The National Bureau of Asian Research held a conference, Strategic Asia and the War on Terrorism, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on September 22, 2004, in conjunction with the launch of its new book Strategic Asia 2004-2005: Confronting Terrorism in the Pursuit of Power, co-edited by Ashley Tellis and Michael Wills and with a contribution from Michael Swaine.
Last year, after European Union ministers won a freeze in Iran’s nuclear uranium enrichment activities, U.S. officials had an opportunity to exploit this breakthrough and negotiate an end to a potentially hostile program. The right combination of force and diplomacy might have worked to allow Tehran to build nuclear reactors, but not the nuclear fuel-fabrication processes that keep Iran’s nuclear bomb-making capabilities alive. Administration hardliners prevailed, however, and the United States pursued a more confrontational approach. They apparently believed that they had solid evidence of Iranian violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would allow them to bring Iran before the UN Security Council, or provide justification for military strikes against the regime. But, it was no slam dunk.
If America engages in any more imperial military adventures like the one in Iraq, the long-term consequence may be the collapse of Western democracy, or of the globalized economic system on which American imperial power rests, or both. Patriots and democrats should be doing everything in their power to devise new strategies that will avoid such devastating outcomes.
Richard Perle chauffeured him around Washington, promoting him as the George Washington of Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz feted him as the future leader of a free Iraq. Congress funneled tens of millions of dollars into his bank accounts. President George Bush sat him next to First Lady Laura Bush at the State of the Union and led an ovation in his honor. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich still defended him May 23 on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, but Ahmad Chalabi is now widely discredited, called a thief, a liar, even a spy. Tragically, the harm has been done. Together with his American sponsors he pulled off one of the greatest cons in American foreign policy history: helping to convince the majority of Americans that Saddam Hussein had massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and operational ties to Osama bin Laden. Little of what he said was true. Most of it was believed.
The historic events in Libya, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and North Korea have raised several key questions that help frame the proliferation debate over the future direction of U.S. non-proliferation policy.
The pace of developments in nuclear proliferation over the past 18 months is unprecedented, and it is hard for even dedicated experts to keep track and make sense of all the latest developments. Yet with all the developments, from Libya to Pakistan to North Korea, several questions have emerged to form the core debate over the future direction of U.S. nonproliferation policy.