Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, July 17, 2006

I loved Bob Wright's book Nonzero but this NY Times op-ed is naive:

Nowhere does this emphasis on international governance contrast more clearly with recent Republican ideology than in arms control. The default neoconservative approach to weapons of mass destruction seems to be that when you suspect a nation has them, you invade it. The Iraq experience suggests that repeated reliance on this policy could grow wearying. The president, to judge by his late-May overture toward Iran and his subdued tone toward North Korea, may be sensing as much.

Still, he is nowhere near embracing the necessary alternative: arms control accords that would impose highly intrusive inspections on all parties. Neoconservatives, along with the Buchananite nationalist right, see in this approach an unacceptable sacrifice of national sovereignty.

But such “sacrifices” can strengthen America. One reason international weapons inspectors haven’t gotten a good fix on Iran’s nuclear program is that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty gives them access only to “declared” sites. Wouldn’t Americans be willing to change that and let inspectors examine America more broadly — we have nothing to hide, after all — if that made it harder for other nations to cheat on the treaty?

As if. Is Iran going to submit to inspections just because America does? Absurd. This type of blind faith in international institutions is an inadvertent self-parody of NY Times liberalism.

Of course, Wright doesn't actually claim that Iran will agree to more intrusive inspections if America does. He poses a rhetorical question: would we be willing to allow more intrusive inspections? Answer: possibly, if the nuclear double standard that makes nukes acceptable in America, Britain, France, Russia and China (and India, Israel and Pakistan?) is maintained. But why should other countries, especially countries that are unhappy with the established distribution of international power, agree to that in the long run?

I am, by the way, hardly a representative of the Buchananite right.


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