Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 73, October - November 2003
Opinion & Analysis
A Receding Disarmament Horizon? Lessons From an Era of Retreat and Defeat
By Sean Howard
I. Introduction: Lost and Late in the Search for Peace
There is an old joke about a man from a city, horribly lost in the country, parking his car in a small village to ask for directions. "Where is it you're heading?" the villager asks, scratching his head. The man repeats his destination, glancing at his watch, already late for an important meeting. "Well," the stranger replies helpfully, "if I were you, I wouldn't start from here."
This paper looks back at the course taken by the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime since the first issue of Disarmament Diplomacy was published in January 1996. Although there have been some bright stops along the way, together with some frightening near-misses and a number of damaging collisions, nearly eight years later this passenger can say only two things with certainty: the car is still running, somehow, and we're nowhere near where we need to be. Well, maybe something else: in terms of both repairing the vehicle and finding our elusive destination, I wouldn't start from here.
Things could be worse, however: given the nightmarish blur of dead-ends, cul-de-sacs, wrong turns, pit-stops and detours suffered in the last eight years, we could be forgiven for forgetting what that destination is. The purpose of the journey, sometimes, can seem to be simply to keep the car on the road - process as progress - rather than steering it home. However, in terms of the basic aims and objectives set and periodically reaffirmed by the international community - and, more importantly in my view, in terms of the basic values and aspirations of the vast majority of the people of the world - the great goal, however Grail-like, remains in sight: a planet at peace, radically disarmed, free of the terrible shadow of mass, or even global, destruction; free of the scourge of war. We may not want to start from here, but that's where we have to get to.
Obviously, I am not talking here about all members of the international community, or all people everywhere. The problem would not exist, if sufficient will existed to solve it. But, even lost in the middle of nowhere - or, rather, a growing and darkening zone of conflict and suffering - it is important to remember the enormity and intensity of the global political and public desire for the sustained rise of human security, peace through justice, at the sustained expense of military security, power through force.
The mere existence of this basic desire for a world at peace is, of course, woefully insufficient in itself to bring such change about. The sentiment was overwhelmingly shared and expressed in 1945, for example, with the creation of the United Nations amid the physical and moral ruins of Auschwitz and Hiroshima; and availed us not, as the Cold War poured its countless lives and sums away on arms and empire. The sentiment re-echoed with confidence and impatience with the fall of the Berlin Wall; but the walls of militarism and domination held firm, and are now looming ever larger, the 'peace dividend' - perhaps the most spectacular broken promise in modern political history - all but forgotten. And the sentiment has filled the streets of the world again in recent years, standing in compassionate solidarity with the victims of rabid terrorism and the fanatical military myopia of the new 'anti-terror' crusaders; and the wishes of governments and people again counted for nothing, lost in the glory-clash of fundamentalisms.
The point is made to emphasise that while optimism about the prospects for disarmament would be insane, abandoning the attempt or settling for less - deciding not to start from here - would be unconscionable. Even if it's scrawled on the back of an out-of-date, tattered map, thrown in the back of an old, lost car, we should still remember to keep the big picture in view: war has brought the world to its knees, it's time to choose between them.
II. Then and Now
Then: The Disarmament Outlook in 1996
Disarmament wasn't exactly round the corner in January 1996, but the path ahead was at least clear. The year before, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), brought into force in 1970 for an initial period of 25 years, had been indefinitely extended and provided with considerable extra focus with the unanimous adoption of a set of Principles and Objectives (P&O) for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.1 The P&O - to be evaluated in the context of a bolstered review process - ringingly reaffirmed the "ultimate goals" of the Treaty: "the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control" - in short, the progressive and irreversible elimination not just of nuclear weapons but of offensive military capacity; the establishment of a post-war world.2
In terms of the priorities for nuclear non-proliferation - a key means for achieving these far greater and grander ends - the P&O states: "Every effort should be made to implement the Treaty in all its aspects to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, without hampering the peaceful uses of nuclear energy by states parties to the treaty." In terms of priorities for nuclear disarmament - the cornerstone of a new international order, just as the development and use of atomic weapons marked the end of the long, atrocious epoch of survivable conflict between the major powers - the P&O demands that the "undertakings with regard to nuclear disarmament as set out in the Treaty" should "be fulfilled with determination". The document adds: "In this regard, the nuclear-weapon states reaffirm their commitment, as stated in Article VI, to pursue in good faith negotiations on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament."
A "programme of action" is then set out, specifying three key priority-areas related to "the full realization and effective implementation of Article VI": 1), the "completion by the Conference on Disarmament of the negotiations on a universal and internationally and effectively verifiable Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty no later than 1996"; 2) the "immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory and universally applicable convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices"; 3) the "determined pursuit by the nuclear-weapon states of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons, and by all states of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."
Destination clear, directions provided - all in all, not a bad place to start. In fact, by the time of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva had already made serious inroads towards concluding the first of these objectives, a complete and permanent ban on explosive nuclear weapon tests. In the first issue of Disarmament Diplomacy, Rebecca Johnson reported from Geneva on "the race...to achieve a CTBT in 1996". Surveying the key remaining obstacles in the way of the finishing-line - verification, on-site inspections, and entry-into-force (EIF) - she presciently commented that as endgame "tensions increase, EIF may become a political football that gets through the goalposts at the very last minute."3
Notwithstanding the fraught months of talks clearly looming at the Palais des Nations, the strong sense in January 1996 was that the great prize of the test ban would be delivered by the end of the year - and, therewith, that the gate would be opened to both talks on a fissile materials ban, the mandate for which had already been agreed at the CD, and the "determined pursuit" of disarmament by all five nuclear-weapon states (NWS). While the NPT P&O avoided establishing any simplistic, ABC sequence of actions - test ban, fissban, nuke ban - and instead clearly envisaged an overlapping, three-front offensive, the placement of the CTBT as the lead item in the programme of action was deliberate and logical. Such a ban would impose severe qualitative constraints on the development programmes of would-be nuclear proliferators, thus providing an environment of long-term security and stability for the NWS to work to honour their own fundamental and momentous pledge to disarm. In this way, the many enthusiastic supporters of the P&O approach hoped, a virtuous circle, rather than a false choice, between non-proliferation and disarmament would be established.
A brief survey of the main developments making arms control headlines in the first Disarmament Diplomacy shows both how much momentum was building behind the NPT process, and how many clouds threatened to break over that new, emerging terrain.
