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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

From Al Qaeda to Iran; Plus, Profile on John Hagee, Christians United for Israel, Jeb Bush and more

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FEATURED ARTICLE

From Al Qaeda to Iran
By Carah Ong

Iran is the barrier to success in Iraq, according to administration officials and its supporters. But Iranian and U.S. interests actually converge, and it’s the administration that’s putting up many roadblocks.
Read full story.

FEATURED PROFILES

John Hagee
The millionaire pastor of a megachurch in Texas, Hagee argues that President Bush’s support for Israel will play a “pivotal role in the second coming” of Jesus. Like many other conservatives, Hagee promotes the term “Islamofascism" but goes further, warning that Muslims have a "scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews."

Christians United for Israel
CUFI, a Christian Zionist organization with strong ties to right-wing political figures, promotes a united Jerusalem and uses neoconservative language on “Islamofascism.”

Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush, the popular former Republican governor of Florida and brother to the president, seems poised to become a presidential candidate in four years if a Democrat wins the White House in 2008.

ALSO NEW ON RIGHT WEB

Olmert on Iran
By Peter Hirschberg

Sometimes portrayed as imminently inclined to attack Iran’s nuclear program, Israel has lately made commitments to diplomacy. Read full story.

Optimism on Iran
By Trita Parsi

The poisonous relationship between the United States and Iran has prevented the two countries from exploring areas of common interest, yet the risk of war has gone down. Read full story.

Losing the Popularity Contest
By Gareth Porter

A new opinion poll shows that few in the Middle East think the “surge” is working, that many believe Iraq would be better off without a U.S. military presence, and that sympathy for al Qaeda is growing. Read full story.

LETTERS

Re: Najum Mushtaq, “Missing the Point in Pakistan,” March 27, 2008

While most of the arguments made in Najum Mushtaq’s article are valid and help describe how Pakistan has become a threat to itself, the writer fails to make a convincing case for why Pakistan should not remain a nuclear power. In fact, I think he is missing the point.

It is naive to think that Pakistan’s people or its government would even consider such a suggestion. Likewise, for the United States, it wouldbe politically impossible to considerpushing this agenda, especially when it is closing nuclear deals with neighboring India.

Pakistan’s interest is to protect its sovereignty and build a strong defense. Its nuclear weapons infrastructure has also served as an educational tool for the country and its elite, helping it to compete with world-class technical and scientific standards and to prevent it from looking upon India with envy.

Mr. Mushtaq rejects the idea of assisting Pakistanin the technical and political know how that countries like the United States and France havelong experience with.But providing that kind of assistance would help diminish old suspicions and belie fears of unwarranted pressure tactics.

Diplomacy and technical assistance aimed at helping Pakistan become a responsible member of the nuclear club is the only way to handle the situation in that country. Other current examples support this case. In the heated situation over Iran’s nuclear program, have demands that Iran not develop its own nuclear capabilities achieved anything? And in North Korea, have we not learned that even exorbitant amounts of money have failed to buy back or destroy weapons and capabilities that took years to develop?

—Ulrike Siddiqi, Honolulu, Hawaii

Najum Mushtaq responds:

Why shouldn’t Pakistan keep nuclear weapons? Because all the major reasons for keeping them—deterrence, national pride, and low-cost “minimum deterrence”—have proved wrong. During the 1999 Kargil conflict, it became abundantly clear that having nuclear weapons would not deter Indian aggression. Estimates of Pakistani casualties vary from 2,000 to 4,000. The humiliation of an unseemly retreat did little to furbish Pakistan’s image as a “responsible member of the nuclear club.” Nor has it proved cheaper to maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent, as compared to boosting conventional forces. Pakistan’s defense budget has gone up significantly every year since the 1998 nuclear tests.

Similarly, it is flawed to say that maintaining a nuclear weapons infrastructure serves as “an educational tool for the country and its elite, helping it to compete with world-class technical and scientific standards,” to quote Ms. Siddiqi. As one eminent Pakistani physicist has said: "Genuine science in Pakistan has actually shrunk, not grown, over the last three decades.”.Rather than investing in the abysmally under-developed and substandard science education and introducing the use of technology in daily life, Pakistan has spent untold and unaccounted for billions of dollars in making weapons that are of no use in war or peace.

The claim that going nuclear has strengthened Pakistan’s sovereignty and independence also sounds hollow, given the direct involvement of the Pentagon through assistance programs to build the capacity of the Pakistani army to ensure safety of the nuclear weapons.

—Najum Mushtaq, Nairobi, Kenya

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Frank Gaffney, director of the hardline neoconservative Center for Security Policy, is a longtime advocate of aggressive U.S. foreign policies, bloated military budgets, and confrontation with the Islamic world.


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