February 12, 2009

Supply Lines to Afghanistan

It's been said that "amateurs discuss strategy, pros talk logistics." This may be a bit overstated, but it is true that too many people talk about sending troops here or there without any thought about how to get them there or how to keep them supplied. And as many generals throughout history have discovered, it's all very fine to move an army from point A to point B, but if you can't keep them supplied they will be destroyed very fast. Even in our modern age, supply via land route is the only thing that works, as aircraft alone simply do not have the capability to supply anything but the smallest force. Just ask Friedrich Paulus.

It is hard enough, I am sure, to keep our forces in Iraq supplied with all that they need. Much of the material is offloaded in Kuwait and trucked into the country, but in the end at least Iraq has seaports so worst case scenario we can use Iraqi ports. In most of our foreign wars we have had had direct access to seaports for supplying our troops. In all theaters of WWII, in Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War we were able to supply our troops without having to go through a third country.

Not so with Afghanistan. It is completely landlocked, and surrounded by the following countries: Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan. Iran is obviously unfriendly. The first three 'stans' are hard to get to in the first place. China only has a small border with Afghanistan, and is out of the question as a supply route anyway. That leaves Pakistan. Take a look:

Map Supply Routes Afghanistan

The point of this post is not to formulate a policy or create a plan by which we can win in Afghanistan (though surely we must). This is rather one in a series of posts in which I will discuss the geopolitical situation in and around the country and explain why it's so hard to make progress.

What first made me think of this was an editorial by Arnaud de Borchgrave in the Washington Times last December (it's taken me awhile to put this together). Here's the key excerpt:

The U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan receive 70 percent of their supplies overland from Karachi, Pakistan's port city of 15 million, now the world's most vulnerable lifeline.

More than 350 trucks and oil tankers transit the Khyber Pass each day where Afghan drivers take over from Pakistanis. Earlier in December, Taliban guerrillas firebombed more than 200 trucks and Humvees in a gigantic parking lot. The battle for the allied supply line was joined.

Up and until now, Pakistani militant attacks against the convoys were kept secret, e.g., 42 oil tankers destroyed in one day last spring. Now they take place between Peshawar, the capital of the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) next to the Khyber tribal agency, and the Khyber Pass itself, normally less than an hour by car. U.N. workers are pulling out of Peshawar, described by The News, a Pakistani daily, as "a city under siege" and "the kidnapping capital of the world."

Increasingly brazen, some Taliban commanders now bypass the need to attack convoys protected by private security guards by charging tolls to let them through safely into Afghanistan.

The London Times' Tom Coghlan discovered some convoys got through roadblocks with a Taliban commander in the lead vehicle after paying $1,000 per truck, which is then added to NATO and U.S. bills.

All food, fuel and equipment for 70,000 foreign soldiers come by road from Karachi. Some 30,000 more U.S. troops are due in before summer, for a total of 65,000 Americans, bringing the total of foreign troops to about 100,000. They will all depend on the world's most vulnerable lifeline.

The United States is looking for alternative supply routes from the Georgian Black Sea port Poti through former Soviet republics. This presupposes a new quid pro quo between the Kremlin and President-elect Barack Obama. Given the Soviet Union's 1989 defeat in Afghanistan, and what it sees as U.S. marauding in its former "near abroad," the price may be too high.

What led to de Borchgrave's concern was the increasingly percarious situation inside of Pakistan. The U.S. has been sending our Predator drones over Pakistan, and firing on insurgent bases and terrorist leaders. No matter how careful one is in war, it is inevitable that civilians are killed. When they are it is exploited by jihadist sympathizers, many of whom hold prominent office in the Pakistani government and military. All of this leads to anti-American sentiment. Worst case, the government is taken over by a hard-line Islamist element which puts a stop to U.S. supply routes through their country.

If this happens we're looking forward to a Stalingrad on our hands. Anyone who brazenly says we should "shoot our way through" Pakistan is being silly.

Take another look

Map Supply Routes Afghanistan

The flip side is that if we restrict our operations to Afghanistan, we grant the enemy a safe haven. Of course, it is a prime element of counterinsurgency warfare not to allow your enemy a sanctuary. Our commanders are therefore faced with a difficult decision; attack inside Pakistan and risk a backlash that could have dire consequences, or grant the enemy a sanctuary and lose the war that way.