On January 26, the United States Senate ratified the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, specifying the reduction of the two former enemies' grotesque, baroque Cold War arsenals to levels of 3,500-3,000 strategic warheads per side by 2003. President Clinton enthused: "I am proud that we have seized the opportunity presented by the end of the Cold War to take this big step back from the nuclear precipice." In terms of future steps, in addition to calling for an early START III agreement, Clinton specified two major objectives, one already signalled, one now overcast by a dark shadow: "We can end the race to create new nuclear weapons by signing a truly comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty this year. We can take the fight to terrorists who acquire terrible weapons of mass destruction if Congress finally passes legislation I proposed after Oklahoma City to give American law enforcement an even stronger arsenal."4
On January 29, French President Jacques Chirac announced "the definitive end" of French nuclear testing, following a final series of six explosions in the South Pacific conducted, to huge public and political opprobrium, between September 5, 1995, and January 1996. Chirac insisted that he was not "insensitive to these movements of opinion" which "testified to the world's inhabitants increasing attachment to collective security and the protection of the environment". The President vowed: "A new chapter is opening. France, as she has pledged, will play an active and determined role in world disarmament."5
The bulk of the Documents and Sources section of the first issue reproduced material from the previous month, December 1995: on the positive side of the ledger, the signing of the South East Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) in Bangkok6; on the negative side, a report from Rolf Ekeus, the Executive Chairman of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), noting "growing concern regarding ongoing activities in Iraq in areas prohibited since the adoption of resolution 687 (1991)".7
The inaugural News Review led with international condemnation of the latest explosions in France's final test series, including particularly heartfelt broadsides in the region ("France is its own worst enemy" - New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger; "France has demonstrated...that there are no limits to its arrogance" - Ieremia Tabai, Secretary-General of the South Pacific Forum). An item entitled 'Concerns rise over India nuclear stance' detailed mounting speculation that the opposition BJP (Bharatiya Janata - Indian People's Party) might conduct a nuclear test if victorious in the April General Election. US State Department spokesperson Glyn Davies told reporters: "India is not, formally speaking, according to the NPT, a nuclear state. Any such tests would be a setback to disarmament efforts internationally - disarmament efforts which India itself has always championed." An important step forward in implementing the October 1994 US-North Korea Agreed Framework was also summarised - the signing of a contract between Pyongyang and the Korean Peninsular Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) clearing the way for the construction of two proliferation-resistant light-water reactors (LWRs) near the North Korean port of Sinpo. The chief US negotiator in the contract talks, Stephen Bosworth, declared: "There are no winners and losers in this negotiation. Both sides have won."
The Blackaby Roadmap: Bringing the Horizon Closer
Providing perspective on this hectic flurry of developments, the first issue also featured a opinion paper - 'Disarmament: the Next Steps for the CD' - by Frank Blackaby, former Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).8 In weighing the opportunities and perils of the time, the often sceptical Blackaby argued that a carefully but ambitiously crafted post-CTBT CD agenda could help tip the balance in favour of the positive momentum for disarmament falteringly generated since the end of the Cold War.
The starting point was simple: what did we want to achieve? The two main answers were - then and now - obvious enough: with regard to conventional weapons, "to stop the killing - to eliminate or at least reduce the risk of deaths caused by military conflict", a process bound to entail dramatic reductions in "world expenditure on preparation for mutual slaughter"; with regard to non-conventional weapons, to prepare the ground for a nuclear-weapon-free world, both through concrete intermediate steps such as a fissile materials ban, and detailed consideration of the Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) - an abolitionist accord comparable to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and Conventional Weapons Convention (CWC) - certain to emerge as the logical outcome of the full implementation of the NPT. In Blackaby's words: "In coming back, then, to the initial question - what needs to be done? - the answer is simply stated. There is, above all, a need to start work on a NWC. The CD has produced Treaties which ban two of the three weapons of mass destruction. It is time for it to turn its attention to the most potentially destructive one of all. The five nuclear-weapon powers cannot argue that this should be left to them, since they have not indicated any interest in starting negotiations among themselves. In any case, this concerns all states - just as the Chemical Weapons Convention concerned all states, and not just those which declared that they possessed stocks of these weapons. The nuclear weapon powers may say that it is premature to think of a NWC. If the negotiations take as long as those on chemical weapons, there is every reason to start now."
This central objective also, as Blackaby appreciated, begged the "central question" surrounding the future of the Conference: "Will the nuclear weapon powers allow the CD to do some serious work on nuclear weapons?" This is where the great merit of the proposed double-focus on conventional and nuclear issues - or rather the single focus, the confluence, on disarmament - shines through: just as nuclear weapons are a legitimate concern for all states, so the nuclear-weapon states' concerns about non-nuclear risks and vulnerabilities should be regarded as legitimate and seriously addressed. And this is also, of course, where the nuclear-weapon states' especial political vulnerability becomes most apparent, as all five states are also major conventional military powers, and significant producers and exporters of devastating and destabilising military hardware.
In bullet-point summary, the Blackaby roadmap for post-CTBT multilateral disarmament reads as follows:
1. Conventional Weapons
2. Nuclear Weapons
Naturally, Blackaby did not expect the CD to suddenly develop superhuman, or superinstitutional, powers of energy and commitment and embrace such a full, impressive agenda in one dynamic, post-CTBT sweep; his intent, rather, was to set out a roadmap of steps and measures to be considered in coming years - though not decades - in which the incremental was oriented to the fundamental by a common set of political coordinates: everybody on the same map.
And why did such a cautious, wary observer of realpolitik diplomacy believe that such coordination was, if by no means inevitable, then certainly possible between states representing the problem - most significantly, the nuclear-weapon states - and states seeking lasting solutions, the shaping of a new international political disposition undistorted by military power, and most perversely the power to kill millions of innocent people? Because, he argued, the alternative to a serious multilateral push for disarmament was an ineffectual, posturing, mutually disadvantageous stalemate - the relegation of the CD to "a relatively unimportant body operating on the fringe of events" - benefiting nobody, and leaving the NWS far more vulnerable in the long run to new, highly destabilising and inherently unmanageable security threats, pre-eminent among them proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction. Given a choice between nuclear disarmament and nuclear possession in a proliferation-resistant environment, which of the NWS would hesitate to opt for the latter, the indulgence of nuclear elitism in perpetuity? But given the choice between nuclear disarmament and the collapse of the nuclear club in the rubble of a proliferated world, which NWS would not see the question in a different political, and even existential, light? A light, as Blackaby's paper concludes, the nuclear-weapon states would sooner or later have to see: "The dominant question remains: will the CD be allowed to get to grips with the problem of banning the third, and most dangerous, weapon of mass destruction - the nuclear weapon? Sooner or later the nuclear-weapon powers are going to have to give way on this, and they might as well do it now."
Now: The Disarmament Outlook in 2003
Well, nearly eight years after the launch of Disarmament Diplomacy, we may not yet quite be standing in the rubble of a proliferated world, but we are certainly confronted with the ruins of the radical disarmament agenda potentially brought within reach by the NPT/CTBT breakthroughs of the mid-1990s.
