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July 2005 — Monthly Archive

Non-proliferation vs Realpolitik

A while back Madhoo wrote about people who refuse to live in the present:

…Does it make any sense whatsoever to react to decades-old stuff just because it has just been declassified? Nixon is no more, Indira Gandhi is not alive and Kissinger is in no way involved with the current administration - what is the point on making a big deal about this now?

I think this is what is the problem is with us - living in the past. We refuse to let go of the demons of the past and refuse to look ahead. Every time there is a remote chance of us getting anywhere better, we go into a self-destructive mode and shoot ourselves in the foot. Idiots!

On the other hand, it seems living in the past isn’t the exclusive preserve of the Rediff webmasters but also senior American policymakers:

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) condemned the agreement as a “dangerous proposition and bad nonproliferation policy” and said he will introduce legislation to block it. “We cannot play favorites, breaking the rules of the nonproliferation treaty, to favor one nation at the risk of undermining critical international treaties on nuclear weapons,” he said in a statement. “What will Russia say when they want to supply more nuclear materials or technology to Iran? You can be sure that Pakistan will demand equal treatment.”

Bolton, Bush’s nominee to become U.N. ambassador, argued that such cooperation would mean rewarding a country that built a nuclear weapon in secret, using technology it obtained under the guise of civilian power. Both North Korea and Iran are believed to have tried the same route to develop nuclear weapons. Some within the administration said the deal would be damaging at a time when the United States is trying to ratchet up international pressure on both those countries to give up their nuclear-weapons ambitions.

Non-proliferation made sense in a world where few nations had access to nuclear weapons. In a changed world where ‘responsible’ superpowers ship fissile material to irresponsible anarchies (which then scatter the lethal technology amongst the world’s worst), proliferation is a fait accompli and non-proliferation is a lame duck. Yet the policymakers for whom non-proliferation is an end, not a means to peace continue their sad, irrelevant dance on the DC stage.

What is interesting about non-proliferation is that it has worked f