Showing posts with label defense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label defense. Show all posts

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Views from Japan on the air-defense zone recently claimed by Beijing

Views from Japan on the air-defense zone recently claimed by Beijing

1  Excerpts from Japan Questions China's Policing of Defense Zone. By Yuka Hayashi
Officials Also Address Apparent Differences With U.S. Over Response
Wall Street Journal, Dec. 1, 2013 11:50 a.m. ET
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303562904579230894060384128

"I was taken aback when I heard this," Yukio Okamoto, a former senior foreign ministry official, said in an interview Sunday with NHK. "I can't think of any case like this in the past where the U.S. took a step that hurt Japan's interests over an issue related directly to Japan's national security in a way visible to the whole world."
 
"We have confirmed through diplomatic channels that the U.S. government didn't request commercial carriers to submit flight plans," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday during a visit to a regional city.

Speaking privately, Japanese officials say Washington has yet to coordinate views among different branches of the government and come up with a unified stance that can be conveyed to Tokyo properly.
[...]

Satoshi Morimoto, a former defense minister who teaches security at Takushoku University, said defense minister Onodera's remarks suggest China wasn't able to "conduct a scramble against American planes even as they flew through its new zone." Japan must determine whether China has the capability to monitor the whole expanse of its new ADIZ using radar located on the mainland and whether its pilots have the experience and expertise to go after foreign planes, Mr. Morimoto said on the NHK program.


2  a Japanese citizen:

実際この問題は簡単ではないと思われるが、日本としては、アメリカには中国の理不尽な行為及び要求を一切認めないよう望んでいる(日本政府は各航空会社に対して、中国の要求に答えないよう通達した)。日本とアメリカが一枚岩でこの件に対処すべきだとの考えが支配的である。ただ、アメリカと日本では航空会社に関する事情が異なるのは理解できる。
今後のバイデン副大統領との会談で日米の協力を確認することを期待する。まさかアメリカが中国に宥和的に方針変換することはないと信じたいが...。
この問題には韓国も絡んできており、複雑化している。今後どうなっていくのか注視せざるを得ない。
[transliteration: Jissai kono mondai wa kantande wa nai to omowa reruga, Nihon to shite wa, Amerika ni wa Chūgoku no rifujin'na kōi oyobi yōkyū o issai mitomenai yō nozonde iru (nipponseifu wa kaku kōkūkaisha ni taishite, Chūgoku no yōkyū ni kotae Nai yō tsūtatsu shita). Nihon to Amerika ga ichimaiiwa de kono-ken ni taisho subekida to no kangae ga shihai-tekidearu. Tada, Amerika to Nihonde wa kōkūkaisha ni kansuru jijō ga kotonaru no wa rikai dekiru. Kongo no baiden fuku daitōryō to no kaidan de Nichibei no kyōryoku o kakunin suru koto o kitai suru. Masaka Amerika ga Chūgoku ni yūwa-teki ni hōshin henkan suru koto wa nai to shinjitaiga.... Kono mondai ni wa Kankoku mo karande kite ori, fukuzatsu-ka shite iru. Kongo dō natte iku no ka chūshi sezaruwoenai.]

honestly, we Japanese has been sick and tired of China's movements lately... some journalists analyze Xi _jinping can't control the force any longer. and underground disorder's coming overground.

a citizen

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Views from Japan: Nuclear Weapons

Views from Japan: Nuclear Weapons

Questions to a Japanese citizen:

konnichiwa, dear [xxx]-san

I was reading the book "Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age: Power, Ambition, and the Ultimate Weapon" by Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes (Editors), and there is a chapter on Thinking About the Unthinkable - Tokyo's Nuclear Option

We'd like to publish a post and would like:

1  to have arguments in favor and against (specially in favor, since we never see them published) such nuclear option, made by Japanese politicians;
2  to have your opinion on this.

[...]

Thank you very much, sir.

[signature removed]


---
Answer (edited):
konnichiwa,

how are you going? it's been incredibly hot these days... I almost start melting.

sorry, I haven't read the book. so i'm not very sure my opinions match to your point. anyway, I give you what I see and think. is it about nuclear weapons? (or total nuclear power?) i refer nuke weapons for this moment. please let me know if you need more about nuclear in japan.

1.it seems 3 big opinions among politicians (and citizens too) :

#1. it's better to have nu-bombs. because we are facing dangers of Chinese and North Korean nukes. it's the only way to be against nukes.

#2. let's talk and think about nuclear weapons to possess seriously now. it's actually been the biggest taboo in japan even only to talk about the option because of our experiences of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and recently Fukushima which are big trauma for us. I can call it "nuclear allergy". but we are indeed surrounded and threatened by nu-weapons of China and Korea now. it's the time to think about it... and even just the debates will be able to restrain China and Korea (they know our technology is good enough to make nu-weapons immediately if we try).

#3. nobody should even talk or think about it. all nuclear in the world just should be thrown away and banned. because we've learnt from the past



#2 seems the most major opinion, #1 is a sort of extreme... #3 is mainly supported by liberal people. extreme on the other side.


2. my opinion: I used to think like #3, but slightly have changed to #2. I'm sure #3 is right, but too much ideal. no matter how japan says this to the world, no countries will abandon them (at least near future).

japanese people's been used to live in peace by American forces, however people's started to realize no peace for free. i think we are on the way to "normal" country.

please don't understand me, I believe almost all of people don't want to have nu-weapons in real, people's just getting more serious to think about what our country is and what is the best for us.