Knowing all this, our commanders have been looking for alternate supply routes. This Dec 30 story in the International Herald Tribune describes the effort to find a route through the northern 'stans:

The plan to open new paths through Central Asia reflects an American-led effort to seek out a more reliable alternative to the route from Pakistan through the strategic Khyber Pass, which was closed by Pakistani security forces on Tuesday as they launched an offensive against militants in the region.

The militants have shown they can threaten shipments through the pass into Afghanistan, burning cargo trucks and American Humvees over recent weeks. More than 80 percent of the supplies for American and allied forces in Afghanistan now flow through Pakistan.

But the new arrangements could leave the United States more reliant on cooperation from authoritarian countries like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which have poor records when it comes to democracy and human rights.

So although it makes strategic sense to look to these countries for transit rights, using them opens us to the criticism that we're doing business with human rights abusers and looking the other way at their nefarious deeds. Of course, this is just the criticism we get over our relationship with Pakistan, but adding to it never helps.

Ever at it, just yesterday Arnaud de Borchgrave had another piece in the Washington Times updates us with the latest:

Elevated to the rank of "Major non-NATO Ally" by President Bush (43), Pakistan is now deemed too dangerous for the hundreds of U.S. and NATO supply trucks that keep allied forces fighting against Taliban in Afghanistan.

In the latest attack against the NATO lifeline, 11 trucks and 13 containers were demolished outside Peshawar, near the northern end of the 600-mile route from the port of Karachi to the Khyber Pass. This followed the attack and collapse of a key bridge near the Khyber Pass, which backed up some 1,000 trucks all the way back to Karachi. Normally, some 600 supply trucks a day cross the border into Afghanistan....

On any given day, there are 3 million gallons of fuel on Pakistani roads destined for allied forces in Afghanistan. In some cases, Taliban extracted payments of $1,000 per vehicle at the point of a gun. Helicopter engines valued at $13 million were also hijacked. Taliban fighters gave Pakistani drivers certificates guaranteeing their trucks were requisitioned, not stolen

That's not good. Not having another source I have no perspective, and de Borchgrave does tend to always see the bad side of things. But that too, is valuable, as it provides a sort of "red team" alternative view.

As de Borchgrave points out later in the article, for all the promise of the northern 'stans, relying on them creates it's own set of problems. One, they're not terribly accessible themselves, which means we spend a lot of time and money just getting to Afghanistan. Second, they're right by Russia, who if annoyed with us over something could shut down our supply routes and there would be little we could do to stop them.

There are no easy solutions for Afghanistan, something our new president will soon find out. I wish him well, and hope that he has the fortitude to do what it takes as long as it takes there. In a future piece I'll examine the "long war" concept and why it is foolish to think we can win there in just a few years.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 30, 2008

The Mumbia Attacks and The Global Jihad

Other have reported the details of the terrorist attacks in Mumbia (the new name for Bombay) India better than I, and as such there's no need for me to repeat them here. What I'll do is try and see how it fits into the big picture.

In brief, then, what we had was 10-25 Islamic terrorists attack 10 targets in the Indian city of Mumbia and kill approximately 172 people and wound 370. The attacks started Wednesday Nov 26 and did not end until Saturday Nov 29. Among other targets, they attacked hotels frequented by wealthy Indians. Mumbia is the financial and entertainment center of India and the most populous city in the world.

A previously unknown group called Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility, though Indian police say that information from a captured terrorist points to the Pakistan-based Muslim terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. It is not clear as to whether other terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, were involved, at least directly.

What made this attack unique is that instead of bombs, suicide or pre-planted, the terrorists simply used automatic weapons and hand grenades, and ran around trying to kill as many people as they could. In some instances they took hostages, but there were no prolonged negotiations.

Last March I offered up four models for understanding the current situation with regards to all this. Here they are:

War of Ideas: Dr Walid Phares says that our enemy are Jihadists of the Wahabbi, Muslim Brotherhood, and Khumeinist variety. While some of the fighting will be by nature military, it is primarily a war of ideology, and the winner will be the side that convinces young people that it's ideas are better than the other. Future Jihad and War of Ideas are his two most important recent books.

World War IV: Norman Podhoretz believes that our struggle is best termed World War IV. While I have not read his book of the same name, there is much about it on the Internet, including this article in Commentary Podhoretz believes that democratization is the best way to defeat the extremists.

