Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Aaro on proliferation

Here. The book under review looks interesting and the final sentence of Aaro's review is a pearl of concentrated Decency. Langewiesche carries out a thorough and comprehensive analysis of proliferation. The Decent alternative? "Intervene". I've heard of the "intention of the commander" theory of military tactics but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

Aaro also doesn't really seem to understand the logistics of nuclear proliferation either if he thinks that "expensive missile defence systems" are the key to defence of the rich countries. Getting hold of ICBMs (or long range missiles in general) and engineering them to take nuclear warheads is not a trivial task in itself; North Korea might possibly be on the very fringes of developing a missile that might possibly with a following win be able to reach the west coast of Alaska, but that's about it in terms of poor countries firing missiles at rich countries; a few US think tanks have suggested that Iran might develop something that could attack Southern Europe by 2010, but to be honest US thinktanks come up with the oddest things, and anyone further down the proliferation league table is going to be even further out of the game. It's no accident that Israel, India, Pakistan and South Africa all had enemies in mind that were a lot nearer. Nuclear war in the proliferation age is going to be poor country against poor country, but not because of missile defence.

(Also note that there is only one rich country that has a working missile defence capability - the USA. This shield does not protect Europe and the USA is really not very keen on anyone else developing a missile defence system. A lot of non-American USA fans make this sort of mistake, as it's part and parcel of believing that the USA is unique among countries in having no national interests but only wanting what's best for the whole world).


Blogger ejh said...

A cynic writes: could it be that having foolishly supported an intervention in Iraq on the basis that that country had WMDs, and having then discovered that they did not, he has finessed his position such that the intervention was really OK as one should now intervene before the WMDs are acquired?

6/27/2007 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

I think that by this point it's basically just "yay intervention!"

6/27/2007 07:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of Decency could be summed up in the phrase 'against realism in foreign policy'. Might explain the permanently embattled air - they know they're fighting a losing battle.

6/27/2007 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Or you could sum up a lot of it by saying "it's liberal democracy v totalitarianism so let's get the guns out". Would that really be a horrid caricature?

6/27/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also note that there is only one rich country that has a working missile defence capability - the USA.

Define "working."

On another point, I wonder to what extent Langeweische (or Aaro) considers the possibility that the next use of a nuclear weapon will be for alleged non-proliferation reasons; given the statements of some Republican candidates for the president of the U.S. it seems to me that the most likely case for nuclear war involves the U.S. using so-called tactical nuclear weapons against Iran.

6/27/2007 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Russia. They installed their one system permitted by the ABM Treaty around Moscow (yanks put theirs around Grand Forks, Idaho - funny buggers). Unlike the US they kept it, and indeed went on upgrading it as part of the huge kickarse IADS they had/have around the capital.

6/27/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Martin Wisse said...

Welll... the US has amissile defence capacity; whether it actually works is doubtful.

6/27/2007 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the "justifications" for invading Iraq was that Al-Qaida had been trying to get nuclear technology. It transpired that Iraq didn't have nuclear technology and Al-Qaida's contacts had been with A.Q. Khan. As far as I know Khan is still living at liberty in Pakistan, Pakistan doesn't even allow him to be questioned by outside institutions, and the West still sees Pakistan as its ally (and the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do, for reasons that are still a mystery). So does Aaro mean "Intervene even if you get hit the wrong target and make a bad situation worse"? That's what it sounds like to me.

BTW - Brivatis' contribution in OpenDemocracy to the review of Blair's legacy seemed to suggest that the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1981 was a good reason for invading Iraq in 2003. Is this another example of potted Decency?

6/28/2007 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

That reminds me, the Decent TARDIS is likely to be at work over the Lockerbie business which they are likely to interpret as meaning "Syria should be invaded".

6/28/2007 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just before the invasion of Iraq, Jack Straw was being asked by journalists about links between Saddam and Al-Qaida. He obviously didn't want to say that there were links (which would have been completely untrue) but he didn't want to say that there weren't any (probably because he might want to use that reason at some time in the future). So he said "It's all part of the same picture".

Is this part of potted Decency? It doesn't matter where you intervene (as long as it's east of Croatia) because "It's all part of the same picture".

6/28/2007 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Philip said...

the Lockerbie business which they are likely to interpret as meaning "Syria should be invaded"

Iran, shurleyz? Iran has certainly been mentioned in connection with Lockerbie, and that should be enough for any decent point on the irreality-insanity continuum.

6/29/2007 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Langie- Langewie- Langie- oh, sod it, the author of that book wrote a superb series of essays in the Atlantic on the clean up of the WTC site after 9/11.

His book, The Outlaw Sea, is also very good on the libertarian nightmare that is the modern commercial shipping industry .

7/02/2007 12:01:00 PM  

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