It was reported a month ago, without making any fuss that I saw, that the Bush Administration had decided to scuttle the negotiations about verifying the control of fissile (i.e., nuclear weapons) materials.
The story at the time was that we were concerned about the security threat to us posed by the intrusive inspections that would have been required. But now the Economist reports (per Matt Yglesias) that the real reason the US backed off was because it didn’t want to limit the growth of the Israeli and Pakistani (!!!) nuclear arsenals.
So let me get this straight: The country that was the primary state sponsor of the Taliban is building nuclear weapons, and the Bush Administration doesn’t want to do anything that might interfere with that country’s ability to do so. Is this part of the deal for the capture of ObL before November?
I guess Mr. Bush, who doesn’t think that America can win the war on terror, is right: this year’s election really is about the fact that only one of the two parties is willing to do what needs to be done to keep the country safe.
Update and correction Tom McGuire does the homework I should have done, and finds that according to the source The Economist actually cites, helping Pakistan get more nukes was at most an unintended consequence of the decision to dump the FMCT negotiations, not its purpose. He’s right that the distinction is all-important. (Matt Yglesias promptly updated and corrected.) My bad.
Even so, there are very few goals for which the expansion of the Pakistani nuclear weapons arsenal would be a price worth paying. McGuire notes that the inspections regime proposed by the treaty might have been technically infeasiable from the get-go. If that’s right, there was no trade-off to think about; something that doesn’t work isn’t worth buying even on the cheap.
Whether it’s so, as McGuire acknowledges, is a call that can only be made by experts; all I can say is that I devoutly hope they made this one right.