Letters to the Editor

October 1, 2003

Letters to the Editor

Baran's well written and argued article in last week's In The National Interest suffers from several shortcomings that must be pointed out.


Baran's well written and argued article in last week's In The National Interest suffers from several shortcomings that must be pointed out.  Some of the points she raised have already been disproven by events south of the Caucasus in Iraq.  Still others smack of anti-Russian bias and reflect not having learned the meaning of the events of 9/11.

While her call for democratically-elected presidents is welcome, her expectation of unilateral Armenian concessions on Artsakh (Karabakh) reflects Baran's deep bias on this issue.  The only way left to solve the dispute is partition along the lines advocated by your journal in Kosovo.  No Armenian president, no matter how popular, can deliver the bill Baran asks for.  She would do well to read Keesing's record of events for 1988, to better understand why her demands are impossible.


Turkey, a country Baran holds in heroic esteem, has shown itself to be an independent, non-Western actor in the region.  Its interests in the area are directly contradictory to those of the United States.  It made a lot of money by smuggling Saddam's oil and is now trying to use its influence in the US to crush Iraq's Kurds - who are the only true allies America has in the country.

Encouraging a Turkish Empire in the Caucasus is not in the national interest of the United States, because it will set the country free from its dependence on American mediation and influence with Europe.  It is also foolhardy with regard to the expansion of Islamist ideology.  Turkey's current government reflects moderate Islamist preferences, but will it remain so?  Given the expansion of Islamist influence in Turkey, moderation is highly unlikely in the future.  Furthermore, if a moderate Islamist government was willing to double cross the United States in Iraq, why trust it in the Caucasus?  And what risks to United States interests will be posed by an immoderate government?

The real lesson of 9/11 is that the Russians are not ideological, religious or cultural enemies of the Untied States; radical Islamists are.  So why does Baran continue to advocate a foreign policy premised on containing Russia?

Perhaps the national interest she is keen on promoting is that of Turkey and not the United States.


Jack Kalpakian, Ph.D.



Dear Editor:

In the September 10 issue of In The National Interest, I wrote about the troubling problems associated with relying on arms control agreements, such as the Non Proliferation Treaty, in protecting the United States and its allies from rogue state nuclear weapons programs, such as in North Korea, Iran and Iraq.  Austin Carson, in last week's issue of ITNI, replies that arms control approaches are better than I believe and more useful. In particular, he believes my criticism of the IAEA is wide of the mark, especially regarding Pyongyang.

Carson oversimplifies and misses most of my argument. It is not a question of arms control vs. other strategies, such as defense, deterrence or dissuasion. It is that, if an arms control approach lacks effective enforcement, which the NPT does, it cannot be relied upon to provide for our security.

The IAEA repeatedly gave Iraq a clean bill of health, as Dr. Hamza's book "Saddam's Bomb Maker" makes clear. The IAEA was completely bamboozled by the Iraq campaign of deception. In part, the IAEA was incompetent. This is not entirely due to the lack of leadership of Hans Blix, but much can be placed on his desk due to his bumbling and stumbling, not the least of which is due to his view that global warming is more of a problem than the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The real problem is the world community often pretends that the IAEA and the NPT can deal with these serious issues, but it cannot. The arms control community is so wedded to what Senator Kyl calls "peace through paper" that it has resisted committing itself to the enforcement side of the equation, involving as it does troubling questions of sovereignty.

So we adopt what I term "pretend" arms control agreements that give the appearance of providing security, but, in the final analysis, depend significantly on the host countries own policies and intents. Politicians, particularly liberals and those with a distaste for the US military and contempt for our armed services, are most wedded to this approach, most often to the total exclusion of almost everything else.

Yes, arms control can involve legally recognized inspections. But as we have seen with respect to Iran, Iraq and North Korea, those inspections can lead to the inspectors being fooled, (Iraq), jerked around, (Iran), or frustrated, (North Korea). Between 1985 and 1993, the IAEA said nothing about Pyongyang's clandestine program. After the Clinton administration adopted the Jimmy Carter  "Pyongyang is nice" policy line, we signed up to an agreement that kicked everything down the road, leaving Pyongyang able to adopt a second route toward weapons production, right under the nose of the IAEA and the Clinton administration. IAEA blessed the Clinton-Kim deal. At the end of the Clinton administration, Congressman Allen claimed a final deal with North Korea was done, but the incoming Bush administration ruined everything by refusing to follow through because it wanted a North Korean threat to justify the deployment of a ballistic missile defenses. A former high level Clinton administration official involved in the negotiations with Pyongyang described the "supposed" deal as one in which, the US would pretend North Korea did not have nuclear weapons, and they, the North Koreans, would pretend they did not either.

To claim, as Carson does, that states build nuclear weapons because of U.S. threats turns upside down all of post-World War II history and the successful conclusion of the Cold War. Our adversaries build weapons of mass destruction because they are usually mass murderers and thugs. While it is true that U.S. doctrine did not precipitate the nuclear programs in India and Pakistan, which Carson acknowledges, it is wrong to assert the contrary with respect to other nations. Our nuclear umbrella over the Republic of Korea, not the NPT, allowed the ROK to forgo nuclear weapons. Its principle adversary, North Korea, did not join the NPT until some 30 years after the end of the Korean War. Without the threat to Seoul, there would have been no need for the U.S. deterrent threat to begin with. Great help the NPT was!

Carson concludes that the arms control network, including the IAEA, is "what the U.S. makes of it". What is needed is "enthusiasm", he says, and this then will translate into "legitimacy", which will generate the international support for "proactive proliferation prevention". However, whatever the merits of arms control, they cannot be considered apart from the willingness to enforce them as tools of international diplomacy. I have conducted roughly 750 seminars on Capitol Hill over the past quarter century on arms control issues. I was an enthusiastic supporter of the INF, CFE and START treaties, because the US had the technical capability to "count the beans" in question, to paraphrase the late Secretary of Defense, Les Aspin. However, we were also willing to acknowledge, in the words of former Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming, "that diplomacy without military power is prayer". Effective arms control can be very helpful, but we have to keep our eye on the ball-it is our adversaries weapons we need to control, not ours.

Fred Iklé wrote over 40 years ago a seminal article on what "the good guys" should do once we find a violation of arms control commitments. "Then what?" Iklé asked, because few had given thought to the very difficult question of how one compels state compliance-let alone non-state terrorist groups-to abide by internationally agreed upon norms which they have every intention of ignoring if they can get away with it. Remember the North Korean moratorium on missile tests? How the arms control community assured everyone that this was "proof" of Pyongyang's intent to live up to its part of the 1995 bargain with the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea? And then, like in the Wizard of Oz, someone pulled the curtain away and informed us the North Koreans are busy shipping their rockets to Iran for testing.

Yale Professor Paul Bracken notes that the old counter-proliferation regime ran out of steam and pretended to be more successful than it was. It led us to avoid the tough choices that the Bush Administration has had to face. Combining deterrence, strategic defense, homeland security, military options and arms control, that takes into account the new realities of what he calls the second nuclear age, is the way to proceed.


Peter Huessy, President

GeoStrategic Analysis

Washington, DC