Category Archive 'PNAC.info Commentary'

23.11.05

U.S. and partners scrap North Korea Reactor Project

News Articles, North Korea, PNAC.info Commentary


Now there isn’t even an illusion to cling to, in terms of thinking that North Korea and the U.S. might be able to make some sort of peace deal involving light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for nuclear disarmament by North Korea. The project overseeing the building of the actual reactors for that deal has been shut down. While it does make for a symbolic defeat, it’s really just a reflection of a deal-killing stalemate anyway. Both the U.S. and North Korea are knowingly making demands and requests that the other side cannot accept. North Korea is not going to unilaterally disarm, and give up its #1 (and possibly only) bargaining chip, without exacting excruciating (and probably unfullfillable) demands first. And the U.S. keeps moving closer toward a stance of not giving North Korea a single thing unless they do just what it demands, and no less, and does it first.

It’s easy to see why each country is staking such tough ground to stand on– after all, these nations still have not officially ended the war between them from more than 50 years ago. And it’s hard to see a positive place they might go from here. It’s just more “demand, and resist”.

It’s worth considering that there are two most common situations which end in stalemates: the bank robbery/hostage-type of stalemate between police and criminal, and the business stalemate between two negotiating parties. Consider that those two types of stalemates have very different ways of resolving themselves. In the “we’ve got you surrounded” scenario, it ends with surrender, or death. The business negotiation, or peer-to-peer stalemate, can end by the two parties just agreeing not to work together–and often, with no hard feelings.

The kneejerk reaction to that might be “but they have nukes, or are making them! We can’t allow that. North Korea is a dangerous country.” Well, for 50 years or so, the U.S.S.R was a dangerous country, with quite a lot of nukes, and a large empire to boot. And they never used them against anyone else, because to use nukes against another country basically means you will be annihilated in retaliation, or so the thinking goes. If North Korea was looking to get annihilated by the U.S., it has had plenty of time and opportunity to actively provoke such a thing. Just a quick dip into South Korea by the thousands of troops North Korea has at the border would suffice to trigger a response from the U.S. And yet in all these years of prickly and uncomfortable isolation, North Korea has not done so.

That’s worth thinking about, in the context of what sort of stalemate (and stalemate resolution) the United States chooses to be involved in.

(By the way, the fact that North Korea could sell nukes to terrorists doesn’t change the formula much. The terrorist would use the nuke, it would get tied back to North Korea, and they would get punished as though they had used the nuke themselves. It’s just as suicidal as the scenario where they are the nukers, and therefore as counterindicated as that scenario as well.)

U.S., partners end N. Korea nuke project

By PETER JAMES SPIELMANN
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The United States and its partners in an energy consortium have terminated a project to build two light-water atomic reactors for North Korea as an incentive to convince Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, officials said.

The decision was a sharp rebuff to the North’s demand that it be given light-water reactors before it would open its nuclear program up to international inspection. Read the rest of this entry »

17.11.05

Angry Assad Says Syria Will Cooperate (but will fight if necessary)

News Articles, PNAC.info Commentary, Syria


This article is about Syrian President Assad’s sentiments (obviously), but it serves pretty well as a template for how any leader of another nation will respond when their nation is at the top of the U.S.’s “to do” list, at least in the present world environment. Especially a nation in the Middle East, where the U.S. must seem to be basically “picking off” nations one by one (with Syria being #3, just a nose ahead of #4 Iran). In fact, in such a situation, it seems reasonable to expect that each successive leader/nation in the area will feel all the more responsibility to resist.

There is, of course, another school of thought which would say it’s reasonable to expect that each successive leader in the region will feel all the more desire to lie down. Defenders of the “remake the Middle East” strategy often point to Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi as an example of that phenomenon, but there are mixed reports on what led Qaddafi to mellow out. We’ll examine that soon.

More likely, I would think, in an area which has cultural roots going back approximately to the beginning of civilization, is the likelhood that each successive leader, and each successive nation, will fight even harder than the one before. Right or wrong.

It’s interesting: neoconservatives are, in one part, super-nationalists. Yet one of their program’s biggest weaknesses– perhaps the biggest– is that they fail to appreciate the strength of nationalists (and super-nationalists) in the countries over which they wish to assert control.


Angry Assad Says Syria Will Cooperate in Probe

By Rhonda Roumani and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers

DAMASCUS, Syria, Nov. 10 — President Bashar Assad promised Thursday to cooperate with a U.N. investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, but in a defiant speech to cabinet ministers, Baath Party members and students, he warned that a confrontation might be inevitable.

