is, who are our friends and who are our enemies?

In the Bush administration, there seems an unyielding motto (ala The X-Files): "Trust, no one." In the report's unveiling, apparently an officer(s) at the Pentagon leaked the mostly unclassified report to the press by giving a partial copy to The Los Angeles Times and a full one to The New York Times (both left of center news institutions), but as the New York Times, with the full document noted, key portions were kept secret.

Even as the President Bush emphasizes negotiation in making progress with the remnants of the "Axis of Exil," the apparent willingness of President Bush to steer the United States away from a Clinton-derived, coalition-driven, foreign policy and to an isolationist posture (i.e. the Cold War), acting only in response to threats that may jeopardize our strategic self-interests has only shocked the world, but admittedly lowered our international credibility.

In the military document, the Pentagon goes on to point out the three scenario in which nuclear weapons may be used: an Iraqi attack on Israel (Israel's perceived threat being Iran, not Iraq), a North Korean attack on South Korea, and a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

In the case of Iran and North Korea (and the bravado of Kim Jung Il), it has not been proven that they even have nuclear weapons. It is also a confusing signal for China after receiving 'favorite nation' trading status (despite continued human rights violations).

On its face, such a plan appears to go against the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in which the United States vowed not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states. The strategic threats the Pentagon identifies say simply 'attacks,' not of what origin.

As with breaking the ABM treaty with Russia, President Bush appears to have no qualms of re-establishing American imperialist objectives on contracts or agreements that do not suit his administration's goals. The only problem is what will the global, political atmosphere be when the President leaves office?

With this plan currently on the table, we risk the developing world and our 'former enemies' wondering whether our intentions are genuine or simply strategic in the war on terror (especially since the selling of Saddam Hussein as a "terrorist" did not sell internationally, with only limited domestic success).

There are three reasons why the Bush administration should not implement this plan: first, its announcement was not a deterrent to Saddam Hussein ahead of the Iraq war; second, the doctrine will bring distrust among our European allies of American foreign objectives, precisely when the E.U. is formulating their own military strategy; and third, the document will raise doubts within Russia and China as to whether the U.S. has acted in good faith with current nuclear nonproliferation agreements.

Not to mention asking Russia, China and, most importantly, the emerging European Union, to reevaluate strategic military posture in regards in the U.S.

In light of the continuing conventional Iraqi guerrilla war, our strategic nuclear interests cannot afford to change. The United States still refuses to meet with the North Koreans in direct negotiations and we are making little headway with Iran or Syria. According to Rumsfeld and the Pentagon, not only do we distrust our new 'friends' (Russia and the EU) but we are willing to annihilate our perceived enemies if it suits our best interests.

For Bush, election year may mean giving peace a chance.

Copyright 2004 Tommy Ates. All Rights Reserved.

Posted: January 16, 2004


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