Biden Courts the Non-Aligned on Nukes

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joe biden vp 2010.jpgVice President Joe Biden has been quietly carrying the water on tomorrow’s Nuclear Summit since Barack Obama got the keys to the White House.
The challenge of convincing major global stakeholders and other key non-aligned nations to work towards tighter nuclear materials controls and to cooperative arrangements to shut down nuclear trafficking is not a sexy topic except for those who think and breathe WMD stuff all the time.
However, after the release of the revised Nuclear Posture Review by the White House, the signing of a new US-Russia START Treaty, the convening of nations this week at a Nuclear Summit — all leading to restored American engagement in a revitalized Non-Proliferation Treaty review process — the media and many Americans are now taking stock of the considerable work that has been done behind the scenes.
And today, Vice President Biden may have helped push a new “global social contract” on global security and safety a bit further by hosting personally at his private residence a unique lunch with the presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers of twelve significant non-aligned nations.
Countries represented included Algeria, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, and Vietnam. US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice participated as did Biden National Security Adviser Antony Blinken.
The meeting today mostly focused on the NPT review conference to take place in May. Biden made the claim that this was a crucial moment and that global stakeholders will either reinvigorate the NPT or see it further unravel as it started to do in 2005 when Dick Cheney and John Bolton’s acolytes were running the show.
From early reports, there was significant receptivity among the delegations represented — even when it came to some tough talk discussion about strengthening verification and consequences for violations. One attendee reported to me that there was “a very positive and constructive atmosphere.”
This is significant — because some of the nations represented are among those that might be driven to either begin building their own fissile material production capacity, or to acquire WMDs of their own if they don’t see a major correction to the eroding global commitment to non-proliferation.
The quid pro quo for support of these key non-aligned nations is not only general security for the global commons, but greater cooperation and more dependable protocols in sharing nuclear technology used for peaceful purposes.
As I write tomorrow in a lead op-ed for Politico, the combined efforts of the President and Vice President, the National Security Adviser, the Secretaries of Defense and State — standouts like Obama national security confidante and NSC chief of staff Denis McDonough, OSD’s Jim Miller, National Security Council Director for Defense Policy Barry Pavel, Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher, State Department Deputy Policy Planning Director Derek Chollet — also the NSC’s Gary Samore and Rexon Ryu — really came together in a way that should be seriously modeled and studied to bring more strategic depth and success to other areas of the national security portfolio that are flagging. Israel/Palestine is a major case in point.
Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, according to one source, has worked at an “insane” rate to try and pull off this package of nuclear deals and posture statements. A source reports that he facilitated more than 30 Deputies meetings and 12 Principals meetings — which is huge.
Some think that there is not much in this Summit. I totally disagree. It’s the package, the sequencing, the strategic enmeshment of big states and smaller ones — and the absence of national and personal ego that makes this so important.
This kind of institution building seems to me to be something for more potentially compelling to an Iran or North Korea than bilateral jabs in official speeches, sermons, or sanctions.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

26 comments on “Biden Courts the Non-Aligned on Nukes

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    The initial pattern of nuclear development was hindered by technology. Major movers decided such and basically patterned limited development along lines that balanced strategic interests.
    Now it is supposedly enabled, especially peacefully. Many think this leads to armament acceleration. In real terms the opposite is so, thanks again to technology.
    The market wants to create a reason for Star Wars(tm) and balance it vs. true security concerns.
    Two sides are needed to have this, so both can become part of the Star Wars market. If that is the case it returns to a zero sum item and both sides are once again playing tip-toes with deployment.
    A better assurance relies upon deterrent response. Again, part of the 80’s “on alert” model.
    We used to have planes go on alert and then time emergency landings(and dump their entire fuel load before their first approach) and then place them on alert status to be air fueled again so the landing was cancelled, on the same SAC bomb wing here. We had a bomber wing and fueler/transport wing.
    You know how much money the KBR types made on those excercises? They included flight level comparisons to try and determine ground exposure toxicities for fuel dipersals. The field bordeing the airbase had several strips of dead crops from the level determined to be most hazardous(literally). Usually the stuff dissipates, but some guys were really pushing the envelope there.
    Either way we’re trying to find a reasonable range of deployment to the point we can continue the same kind of deterrence shuffle. A MAD game that can lock us into long term predictable revenue levels for certain industries. This isn’t really an era of change in that regard, we are striving for a return to abnormalcy.
    Those slide rule wonks with NASA pocket protectors on their chests still are channeling Rumsfeld. We will find a high revenue way of playing poker bluff with budgets and weapons.

