An IDC Analysis from USA


New Delhi, 17 November 2002

Foggy Bottom in Washington used to be a marsh-laden dump where now the spanking Tube station carries that name, as a reminder of the inhospitable marshy terrain of yore. Just a kilometer away besides the impressive George Washington University premises, stand the massive straight lined buildings of the State Department some five times the size of India's impressive South Block, which house approx. 5000 personnel. Close by is a beautiful view of the Arlington Cemetery, a resting ground for the graves and names of the many Americans that gave up their lives in service of their country, when diplomacy at Foggy Bottom failed.

Once again with the President of USA getting ready to hit Iraq, Foggy Bottom under Colin Powell is working over time and nearby Pentagon under Donald Rumsfeld is full of activity and troops are being readied and mobilised.

On 11th November, the entire American nation saluted the dead and senior retired servicemen and President Bush led the Memorial Service at Arlington with his hand crossed across his heart. One could see Tri Service spirit, which the Indian Armed Forces have yet to achieve. Bush dressed in a blue suit refused to accept the umbrella that was offered to him by the Chairman Joint Chiefs to Staff standing tall, next to him, and they both let the rain fall on them as they solemnly stood on that National Veterans Day. Young men in the Guards and Bands saluted. The Gods appeared to be joining Americans in their grief was a thought that crossed the mind.

We in India have no Veterans Day. There is a Flag Day a poor substitute for Armed Forces Day when one sees a few ladies button-holing the President/PM with a miniature paper tricolour and collecting some money as charity for the welfare of Servicemen. This year we did not even remember Kargil Day and with 31 years of the 1971 war round the bend let us see what is in store besides Navy Day on 4 December. Mohan Guruswamy has again said we seldom dedicate thoughts to the brave.

IDC suggest there should be one less religious celebration/holiday and some Glory be given to our dead Warriors and retired Veterans. We may call it Rama or Krishna Day to appease those in ascendency and hope our secular minded Muslim and Christian brethern will not mind.

The lights in the corridors of Foggy Bottom are on late into the night because Pakistan is now accepted as a dangerous terrorist state in most circles in USA. President Musharraf is unable to rein in or does not want to rein in the ISI which has close Taliban and Al Queda links. He knows USA needs Pakistan geographically and would not like to see it as a failed state, which appears to be India's aim 末 to leave it behind militarily, economically and broken up, so that the Kashmir problem solves itself.

China will ensure that Pakistan is not left in the lurch. Pakistan has even recently given Nuclear know how to North Korea and has a Nuclear Force more ready than India, so USA's fears of war between India and Pakistan are valid. If Bush attacks Iraq in early 2003 which seems inevitable, then there is worry at Foggy Bottom that India may well hit Pakistan as warnings seem to be in the air. Just then came Ram Jethmalani to Foggy Bottom this week as Head of the Kashmir Committee and offered a solution for Kashmir 末 that both nations have to ease their stances and India has accepted what IDC feels is an offer to convert the LOC in to an IBL and have some soft borders. As Stephen Cohen agrees, the India鳳akistan rivalry hurts both states, and the prognosis is that unless there is sustained and effective intervention by outside powers including USA, crises like 2002 will recur with unpredictable consequences.

The world's 5.5 billion cannot find one Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and he is like our own Veerrappan in the jungles. This is what confounds Foggy Bottom. Verrapan sends us videotapes so we know he is alive but since Osama sends voice tapes millions of dollars are being spent to fingerprint his voice via technology. Israel is another nuclear capable nation, which supposedly tested once in South Africa under Waldo Stumpf and is getting ready for the fun in Iraq.

Now comes the media which is very free in USA thanks to the first amendment which if available in India would have bailed out Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka. In USA, remote cameras are very legal and are extensively used to trap shoplifters, wrong doers and even erring husbands and wives. Tarun did not realise India is not USA and no politician has ever been nailed, so hidden cameras are taboo. In the New York Times Kristof recommended Bush must hit Pakistan before Iraq and his article in NYT makes interesting reading.

"After all, if it's appropriate to carry out pre-emptive strikes on countries that sponsor terrorism and secretly develop nuclear weapons, then we could launch an invasion today 末 of Pakistan. "


The Osirak Option

By Nicholas D. Kristof

The New York Times, November 15, 2002

With U.N. inspectors headed for Baghdad and the clock running out, those of us who are skeptical about the need to invade Iraq need to confront one of the most cogent arguments against us.

It is a bombed-out building near Baghdad: the Osirak nuclear reactor, which Israeli warplanes destroyed in June 1981. At the time, there was broad agreement among sensible people that such a pre-emptive strike was outrageous.

Even the Reagan administration, normally sympathetic to Israel, chose to condemn" the attack; France declared it "unacceptable"; Britain denounced it as "a grave breach of international law." A New York Times editorial began: "Israel's sneak attack on a French-built nuclear reactor near Baghdad was an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression."

In retrospect, the condemnations were completely wrong. (Looking back at yellowed newspaper databases, I see that one of the few people who got it right at the time was my colleague William Safire.)

Thank God that Menachem Begin overrode his own intelligence agency, which worried that the attack would affect the peace process with Egypt, and ordered the reactor destroyed. Otherwise Iraq would have gained nuclear weapons in the 1980's, it might now have a province called Kuwait and a chunk of Iran, and the region might have suffered nuclear devastation.

So pre-emption sometimes works, and even doves tend to favor cross-border intervention to prevent genocide in the Rwandas of the world.

All this suggests that an invasion of Iraq may be acceptable in principle. But what does that tell us about whether we should invade Iraq now?

Wars should be principled, but that doesn't mean blindly following every principle into battle. Otherwise you end up with conflicts like my favorite, which occurred in 1739 after a British sailor named Robert Jenkins turned up in London waving one of his ears in his hand and declaring that it had been severed by the Spanish. As a result, England launched the War of Jenkins' Ear.

The lesson of Osirak is very limited that in extreme cases it is justifiable for a country to make a pre-emptive pinpoint strike to prevent an unpredictable enemy from gaining weapons of mass destruction that would be used against it. That's a reasonable approach toward Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to cooperate and if we have intelligence about what sites are worth striking.

Indeed, it makes sense to target Saddam's own bed if we can learn where he's spending the night. Ari Fleischer quite properly raised the possibility last month of assassinating Saddam; it's messy, but much less so than an invasion would be.

Contrary to popular belief, American law does not ban assassination, as Kenneth Pollack notes in his superb new book on Iraq, "The Threatening Storm." Rather the ban on assassination exists only in Executive Order 12333, issued by President Ronald Reagan and renewed by presidents since, and thus can easily be nullified.

In any case, a succession of U.S. presidents appear to have attempted to kill foreign leaders (Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya in 1986, Mohammed Farah Aidid of Somalia in 1993, Saddam himself in 1991), partly on the ground that they were command-and- control elements. Likewise, at least in wartime, international law permits the targeting of enemy rulers even if they are civilians. So the real problem is finding Saddam to kill him. With weapons inspectors heading for Iraq, the next key date may be Dec. 8, when Baghdad is due to hand over a declaration of all its nuclear, biological and chemical activities. The U.N. resolution makes any lapse in this declaration a "material breach," giving the White House its license to go to war.

Hawks will argue for "zero tolerance," as President Bush put it Wednesday. But one can accept that pre-emption is sometimes necessary yet prefer to rely not on an invasion of Iraq but instead on a less risky combination of containment, pinpoint bombing and assassination.

After all, if it's appropriate to carry out pre-emptive strikes on countries that sponsor terrorism and secretly develop nuclear weapons, then we could launch an invasion today of Pakistan.

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