The CTBT was duly concluded in 1996, and opened for signature at the UN General Assembly that September. India, however, opposed the text, ostensibly on the grounds that it entrenched the advantages of the existing nuclear-weapon states - a transparent veil revealing rather than masking the nuclear ambitions of New Delhi.9 Far more damagingly, the brutally inflexible EIF formula finally forced through the 'goalposts' of the negotiations (ratification by all 44 states listed in the treaty's Annex II as possessing nuclear research and power reactors) proved to be a disastrous own goal,10 elevating acts of opposition by enemies of the CTBT to the status of potential death-blows.11
In October 1999, anti-arms control Republicans in the United States Senate, led by the arch-unilateralist Jesse Helms, refused to look this gift-horse in the mouth any longer, forcing the Clinton administration to submit the treaty to perfunctory debate and decisive defeat.12 The Senate's move dashed any hope that India and Pakistan might be persuaded to join the test ban in the wake of striking perhaps the heaviest blow to the cause of disarmament in the entire, turbulent 1996-2003 period - the sickening series of underground tests in Rajasthan and Baluchistan in May 1998.
In his study of the atomic destruction of Hiroshima, the American author Richard Rhodes wrote: "The fireball flashed an enormous photograph of the city at the instant of its immolation fixed on the...surfaces of the city itself."13 The political as well as physical explosiveness of the May 1998 South Asia tests acted to subject the international nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime to a terrifying double-exposure. On one level, the tests were an attack from outside on the dominant, landmark structure of the regime - the central dome, the NPT; on another level, they exposed the inner weakness, the one-sided construction, of that structure - five states inside the dome, the rest of the world outside. The condemnation of India and Pakistan by the NWS - to coin a departing acronym, the Dome-5 (D-5) - was at best ironic, and at worse hypocritical: if, in the sense of Blackaby's paper, they had 'seen the light', appreciated the fundamental logic of disarmament, earlier, and moved seriously in the direction of fulfilling their Article VI obligations, how likely is it that the disaster of May 1998 would have occurred, would have been politically conceivable?
A month after the tests, the foreign ministers of eight states - Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa, and Sweden - issued a declaration entitled 'A Nuclear-Weapons-Free World: the Need for a New Agenda', launching what they hoped would prove a major, regime-changing initiative.14 In memorable language, quoted since with remarkable infrequency, the declaration develops the abysmal, double-exposure snapshot of the NPT provided by the South Asia tests into a new, or rather renewed, case for radical, urgent disarmament:
"We...have considered the continued threat to humanity represented by the perspective of the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon states, as well as by those three nuclear-weapons-capable states that have not acceded to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the attendant possibility of use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. The seriousness of this predicament has been further underscored by the recent nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan. ... We recall that the General Assembly of the United Nations already in January 1946 - in its very first resolution - unanimously called for a commission to make proposals for 'the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.' While we can rejoice at the achievement of the international community in concluding total and global prohibitions on chemical and biological weapons by the Conventions of 1972 and 1993, we equally deplore the fact that the countless resolutions and initiatives which have been guided by similar objectives in respect of nuclear weapons in he past half-century remain unfulfilled.
We can no longer remain complacent at the reluctance of the nuclear-weapon states and the three nuclear-weapons-capable states to take that fundamental and requisite step, namely a clear commitment to the speedy, final and total elimination of their nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons capability and we urge them to take that step now. The vast majority of the membership of the United Nations has entered into legally-binding commitments not to receive, manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. These undertakings have been made in the context of the corresponding legally binding commitments by the nuclear-weapon states to the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. We are deeply concerned at the persistent reluctance of the nuclear-weapon states to approach their Treaty obligations as an urgent commitment to the total elimination of their nuclear weapons. ...
The international community must not enter the third millennium with the prospect that the maintenance of these weapons will be considered legitimate for the indefinite future, when the present juncture provides a unique opportunity to eradicate and prohibit them for all time. We therefore call on the governments of each of the nuclear-weapon states and the three nuclear-weapons-capable states to commit themselves unequivocally to the elimination of their respective nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons capability and to agree to start work immediately on the practical steps and negotiations required for its achievement."
The declaration adds: "The actual elimination of nuclear arsenals, and the development of requisite verification regimes, will of necessity require time. But there are a number of practical steps that the nuclear-weapon states can, and should, take immediately." This, of course, is the 'double-focus' advocated by Blackaby, and in fact suggested by the letter and spirit of the NPT: implementing a rolling programme of practical steps in preparation for arrival at the final destination - a WMD-free, post-war world.
Ironically, the traditional 'get out clause' for the NWS, invoked to justify a one-sided focus on non-proliferation, was the purported linkage in Article VI between nuclear disarmament and the abolition of war: "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." As noted, the Blackaby roadmap would seek to call the NWS' bluff - or expose their bluster - on this point through concerted, coordinated deliberations at the CD on both nuclear and conventional disarmament and confidence-building measures. More narrowly, it was also important to undermine the NWS' hypocritical stand by de-linking the nuclear and non-nuclear clauses in Article VI. As noted in the New Agenda declaration, the key step in this regard had already been taken. Having expressed their deep concern at the "persistent reluctance of the nuclear-weapon states to approach their Treaty obligations", the foreign ministers' note: "In this connection, we recall the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice in its 1996 Advisory Opinion that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control." This obligation, according to the landmark World Court ruling, was unequivocal, not conditional; it was, precisely, obligatory, not optional.15
At the treaty's April-May 2000 Review Conference, the massive pressures on the NWS - exerted by the South Asia disaster, the righteous indignation of the New Agenda, and the ICJ's shot of legal adrenalin - combined to produce consensus agreement on a series of thirteen "practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to implement Article VI".16 Crucially, step 6 - an "unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament" - was not so much a new action as a final burial of the old, false version of Article VI, linking nuclear and conventional disarmament in order to limit progress down either path.
Taken together, the other specified steps posed an unprecedented challenge to the traditional complacency and double-standards of the NWS; most of all, however, they presented the United States with fundamental choices of direction and priority. The first step - ratifying the CTBT "without delay and without conditions" - was an obvious non-starter barring a significant swing to the Democrats in the Senate, together with the re-election of a Democratic President. For the majority of the Republican Party in Congress, and in the view of the party's likely presidential candidate, George W. Bush, the CTBT typified a flawed approach of seeking to reduce threats to American national security through traditional, diplomatic means - means incommensurable with the pursuit of 'peace through strength', the unabashed development and application of US military-technological superiority.
The fundamental difference between the Democratic and Republican perspectives at this time, it should be noted, did not revolve around the need to combat 'rogue state' threats - the phrase was coined by the administration, not the Congress - nor by the need to maintain the US nuclear arsenal - in splendid isolation from the NPT, the administration's "lead and hedge" 1994 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) called for the long-term retention of a strategic 'triad' of land-, sea- and air-launched systems, backed by a substantial reserve of non-operational warheads17 - nor in the willingness to seek technological solutions to proliferation problems - both the administration and Congress were committed to developing and deploying new defences against limited ballistic missile attack - nor even in the willingness to use military action in pursuit of national security objectives, even without the sanction of the UN Security Council - witness the Kosovo conflict in 1999, and the US-UK aerial bombardment of Iraq in December 1998.
