A New Paradigm: Shattering Obsolete Thinking on Arms Control and Nonproliferation

By Christopher A. Ford

Challenging conventional thinking is rarely popular, even or perhaps especially when it is most needed. So it has been with the Bush administration’s approach to arms control and nonproliferation issues. Determined to develop new approaches in arms control, nonproliferation, and strategic policy to deal with the new realities of a post-Cold War era, the administration found itself under fire from those determined to uphold traditional and often outmoded ways of thinking about these matters. Many of its critics doubtless now look forward to the Bush administration’s departure.

Nevertheless, it seems clear that the administration’s nonproliferation innovations are likely to remain valuable components of the next president’s toolkit no matter who wins this year’s election. Moreover, the Bush administration’s efforts to move arms control and strategic policy emphatically into new territory, focused on 21st-century threats and opportunities rather than reflexively pursuing older agendas, will likely stand the test of time better than its critics can today imagine.

Click here
to return to full article.

1 comment:

Chuck Baynton MD said...

"One cannot much blame the Bush administration itself for the misfortune of actually believing the mistaken analyses presented by its own intelligence professionals. The United States, as a whole, acted dramatically on mistaken conclusions, but the Bush administration cannot fairly be faulted for analytical errors by intelligence bureaucrats that began to develop years before Bush took office."

One can blame the Bush administration for behaving as though its options were limited to believing intelligence profesionals and acting on that belief as they did (a strenuous attempt to persuade the world that the analysis was virtually infallible, followed by a disastrous war), or not believing the analysis and...what? If any alternative to war was seriously entertained by Mr. Bush, to this day the American people do not know what it was.

Dr. Ford correctly stresses the importance of being grounded in reality when making decisions that will severely impact millions of people. The reality in this case was that in early 2003, UN inspectors were in Iraq. Iraq was militarily prostrate, subject to daily bombardment with zero success shooting down attacking aircraft.

For Mr. Bush to claim in those circumstances that this was not a vexed decision, that the most militarily powerful nation in history was under such severe and imminent threat from Iraq that the deaths of thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis could not wait another day, that US intelligence was immune to error in ascribing sinister plans to a government the President had already labeled "evil," fell far short of the realism the occasion required.