    Reply

  2. Sweetness says:

    Paul…sounds plausible.

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    Yeah, Kotz, let our intelligent readers judge on that.
    ——————–
    Unrelated – but related to the topic of this post – here is an
    interesting excerpt from Stephen Walt’s take on China’s
    approach to sanctions against Iran:
    “Second, China is sanguine about the prospects of an Iranian
    bomb because it has a more realistic view of what that
    development would mean. China’s leaders know that they didn’t
    gain a lot of geopolitical clout when they tested their own
    nuclear weapon in 1964, and being a nuclear power didn’t
    enable them to dictate or blackmail Taiwan, Vietnam, the
    Koreas, or anyone else. China’s rise to great power status was
    driven by its economic development, not its modest nuclear
    arsenal, and Bejing knows that same would be true for a nuclear
    Iran. While China would probably prefer that Iran not develop
    nuclear weapons, it hasn’t succumbed to worst-case paranoia
    and isn’t willing to pay a large price to prevent that from
    happening.
    Furthermore, keeping the U.S.-Iranian pot simmering (but not
    boiling) is in Bejing’s long-term interest. America’s ham-handed
    involvement in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia has been a
    tremendous strategic boon for Beijing, and they undoubtedly
    feel a profound schadenfreude as they watch the Uncle Sam
    expend trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan while
    simultaneously maintaining an icy confrontation with Iran. After
    all, the more time, money, attention and political capital we
    devote to Iran, the less we can focus on China’s long-term
    efforts to build influence in Asia and eventually supplant the
    U.S. role there. Plus, bad relations between Washington and
    Teheran creates diplomatic and investment opportunities for
    China. The last thing Bejing wants is a prompt resolution of the
    Iranian nuclear issue, because it might pave the way for a more
    substantial d

    Reply

  4. kotzabasis says:

    Norheim
    With your riposte above and continued incoherent contradictory and unimaginative argument, it is for others to judge who has a ghostly existence.

    Reply

  5. JohnH says:

    You could make a pretty good argument that terrorism is a net benefit to countries like Israel.
    On the one hand, the costs are very low. They have had almost no casualties in the last few years.
    On the other hand, Israel benefits enormously from terrorism. They get to play the role of victim, gobbling up privately owned Palestinian land without compensation, developing high tech security industries, and all the while getting lots of sympathy and big bucks from the diaspora and from dear Uncle Sami. (sami means semitic in Arabic. I used to think that Uncle Sam was a white European! But now his loyalties lie elsewhere!)

    Reply

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66186/john-mueller-and-mark-g-stewart/hardly-existential
    Hardly Existential
    Thinking Rationally About Terrorism
    John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart
    Sumnmary: Many people hold that terrorism poses an existential threat to the United States. But a look at the actual statistics suggests that it presents an acceptable risk — one so low that spending to further reduce its likelihood or consequences is scarcely justified.

    Reply

  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “This exchange demonstrates once again that you are incapable of balancing threats and values, instead thinking solely in either-or terms: either total Western dominance and control, or grand scale apocalypse.
    What the hell did ya expect from someone mentored by a roo?