“President Bashar Assad won’t bow to anyone in this world nor would he let his people or country to bow to anyone,” he said to applause. “We only bow to God.”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, said Syria was failing to cooperate with the probe, in violation of a U.N. resolution.

Noting that Assad’s government had balked this week at sending six officials to Beirut to be questioned by U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis — first inviting Mehlis to Damascus to negotiate about the questioning of its security personnel and then saying it needed to complete its own questioning — Rice said Syria must “stop trying to negotiate and cooperate.”

“The U.N. couldn’t have been clearer. The resolution couldn’t have been clearer or more detailed about what was expected of the Syrians,” Rice told reporters traveling with her to the Middle East. “They’re expected to answer affirmatively, yes, to whatever Mehlis needs to complete his investigation. I do not believe the U.N. Security Council resolution contemplated negotiating how they would say yes.”
Read the rest of this entry »

16.11.05

“Afghanistan: The War Without End” (within a war without end)

Afghanistan, News Articles, Outside Analysis, Outside Commentary, PNAC.info Commentary


This article provides an eye-opening look at the reality of that other war we’re in– the one that doesn’t get so much press these days. The key thing to note, of course, is that the Taliban is still operational–and in ways, appears to be quite strong, and possibly staging some sort of attempted comeback. And the war in Afghanistan is still a war in Afghanistan. From the way it’s presented by many who seek to defend the success of the “war on terror” as it has been conducted so far, one might think that Afghanistan was over and done with. But as you can see in the article, things are actually about to heat up in some ways. (In this case, I’m referring to the British troops who are going to be moved into an insurgent stronghold to try and gain control of that area.)

In searching for a quote from the PNAC on Afghanistan, I came upon an editorial from the Weekly Standard of October 29, 2001. It’s on the PNAC site as a PDF file, and it’s by frequent co-writers William Kristol and Robert Kagan, both of whom are part of both the PNAC and the Weekly Standard. Which is to say, I don’t know if it’s an official PNAC position statement, but it’s certainly very close to that if not.

The editorial only glancingly touches upon Afghanistan, actually — as noted in the recent American Conservative piece, the neocons had Iraq as their focus even when everyone else was honed in on Al Qaeda and Afghanistan — but it does lay out clear and simple terms for victory: victory is to be defined by “the unequivocal destruction of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden.”

So while I’m using this excerpt for the bigger picture statement within it (you’ll see what I mean) it is also certainly relevant as a lead-in to an article entitled “Afghanistan: The War Without End”. After all, it has been four years since the war in Afghanistan started, and not one of those three targets has been unequivocally destroyed. That only adds to the irony when you read how in 2001, Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan were already gearing us up for the “broader war in the Middle East” that is being widely dreaded today. (Not dreaded by them, I assume.)

Here is what these two top neocons had to say about Afghanistan and the Middle East in post-911 2001:

We do not for an instant minimize the difficulties and the dangers to our forces of the current mission in Afghanistan, especially now as the Bush administration wisely moves closer to the more aggressive use of U.S. ground forces. We are glad that President Bush is apparently following the Pentagon’s advice to accelerate the military campaign to unseat the Taliban, without waiting for the State Department to name the cabinet and sub-cabinet officials in an as-yet imaginary “post-Taliban government.? Nor do we doubt the vital importance of victory in Afghanistan—a victory defined by the unequivocal destruction of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden.

But this war will not end in Afghanistan. It is going to spread and engulf a number of countries in conflicts of varying intensity. It could well require the use of American military power in multiple places simultaneously. It is going to resemble the clash of civilizations that everyone has hoped to avoid. And it is going to put enormous and perhaps unbearable strain on parts of an international coalition that today basks in contented consensus.

The signs that we are on the precipice of a much wider conflict are all around us. …

Full editorial (PDF file)


And here’s what a British journalist has to say about Afghanistan today:

Afghanistan: The War Without End

The Independent (UK)
By Justin Huggler Asia Correspondent
Published: 15 November 2005

British troops have come under attack in Kabul and Nato forces were targeted in two co-ordinated suicide car bombings in which at least four people died.

The attacks took place as ministers revealed that units are preparing to extend Britain’s role in Afghanistan when it takes command of the international peacekeeping operation next year.

John Reid, the Secretary of State for Defence, told Parliament that Britain faced a “prolonged” involvement in the country. But MPs warned last night that British troops faced being mired in a long-term military commitment to a country in the grip of a growing insurgency.

