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    Missile Defense

Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI all over again?

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rshowalter - 01:11pm Feb 20, 2001 EST (#723 of 724) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

I have referred to the notion of disciplined beauty - and to the need to seek reframings of problems, redemptive solutions to problems insoluble in other terms. rshowalter 2/19/01 12:22pm Ive meant something practical, and a beautiful and simple example is offered by

POWELLS FIRST MEMO by Thomas L. Friedman today.

"By lifting sanctions and resuming relations in return for acceptance of a new weapons inspection team staffed only with Americans, President Bush can approach Iraq in a way that best fits our strategic interest."

It adressses an ugliness clearly:

"Right now we're getting the worst of all worlds we're being blamed and isolated in the Arab world for something that we're not even succeeding at doing either toppling Saddam or inspecting his weapons facilities."

It reframes what we need so that it is clear:

"We need to remember that while getting rid of Saddam is our preference, rendering him harmless to his neighbors in a way that does not isolate us in the region is our strategic interest."

And a redemptive solution, that meets our legitimate needs, and legitimate human needs of the Iraqis as well, is set out. How simple it is.

" The U.S. is ready to resume full diplomatic relations with Iraq, and to lift economic sanctions, under three conditions: First, that all U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq will be resumed but with a twist. All the weapons inspectors will be from the United States and the United States alone no Russians, no French, no Indians, nobody else. Our strategic interest is to ensure that Iraq cannot develop and is not developing weapons of mass destruction, and we will not entrust anyone else with that mission. We have to do it ourselves, and we have to do it as long as is necessary to ensure that Iraq remains free of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. So we're offering U.S. relations for U.S. inspections.

"Second, Iraq, and the U.N., would have to agree to a ban on all sales of major weapons and dual-use items to Iraq, with the U.S. again free to use its inspectors to ensure compliance. Third, Saddam would have to continue abiding by limitations on his troop movements, either north or south, and if he violates any of these conditions the sanctions and bombing would resume. If he agrees, Iraq would be welcomed back into the family of nations.

"What are the advantages of this approach? To begin with, we put the onus on Saddam instead of on ourselves. The message to the Iraqi people and to the Arab street is that the U.S. is not out to get rid of an Arab leader, however evil, it is not out to starve the Iraqi people, and it is not out to isolate Iraq forever. It is out to guarantee that Iraq cannot threaten its neighbors or global stability, and if Iraq meets that test it can end its isolation and even have relations with America, which is what the Iraqis really want.

"Moreover, we put the onus on our Arab allies. They will no longer be able to escape bringing pressure on Yasir Arafat, or more openly cooperating on peace, by hiding behind the excuse that because we're always bombing Iraq their publics won't let them work with us on Israel. Right now our Arab allies are drifting away from us and Israel and toward Iraq. This policy would create a magnet to pull Iraq toward our Arab friends and Israel, something Ariel Sharon would love.

"Finally, nothing, Mr. President, and I mean nothing, could change the strategic landscape in the Mideast more than bringing Iraq back into the equation, with diplomatic relations with the U.S. The hard-liners in Iran would be terrified and more isolated than ever. Syria would be much more willing to cooperate with us. And the Russians and the French would go nuts, because they want the sanctions on Iraq to just crumble

rshowalter - 01:13pm Feb 20, 2001 EST (#724 of 724) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

and for Iraq to continue having no relations with us, so their oil companies and exporters will have Iraq all to themselves.

"In sum, Mr. President, this approach would make clear to everyone that your foreign policy isn't just a clone of your father's but that it will be hard-headed, imaginative and capable of overcoming the contradictions in our Middle East policies that have plagued us for a decade. If Saddam accepts this proposal, it would give us the best means possible to control Iraq's military capabilities. And if Saddam rejects this proposal, it would give us the best reason possible for further isolating him instead of ourselves.

"Sure, some of your advisers will tell you it makes us look weak, but no one is going to accuse an administration with me, Dick Cheney and a president named Bush of being weak on Iraq. And even if anyone does, we still have time to blame it all on Bill Clinton.

Secular redemption for all concerned !

If something like this were done, and some analogous accomodations were made with other "rogue states" -- how much closer we'd be to a defense of the United States and its interests that could be made to work !


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