Friday, March 19, 2004

How craven can you get? 

This administration is so desperate to find Osama Bin Laden that they will do anything  for Pakistan's help. Last month the administration sank to a new low, sanctioning the pardon of a Pakistani nuclear scientist who sold nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Now comes Pakistan's new diplomatic designation as a "major non-NATO ally." In practical terms, this designation doesn't mean a lot--basically, it makes it easier for Pakistan to buy weapons from US defense contractors--but in Colin Powell's announcement yesterday, the PR surrounding this farce reached new levels of absurdity:
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell praised Pakistan's handling of a sweeping nuclear proliferation scandal during a visit here on Thursday and announced that the Bush administration would designate the country a "major non-NATO ally"...

Mr. Powell said the United States would not request that American investigators be allowed to question the scientist at the center of the proliferation scandal, Abdul Qadeer Khan. Dr. Khan, the founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, confessed last month to supplying nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

"This is a Pakistani internal matter," Mr. Powell said.
So now nuclear weapons programs in Iran, Libya and North Korea are a "Pakistani internal matter"? You didn't really mean to say that, did you, Powell? Here we have yet another instance of this administration's "saying it will make it so" wishful thinking. They think if they just say  Pakistan is doing a great job fighting nuclear proliferation, by repeating the line often enough they can make people believe it. We need to prove them wrong by debunking the lies as insistently as they promote them.

Powell's remarks are just more proof that this administration is way off on its priorities. Capturing Bin Laden would be an important symbolic victory, but one man alone in the mountains, tied to his dialysis machine and constantly on the run from US and Pakistani troops, can hardly be very effective at planning and executing terrorist attacks. Compared to the threat of nuclear proliferation to rogue states, Bin Laden poses about as much of a threat to our national security right now as my grandmother.

If and when Bin Laden is finally captured, we need to celebrate, but we also should be ready with a response. This response should be formulated now, so we'll have it ready when the time comes. Here's a start: 1. why did it take so long? (we got distracted by Iraq) and 2. was it really worth the price we paid? (allowing rogue states to buy nuclear secrets from our "ally," Pakistan)
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