I wish I got points you need. mail me if you have something not sure.

best regards(^_^)/

[signature removed]

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why China Frets Over America's Retreat. By Daniel Blumenthal

Why China Frets Over America's Retreat. By Daniel Blumenthal
The Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2013, on page A17
Usually Chinese leaders decry Washington's foreign-policy aggression. That won't be an issue at this week's summit.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324412604578515853119610968.html

When Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with President Obama in California at week's end, Mr. Xi will confront a new strategic reality: America in retreat. Chinese leaders normally complain that Washington is too aggressive. But what should really worry Beijing is the opposite—a bipartisan U.S. consensus for a foreign policy of retrenchment. As much as China aspires to global leadership, Beijing has neither the wherewithal nor the desire to take on the responsibilities that come with that role.

Since the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, Sino-American summitry has followed a pattern to which both countries have grown accustomed. Beijing complains of U.S. heavy-handedness. Washington complains that it shoulders all the burdens of global leadership and asks China to play a more responsible and prominent role in world affairs.

Neither country is serious while doing this minuet. At best Washington is conflicted about a greater leadership role for an authoritarian China. For its part, China has become accustomed to the benefits of a post-World War II American-led (and paid-for) global compact that includes freer markets, more peaceful international relations and more liberal governments.

The temptation to repeat this dance will be great this week. Presidents Xi and Obama will be meeting during a period of deep mutual suspicion. The downward spiral of distrust began in 2009 over escalating tensions about territory between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors, and it reached a new low when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a "pivot" toward Asia in 2011.

The pivot strategy has two pillars. The first is a positive desire to deeply embed the U.S. in all of Asia's increasingly vibrant political and economic life. The second is a reaction to growing Chinese dominance in the region, and the resulting clamor—from America's regional allies and in the U.S.—for Washington to counterbalance predatory Chinese military power.

China chose to hear only the second part of the pivot strategy, reacting to it as Cold War-style containment with Asian characteristics. Relations between the two powers have been frosty since then.

Yet if Mr. Xi examines U.S. foreign policy more closely, he will see that Beijing is worried about the wrong things. The problem is not too much American power. It is too little.

Consider recent events in Washington: Mr. Obama announced the end of the war on terror without evidence that the conflict had ended and denied leaks suggesting the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria. He ignored a new International Atomic Energy Agency report suggesting that Iran is making huge progress in developing nuclear weapons, and refused efforts to restore draconian cuts to the U.S. military budget.

In response—a few outliers notwithstanding—Congress, including Republicans, remained silent. This marked a significant shift. Once the tribune of American global leadership, much of the right now marches in foreign-policy lock step with a left that has little interest in the exercise of U.S. power. This left-right neo-isolationist alliance is a recipe for global chaos—an outcome more harmful to China than the big-footed America that China is used to complaining about.

Why? Because despite China's politically correct paeans to international institutions and multilateralism, Chinese leaders well know that international politics needs a prime actor willing to provide global public goods such as secure maritime trade, peace between great powers, nonproliferation, counterterrorism and leadership on international trade and investment.

If the U.S. abdicates its role, China is the only other nation in line for the post of prime power. Is China ready to assume primacy in the international community? The answer is no.

Granted, China is active on the world stage. Recently President Xi announced proposals for Arab-Israeli peace and a Syrian cease-fire. Once again, Beijing prodded North Korea to open up and reform its economy. But peace proposals, state visits and commercial diplomacy cannot maintain world order.

Taking the global leadership reins from the U.S. would require incurring real costs, taking big risks, using political capital and, if necessary, expending blood and treasure. If China wanted to lead the world, it would build a navy capable of protecting—rather than disrupting—sea lanes. It would contribute to the fight against terror and help to keep cyberspace an open commons for commercial transactions and the sharing of ideas. It is doing none of these things.

Think of it this way: Does China wish to anger anyone in the Middle East by taking sides in Syria or pressuring Iran? Manage the collapse of North Korea? Steward a new era of free trade? Push back al Qaeda?

Chinese leaders appear not to give much consideration to taking on these tasks, nor has Washington thought through what a world with no leader would look like. Does a global system of anti-democratic regional hegemons, spheres of influence, and exclusive trading blocs really appeal?

For all of these reasons, this could be a truly pivotal summit. As counterintuitive as it may seem, for the first time since the Soviet collapse China has an interest in America acting more, not less, assertively in foreign affairs.


Mr. Blumenthal is the director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Q&A session with a Japanese citizen on contemporary politics

The comments of a Japanese citizens on politics and our questions:
[...]

- what do supporters of Tokyo's governor say about him? I always read comments against him, but he wins the elections, so there are lots of (silent) supporters.

our present PM Shinzo Abe is supported by citizens pretty well so far. he showed a policy for economics called "Abenomics" lately. then even though nothing's done yet just show it to us, stock prises' been rising and rising, curency rate's been much better (Yen got too much strong and international exporting companies as even Sony, Panasonic or Toyota were getting big loss for these 3 years).

also, his strategy of international is evaluated. former government always compromised to Chinese or Korean's unreasonable accusations just for economical reasons. but he is trying to build a strong relationships between South-east Asian countries, Australia, India and Russia. especially SE Asian countries welcome this because they've been threatened by Chinese forces, they've actually wanted Japan to have leadership against China.
he seems doing very fine now.

i have to say many of japanese medias have big problems... many people in medias are kind of "traitor". they pick up "noisy minority" and show it just like the majority to give Japan bad names to the world... it's fine if their opinions are to make things better, but just critisise. it will be too long if i explain this.

