Scoblic, J. Peter
March 2004
New Republic;3/8/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 8, p14
The author argues that U.S. president George W. Bush's plan for keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of rogue states is inadequate. On February 11, just days after a supposedly penitent Abdul Qadeer Khan confessed on Pakistani television, President Bush appeared at the National Defense University to describe how the father of Pakistan's atom bomb had for years run a global network that sold nuclear weapons technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea. Bush praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for "assur[ing] us that his country will never again be a source of proliferation," even though it was not clear Musharraf could promise any such thing, and lauded the U.S. intelligence community for its "hard work and ... dedication," even though for years it had idly watched as Khan became one of the most dangerous men in the world. Perhaps realizing that these reassurances were insufficient following such frightening revelations, Bush also announced a series of proposals intended to "strengthen the world's efforts to stop the spread of deadly weapons." Faced with increasingly obvious proliferation problems that called his own policies into doubt, Bush didn't suggest bold, binding, and enforceable strategies for dealing with states like Pakistan, men like Khan, and their weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Instead, he fell back on the flimsy tools he has long preferred: rhetoric that protests his seriousness, verbal commitments that rarely translate into action, and voluntary codes of conduct that in essence cede responsibility for our security to the goodwill of other nations.


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