Saturday, March 26, 2005

Pakistan's F-16

The Bush Administration announded that it was (finally) going to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
Now, the US, Pakistan, and the sale of F-16's have a long and sordid history. In a nutshell (for those of you not interested in following the link), we had sold some F-16's to Pakistan back in the early 1990's in the First Bush Administration. But, at the time, Pakistan was rapidly expanding its nuclear program, and under the Pressler Amendment, the US could not sell arms to countries that were actively seeking nuclear weapons. So, Bush I stopped the sale, but after Pakistan had paid for the planes. The planes sat in the Davis-Monthan AFB boneyard for years and years as the US and Pakistan squabbled over the planes and the money. Finally, after several attempts to sell the planes to other people, Clinton refunded Pakistan some money. We still have the planes, and aparently they are going to be used by the US military for something...

Point being, now Bush is going to sell newer versions of those planes to Pakistan. This is obviously a foreign aid reward for being an ally in the GWOT (recall that most of our foreign aid comes as military aid /sales). Who is none to happy about this? India, of course! As you can imagine, the Indians see one and only one thing at work here--increased Pakistani capability to deliver nuclear weapons. And, in fact, the F-16 is nuclear capable and does quite well in air-to-ground roles. So, to keep the Indians happy, Bush has offered to sell India some advanced fighters (F-16 or F-18) also.

So many issues here-- should we really be selling these jets to Pakistan? They really really want them for all the obvious reasons, so this is a big time reward. It does give us increased leverage with them--the planes will take time to deliver, and they'll need training and spare parts and such. But, do you reward them for not being all that helpful investigating the Kahn nuclear suppliers network and then there's that little bit about Musharaf (who came to power in a coup that overthrew a democraticly elected government) once promising to step down as Army Chief and maybe entertain elections at some point. What ever happened to that lofty rhetoric on the importance of Freedom and Democracy?
And there's the bit of fueling an arms race with India, but if we're supplying both sides....

Lets not forget the domestic politics too--with the USAF done buying F-16's (we've moved on to the F-22 and F-35), its the international sales that are keeping the Lockheed Martin production line in Fort Worth TX open with 5000+ jobs.

All that for some planes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

USA - China - EU

Recently I had a student do a senior thesis type project on the development of tripolarity between the US, China, and the EU. It was a fascinating analysis, and ever since she wrote it, I continue to see signs pointing to such an arrangement popping up in the news.

The latest round involves the US "convincing" the EU not to lift its arms embargo to China, especially in light of China's new law on Taiwan.

What is particularly interesting here are the dynamics of the three. For a while, we had seen China and the EU cooperating in some ways opposite the US--most notably in the economic arena. But here, the US asserts itself and works with the EU against China. Its a very interesting dynamic among the three largest and most powerful actors on the world stage (if you are up for considering "Europe" a cohesive whole--clearly its a debatable point). But it certainly adds a layer of complexity to making US foreign policy, ya think?

Friday, March 18, 2005

George Kennan died at 101. He was perhaps one of the most significant American diplomants of the 20th century, if not of all time. Reading through his obituary, I am amazed by all of the core elements of USFP that can be traced to his influence.
Its quite possible that we will never see a diplomat of this stature again.
NY Times Obit
Washington Post Obit

What's truly amazing, to me, is that he was in the prime of his career at the start of the Cold War, developing Containment, proposing the clandestine service of the CIA, developing the Marshall Plan, and guiding teh general direction US Foreign Policy, and he lived long enough to see how it all came out. In many ways, he was right about the Cold War-- more than any one other person in all of the US.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ok, so I suppose its clear that what everyone really wants to talk about is Bush's nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to be head of the World Bank.

The Bank lends to poor governments, providing capital for development projects.

Wolfowitz, of course, is best known for his role as the archetect of the Iraq War as the Pentagon's #2 guy and as the intelectual leader of the neoconservatives in the Administration.

This, coupled with the earlier nomination of John Bolten to be US ambassador to the UN, has Bush sending some of his most loyal neoconservative aids to international organizations that, in the past, they have been hostile toward. Trend?
Reaction from Europe is cool, at best. Its possible that Europe could try to veto the nomination, though I'm not sure that they are unified enough to act as a bloc and reject it (though if they did all act together they probably could force Bush to choose someone else).

So, good choice?
Wolfowitz is leaving the Pentagon, along with Doug Feith, the #3 guy there. So, a major change in Pentagon leadership. Like all second term presidents, Bush must shuffle his cabinet. We've seen much of that already, and this continues the trend. Who could move in as the new Pentagon team?
Wonder what all the highly indebted poor countries with loads of World Bank debt think of Wolfowitz...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The NYT has a fascinating report on the larger issues behind the Bush Administration's approach to Iran's nuclear program. They want to re-write the international rules of nuclear non-proliferation without changing the main treaty that has governed it since the late 60's.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the main set of rules on nuclear weapons. Under the NPT rules, the 5 decalred nuclear weapons states (also the UNSC perm 5), are allowed to have nuclear weapons but must work to reduce their arsenals. It prohibits any new nation from developing nuclear weapons. But, it does allow any nation to develop nuclear power for peaceful energy purposes so long as it is open to IAEA inspections. But, as the Bush Administration points out, this allows a country like North Korea or Iran to legally develop nuclear technology, lie about its intentions, and then pull out of the treaty to go the final yard and build the bomb.
Bush wants to say that there are certain countries that just can't be trusted and shouldn't have access to any nuclear technology.

What makes this so interesting is that the Bush Administration is offering a new interpretation of the treaty and is trying to make it stick as the new set of global rules without the traditional renegotiation of the global treaty. They are simply saying: well the NPT will now mean this, so lets start to figure out how to keep nuclear technology from Iran (and others).

The Bush Administraton is pushing the issue in an attempt to prevent another nuclear proliferation failure. But here it needs cooperation from nuclear suppliers--it does no good for the US to sanction Iran when it can go to France or Pakistan or China or Russia for nuclear know-how. Can you re-make rules that require cooperation and compliance for success just by asserting a new interpretation?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

I'm off to the big conference.

So, any interesting stories or observations from spring break?

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