Question: what do supporters of nuclear arms say? I always read assurances about the Japanese not wanting the A-bomb, but from time to time some politician says that Japan is considering protecting herself (against North Korea and China)

i think there are not many supporters of nuclear arms. some polititians and scholars are saying to discuss it. because almost all of Japanese has a sort of allergy for nuclear weapons (it comes from trauma of WW2) and even discussions are taboo. indeed, even though we have been aimed by Chinese and maybe Korean A-missiles. so they are claiming to get out of trauma now. also they say even only discussion will be a detterent to the countries. (personally i agree with them, we don't need to have it, but it's nonsense not to even talk). recently it seems peoples who agree with it has been increasing.

PM Abe is trying to have a good relationship between US, but on the other hand, trying to protect ourself with proper forces. and it's generally supported by majority (at least it seems so to me). almost all of people likes US better than China in politics, but lately people started to think stand by ourselvs.
actually now is the turning point of Japan after WW2 i think...

if you want to understand how Japanese are, it might be important to understand "Shinto". it's a domestic thoughts/philosophy of Japan, quite religious but not religion. it says we have 8 million gods in our land - god of fire, god of wood, god of sea, god of marrige, god of traffic, god of study... so we should thank to everything, be good and respect others. it is the base of moral of Japanese, we are brought up with it by our parents. it's easy to accept other religion for Shinto, because any god or buddha of other religions can be one of the god. (Japanese buddism are a lot influenced and mixed with Shinto). our Tenno (emperor) is regarded as offspring of the god. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinto

last year, South Korean president insulted Tenno, then all of Japanese citizens got angry, (i have never seen such angry Japanese ever!), i understood Tenno is the symbol of this country and Shinto at the moment.

sorry it's getting out of focus.

[...]

take care,

aki

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow's Warfighter

Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow's Warfighter, by Admiral James R. Hogg
In: Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow's Warfighter--Symposium 2010. Committee for the Symposium on Avoiding Technology Surprise for Tomorrow's Warfighter--2010; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; National Research Council
December 10, 2010
http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12919


I think we can agree that [avoiding technology surprise] is a terrific objective and an enormous challenge, both in importance and complexity. Especially so, given that we know little about avoiding Technology Surprise today, no matter how hard we try, let alone tomorrow. Yet, more so than others, this group is composed in a way that gives it a chance. We have here today Warfighters, Technologists, and Intelligence experts, joined together.

Among you, we need linguists. Linguists who understand the cultures of the ethnic groups whose languages they translate. So, a show of hands, please. How many of you are culturallyaware linguists in the Muslim or Asian languages and dialects? Numbers are small. That's no surprise! And that explains a fundamental weakness in our Western approach to problem solving.

I say that because we will only be able to avoid Technology Surprise by thinking differently than what I will call the "Western norm." We will only do it by thinking the way a Muslim or an Asian thinks, not the way we in the West "think they think.”

If we can't figure out how to get inside, way inside, their cultural mind-sets, then for sure, we will not recognize Technology Surprise until it is too late. For example, how many of us in this room ever thought a large commercial passenger jet aircraft could generate Technology Surprise? Probably none of us. Let's just say few, if any. Why? Simply because Technology Surprise is generated by two things: disruptive technology and disruptive thinking or, even more challenging, a combination of the two!

I am going to focus now on disruptive thinking, because nations or radical groups that are incapable of developing disruptive technology will continue to "take us to the edge" through disruptive thinking. It goes like this: We in the West, in the main, tend to solve problems in a deductive manner, with precision, definition, and rule sets. This is prevalent among engineers, for example, who are taught to "bound" problems in order to define and then more easily solve them. That makes sense.

Muslims and Asians, on the other hand, tend to approach problems in an inductive manner.  With logic, based on ethnic and cultural beliefs, and without rule sets as we understand them. No rules. Anything goes! This inductive approach is amenable to continuous exploration. It is not bound by anything—in any way, in any dimension.

A rationale conclusion is that a combination of the two is the best approach. To think inductively at first for exploration and discovery; then, to think deductively in order to come up with practical solutions. This sets up a balance between the open space that spawns creative thinking, and the defined space that enables construction of solutions.

So, with all this in mind, and returning to the challenge of avoiding Technology Surprise, there is no immediate solution, but there is a way ahead. Every significant military command needs an "innovation cell" dedicated full-time to an inductive-deductive thinking process that is focused like a laser on Technology Surprise. By that, I mean Technology Surprise that might be generated by either disruptive technology or disruptive thinking. The composition of these innovation cells must be diverse in every possible way, including language and cultural skills. In addition, they must be netted, each a node in a DoD-wide web, ensuring seamless information flow and collaboration.

Over time, similar webs should be established in the Departments of State and Homeland Security, and across all agencies in the National Intelligence Directorate [Office of the Director of National Intelligence]. Let's call this approach "Deep Red" for now. It’s a new way to organize, to think, to analyze, and to collaborate in order to anticipate and counter Technology Surprise during its developing stage and, absolutely, before its deployment.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Missile Defense: We've committed to developing proven technologies, and the new START Treaty won't stand in our way

The Way Forward on Missile Defense. By M Flournoy, Under Sec of Defense for Policy & A Carter, Under Sec of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics
We've committed to developing proven technologies, and the new START Treaty won't stand in our way.
WSJ, Jun 17, 2010

Ballistic missile defenses have matured from a Cold War idea to a real-world necessity. Threats today from ballistic missiles are real, present and growing. Iran and North Korea have extensive inventories of these weapons that threaten their neighbors. Both are working on longer-range missiles capable of posing a direct danger to the United States in the coming years. Iran's continued pursuit of an illicit nuclear program and North Korea's rash intimidation after sinking a South Korean navy ship are but the most recent reminders of the real need for effective U.S. missile defenses.