The difference, instead, lay in the view of the Democrats that 'traditional' arms control, both bilateral with Russia and in multilateral fora, remained a valuable, in fact irreplaceable, component of US national security strategy in the post-Cold War world, in contrast to the Republican view that arms control, a necessary evil during the Cold War, was now an unnecessary shackle. Thus, Democrats sought to both retain the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and amend it to allow limited missile defences, while Republicans sought to bury the treaty and rush to build an unconstrained, overarching national missile defence 'shield'; Democrats sought to conclude a qualitatively innovative START III Treaty with Russia18, while Congress sought to move beyond an era of treaties and verification into a flexible nuclear posture defined solely by US strategic requirements; Democrats sought to 'de-emphasise' the role of nuclear weapons in US military strategy and draw a line under the development of new weapons - hence the acceptability of the CTBT - while Republicans viewed an evolving nuclear arsenal as a 'natural' development of military planning and technological development - hence the 'trap' of the CTBT; Democrats supported strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) through a verification and compliance mechanism, while Republicans smiled at the naivety of seeking to catch 'cheats' and 'outlaws' in such threadbare and outworn nets; Democrats supported the provision of diplomatic and economic incentives to North Korea to persuade it to dismantle its nuclear weapons capability and revisit its reckless missile development and export policies, while Republicans viewed such an accommodation as doomed appeasement; Democrats favoured working with China and Russia to achieve a common position on rigorous non-proliferation and export control legislation and implementation, while Republicans viewed Moscow as a diminished but continuing threat, and Beijing as a rapidly-emerging enemy.
Viewed across this divide - fundamentally, a clash of strategy within a similar worldview, a common attachment to a world shaped in the political and socio-economic image of American values and interests - many of the steps in the NPT 2000 action plan appeared either (to Democrats) as prudent and timely measures designed to decelerate evident international trends toward proliferation, or (to Republicans) as snares to constrain a range of vital US foreign and defence policy options. Notable among these 'traps' - aside from steps 1 on the test ban and 6 on the basic Article VI commitment - were step 4 - "establishing in the Conference on Disarmament an appropriate subsidiary body with a mandate to deal with nuclear disarmament"; step 5 - ensuring that the "principle of irreversibility...apply to nuclear disarmament, nuclear and other related arms control and reduction measures"; step 7 - the "early entry into force and full implementation of START II and the conclusion of START III as soon as possible while preserving and strengthening the ABM Treaty"; the multi-heretical step 9 - action "by all the nuclear-weapon states leading to nuclear disarmament in a way that promotes international stability, and based on the principle of undiminished security for all", including "further efforts by the nuclear-weapon states to reduce their nuclear arsenals unilaterally, "increased transparency by the nuclear-weapon states with regard to their nuclear weapons capabilities", "concrete agreed measures to further reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons systems", a "diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies", and the "engagement as soon as appropriate of all the nuclear-weapon states in the process leading to the total elimination of their nuclear weapons"; step 12 - the submission of "regular reports, within the framework of the NPT strengthened review process, by all states parties on the implementation of Article VI"; and step 13 - the "further development of the verification capabilities that will be required to provide assurance of compliance with nuclear disarmament agreements for the achievement and maintenance of a nuclear-weapon-free world".
It was, thus, clear to all that the outcome of efforts to restore a meaningful double-focus to the NPT regime - and, therewith, any focus to the Conference on Disarmament - would be shaped in huge measure by the outcome of the November 2000 US congressional and presidential elections. Previous Republican administrations may have used their strong anti-Soviet political credentials to build a durable arms control relationship with Moscow and pursue US interests within multilateral regimes, but the post-Cold War Republicans had made an obvious strategic calculation that America could now safely and productively exercise a new freedom of international manoeuvre: to the victor, after all, belongs the spoils.
And so - courtesy, bizarrely, of the US Supreme Court rather than the American electorate - it proved. The central project of the Bush administration - to lay the foundation for a 'New American Century'19 by exploiting, to an extent undreamt of by the Clinton administration, the victory of US values and interests in the Cold War - was of course massively shaped by the horror and carnage of 9/11. But in view of the 'from day one' agenda of the new White House, it would be wrong to consider 9/11 a defining moment; rather, the attacks exerted a natural, decisive influence over both the presentation and focus of the already-radical, already-set new strategy. I am not suggesting that the administration exploited September 11 in any shallow, opportunistic sense; without question, however, the administration regarded 9/11 as a vicious attempt to exploit and illustrate perceived US weakness, and thus as an enforced, all-too-real opportunity to demonstrate - and build through demonstration - the will and strength of the new America.
The three landmark foreign policy documents of the first Bush Jr. term - the Nuclear Posture Review20, the National Security Strategy21, and the National Strategy to Combat WMD22 - were all issued in, and saturated with reference to, the traumatic wake of 9/11; but in their political, strategic essence, they were all conceived and framed before - and maybe even in fearful anticipation of - that ghastly morning. Collectively, they describe a world, in effect, 'there for the taking' by an America bold enough to 'answer history's call to action', swift and eagle-eyed enough to pre-empt grave threats wherever they may arise or begin to gather, of wingspan broad enough to hover over and guard the planet whose best hope and symbol of a free future America herself is.
Faced with the deafening clamour of these clarion calls to action and arms, what chance did disarmament's voice of reason have to make itself heard? The Bush administration has signed one arms control treaty since being granted office - the May 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions (Moscow) Treaty replacing the rigorous, irreversible reductions envisaged by the post-START II process (see endnote 18) with a carte blanche for flexible nuclear development within an upper limit of deployed strategic warheads of 1,700-2,200 by the end of (and not necessarily beyond) 2012. For the sake of a treaty of any kind - a foothold on the suddenly looming cliff of US unilateralism, from which treaties were plummeting with dizzying regularity - Moscow was thus prepared to reward Washington's withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, its plans for the deployment of ambitious and expensive missile defence systems even prior to their full technical certification23, and its avowed interest in developing - and, necessarily, testing - new kinds of 'usable', battlefield nuclear weapons24: all within an overhauled doctrinal framework explicitly lowering the nuclear-use threshold through its strident advocacy of a 'mix' of conventional and non-conventional 'strategic options', and its open warnings to launch nuclear attacks against non-nuclear states seen (by the Eagle) willing to contemplate the use of chemical or biological weapons.
