Sunday, May 27, 2007

Another Feather in the Hat of Impeachment

I don't know if anyone really needs to second guess this one. How crazy does a world leader need to be to criticize the Geneva Convention? Does the Vice President understand the role of this treaty in international relations, or how this kind of statement would only serve to deprecate our international reputation? As if the reaction to rendition prisons and torturing terrorists wasn't enough. To wage an effective war on this kind of enemy, we need to demonstrate that we are above their ethical level. This doesn't help. That is unless you agree that what happened on September 11, 2001, was unprovoked.

Re-institute Mutual Distruction

With the advent of the post cold war era, nuclear proliferation will likely become more of a problem with smaller more militant nations looking to make an impact on the global stage. From an American perspective, this presents a significant problem because of the danger to national security. Not so much from the knee jerk reactionists, but from the bargaining chip this places in the hands of otherwise inconsequential states and the risk that a small weapon could fall into the hands of a group that would not hesitate to use a new found nuclear capability with indiscriminate abandon. This will no doubt require a fundamental shift in foreign policy because current tactics employed by world governments is not having the desired prophylactic effect.

A plausible answer to this problem is to re-institute the fear of mutually assured destruction. For the last 50 years, the fear of mutual destruction and massive collateral losses has prevented the use of nuclear weapons. This was evident during the cold war, and formed the basis for the arms race. Each side tensely rattles its sword in the hopes that the threat of nuclear holocaust would advance their political agenda. Now, though, the world stage is very different. A small nation like North Korea wouldn't be as swayed by this concept because their arsenal would not be sufficient to render a target nation unresponsive to an unprovoked nuclear attack. This is even more the case in a situation where would-be terrorists get their hands on nuclear armaments. How, then, could we prevent this dangerous kind of proliferation, and how do we use the assured threat of mutual destruction?

The shift in foreign policy needs to focus on retaliation. The promised retaliation would have to promise total annihilation. Ideally, this would keep smaller nations from making a preemptive attack. Launching one bomb would certainly insure a retaliatory response that would decimate a small nation. Few nations could make this kind of promise as well. The United States is probably one of the few countries in the world with sufficient resources, but at the same time, we may be the only nation who could make such a promise and be taken seriously.

However, this policy may not be sufficient to subdue smaller groups from using a nuclear attack. As a result, the policy would have to be expanded to include threats to host nations. By holding the nation harboring or supporting these groups responsible by threatening annihilation, it is possible that those host nations would crack down on the extremist groups to protect themselves. The concept of mutually assured destruction survives on just that premise. While fringe political extremists don't consider the impact of collateral damage in their actions, by holding governments responsible with this kind of total military response, those nations may begin to constrain extremists and institute security policies to limit nuclear proliferation. This kind of self-policing could very well operate as a more effective deterrent than economic sanctions.