To counter Iran's ballistic missile program, President Obama announced a phased adaptive approach for European missile defense last September—a move unanimously welcomed by our NATO allies. The first phase begins next year with the deployment of radars and ship-based systems in southern Europe. Romania and Poland have agreed to host land-based defenses for the second and third phases.

A similar phased adaptive approach is being applied to missile defenses in the Middle East and East Asia. While the details of the deployments and host-country arrangements will differ by region, the common thread is significant improvement in ballistic missile defense capabilities, meant to protect our deployed forces overseas and our allies and partners.

In a departure from past approaches, we are no longer building systems anchored in one place and wedded to current threat assessments. We know that the capabilities of potential adversaries do not always progress according to intelligence assessments. Our program must adapt accordingly in the face of evolving and unpredictable threats.

We are also making continued progress in improving our ability to defend the U.S. homeland from ballistic missile attack. By the fall, the U.S. will have 30 deployed ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, with eight more missile defense silos near completion.

The U.S. is committed to a "fly before you buy" approach supported by a rigorous and independently-monitored testing program. An essential element of that program, and a key capability for the phased adaptive approach, is the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) interceptor. The SM-3 version deployed on Navy ships today has hit—within inches—its exact target in nine out of 10 tests. The accuracy of these tests has been confirmed in a variety of ways: by fiber-optic grids that can precisely indicate the point of impact on the target; by images taken from the interceptor in the very last moment before impact (images not available to the public for security reasons); by data from highly accurate radars and airborne sensors; and by extensive rocket sled tests and computer simulations on the ground. All these verification sources confirm that when a missile warhead was hit, it was destroyed. These results have been validated by an independent panel of experts with access to all of the classified and unclassified test data.

Missile defenses have become a topic of some discussion in the context of the Senate's consideration of the New START Treaty with Russia. The fact is that the treaty does not constrain the U.S. from testing, developing and deploying missile defenses. Nor does it prevent us from improving or expanding them. Nor does it raise the costs of doing so. We have made clear to our Russian counterparts that missile defense cooperation between us is in our mutual interest, and is not inconsistent with the need to deploy and improve our missile defense capabilities as threats arise.

U.S. ballistic missile defenses are effective, affordable and increasingly adaptable. These capabilities are critical to protecting U.S. citizens, our forces abroad, and our allies from real and growing threats.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Obama's Russia Tribute - What he gave away in return for watered-down Iran sanctions

Obama's Russia Tribute. WSJ Editorial
What he gave away in return for watered-down Iran sanctions.WSJ, May 27, 2010

When the Obama Administration last week secured the Kremlin's support for U.N. sanctions on Iran, the White House touted a big dividend from its "reset" in relations with Russia. Now the price for Moscow's cooperation is becoming clearer, and the only ones who should be cheering are the Russians and Iranians.

Three days after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the deal on a diluted Security Council resolution, she quietly met an explicit demand from Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Buried in last Friday's Federal Register, the State Department announced it was ending long-standing sanctions against four Russian entities that had helped Iran's nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The draft U.N. resolution also includes a loophole for Russia, which would be allowed to deliver the five S-300 surface-to-air missiles that Moscow agreed to sell Tehran in 2005. The S-300s can intercept missiles and aircraft but fall outside the U.N. resolution's ban on the sale of eight categories of conventional weapons to Iran. Mikhail Margelov, the head of the foreign affairs committee of Russia's upper house of parliament, crowed last Friday that sanctions "will not hit current contracts between Russia and Iran."

All of this came on top of the White House decision a week earlier to resubmit to Congress a civilian nuclear cooperation pact with Russia. This was another goodie for Moscow.

These so-called "123 agreements"—named after a section of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954—open the door to technology transfers, commerce in nuclear materials and joint research between the U.S. and select countries. The Bush Administration negotiated the deal with the Kremlin but shelved it after the Russians invaded Georgia in August 2008.

President Obama said that "the situation in Georgia need no longer be considered an obstacle" and that "the level and scope of U.S.-Russia cooperation on Iran are sufficient to justify" the deal. Unlike a treaty, Congress doesn't ratify the pact but has 90 days to act or the deal automatically goes into force. Democrat Edward Markey and Republican Jeff Fortenberry last week introduced a resolution in the House to stop the deal.

It's an uphill but worthy effort. Russia continues illegally to occupy Georgian territory, but the larger problem is its proliferation. Both Republican and Democratic Administration have turned a blind eye to Russian misbehavior. When the Bush Administration submitted the agreement for review, the Government Accountability Office criticized the mandatory accompanying "proliferation statement" on Russia as shoddy and incomplete.

Starting in the 1990s, Moscow sold Iran nuclear centrifuges and missile technology. One company sanctioned until last week, the state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, was put on the list as recently as 2008, while the Moscow Aviation Institute helped Iran develop ballistic missiles.

Nonetheless, the Obama Administration now says "Russia's approach to Iran has evolved," in the words of State spokesman P.J. Crowley. Gary Samore, the White House arms control coordinator, insists that "the Russians understand that the consequences [of shipping the S-300s] would be very severe."

These assurances don't square with Russian statements or actions. The week that President Obama sent the nuclear cooperation pact to Congress, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was in Damascus touting future nuclear business with Iran's close ally in terrorism. "Cooperation [with Syria] on atomic energy could get a second wind," he said.