Within such an ironic framework - a 'strategic mix' of pro-nuclear and anti-proliferation priorities and perspectives - the disarmament roadmap sketched by the NPT 2000 plan of action is, of course, almost laughably inappropriate - and has, thus, been brought peremptorily crashing to ground. And this is true for both 'wings' of Article VI: not only is nuclear disarmament to be excised from the tablet of NPT commandments (from a treaty which is now described by senior White House officials as enshrining and even valorizing the status of the NWS25); any suggestion of deep conventional disarmament - at least by the guardian military forces of freedom - is likewise treated as beneath notice or contempt.
Outside the nuclear field, the prospects of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) proliferation have been greatly boosted by the Bush administration's forcible removal of the Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) - on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations of mismanagement and incompetence, but in fact in retaliation for his integrity, independence and lack of fear or favour26 - and by its abandonment of efforts to provide the Biological Weapons convention (BWC) with a compliance and verification mechanism.27
And in terms of dealing with specific 'outlaw state' proliferation threats - the fundamental 'proving ground' for the new policy-option arsenal - we have seen a tactically varied but uniformly aggressive approach: militarily, destroying a contained and weakened regime in Iraq (there for the taking); diplomatically, seeking to prepare the ground for regime change in North Korea and Iran (there for the undermining).
One of the most widespread criticisms of the Iraq war was that it was not a legitimate front in the 'war on terror' launched after 9/11 - that there was no clear link, and in fact proven hostility, between Iraq and Al Qaeda. To which the spokespersons for the new Eagle reply, in fluently moral beakspeak, that we don't understand the 'nexus' at the heart of the Axis of Evil: the three-way knot connecting rogue regimes, outlawed weapons and terrorist groups. This broadened definition of the 'war on terror', however, is effectively and deliberately unlimited: in the words of the administration's original name for the campaign - abandoned, along with the word 'crusade', due to religious outcry at its astonishing presumption - Operation Infinite Justice.
As the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom is showing, however, if such a campaign is conducted in an all-too-human manner in its lack of foresight and planning, Operation Inevitable Blowback can quickly and insidiously swing into action. Such lack of foresight, or foreign policy myopia, is hardly unprecedented in the modern history of either the United States or other major powers. The catastrophic, infantile maxim 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' was a key factor in explaining the strength of 'strongman Saddam's' grip on power, and the success of his efforts to acquire WMD technology and materials from both West and East, during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s; application of the same maxim to Afghanistan in the 1980s - supporting Islamist extremists against the 'evil Empire' - was a significant source of post-Cold War terrorism and the rise of Al Qaeda itself. The 'new Eagle' has flown, and crashed, this way before; the fundamental difference now is the rejection of all but the most minimal and provisional, non-binding and one-sided, arrangements with other nations - rolling coalitions of the willing28 - as part of the extension and consolidation of American power and influence in the world.
The problem with 'starting from there', of course - establishing your base on the summit - is that it leaves very little room for others who wish to do more than the Eagle's bidding. However intoxicating the views or heady the air, not only can it get lonely at the top - it's a long way down.
The Blackwill Roadmap: Displacing the Horizon
There is no shortage of striking, stirring examples of the Bush administration's 'view from the summit' - its mountaintop roadmap to the new Century. The Commander-in-Chief himself leads the way with his constant, achromatic, blood-wallowing rallying cries to the black-and-white standard of good-versus-evil29; the more chilling, cerebral moralism of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of State John Bolton - not to mention the deep-freeze righteousness of Vice President Dick Cheney - are never far behind. My own personal selection, however - also qualifying as, out of an impressive field, the single most obnoxious speech I have ever had to edit - belongs to Robert D. Blackwill, until recently the US Ambassador to India and now Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Strategic Planning to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.30
Addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi on July 1731, Blackwill concentrated, naturally enough, on the dramatic change in US-India relations since President Bush took office. Under President Clinton, Blackwill lamented, that relationship was severely retarded - not, as one might expect him to add, by India's decision to cross the nuclear test threshold and plunge the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime into perhaps unprecedented crisis, but by Washington's ridiculous fixation with the issue:
"Always in the foreground in recent years were the 1998 US nuclear sanctions against India and, as important, the administration frame of mind that those sanctions represented. In this regard, India was not seen in Washington as an essential and cooperative part of solutions to major international problems. Rather, India was one of the problems - a nuclear renegade whose policies threatened the entire non-proliferation regime, and which must be brought to its senses so that its nuclear weapons programme could be rolled back to zero. ... It was as if the largest and most powerful democracies had nothing else to talk about except India's nuclear weapons programme... [V]isits of senior American government representatives to India were about as rare as white Bengal tiger sightings in the world."
And then - before 9/11 - "the extraordinary change began", President Bush's "big idea", a "global approach to US-India relations consistent with the rise of India as a world power". Blackwill doesn't go as far as to associate the acquisition of nuclear weapons with the rise to great power status - even though India itself often points to the nuclear-weapon status of the Permanent UN Security Council members. The clear implication, however, is that, in seeking nuclear weapons and status, India is doing nothing out of the ordinary - for a great power - and certainly nothing to be ashamed of or reprimanded for: "No longer does Washington regard India as an acute and abiding international proliferation risk that must be carefully managed and constantly lectured. ... No longer does the United States fixate on India's nuclear weapons and missile programmes. No more constant American nagging nanny on these subjects..."
Always this deep rapprochement between two like-minded powers was already moving fast before 9/11, that "huge shift in the national psychology of the citizens of the United States", in Blackwill's words, produced a much deeper connection, the bond of powerful victims: "America suddenly realized what Indians had tragically known for well over a decade - that there were individuals in the world so depraved, so evil, that they would scrupulously plan and meticulously carry out the large-scale murder of utterly guiltless human beings. Old people. Babies. The sick and the lame."
Of what, then, to Blackwill's mind, consists the roadmap for dealing with the threat from the evil ones, removing the dark cloud from the horizon of perpetual big-power, military-industrial, free-market harmony? Maybe no roadmap is necessary - certainly nothing as elaborate, nuanced and patient as the Blackaby route to a post-war world. Maybe all we need is the courage to absorb and act, consistently and with all means at 'our' disposal (before they fall into 'their' hands), on a single Commandment: "We now know that the best means to end their malevolence is to bring them to justice, or to bring terminal justice to them. That is what the global war on terrorism in its essence is all about. As is my custom, let me be blunt: we must get the terrorists before they get us."
Before they clamber up the mountain, bring it crashing down.
But if that's all the great powers have - terminal justice, the total victory, final solution of destruction - what else do the terrorists have? Allowing for changes of name and place, could not Osama bin Laden deliver portions of Blackwill's speech, echoing his sentiments, and might not Blackwill enthuse over passages, endorsing the spirit, of Al Qaeda's fanatical, self-righteous rantings?
