Sara Mead notes UNICEF’s curiously tone-deaf press release touting such successes in Iraq as “universal salt iodization (to prevent iodine deficiency disorders), reduction of iron-deficiency anaemia and fortification of locally produced wheat flour with iron and folic acid.” Preschooling facilities, however, remain inadequate. That and the country is devolving into brutal ethnosectarian slaughter.
This weekend on CNN’s Late Edition, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) made the case that U.S. troops in Iraq are “being sucked slowly into a civil war with disastrous consequences.”
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) was asked if he agreed with Reed’s view that Iraq is in a civil war. Specter flatly said “yes” and added, “I don’t think there’s any point, Wolf, in hiding the facts. I think we have to face the facts.” Watch it:
Full transcript: Read more
I guess I’m a little bit agnostic on the Drum versus Black dispute about the utility of canvassing one’s support or lack thereof for past wars as a guide to foreign policy wisdom. It seems to me that this has some value, but I agree with Atrios that its value tends to be overstated. My biggest problem with this way of looking at the world, however, is that it winds up discounting people’s views on wars that didn’t happen. Since 2001, for example, various Weekly Standard articles I’ve read have advocated that the US send more troops to Afghanistan, that we send more troops to Iraq, that we go to war with Sudan over Darfur, that we go to war with Syria, that we go to war with Iran, and that we go to war with North Korea.
Senior Bush administration officials wanted North Korea to test a nuclear weapon because it would prove their point that the regime must be overthrown.
This astonishing revelation was buried in the middle of a Washington Post story published yesterday. Glenn Kessler reports from Moscow as he accompanies Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:
Before North Korea announced it had detonated a nuclear device, some senior officials even said they were quietly rooting for a test, believing that would finally clarify the debate within the administration.
Until now, no U.S. official in any administration has ever advocated the testing of nuclear weapons by another country, even by allies such as the United Kingdom and France.
One of these officials may have been Rice herself, Kessler hints. Rice, he reports, “has come close to saying the test was a net plus for the United States.” Rice has been trying to counter the prevailing view that the test was a failure of the Bush administration’s policy.
A factual timeline of the North Korean program traces how policies of containment and engagement slowed and stopped the program, while threats of regime change increased the dangers. The two key failures were the choice to focus on overthrowing the government in Pyongyang rather than stopping the nuclear program, and the invasion of Iraq which distracted U.S. attention from the real nuclear dangers and propelled both North Korea and Iran to accelerate their programs.
The revelation that some officials secretly wanted North Korea to test their nuclear weapons is evidence of how the administration’s national security policy has become completely divorced from reality.
I’m fairly certain I don’t grasp the full complexity of the situation, but it continually strikes me that enthusiasts for military intervention in Darfur, insofar as they’re not just poseurs eager to use the corpses of thousands as fodder for cheap UN-bashing (see also), are oddly in denial about the fact that there’s an actual war happening with multiple sides. A feasible intervention against the government, it seems to me, would have to be an intervention on behalf of the rebels and their political agenda.
This is a course of action that nobody actually wants to explicitly endorse. Perhaps that’s wrong. Perhaps Darfuri independence is a cause we should get behind. I’m skeptical that re-drawing all the lines on the map is the solution to Africa’s problems — seems more like a Pandora’s Box to me — but maybe someone can make that case. This other idea that an intervention could somehow proceed without us taking sides seems a bit daft.
I just wrote a draft of a forthcoming column on this subject and I thought it might be too out of left field, but fortunately along comes Sebastian Mallaby with the weird assertion of the day: “In North Korea and Iran, the United States has tried every diplomatic trick to prevent nuclear proliferation, making common cause with Western Europe, Russia, China and Japan, and wielding both sticks and carrots. The result is failure: North Korea has tested a nuke and Iran still presses on with its enrichment program.”
Every trick? Really?
This sentiment is part of a bizarre American arrogance that seems to think “diplomacy” means “talking to people” and “every diplomatic trick” means “talking to them at great length.” He’s a trick we haven’t tried vis-a-vis North Korea and Iran — seriously offering to do things Pyongyand and/or Teheran would like us to do in exchange for them doing what we want them to do in terms of not building nuclear weapons. Similarly with regard to Russia and China. As I’ve been pointing out, we’ve been doing “everything” to get Russia and China on board with our North Korea policy except, well, setting priorities, making compromises, cutting deals and, um, conducting diplomacy. We want Moscow and Beijing to do such-and-such. Well, what do they want from Washington? Diplomacy means finding out what they want and then, if the price is worth paying, paying it.
That’s negotiation, that’s diplomacy. The Bush administration simply doesn’t do it. It issues demands. And when it finds its demands can’t be achieved through threats of force it . . . issues demands again. Sometimes it curtails its demands somewhat. What it doesn’t do is diplomacy, the search for horses to trade, for positive-sum exchanges, for the reconciliation of competing interests.