In return for all this, the Administration gets weak sanctions similar to the three sets the Bush Administration won without paying such a high tribute. If this represents what the Administration calls "smart diplomacy," we'd hate to see what we give up when we're dumb.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Dangerous Illusion of 'Nuclear Zero' - Why even speculate about a nuclear posture that would require world peace as a precondition?

The Dangerous Illusion of 'Nuclear Zero'. By DOUGLAS J. FEITH AND ABRAM N. SHULSKY
Why even speculate about a nuclear posture that would require world peace as a precondition?
WSJ, May 21, 2010

Moving toward "nuclear zero" is a signature theme of this administration. President Barack Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons is certainly grand. The problem is that our current policies lack coherence and rest on other-worldly assumptions.

Consider the administration's recently released Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). One of the conditions that would permit the United States and others to give up their nuclear weapons "without risking greater international instability and insecurity" is "the resolution of regional disputes that can motivate rival states to acquire and maintain nuclear weapons." Another condition is not only "verification methods and technologies capable of detecting violations of disarmament obligations," but also "enforcement measures strong and credible enough to deter such violations."

The first condition would require ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, settling the Korean War, resolving Kashmir and the other India-Pakistan disputes, and defusing Iran's tensions with its neighbors and with the U.S. It also means solving any other significant conflicts that might arise.

Verification would be tough, but even if technology could solve the problem, the question remains: What kind of "enforcement measures" do those who drafted the NPR imagine?

As of now, the U.N. Security Council is the only conceivable policing agency and its record is weak. What, for example, did the Security Council do when Iraq violated the Geneva Convention on poison gas in the 1980s, or when North Korea recently violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? There simply are no good grounds for relying on the Security Council's will to enforce treaties.

U.S. efforts to organize sanctions in response to Iran's illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons have been exercises in frustration. The Security Council deal announced on Tuesday falls far short of the "crippling sanctions" the administration had once intended. This experience undermines the credibility of any threat of enforcement measures—even against a state not allied with a veto-wielding Security Council member. And if China, Russia or an ally of either were someday to cheat on the ban, enforcement would be precluded by veto.

Is some kind of "world executive" envisioned to implement, or at least authorize, enforcement measures over objections from major powers? If so, it's hard to see how the U.S. or any other great power would relinquish its sovereign rights to independent action and self-defense.

"Strong enough" enforcement would have to include military measures. Is the idea here a U.N. military force that could fight large wars, as some diplomats proposed when the U.N. Charter was negotiated in the late 1940s? Or would military enforcement be the duty of the strongest state, presumably the U.S.? Only an arrangement verging on world government—an entity that could deploy overwhelming military power against a violator without interference by other powers—could possibly fill the bill.

The administration recognizes that knowledge about physics cannot simply be eradicated. "In a world where nuclear weapons had been eliminated but nuclear knowledge remains, having a strong infrastructure and base of human capital would be essential to deterring cheating or breakout, or, if deterrence failed, responding in a timely fashion," the NPR says. So even in a world of nuclear zero, the U.S. would have to remain able to rebuild its nuclear capability in a "timely" fashion. Presumably other nuclear-capable states would conclude the same for themselves.

In the event of a serious crisis, countries would race to reconstitute their nuclear arsenals. The winner would enjoy a fleeting nuclear monopoly, and then come under severe pressure to use its nuclear weapons decisively. The resulting instability could make the competitive mobilizations of the European armies in 1914 look like a walk in the park.

So what are the benefits of endorsing nuclear zero as America's goal? Proponents argue that embracing nuclear zero will increase cooperation from other countries against proliferators like North Korea and Iran. But what is this hope based on? America's embracing nuclear zero may take away a debating point from countries unwilling to cooperate with us, but it does nothing to change their interests. The deal Brazil and Turkey cut with Iran this week shows that Mr. Obama's embrace of nuclear zero does not translate into international cooperation where it really matters.

Endorsing nuclear zero makes it even harder for the U.S. government to maintain the nuclear infrastructure that the president says is essential for our security. Why should a bright young scientist or engineer enter a dying field—especially when innovation is discouraged by support for a permanent ban on weapons testing, and by the renunciation of new weapons development? The NPR states that the administration aims to "enhance recruitment and retention" of technical personnel, but its policies seem sure to drive them away.

The NPR stresses that the world's nonproliferation regime requires a strong U.S. nuclear umbrella. Yet the proposal can hardly increase confidence in America's determination to maintain its longstanding global role. U.S. friends overseas worry about their security in a world where America seems determined to shed its burdens as a nuclear power. This will likely spur nuclear proliferation—not discourage it.

President Obama has constructed U.S. nuclear-weapons policy on the assumption that it is helpful to set our goal as the complete abolition of such weapons. But the NPR makes clear that not even the Obama administration can really imagine a world without nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the president's visionary notions appear likelier to undermine rather than further his own goals of nuclear nonproliferation and stability.

Mr. Feith, a former under secretary of defense for policy, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the author of "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism" (Harper, 2008). Mr. Shulsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and was director of strategic arms control policy at the Department of Defense from 1982 to 1985.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Case for the New START Treaty, by Secretary Gates

The Case for the New START Treaty. By ROBERT M. GATES
The treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership.
WSJ, May 13, 2010

I first began working on strategic arms control with the Russians in 1970, an effort that led to the first Strategic Arms Limitation Agreement with Moscow two years later.