And Al Qaeda and their sick ilk are in Iraq now, enjoying anarchic freedom of manoeuvre in President Bush's self-created "central front" on the war against terror.32 Of course, Bush will "bring 'em on", smoke 'em out and hunt 'em down - but all of 'them', everywhere, permanently? If so - and, of course, until the mountain crumbles, perhaps in a WMD-9/11, it will be an never-ending struggle of proliferating fronts - then one policy consequence towers out over all others: the last route you want to follow is radical demilitarisation33, the decisive, structural renunciation of 'peace' through strength, the great-power 'guarantee' of security via military, including nuclear, superiority.
III. Conclusion: Blackaby v. Blackwill, World versus War
From the perspective of advocates of disarmament diplomacy, of course, there is indeed a guarantee in such a pursuit of violent victory: in an age of weapons of mass destruction, of a planet already rendered weak and fragile from its trampling as a military, political and socio-economic battlefield, the guarantee is not just more war, or a world increasingly blighted by war, but a world ended by war.
A common reaction to 9/11, one I have heard from a number of people and experienced myself, was that it marked 'the beginning of the end of the world'. There have, of course, been many other markings, most obviously and hideously Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the destruction of which - the supremely violent bid, thus far in world history, for total victory - was carried out, in Blackwill's perfect description, by a power, and ultimately by grotesquely overempowered individuals, "so depraved, so evil, that they would scrupulously plan and meticulously carry out the large-scale murder of utterly guiltless human beings."
Rather than seeing 9/11 as the beginning of the end, I now believe it can be viewed - from ground zero, not from the summit - as a further, terrifying acceleration towards that abyss: the final victory of death over life, the final absurdity of the end of life on this still-beautiful planet.
Can that fate be avoided? Is it still too late to embrace and revitalise the Blackaby roadmap, rejecting utterly the temptation to power our way to some ultimately pyrrhic victory, foot down on the Blackwill accelerator? Well, it's certainly late, but maybe not too late - certainly not if the nuclear-weapon states, above all the United States, realise that there is no going back to the old game of double-standards, of playing 'cheat-and-retreat' on disarmament, and most crucially the NPT.
In Disarmament Diplomacy No. 29 (August/September 1998), Harald Müller, Director of the Frankfurt Peace Research Institute, dared wonder aloud whether the South Asia tests might herald "the death of arms control and disarmament".34 If so, as Müller sarcastically noted, the throes would have been long, the symptoms glaring, and the cause far from untraceable: "I always admire the profound inconsistency of those who tell us, in the most sombre tones, that nuclear abolition will be impossible forever because the world is such a nasty place, but, virtually in the same breath, assure us that nuclear weapons are sufficient to keep the peace forever among those who possess them."
Müller's conclusion, like Blackaby's, was that a rigorous, unequivocal commitment to the ultimate objectives of the NPT - and of the UN itself - was the only path leading from final disaster. Believing in those objectives - the double-abolition of weapons of mass destruction and war - is not a question of wishing a dream to come true, but of realising the unsurvivable nightmare of all alternatives. Without the "secure foundation" of such a programme of radical disarmament, Müller wrote, "prospects for avoiding destruction and horror in the next Century on a scale equal, or even worse than, that witnessed in this Century are, terrifyingly, bleak indeed."
As the Century has already shown, that is indeed the road we are on. Our best hope, paradoxically, is that the NWS, now and in the next few years, realise how bleak the prospects for disarmament are; how much blame they must shoulder for that grim truth; and how badly they, no differently from all states and peoples, need, now, a new agenda.
While there's life, there's hope; but only if we realise that the death of arms control and disarmament will be the death of us all.
Notes and References
1. 'Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament', unanimously adopted by the 174 states parties attending the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference, New York, April 17-May 12, 1995; for the full text, see the website of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, http://www.acronym.org.uk/npt.
2. For a thorough treatment of the challenges of creating such a 'post-war' world, see Jonathan Dean, 'Global Action to stop "small wars"', Disarmament Diplomacy No. 22, January 1998. For a comprehensive and detailed programme for the phased abolition of armed conflict, see 'Global Action to Prevent War: a Program for Government and Grassroots Efforts to Stop War, Genocide and Other Forms of Deadly Conflict', launched on February 10, 1999, by Jonathan Dean, a former senior US arms control diplomat, together with Dr. Randall Forsberg and Dr. Laura Reed of the Institute for Defense & Disarmament Studies (IDDS) and Professor Saul Mendlovitz and Dr. John Fousek of the Rutgers Center for Global Change & Governance and the World Order Models Project. Disarmament Diplomacy No. 34, February 1999, pp. 19-29.
3. Rebecca Johnson, 'CTB Negotiations - Geneva Update No. 25', Disarmament Diplomacy No. 1, January 1996, pp. 6-13.
4. 'Statement by the President on the Senate ratification of the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia', White House Press Release, January 26, 1996; reproduced in Disarmament Diplomacy No. 1, p. 14.
5. President Jacques Chirac, statement on French television, January 29, 1996; reproduced in Disarmament Diplomacy No. 1, p. 13.
6. 'ASEAN nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty', a summary of main provisions, Disarmament Diplomacy No. 1, p. 21.
7. 'Tenth report of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission', UN Security Council Document S/1995/1038, December 17, 1995; extracts reproduced in <<a href="../dd01/index.htm">Disarmament Diplomacy No. 1, pp. 22-29.
8. Frank Blackaby, 'Disarmament: the next steps for the CD', Disarmament Diplomacy No. 1, pp. 2-6.
9. The Indian General Election of April 1996 led to the defeat of the Congress party and the emergence of a short-lived (May 16-31) BJP-led government, succeeded for the remainder if the CTBT talks by a centre-left United Front coalition. The BJP's election manifesto referred openly to the possibility of India moving to 'exercise the nuclear option', i.e. testing and deploying nuclear weapons. While this was not the declared position of the United Front partners, the coalition refused to endorse the CTBT, echoing the position of the Congress Party that the treaty should lay disarmament obligations on the nuclear-weapon states recognised by the NPT.
10. The EIF formula was supported by three of the NWS - China, Russia, and the UK - as providing a high level of reassurance to states ratifying the treaty that it would not enter force without the participation of all existing and potential nuclear powers. The remaining NWS, France and the US, feared that the formula allowed too many hostages to fortune and bargaining, shifting undue influence to opponents of the treaty. As a compromise, Article XIV, based on an Austrian/Canadian proposal, anticipated the failure of the formula by allowing for a conference to be convened three years after opening the treaty for signature, and annually thereafter, to explore options for persuading all Annex II states to come on board. See Rebecca Johnson's report in this issue for a summary of the 2003 Article XIV conference.
11. The lesson of the CTBT EIF debacle was not lost on the crafters of the 1997 Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, which entered into force on March 1, 1999, on the first day of the sixth month after the Treaty's 40th ratification. Although a number of major landmine-possessing states remain outside the treaty, among them the United States, China, Russia, India and Pakistan, the Convention's establishment of an international legal norm against anti-personnel landmines (APL) has undoubtedly helped maintain political and public momentum behind the push for global abolition, and contributed hugely to the dramatic collapse of the previously widespread, lucrative export trade in APL.