The Power of Demographics All of the strategy and ideas in the world may not help us if radical Islam takes over Europe by producing more babies. This is the theme of Mark Steyn's America Alone.

Global Insurgency: Lt Col (Dr) David Kilcullen spent 20 years in the Australian Army. Throughout 2007 he was a senior adviser on counterterrorism to Gen David Petraeus. He is not a senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In his 2004 wor, Countering Global Insurgency, Kilcullen says that our enemy is best thought of as an insurgency, albeit on a global scale instead of just in one country.

In retrospect, I should have added another, and will do so here

Clash of Civilizations: In Samuel P Huntington's 1993 ground-breaking article Foreign Affairs magazine, he proposed that "World politics is entering a new phase, in which the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of international conflict will be cultural. Civilizations-the highest cultural groupings of people-are differentiated from each other by religion, history, language and tradition." Later published as a book by the same name, Huntington warned that we should be worried not so much about Islamic terrorism but about Islam itself.

It is important to note that these five paradigms are not exclusive but compliment each other. All five may be in play at once, each operating on a different level.

So do the attacks in Mumbia fit into any of these models? I think that Kilcullen's idea of a global insurgency, Phares' of a War of Ideas are most apt. We'll start with the colonel.

What Kilcullen saw was a global movement of disparate groups, loosely allied, but all with the same fundamental objective; to destroy Western ideas and implement a sort of global Caliphate, or at least implement Sharia law throughout the world. al-Qaeda was at the center of this spider's web. It's role was not as Moscow's was during the Cold War, issuing orders to subordinates, but more Al Qaeda maintaining links with its affiliated organizations through a variety of links. These links are ideological, linguistic, personal, family relationships, financial, propaganda, operational and planning, and doctrine techniques and procedures. The relationship of the affiliates to al-Qaeda is that of patronage, with al-Qaeda having a patrion-client authority. Kilcullen explains that

What is new about today's environment is that, because of the links described above, a new class of regional, theatre-level actors has emerged. These groups do have links to the global jihad, often act as regional allies or affiliates of al Qaeda, and prey on local groups and issues to further the jihad. They also rely on supporting inputs from global players and might wither if their global sponsors were significantly disrupted.

Sitting above the theatre-level actors are global players like al Qaeda.

As mentioned earlier, the a previously unknown group called Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. This conjures up images of Black September, the previously unknown group that carried out the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic games in Munich, Germany. It was later discovered that the members of Black September that carried out this and other attacks were drawn from known Palestinian terrorist groups such as Yassir Arafat's al Fatah, the PFLP, as-Sa'iqa, and others.

Some media speculation is on whether al Qaeda was involved or behind the attack. To me, this misses the point.

Andrew McCarthy nails it, and I can't do any better

When he guest-hosted Hannity & Colmes last night, Rich had a very edifying couple of segments with Mark Steyn and Richard Miniter. Mark made the excellent point about the reluctance to come to grips with the fact that these attacks on iconic targets, which we're now seeing in Mumbai/Bombay but of course have seen elsewhere, are fueled by an ideology. That's exactly right. The obsession over whether al Qaeda or its endless jumble of affiliates pulled off the operation is a misguided attempt to mimimize the challenge. The bin Laden network is not unimportant, but it is tapping into something that is much bigger than itself.

"fueled by an ideology" is, of course, the key part.

Two and a half years ago The Washington Post published what was or should have been an eye-opening story about Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, a prolific writer described as the "architect of new war on the west."

Nasar's theory was that isolated cells could wage jihad without instructions from above. Individuals would form small groups, and would plan and execute their own attacks. However, if groups are not possible, individuals could and should act on their own.

It would all add up to a war, albeit a very decentralized one. Indeed Nasar saw a benefit to this decentraliztion, as it would be hard for counterterrorists to use one captured jihadist to reveal confederates of the details of a larger organization.

McCarthy goes on to say that

In July 2007, our intelligence community released findings of a National Intelligence Estimate that indicated jihadist ideology had become so extensively propagated in the West that the mediating influence of terrorist organizations like al Qaeda was no longer essential in order for radical cells to spring up and interconnect. Naturally, these local operatives are spurred, in part, by local and regional issues. But, though the mainstream press recoils from this reality, such local issues are fitted to an ideological framework that is global, hegemonic, and more about the ultimate triumph of fundamentalist Islam than, say, a Palestinian state, Kashmir, Danish cartoons, economic inequality, or whatever this week's complaint is.