    Reply

  8. Paul Norheim says:

    “…this existential scale of life and death in a sixty year war
    deploying nuclear weapons” is your fiction, not mine.
    My point is that terrorism as a tactic – employed by different
    smaller or larger groups, loosely or tightly networked, or not
    networked at all – could as a phenomenon be lasting for
    decades or generations, regardless of the intensity. It could last
    very long even as a low key threat – sometimes here, sometimes
    there, for a while by this group, later by that, and so forth –
    without threatening “Western civilization” as such.
    There are still no signs of a monolithic “formidable enemy”
    threatening civilization as such, requiring draconian measures,
    emergency legislations, deporting or interning Muslims etc.
    These hysteric, apocalyptic fantasies reside as ghosts in your
    mind and should remain there.
    This exchange demonstrates once again that you are incapable
    of balancing threats and values, instead thinking solely in
    either-or terms: either total Western dominance and control, or
    grand scale apocalypse.

    Reply

  9. kotzabasis says:

    Norheim
    Unaware you are demolishing your argument by your own reasoning. Is it conceivable to you that a war that could last, according to you, fifty sixty years obviously with a formidable enemy who can deploy his forces for that long against the powerful forces of the civilized world and by then armed with WMD and nuclear weapons and attacking the cities of the world by external and internal terrorists by such weapons, that such attacks will not bring in their train the erosion of constitutional rights in democracies? The governments of the West will be forced to bring draconian measures of vigilance to protect their people and will enact emergency legislation that would either deport or intern Muslims living in their countries. Even Lincoln had to suspend habeas corpus in the civil war and Roosevelt had to intern American-Japanese in comparative shorter wars.
    Will you be still seeking your will-of-the-wisp “balance” between “threats and constitutional rights” on this existential scale of life and death in a sixty year war deploying nuclear weapons?

    Reply

  10. Tony C. says:

    re: malware at Haaretz
    No problem with a Mac!

    Reply

  11. Paul Norheim says:

    Kotzabasis,
    what and who are we fighting?
    Terrorism as a political, religious and military tactic?
    Islamists from different parts of the world, attacking mostly US,
    European, and Israeli targets?
    If we assume so – when did this kind of terrorism start?
    With the second, or the first attack on World Trade Center –
    almost twenty years ago?
    Or perhaps in Beirut in the 1980s?
    In Libya? In Tehran in 1979?
    Or with Black September in Munich, 1974?
    I guess not even historians would agree on exactly when this
    started, but let’s assume that it was roughly a generation ago.
    If you have read, say Bob Woodward’s Bush portraits from his
    White House years or other more or less reliable sources, they
    all say that the politicians and the high ranking military people
    after 9.11. said that the GWOT would last as long as the threat
    was there; and most of them estimated that this could take at
    least a generation, perhaps more. Due to the nature of the
    beast, this is of course difficult to predict.
    So, when did the threat occur? Could we agree on roughly one
    generation ago? And the war on terrorism started, say one
    decade ago with 9.11?. And will probably last for one more
    generation, perhaps… Or perhaps two? That’s somewhere
    between 60 and 100 years of terrorist actions and threats, Kotz,
    and one or two generations of a war fighting terrorism.
    Most wars do not last for 50 to 100 years, thus those
    extraordinary powers last shorter too.
    In a democracy this creates certain challenges that were less
    problematic, or even irrelevant in the old European monarchies
    and other authoritarian regimes.
    The crucial question within democracies is: What happens to a
    society where the constitutional rights are dispensed with, not
    for five or ten years, but for a generation or two?
    Do you regard this as a legitimate question, Kotz, or do you
    simply dismiss it as leftist laments or abstract luxuries from a
    fictional world?
    Do you see the need to balance threats with constitutional
    rights, or are the latter just irrelevant abstractions in times like
    ours?
    In my view, these are crucial questions that go far beyond the
    left/right divide and stupid partisan fights currently dominating
    the US political scene.

    Reply

  12. kotzabasis says:

    Norheim
    You must have sprang Athena-like from Zeus

    Reply

  13. Paul Norheim says:

    The big paradox is that the most fervent supporters of
    undermining the constitutional rights in the name of the War On
    Terror, are exactly the same people who claim that the terrorists
    hate and try to eliminate our freedom. If there was any coherence
    in their ideology, they would appreciate the challenge of
    balancing threats with constitutional rights, instead of putting the
    whole issue in the “being-soft-on-terror” box.