12. The Senate rejected the CTBT by 51 votes to 48 on October 13, 1999; ratification would have required a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, of the chamber.
13. Richard Rhodes, The Making of The Atomic Bomb, Touchstone Books, 1988, p. 715.
14. 'A Nuclear-Weapons-Free World: The Need for a New Agenda,' Joint Declaration by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden, June 9, 1998; reproduced in Disarmament Diplomacy No. 27, June 1998, pp. 27-29. Slovenia subsequently withdrew from the 'New Agenda Coalition', as the group became known, reportedly under pressure from the United States, and in view of its desire to join NATO, the world's only nuclear-armed alliance.
15. For the text of the ruling, see Disarmament Diplomacy No. 7, July/August 1996, p. 33; for a far-sighted early analysis, see Alyn Ware, 'Bombs Away? The World Court Decision on Nuclear Weapons', Disarmament Diplomacy No. 8, September 1996, pp. 18-20.
16. For analysis of the 2000 Review Conference, and the full text of the programme of action on nuclear disarmament, see Rebecca Johnson, 'The 2000 NPT Review Conference: a Delicate, Hard-Won Compromise', Disarmament Diplomacy No. 46, May 2000, pp. 2-21.
17. For a summary of the main findings of the September 1994 US Nuclear Posture Review, see Nuclear Proliferation News No. 13, October 14, 1994.
18. The provisional outline of START III was agreed by Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin at the Helsinki Summit in March 1997. Numerically, the treaty would have established a ceiling of 2,000-2,500 strategic warheads per side by December 31, 2007. Qualitatively, the treaty would have, for the first time in the history of strategic nuclear arms control, mandated the destruction of delivery systems and warheads. In addition, reductions in sub-strategic or tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) would have been included in the treaty. For documentation from the Helsinki Summit, see Disarmament Diplomacy No. 14, April 1997, pp. 30-36.
19. The phrase 'a new American century' is taken from the title of an independent and highly influential non-profit organization, The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) - websitehttp://www.newamericancentury.org - established in 1997 as part of the pro-Republican New Citizenship Project. In the definition of its Chairman, journalist and writer William Kristol, quoted on the PNAC homepage, the group is "dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good for America and good for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership." On June 3, 1997, the group issued a 'Statement of Principles', signed, among others, by now-Vice President Cheney, now-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and now-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, as well as George W. Bush's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The Statement reads in part: "As the 20th Century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world's pre-eminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievements of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new Century favourable to American principles and interests?" With a clear presentiment of a shattering event such as 9/11, the Statement concludes: "Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs that are associated with its exercise. ... If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th Century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. ... Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences: we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future; we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values; we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad; we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and strengthening an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles. Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past Century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next."
20. The Nuclear Posture Review was delivered as a classified document to the Congress on January 8, 2003. For the text of the unclassified Foreword by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, plus extracts from a January 9 special Pentagon briefing by J.D. Crouch, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, see the 'Disarmament Documentation' section of the website of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0201/doc01.htm. Unclassified portions of the Review were published on the website of GlobalSecurity.org, http://www.globalsecurity.org, on March 14, 2003; for extracts, see 'Disarmament Documentation', http://www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0203/doc08.htm.
21. 'The National Security Strategy of the United States', signed by President George W. Bush, September 17, 2002, submitted to Congress on September 20. For the full text, plus extracts from a background briefing by a senior administration official, see 'Disarmament Documentation', http://www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0209/doc03.htm.
22. 'National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass destruction', The White House, December 2002; unclassified version released on December 11. For the full text of the unclassified version, see 'Disarmament Documentation', www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0212/doc05.htm.
23. For a sample of the fierce, ongoing debate in Congress over the Pentagon's plans to deploy an "initial set" of missile defence capabilities, including missile-interceptor missiles, in Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenburg Air Force base in California in 2004-2005, see the 'News Review' in Disarmament Diplomacy No. 70, April/May 2003, pp. 62-63.
24. The Bush administration is currently exploring options for developing two new types of nuclear weapons: a high-yield 'bunker-busting' Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), which would be designed to destroy deeply-buried and well-protected underground facilities; and battlefield-usable 'mini-nukes' or 'low-yield' nuclear weapons. 'Low' yield is defined as 5 kilotons or below; the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima yielded an explosive force of around 15 kilotons. For details of the controversy in Congress over both systems, see the 'News Review' in Disarmament Diplomacy No. 72, August/September 2003, pp. 72-74.
25. To select one of many examples of the new, positive spin on the NPT, John Bolton, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, repeatedly referred during a press conference in Seoul on July 28 to "the five legitimate nuclear-weapon states". ('John R. Bolton, Press Conference at the US Embassy in Seoul, July 28, 2003', US Department of State transcript; 'Disarmament Documentation', http://www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0307/doc23.htm.) Bolton and other officials also consistently describe the 'bargain' enshrined in the NPT as revolving around Article IV - access to non-military nuclear technology - with no mention of the fundamental non-proliferation/disarmament quid pro quo anticipated in Article VI. As a particularly succinct example, Alexander Vershbow, the US Ambassador to Russia, recently declared: "The cases of Iran and North Korea demonstrate that NPT regime is not working. That regime is based on a simple bargain: if a state renounces nuclear weapons, it can gain access to assistance and technology for developing peaceful uses of atomic energy." ('Russia, NATO, and International Organisations', speech by Ambassador Alexander Vershbow to the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, May 265, 2003; 'Disarmament Documentation', http://www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0305/doc21.htm). Speaking in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on July 18, Professor Joseph Rotblat, co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize with the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, described the consistently inaccurate media presentation of the NPT (where it exists at all) as a gift allowing for such gross misrepresentations to pass unchallenged: "The Bush policy, which is based on the continued existence (and use) of nuclear weapons, is in direct contradiction to the legally-binding NPT. But the Bush administration seems to have managed to convince the public that only a part of the NPT, that part that applies to the non-nuclear states, is valid, and that therefore states which violate it - as Iran now stands accused of doing - must be punished for the transgression. The part concerning the obligation of the nuclear states is deliberately being obliterated. Let me cite two items which recently appeared in British national newspapers... [The first article declares:] 'The treaty seeks to confine nuclear weapons to Russia, Britain, France, China and America.' ... [This formulation] displays the complete reversal of the purpose of the NPT. The other newspaper, none other than The Times, reports similarly: 'It [the NPT] was established to stop the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the original declared nuclear powers...' There is no mention of the obligation of the latter." In the face of this alarming media and thus public ignorance, Rotblat insists: "There is a need to keep hammering home the point that America's stand on the NPT is iniquitous. ... We have to keep highlighting the fundamental inconsistency in the US policy." See 'The Nuclear Issue: Pugwash and the Bush Policies', speech by Sir Joseph Rotblat, President Emeritus, Pugwash Conferences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, July 18, 2003, available from the website of the Pugwash Conferences at http://www.pugwash.org/reports/pac/53/rotblat.htm.