So we see that Kilcullen is on to something, though his 2004 thesis may need qualification. The jihad may have reached the point where al Qaeda's guiding hand is not so necessary.

The ideas of Walid Phares are also relevant, in that we are foolish if we ignore the Islamic aspect. The network of terror is important insofar as counterterrorism is concerned. Follow the link to Kilcullen's work for details on how to fight it. But on another level we must also fight our enemies ideas.

Mark Steyn explains that the links between terrorist groups are important,

But we're in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It's the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK and shoot up a hotel lobby....Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological-front organizations. You've already made landfall.

It's missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the "Deccan Mujahideen" or the ISI or al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That's a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It's not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That's what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the Central Asian stans to Yorkshire, and coopted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.

Give that man a cigar.

Approaching the attacks in Mumbia from a law enforcement aspect is all very fine insofar as rooting out the networks, but at the end of the day we've got to find some way to make Muslims confront the aspects of their own religion that promote the jihad. And from what i can see, we're not doing it now.

Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 4, 2006

India and the US Part II - Natural Allies?

I've always had a theory that the United States and India in the post World War II era were natural allies. With last week's announcement of a new strategic partnership between the two countries, this may now become a reality.

In Part I of my series on India, India and Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age I discussed the details of the agreement on nuclear matters and moral clarity with regard to nuclear weapons. Because not all countries are the same, they should not be treated as such when it comes to posession of nuclear weapons. Whatever our disagreements with France, we do not have to worry that they are going to recklessly go around nuking other countries. Likewise with Israel.

Now I'd like to discuss what I believe to be recognition of what I believe to be the natural status between the United States and India; allies.

It has been almost an axiom in the post World War II world that democracies need to stick together to ward off dangers, whether the threat is from communist totalitarian countries or Islamofascist terrorists.

Not Always Allies

After gaining independence from the British and establishing themselves as a nation in 1950, India staked out it's foreign policy as a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Non-Aligned Movement consisted of those nations not formally allied with either the Soviet Union or United States during the Cold War. Some 100 nations joined, and although the organization still exists, it is not nearly as important as it once was. During the Cold War it's focus was on "national struggles for independence, the eradication of poverty, economic development and opposing colonialism, imperialism, and neo-colonialism," according to the article in Wikipedia.

I can understand why India took this path. Coming out of a period of long colonial subjugation to Great Britain, they needed to show their independence to the world. Since their geographical location precluded a direct military threat from the Soviets, there was no need for military alliances. Politically, they did not have much to worry about in the way of communist subervsion either, since most Indians were either devout Hindus or Muslims, they had no use for athiest totalitarian idiologies.

Unfortunately, India also handicapped herself by taking the path of socialism during this time. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru modeled his economic policies off of the Soviet Union's 5 year plans, with predicatable results. In recent years India has shorn itself from these socialist policies and has largely adopted free market economies

None of my admiration for India, or support for the recent nuclear energy agreement, is to excuse some of the social problems within India. Although the caste system has been officially abolished, the problem of discrimination against the "untouchables" is a serious one. However, I reject a policy of moral absolutism. Only the morally blind cannot see a difference between India, and say, Pakistan, in the way each treats it's people.


The United States and India have many things in common that in my mind make us natural allies:

1) Democracy - Both countries share the same form of government. Just as importantly, both believe that this is the best form of government.

2) Capitalism - Both countries believe in free market economics. While Europe is veering more and more to socialism and protectionism, India seems to be moving toward more and more capitalism.

3) Trade - I don't have time to look up all the figures, but I do know that the United States is the #1 market for Indian companies(Economist). Several large deals, including a puchase by Air India of 50 Boeing airliners, is important for the United States. Some Americans may complain about outsourcing (while mysteriously never talking about insourcing), but in my view both countries are better off if we send them some of our lower skilled jobs.

5) Immigration - Again, I'm not going to look up the figures but you'd have to be pretty blind not to know that a lot of Indians immigrate to the United States. While this does not always result in stronger ties between the nations involved, I believe in this case it will. My guess is that many Indians are upwardly mobile economically, and will travel back and forth on business trips.