    Reply

  14. Elizabeth Miller says:

    So, Steve … are you now saying that Vice President Biden should keep his job? Hmmm? 🙂
    Of course, I’m just pulling your leg. Nice piece!

    Reply

  15. JohnH says:

    The problem of the perpetual “war” is that what would ordinary have been a fairly routine but high priority police investigation of criminal elements–terrorists–has been escalated into hot wars involving lots of troops, drones, etc. who do little more than kill a lot of civilians, creating additional, local terrorists who have no international agenda.
    But the other effect of the perpetual war is a pernicious erosion constitutional rights.
    Strange that TWN never addresses the question of what the strategic rationale for all this might be…

    Reply

  16. Dan Kervick says:

    I was able to get rid of that malware, but it was hard. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the link to the page I found that identified all of the files that have to be cleaned out of the registry.

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    Of course JohnH isn’t a dweller of a fictional world anymore than
    Kotz is: The challenge is to balance real threats with
    constitutional rights – especially when we deal with a kind of
    “war” that may be a more or less permanent factor, and not a
    temporary one with a clear beginning and end.

    Reply

  18. kotzabasis says:

    JohnH
    You are a dweller of a fictional world. The attacks in New York, London, Madrid, and Bali weren’t real and the enemy is a fantasy and the threats issuing from them are ‘fictional’ to you?

    Reply

  19. Paul Norheim says:

    Thanks POA.
    Interesting. One commenter there said: “This seems to be an
    ongoing problem on haaretz.com, and I

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Paul and Dan, check this out…..
    http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/beware-of-the-zionist-trojans/
    I still haven’t managed to get rid of the malware I picked up from Haaretz.

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I could use a little help over here….
    http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/04/12/4149817-on-the-rachel-maddow-show-tonight?threadId=840452&commentId=13539940#c13539940
    …the narrative needs to change. We need to DEMAND that it does so.
    Aren’t you tired of them feeding us horseshit yet?

    Reply

  22. ... says:

    it seems they changed some settings on mondoweiss and my old bookmark didn’t work… i have found it – thanks –
    http://mondoweiss.net/

    Reply

  23. ... says:

    lets hand it over to those who would like to turn planet earth into a war zone 24/7… for leadership we can turn to the usa, a country that never saw an opportunity for war it didn’t want miss….
    talk in the news must now center on nuclear disarmament… it is called ‘how to keep the focus on iran’ 24/7 which is just another way to stay close to the war 24/7 mentality driving usa’s foreign policy…. watch for iran to screw up on some level, according to these same masters of war and for the rationale to be given as to why war has to happen…
    anyone know what happened to accessing the mondoweiss site? i guess they were too radical for the powers that be, confronting bs with truth…

    Reply

  24. JohnH says:

    Yes, kotz, wars of choice and little to show for them but a dramatic erosion of American constitutional rights. A threat is always used as the justification for terminating people’s freedoms.

    Reply

  25. kotzabasis says:

    JohnH
    You are insatiably indulging in adolescent wet dreams. America is at war and the “laws of stern necessity, to quote Edward Gibbon, have often TEMPORARILY to put aside other laws during a state of war. That has happened throughout history and Bush and now Obama merely execute this verdict of history, and not “supposed privileges” as you stolidly claim.

    Reply

  26. JohnH says:

    Under Obama’s new rules, the US could have nuked Iraq, because everybody was “convinced” that Iraq was not in compliance with the NPT. Reassuring, isn’t it?
    And Obama reserves the right to assassinate an American, suspected of supporting Al Qaeda.
    Message is, the President determines what the law is, just like George Bush. Saddam Hussein took the same view of his powers, though Bush and Obama have been more restrained thus far in the application of their supposed privileges.

    Reply

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