26. For a summary of the US-led ouster of OPCW Director General José Bustani, see Disarmament Diplomacy No. 64, May/June 2002, pp. 28-33.
27. The Bush administration withdrew from negotiations on a protocol to the BWC in July 2001, citing an objection in principle to attempts to verify compliance with the Convention through any legally-binding instrument. Such an approach, US officials argued, would be inadequate to detect clandestine activity, while running the risk of instead intruding on legitimate commercial, academic and governmental research in biotechnology. The US withdrawal effectively brought the negotiations, underway since 1994, to a halt. In December 2001, an American demand that BWC states parties commit themselves to never reopening protocol negotiations led to the acrimonious suspension of the Convention's Fifth Review Conference in Geneva. In November 2002, the Conference resumed and completed its deliberations with the adoption of schedule of meetings to discuss different aspects of strengthening the regime, to be held between 2003 in 2005, in advance of the Convention's Sixth Review Conference in 2006 - by which time, many states parties are devoutly hoping, there may be a new administration and attitude in Washington. For detailed analysis of the issue, see Marie Chevrier, 'Waiting for Godot or Saving the Show? The BWC Review Conference Reaches Modest Agreement', Disarmament Diplomacy No. 68, December 2002/January 2003, pp. 11-16. For analysis of growing concerns that US opposition to a protocol may be motivated in part by a desire to shield a growing range of 'biodefense' research from international and public scrutiny, see Marylia Kelley & Jay Coghlan, 'Mixing bugs and bombs', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October 2003, pp. 24-31.
28. An example of the minimal, coalition-based rather than legally-binding, international cooperation favoured by the Bush administration is the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) announced by President Bush in Warsaw on May 31, 2003. The aim of the PSI - currently involving eleven states: Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK and the US - is to coordinate interdiction of suspected clandestine shipments of weapons and materials of mass destruction, missiles, and other security-risk items. Meeting in Paris on September 3-4, the PSI states agreed a 'Statement of Interdictions' much-praised by the White House. (For the text of the Statement and the White House, see 'Principles for the Proliferation Security Initiative', Statement by the Press Secretary, The White House, September 4.) The problem with such initiatives is not at all the stated intent of preventing and deterring proliferation, but both the creation of a small club of states to act on behalf of the international community, and the severance of such non-proliferation activism from any move to fulfil disarmament obligations and commitments undertaken before, and demanded by, the vast majority of UN states.
29. How other than a blood-curdling glorying in killing can one describe such passages (and there are dozens) as follows? - "All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many have met - a different fate. Let's put it this way - they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. ... We have the terrorists on the run. We're keeping them on the run. One by one, the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice." (President George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003.) No one can doubt the passion or intensity of the denunciation of Al Qaeda expressed by Al Gore as Commander-in-Chief: but would he have used such language, or abandoned all due legal process and resorted to the gloating sadism of Guantanamo Bay, in conjunction with the blatant deconstruction of a range of domestic civil liberties, in his pursuit of terrorist networks? In a speech at New York University on August 7, Al Gore identified a sinister and growing 'dark side' to this aspect of the 'war on terror': "[T]his President has claimed the right for his Executive branch to send his assistants into every public library in America and secretly monitor what the rest of us are reading. That's been the law ever since the Patriot Act was enacted. ... And speaking of the Patriot Act, the President ought to rein in [Attorney General] John Ashcroft and stop the gross abuses of civil rights [perpetrated since 9/11]... The administration hastened from the beginning to persuade us that defending America against terror cannot be done without seriously abridging the protections of the Constitution for American citizens, up to and including an asserted right to place them in a form of limbo totally beyond the authority of our Courts. And that view is both wrong and fundamentally un-American." Speech by Al Gore, New York University, August 7, 2003; 'Disarmament Documentation', http://www.acronym.org.uk/docs/0308/doc04.htm.
30. For the announcement of Ambassador Blackwill's dual-appointment, see 'Statement by the Press Secretary', The White House, August 15, 2003. The statement describes the new positions as "Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Strategic Planning to the National Security Advisor". In terms of job description, "Ambassador Blackwill will work with government-wide policy planning operations to help develop and coordinate the mid- and long-term direction of American foreign policy."
31. 'Robert D. Blackwill, United States' Ambassador to India, Luncheon Address hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, India, July 17, 2003', US Department of State transcript reproduced in 'US Envoy to India says US-Indian Relations will blossom', US Department of State (Washington File), http://usinfo.state.gov/usinfo/products/washfile.html.
32. President Bush described Iraq as "the central front" in the war against terror in a televised speech to the nation on September 7, 2003. 'Address of the President to the Nation, the Cabinet Room, September 7, 2003', The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, September 7.
33. In my experience as editor of the journal, the most articulate advocate of an agenda of radical demilitarisation has been Jayantha Dhanapala, the distinguished Sri Lankan diplomat, President of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, and UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs from 1998 until July 2003. As one particularly powerful example, in a speech to a UN/NGO conference in New York on September 11, 2002, Dhanapala commented: "We meet on the first anniversary of a day of infamy and terror which shook the world. We also meet at a time when war machines are either engaged in conflict or being prepared for war; when global military expenditure was at an estimated $839 billion in 2001 and is rising alarmingly to Cold War heights, and when over 30,000 nuclear warheads remain and 639 million small arms and light weapons are in circulation, fuelling the 24 major armed conflicts we have in the world today. ... To some extent, enlightened national leaders can tame this monster through their own policies and regulations - yet they are most able to accomplish this when they have strong, deep, and widespread support of their respective policies. Here is where the NGO community has its greatest potential for achieving practical results in demobilizing the war machines. ... [I]n particular, this community recognizes the need for networks among often quite different kinds of groups. These networks include legislators, academics, religious leaders, retired public officials, the media, politicians at all levels of government, and innumerable affiliated groups throughout society. Together, these networks...provide both the 'grease' and foundation to sustain a genuine 'disarmament complex' - the ultimate organizational antidote to the war machine." 'Remarks to DPI/NGO Conference Session on "Demobilizing the War Machines: Making Peace Last", by Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, United Nations, New York, September 11, 2002'; UN website, http://disarmament.un.org/speech/11sept2002.htm.
34. Harald Müller, 'Arms Control and Disarmament at a Watershed', Disarmament Diplomacy No. 29, August/September 1998, pp. 2-5.
Dr. Sean Howard is editor of Disarmament Diplomacy and adjunct professor of political science at the University College of Cape Breton.
© 2003 The Acronym Institute.