The key question then and in the decades since has always been the same: Is the United States better off with an agreement or without it? The answer for each successive president has always been "with an agreement." The U.S. Senate has always agreed, approving each treaty by lopsided, bipartisan margins.

The same answer holds true for the New START agreement: The U.S. is far better off with this treaty than without it. It strengthens the security of the U.S. and our allies and promotes strategic stability between the world's two major nuclear powers. The treaty accomplishes these goals in several ways.

First, it limits significantly U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals and establishes an extensive verification regime to ensure that Russia is complying with its treaty obligations. These include short-notice inspections of both deployed and nondeployed systems, verification of the numbers of warheads actually carried on Russian strategic missiles, and unique identifiers that will help us track—for the very first time—all accountable strategic nuclear delivery systems.

Since the expiration of the old START Treaty in December 2009, the U.S. has had none of these safeguards. The new treaty will put them back in place, strengthen many of them, and create a verification regime that will provide for greater transparency and predictability between our two countries, to include substantial visibility into the development of Russian nuclear forces.

Second, the treaty preserves the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a vital pillar of our nation's and our allies' security posture. Under this treaty, the U.S. will maintain our powerful nuclear triad—ICBMs, submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and bombers—and we will retain the ability to change our force mix as we see fit. Based on recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we plan to meet the Treaty's limits by retaining a triad of up to 420 ICBMs, 14 submarines carrying up to 240 SLBMs, and up to 60 nuclear-capable heavy bombers.

Third, and related, the treaty is buttressed by credible modernization plans and long-term funding for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and the infrastructure that supports it. This administration is proposing to spend $80 billion over the next decade to rebuild and sustain America's aging nuclear infrastructure—especially our national weapons labs, and our science, technology and engineering base. This week the president is providing a report to the Congress on investments planned over the next 10 years to sustain and modernize our nuclear weapons, their delivery systems, and supporting infrastructure.

Fourth, the treaty will not constrain the U.S. from developing and deploying defenses against ballistic missiles, as we have made clear to the Russian government. The U.S. will continue to deploy and improve the interceptors that defend our homeland—those based in California and Alaska. We are also moving forward with plans to field missile defense systems to protect our troops and partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Northeast Asia against the dangerous threats posed by rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.

Finally, the treaty will not restrict America's ability to develop and deploy conventional prompt global strike capabilities—that is, the ability to hit targets anywhere in the world in less than an hour using conventional explosive warheads fitted to long-range missiles.

These delivery systems—be they land or sea based—would count against the new treaty limits, but if we deploy them it would be in very limited numbers. We are currently assessing other kinds of long-range strike systems that would not count under the treaty.

The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership—to include the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of the service chiefs, and the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, the organization responsible for our strategic nuclear deterrent. For nearly 40 years, treaties to limit or reduce nuclear weapons have been approved by the U.S. Senate by strong bipartisan majorities. This treaty deserves a similar reception and result—on account of the dangerous weapons it reduces, the critical defense capabilities it preserves, the strategic stability it maintains, and, above all, the security it provides to the American people.

Mr. Gates is secretary of defense.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New START - Evaluating the U.S.-Russia Nuclear Deal

Evaluating the U.S.-Russia Nuclear Deal. By KEITH B. PAYNE
The White House and Kremlin can't seem to agree what's in it, but it appears to restrict U.S. missile defense efforts and has no limits on Russia's tactical nukes.
WSJ, Apr 08, 2010

Today President Obama will sign a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia. Official Washington is already celebrating the so-called New START Treaty in the belief that it reduces forces below the 2002 Moscow Treaty levels and "resets" U.S.-Russian relations in the direction of greater cooperation. But the new treaty—whose actual text and accompanying legal documents were not released before the signing ceremony in Prague—may not accomplish these goals.

The administration's "fact sheet," for example, claims that the treaty will reduce the number of strategic weapons to 1,550, 30% lower than the 2002 treaty. But New START has special counting rules.

For example, there are reportedly 76 Russian strategic bombers, and each one apparently can carry from six to 16 nuclear weapons (bombs and cruise missiles). Nevertheless, and unlike under the Moscow Treaty, these many hundreds of nuclear weapons would count as only 76 toward the 1,550 ceiling. Consequently, the New START Treaty includes the potential for a large increase in the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons, not a reduction.

The administration claims, as Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher stated emphatically on March 29, that "There is no limit or constraint on what the United States can do with its missile defense systems . . . definitely, positively, and no way, no how . . ." Yet our Russian negotiating partners describe New START's constraints on missile defenses quite differently.

On March 30, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a press conference after the G-8 foreign ministers meeting in Canada that there are obligations regarding missile defense in the treaty text and the accompanying interpretive texts that constitute "a legally binding package." He also stated at a press conference in Moscow on March 26 that "The treaty is signed against the backdrop of particular levels of strategic defensive systems. A change of these levels will give each side the right to consider its further participation in the reduction of strategic offensive armaments." Kremlin National Security Council Secretary Sergei Prikhodko told journalists in Moscow on April 2 that "The United States pledged not to remodel launchers of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-based ballistic missiles for firing interceptor missiles and vice versa."

The New START restrictions on missile defense as described by Russian officials could harm U.S. security in the future. For example, if the U.S. must increase its strategic missile defenses rapidly in response to now-unforeseen threat developments, one of the few options available could be to use Minuteman silo launchers for interceptors, either at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base or empty operational silos elsewhere. Yet, if the Russian description of New START is correct, doing so would be prohibited and the launchers themselves probably will be eliminated to meet the treaty's limitation on launchers. U.S. officials' assurances and Russian descriptions cannot both be true.