6) China - Both countries have problems with China. India fought a small border war with China in 1962, and the issues from that fight are still unresolved. This said, India has no desire to fight China again, given their problems with Pakistan. While we share a common concern, India will not want to be drawn into any war with China over Taiwan, for example. However, the real belefit is that a strong India will keep China from A) becoming too strong of a regional hegemon, and B) blocking any moves they might want to make to their southwest. India is thus more of a "blocking force" than anything else.

7) Islamic Terrorism - This is a much larger concern to India than is China, and one in which they will be much more willing to assist us. India has suffered several attackes by Islamic terrorists, and has no moral blindness about the threat.

8) Military Sales - During the Cold War India purchased most of it's weapons from a variety of sources, including or especially the Soviet Union. This appears to be changing. India, for example, is looking to purchase at least 126 new high-end multipurpose fighter aircraft, and the US government has given Lockheed Martin permission to bid on the deal with their F-16.

All the Right Friends

Victor Davis Hanson made the point last April that you are known by your friends, and one good thing about the United States under President Bush is that we have all the right friends...and enemies.

Who hates us? Those who love the UN hate us. Many western Europeans do as well. Mexico is upset with us because we complain about their dumping millions of their citizens on us. Islamic fanatics hate us.

In short, who exactly does not like the United States and why? First, almost all the 20 or so illiberal Arab governments that used to count on American realpolitik's giving them a pass on accounting for their crimes. They fear not the realist Europeans, nor the resource-mad Chinese, nor the old brutal Russians, but the Americans, who alone are prodding them to open their economies and democratize their corrupt political cultures. We must learn to expect, not lament, their hostility, and begin to worry that things would be indeed wrong if such unelected dictators praised the United States.

Not only do we have all the right enemies, Hanson continues, we have the right friends

Who then are America's friends? Perhaps one billion Indians, who appreciated that at a time of recession we kept our economy open, and exported jobs and expertise there that helped evolve its economy.

Millions of Japanese trust America as well. Unlike the Chinese, who on script vandalized Japanese interests abroad in anguish over right-wing Japanese textbooks, Americans — who at great cost once freed China — without such violence urge the Japanese to deal honestly with the past. After all, the Tokyo government that started the war is gone and replaced by a democracy; in contrast, the Communist dictatorship that killed 50 million of its own and many of its neighbors is still in place in China. At a time when no one in Europe seems to care that Japan is squeezed between a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear China, the United States alone proves a reliable friend. The French, on spec, conduct maneuvers with the ascendant Communist Chinese navy.

In addition, the eastern Europeans are among out best allies in the War on Terror. Many of their soldiers fight with us in Iraq. Australia has been alongside us every inch of the way as well.


In a world where Islamic terrorism was not an issue, we could treat Pakistan as it should be treated; as a pariah nation. It is a dictatorship, harbors innumerable Muslim fanatics, and is not only armed with nuclear weapons, but through the person of AQ Khan has spread knowledge of how to make them to other nations.

However, we do need Pakistan because Islamic terrorism is a fact of life and Pakistan is strategically located. We need them to fight al Qaeda and Taliban remnants. Since Osama bin Laden is likely hiding along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, we need their cooperation in our search for him. Musharaf may be an autocrat, but he is infinately better than a Khomeini, something that democrat absolutists need to keep in mind.

The United States, therefore, must maintain relations with both India and Pakistan. However, we need not treat them both the same, and must be clear that our cooperation with Pakistan is only one of convenience, while that with India is because of shared values.

The Future

To me the objectives are easy, if the implimentation difficult. We should work to increase relations in all of the areas listed above under "Commonalities". India will never be the ally that the UK or Australia are, as it has a tradition of independence and the geopolitical situation with regard to it is not the same. Nevertheless, India and the United States can and should increase our ties.

George W Bush has scored a diplomatic triumph. We need to support him, and urge Congress to ratify his achievement.

See also: Part I India and Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age

Posted by Tom at 9:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

India and Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age

Last week President Bush went to India to sign an historic agreement on nuclear energy:

Reversing decades of U.S. policy, President Bush ushered India into the world’s exclusive nuclear club Thursday with a landmark agreement to share nuclear reactors, fuel and expertise with this energy-starved nation in return for its acceptance of international safeguards.

