25 August 2005

Wittmann: Win or Get Out? -- A Bleak Scenario

Marshall Wittmann, the moderate Democrat calling himself "Bull Moose," who used to work for John McCain, has a thoughtful piece about the non-option, in his mind, of unilateral withdrawal from Iraq.

My comment to him:

I'm unconvinced of the utility of keeping forces in Iraq, but assuming you're right, I notice your piece says nothing about the possibility, even at this late date, of securing more international involvement. Surely if Iraq is so dangerous to our future security, it poses at least to some degree the same danger to Europe, China, Russia? Why should the U.S. bear this burden alone? I believe if Kerry had been elected president he would have spent the last year on just this effort. This president has not, and as a result the situation in Iraq is so bleak that there appears less and less likelihood that any outcome other than eventual unilateral withdrawal can successfully be brought about. And that is a catastrophe. The only way to wrest some kind of victory from this debacle would be through honest admission of past mistakes, and appeal to common security interests to secure international commitment, including U.N. troops, to ensuring stability in that country. I can't see this administration doing this or being successful at it even if it tried. The moral gravitas simply isn't there.

At this point, it seems to me that otherwise the eventual outcome will almost certainly be worse than if we had simply left Saddam Hussein in power. And THAT is the real betrayal of the sacrifice of all the ordinary citizens who have been asked, or forced, to serve there; some to sacrifice their lives there. The chief fault here lies not in those who see quagmire and oppose any further commitment to a lost cause, but in the halls of power. And the greatest tragedy is that any other outcome is coming closer and closer to being impossible, politically if not militarily. If that happens, those who propose withdrawal will come to be seen as having proposed the "least worst" option, in terms of mounting casualties, since the outcome will be the same. In this way, the war in Iraq does indeed resemble Vietnam more and more.

See also Larry Johnson's piece in TPM Café.

23 August 2005

Pakistan, Iran, and nuclear deceit

Iran built its nuclear program in secret over 18 years with the help of Abdul Qadeer Khan, a top Pakistani official and nuclear scientist who sold spare parts from his country's own weapons program to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Khan's black-market dealings were uncovered in 2003. He confessed on national television, was swiftly pardoned by Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and is now under house arrest.

Pakistan has denied IAEA inspectors access to Khan and to the country's nuclear facilities, but earlier this year it agreed to share data and some equipment with the inspectors to expedite the Iran investigation. Among the equipment were discarded centrifuge parts that match those Khan sold to Iran.

That's from Dafna Linzer's piece today in the NYT.

Am I alone in thinking that we should hold Musharraf's feet to the fire?
What kind of so-called ally is this, who has all but admitted that his government is doing nothing to find Bin Laden and Al Zawahiri? How 'bout revoking evey single Pakistani national's visa and cutting off every cent of aid unless he makes Khan available for interrogation by the IAEA, and Pakistan's own nuclear facilities available for inspection? And if he won't (it isn't "can't") locate and turn over these 9-11 enemies, pressure him open up his territory to commando raids to get 'em ?

But the real point of Linzer's piece is that Bolton and other Bush officials are playing worse than fast and loose with the truth about Iran's mostly ineffective and non-weapons capable nuclear program, thereby eroding still further U.S. credibility on the non-proliferation issue.