Another claim for New START is that possible concerns about the limitations on U.S. forces must be balanced against the useful limits on Russian forces. Yes, this argument goes, the U.S. will have to reduce the number of its strategic delivery vehicles—silos, submarine tubes and bombers—but in the bargain it will get the benefit of like Russian reductions.

This sounds reasonable. According to virtually all Russian sources, however, New START's agreed ceiling on strategic nuclear delivery vehicles will not require Russia to give up anything not already bound for its scrap heap.

The aging of its old Cold War arsenal and the pace of its strategic nuclear force modernization program means that Russia will remain under the New START ceiling of 700 deployed launchers with or without a new treaty. Whatever the benefit to the U.S. agreement to reduce its operational strategic force launchers, it is not to gain reciprocal Russian reductions. No such reciprocity is involved.

Some hope that New START's amicable "reset" in U.S.-Russian relations will inspire Russian help with other issues, such as the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, where they have been less than forthcoming. This is a vain hope, as is demonstrated by the past 40 years of strategic-arms control: Innovative strategic force agreements and reductions follow improvements in general political relations. They do not lead to them.

Finally, for many the great locus of concern about Russian nuclear weapons lies in its large arsenal of tactical (i.e., short-range) nuclear weapons. According to U.S. officials, Russia has a 10-to-one numeric advantage. In 2002, then Sens. Joe Biden and John Kerry, and the current White House Science Adviser, John Holdren, expressed great concern that the Bush administration's Moscow Treaty did not limit Russian tactical forces. One might expect, therefore, that New START would do so; but the Russians apparently were adamant about excluding tactical nuclear weapons from New START.

This omission is significant. The Russians are now more explicit and threatening about tactical nuclear war-fighting including in regional conflicts. Yet we still have no limitations on Russia's tactical nuclear arsenal. The problem may now be more severe than in 2002, but concern seems curiously to have eased.

This brief review is based on the many open descriptions of the treaty by U.S. and Russian officials. Given the apparent inconsistencies on such basic matters as whether the treaty requires weapon reductions or allows increases, or whether missile defenses are limited or untouched, the Senate will have to exercise exceptional care in reviewing the actual language of the treaty documents before drawing conclusions about their content.

Mr. Payne is head of the department of defense and strategic studies at Missouri State University, and a member of congressional Strategic Posture Commission.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

More Mr. Nice Guy - While nukes proliferate, the Federal President fiddles

More Mr. Nice Guy. By John Bolton

In his lengthy State of the Union address, President Obama was brief on national security issues, which he squeezed in toward the end. International terrorism, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even America’s relief efforts in Haiti all flashed past in bullet-point mentions. On Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama emphasized neither victory nor determination, but merely the early withdrawal of U.S. forces from both. His once vaunted Middle East peace process didn’t make the cut.

Nonetheless, during this windshield tour of the world, the president found time to opine more explicitly than ever before that reducing America’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems will temper the global threat of proliferation. Obama boasted that “the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades” and that he is trying to secure “all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists.”

Then came Obama’s critical linkage: “These diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons.” Obama described the increasing “isolation” of both North Korea and Iran, the two most conspicuous—but far from the only—nuclear proliferators. He also mentioned the increased sanctions imposed on Pyongyang after its second nuclear test in 2009 and the “growing consequences” he says Iran will face because of his policies.

In fact, reducing our nuclear -arsenal will not somehow persuade Iran and North Korea to alter their behavior or encourage others to apply more pressure on them to do so. Obama’s remarks reflect a complete misreading of strategic realities.

We have no need for further arms control treaties with Russia, especially ones that reduce our nuclear and delivery capabilities to Moscow’s economically forced low levels. We have international obligations, moreover, that Russia does not, requiring our nuclear umbrella to afford protection to friends and allies worldwide. Obama’s policy artificially inflates Russian influence and, depending on the final agreement, will likely reduce our nuclear and strategic delivery capabilities dangerously and unnecessarily. (Securing “loose” nuclear materials internationally has long been a bipartisan goal, properly so. Obama said nothing new on that score.) Meanwhile, Obama is considering treaty restrictions on our missile defense capabilities more damaging than his own previous unilateral reductions.

What warrants close attention is the jarring naïveté of arguing that reducing our capabilities will inhibit nuclear proliferators. That would certainly surprise Tehran and Pyongyang. Obama’s insistence that the evil-doers are “violating international agreements” is also startling, as if this were of equal importance with the proliferation itself.

The premise underlying these assertions may well be found in Obama’s smug earlier comment that we should “put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough.  .  .  .  Let’s leave behind the fear and division.” By reducing to the level of wayward boys the debates over whether his policies are making us more or less secure, Obama reveals a deep disdain for the decades of strategic thinking that kept America safe during the Cold War and afterwards. Even more pertinent, Obama’s indifference and scorn for real threats are chilling auguries of what the next three years may hold.

Obama has now explicitly rejected the idea that U.S. weakness is provocative, arguing instead that weakness will convince Tehran and Pyongyang to do the opposite of what they have been resolutely doing for decades—vigorously pursuing their nuclear and missile programs. Obama’s first year amply demonstrates that his approach will do nothing even to retard, let alone stop, Iran and North Korea.