Eight months in the making, the accord would end India’s long isolation as a nuclear maverick that defied world appeals and developed nuclear weapons. India agreed to separate its tightly entwined nuclear industry — declaring 14 reactors as commercial facilities and eight as military — and to open the civilian side to international inspections for the first time.

As indicated, this trip solidified agreements long in the making. In the July 18 2005 New Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship, the two countries laid out the basis for a new relationship

The United States and India have entered a new era, We are transforming our relationship to reflect our common principles and shared national interests. As the world's two largest democracies, the United States and India agree on the vital importance of political and economic freedom, democratic institutions, the rule of law, security, and opportunity around the world.

In the joint statement announcing the new relationship, the two countries again stressed a common value in a committment to a democratic form of goverment

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Bush today declare their resolve to transform the relationship between their countries and establish a global partnership. As leaders of nations committed to the values of human freedom, democracy and rule of law, the new relationship between India and the United States will promote stability, democracy, prosperity and peace throughout the world.

Friday's joint statement reiterated this theme once again

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed satisfaction with the great progress the United States and India have made in advancing our strategic partnership to meet the global challenges of the 21st century. Both our countries are linked by a deep commitment to freedom and democracy; a celebration of national diversity, human creativity and innovation; a quest to expand prosperity and economic opportunity worldwide; and a desire to increase mutual security against the common threats posed by intolerance, terrorism, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

It is this last part that will be the subject of today's post.

Predicatably, the sniping has already started

Moral Equivalency Rears it's Head

From today's Washington Times

The new U.S.-India nuclear cooperation pact is complicating the Bush administration's efforts to rally international pressure against Iran's suspected nuclear-weapons programs.

Critics of the India deal in Congress and among arms-control activists say the concessions President Bush granted to India in the nuclear deal signed Thursday in New Delhi make it harder to preserve a united front against Tehran's efforts to build atomic bombs.

Some lawmakers in Congress, which must approve parts of the India deal, say the bad precedent it sets for Iran and other rogue states seeking nuclear weapons is enough to kill the accord.

The India deal "empowers the hawks in every rogue nation to put their nuclear plans on steroids now that they can no longer be isolated," said Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat and co-chairman of the congressional task force on nonproliferation.

The argument goes something like this; it is hypocritical for any nation who has nuclear weapons to tell another nation that it can't have them. Therefore if we are to rid the world of nuclear weapons everyone must be willing to get rid of their own as well.

This is no doubt what Iran will soon tell us (if they haven't already). Unfortunately all too many in the West will then immediately say "see, we told you so!" (if they haven't already)

But go back to the the July 18 2005 joint statement

President Bush conveyed his appreciation to the Prime Minister over India’s strong commitment to preventing WMD proliferation and stated that as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states.

Exactly. Guns in the hand of police officers are good. Guns in the hands of law abiding citizens are good. Guns in the hands of people with criminal records is bad. Just as banning all guns is foolish, so is bannning all nuclear weapons.

The UK and France each posess nuclear arsenals. Both maintain submarine fleets with nuclear armed missiles, so are relatively invulnerable. Therefore, theoretically either could destroy much of the United States. But whatever our differences with either, no one in any of the three countries would entertain such a notion even for a nanosecond.

To be sure, these analogies aren't perfect when it comes to rogue states like North Korea and Iran, but they never are, and that's why they call them analogies.

But as the editors of National Review pointed out yesterday

It takes a high degree of naivety to think that the deal will somehow affect the calculus of Iran, North Korea, or other would-be nuclear powers. Those states have their own reasons for wanting the bomb, and the thought of Kim Jong-Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad poring over the U.S.-India agreement and shouting “Eureka!” as he spots the loophole that lets him build his nukes is charming but absurd. India, for its part, will continue its nuclear-weapons development, deal or no deal. We’re not worried about that — but if you are, President Bush hasn’t changed anything for you.

Iran and North Korea can only play the moral eqivalency game if we let them. They try it because they know they have willing dupes in the West who take them up on it.

Let's welcome this new relationship with India. Recognizing that not all states are equal, and so not all nuclear weapons are equal, is long overdue. The agreement, like all treaties made with foreign powers, must still be ratified by Congress. We should encourage them to do so.

See also Part II: India and the US - Natural Allies?

Posted by Tom at 1:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack