Man, that Jim Hoagland is a sensible guy: both extremes are wrong, neither unilateral military action by the U.S. (and allies, which gives new meaning to the term “unilateral”), nor international diplomatic machinations are enough alone to affect that changes we seek:
- As if to emphasize that new years bring new hopes, Libya, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan have in recent weeks altered their defiant or deceitful behavior on nuclear weapons. Pushing these four atomic miscreants to clean up their acts should be a top American priority in 2004.
It is too early to proclaim that things are spinning into control on the nonproliferation front. But visible progress has been made through international pressure that relies on both multilateral diplomacy and the shadow of U.S. power abroad. It would be a mistake to underestimate the force of either of those factors in what has happened and in what is still to come.
The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq seems to have sobered up some states that had concluded they could, without risk, secretly acquire nuclear weapons in defiance of international agreements. Unilateralists will trumpet that undeniable development.
But the clandestine drive toward nuclear weapons has also been slowed and shaped by global nonproliferation accords, U.N. inspections, world opinion and the kind of neighborly pressure that China has recently exerted on North Korea.
Imperfect as these outside influences are, they are important in denying legitimacy and protection to a state that covets a nuclear arsenal as an attribute of sovereignty or for other purposes. [Washington Post]
Both sides will have to understand that the actions of one bolster the efforts of the other, which is why the indignation of our European allies (Germany, France and Russia in particular) over our military action in Iraq is so misplaced and disingenuous – SOMEONE has to give backbone to the entreaties of the diplomatic community and if the U.S. is willing to be that spine, you would think that would be to everyone’s advantage. But the unwilling always resent the willing, the weak always resent the strong.
- British-U.S. diplomacy and Operation Iraqi Freedom were no doubt factors in Gaddafi’s announced decision to defang himself through verifiable and intrusive inspections. I would guess that his desire to pass on power to his son in the next few years — and the need to obtain international support for that succession — also played a role.
Wars change the strategic landscape. It is then up to the politicians and diplomats to seize opportunities. They have made a good start in Libya, and will have their hands full in Pakistan in this brand new year.