They insisted yesterday’s extension of Britain’s role in Afghanistan, four years after troops first arrived, also reflected the size of the task facing coalition forces in Iraq.

Fears for Afghanistan’s future emerged in the wake of suggestions, by the British and Iraqi governments, that British troops could begin pulling out of Iraq by the end of next year. For British troops, however, yesterday’s violence in Kabul was a taste of what they will face next year when they deploy to the turbulent province of Helmand as part of a move by Nato to take over security in the Taliban heartlands.
Read the rest of this entry »

23.06.03

Disturbing Level of Unrest in Iraq

News Articles, PNAC.info Commentary


The PNAC strategy calls for a lasting presence and influence over places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and the like. But the scene on the ground in the first two of those experiments must inspire serious doubts about whether or not such a plan is feasible — whether nations in the Middle East will accept such a presence.

It’s worthwhile, as always, to look at history when trying to understand the events of the present. Here is an excerpt from HistoryChannel.com’s entry under “Iraq”:

In World War I the British invaded Iraq in their war against the Ottoman Empire; Britain declared then that it intended to return to Iraq some control of its own affairs. Nationalist elements, impatient over delay in gaining independence, revolted in 1920 but were suppressed by the British. Late that year the Treaty of Svres established Iraq as a mandate of the League of Nations under British administration, and in 1921 the country was made a kingdom headed by Faisal I. With strong reluctance an elected Iraqi assembly agreed in 1924 to a treaty with Great Britain providing for the maintenance of British military bases and for a British right of veto over legislation. By 1926 an Iraqi parliament and administration were governing the country. The treaty of 1930 provided for a 25-year alliance with Britain. The British mandate was terminated in 1932, and Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations.

In 1933 the small Christian Assyrian community revolted, culminating in a governmental military crackdown and loss of life and setting a precedent for internal minority uprisings in Iraq. Meanwhile, the first oil concession had been granted in 1925, and in 1934 the export of oil began. Domestic politics were turbulent, with many factions contending for power. Late in 1936, the country experienced the first of seven military coups that were to take place in the next five years.

That’s 21 years of tumult described there. A little over 20 years of further tumult later, the Ba’ath Party and Saddam Hussein began their rise to power.

The theory of the PNAC believers and neoconservatives must be that somehow, this time will be different. But the story on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be bearing that theory out:

Smashed US Memorial Points to Deepening Iraqi Anger
By Scott Peterson
The Christian Science Monitor

Friday 20 June 2003

BAGHDAD With tears in his eyes, US Army paratrooper Richard Bohr knelt down in the Iraqi dust and kissed a handmade memorial stone, bidding farewell to a brother in the US Marine Corps who was killed in action on the spot April 10, the day after Baghdad fell to invading American troops.

Draped with a necklace and pendant imploring, “St. Michael Protect Us,” the concrete memorial put in place by a US unit Friday morning measured two-by-three feet, and had been painted with a bright American flag, the Marine Corps shield, and the words “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

But within 30 minutes of the American troops leaving, this tribute to a brother was no more – a casualty of the deepening resentment toward US troops here, at the hands of Iraqis who increasingly see those troops not as liberating friends, but as an occupying enemy.

Ms. Fadhel says that as much as she disliked the regime of Saddam Hussein, she could safely be out past 9:00 pm. Now, she says, any time after 6:00 pm is unsafe. Delays by the Washington-appointed administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, to create a new Iraqi government, adds to the resentment among Iraqis.

“If they don’t establish a new Iraqi government by August, Iraqi people everywhere will attack them. They must know that it will result in a civil war,” Fadhel says. “You will see bodies of Americans in the streets. They think we are silent, but we are agitated inside.”

That agitation is increasingly boiling to the surface. Signs are sprouting that US troops – and the ineffective new US-led authority they have ushered in – are wearing out their welcome. Graffiti sprayed across one highway overpass reads: “Go home Americans.” Spray-painted in red inside a downtown bus stop: “Go away, U.S.A.”

“The US has proved to the Iraqi people that it is an occupation force that wants oil, to protect Israel, and to build big military bases in Iraq,” says Mr. Hussein, who also worked in the Iraqi military. “Of course we wanted a change of regime, but not in this way, because we have gone from bad to worse. Then there was safety, and we knew when we would get our salary.”

Full Story…

(A story about the troubles in Afgahnistan is forthcoming.)


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