Neither Bush nor Obama administration efforts toward international sanctions have had any measurable impact. The first Security Council sanctions on North Korea after its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests in 2006 did not stop Pyongyang from conducting further missile launches and a second nuclear detonation in 2009. Nor have the measures imposed after that second test, about which Obama boasted, impaired the North’s nuclear program or even brought Pyongyang back to the risible Six-Party Talks. Three sets of Security Council restrictions against Iran have only glancingly affected Tehran’s nuclear program, and the Obama administration’s threats of “crippling sanctions” have disappeared along with last year’s series of “deadlines” that Iran purportedly faced. In response, Tehran’s authoritarianism and belligerence have only increased.

With his counterproliferation strategies, such as they were, in disarray, Obama now pins his hopes on moral suasion, which has never influenced Iran, North Korea, or any other determined proliferator. Perhaps it would have been better had the president’s speech not mentioned national security at all.

John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is the author of Surrender Is Not an Option.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Disarmament President - Obama's Oslo speech versus the real nuclear world

The Disarmament President. WSJ Editorial
Obama's boffo Oslo speech versus the real nuclear world.
The Wall Street Journal, Dec 11, 2009, page 12

President Obama gave a gracious speech yesterday accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, starting with the humble note that he has yet to earn it. If his Oslo hosts expected a woolly-headed address about peace in our time, they also didn't get it. He stated clearly that sometimes war is necessary to defend the peaceable and to serve justice and liberty. He even hit the George W. Bush note that "evil does exist in the world."

Congratulations, Mr. President.

On the other hand, Mr. Obama also didn't disappoint the Norwegians, who in giving the award had cited his "work for a world without nuclear weapons." He repeated his commitment to that cause, starting with his effort to rework the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991 that expired December 5. So it's worth checking in to see how his disarmament vision is faring in the rougher world of rogues and national interest. The answer is not so well.

The Administration decided that rather than negotiate an extension of the existing Start treaty, a whole new arrangement to limit warheads and delivery systems should be crafted. In July, the U.S. and Russia signed a "framework agreement" to reduce stockpiles by as much as a third. Alas, the Administration was so focused on the numbers that it neglected the stickier details—such as verification, and whether the current Start regime would stay in place if negotiations dragged on.

Though the far weaker party, the Russians have figured out their leverage over an Administration eager to show any progress. Pushing that advantage, Russia has already secured lower ceilings on nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles, scaled back verification, and pocketed other strategic concessions.

Let's take those in order. The U.S. looks likely to agree to cut the number of permitted delivery vehicles, such as missiles, long-range bombers and submarines, by half, to 800 or less. This is to Russia's advantage, which as of last spring had 814—and not all of them in working condition. Many of America's 1,198 nuclear delivery vehicles—from B-2 bombers to ICBMs—are being fitted with conventional weapons. The ceilings in a new Start would likely make no distinction between bomb types. If the goal is to move away from nukes, why limit the military's capacity to deploy conventional weapons?

As for verification, with fewer allowable warheads, Ronald Reagan's "trust but verify" maxim applies more than ever. Yet Russia wants to reduce oversight, and it specifically told the U.S. that continuous monitoring at the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant would end once Start expired. The Russians are building new RS-24 mobile nuclear missiles at Votkinsk. According to one Russian general, the RS-24 will by 2016 constitute four-fifths of its ICBM forces. Without monitoring, the U.S. won't know for sure how many of these missiles the Russians make and where they are deployed.

While Russia invests in new warheads and missiles, the Obama Administration has yet to lay out its own plans for updating the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Even staunch proponents of arms control concede that to be able to reduce the quantity of U.S. arms, we have to improve the quality. The Senate should ask why the White House isn't.

The Russians also refused to discuss their huge advantage in tactical weapons, and the Administration said OK. After the July "framework agreement," Russia signalled that U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic stood in the way of a final deal. Mr. Obama obliged, informing the Poles and Czechs of his reduced defenses late on the day before the sixth round of Start talks in Geneva. The announcement pleased the Russians, though it still hasn't got Washington a deal. Stay tuned for more concessions as U.S. negotiators try to get it before the year's end.

Meanwhile, the world's rogues continue to pursue nuclear weapons, and Mr. Obama said yesterday that "it is incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system." He added that "we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior." But all the President has to show for a year of courting these regimes is their refusal even to consider giving up either their weapons (North Korea) or their growing capacity to make them (Iran).

The French, for one, see this danger plainly and want the U.S. to press harder on Tehran. But on these hard cases, the Administration can't muster the same sense of urgency it is bringing to the cause of an unnecessary arms control pact with Russia. Mr. Obama is right that he still has to earn that Nobel.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Preventing Biological Weapons Proliferation and Bioterrorism

Preventing Biological Weapons Proliferation and Bioterrorism. By Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security

Address to the Annual Meeting of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention
Geneva, Switzerland,December 9, 2009


Photos | Video: Part 1; Part 2

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, thank you for your warm welcome.

Before I begin, I want to recognize our Chairman, Ambassador Grinius, for his personal commitment to this issue. His skill in bringing ideas and expertise together to explore opportunities, and to improve international disease surveillance under the BWC umbrella have been invaluable.

The United States is confident that with your leadership, progress made this year on disease surveillance can translate into sustainable commitments.

I also want to acknowledge the quiet but solid behind-the-scenes work of the Implementation Support Unit. Thank you.

I have come here today to share with you President Obama’s strategy for preventing biological weapons proliferation and bioterrorism.

The United States intends to implement this strategy through renewed cooperation and more thorough consultations with our international counterparts in order to prevent the misuse and abuse of science while working together to strengthen health security around the world.

When it comes to the proliferation of bio weapons and the risk of an attack, the world community faces a greater threat based on a new calculus. President Obama fully recognizes that a major biological weapons attack on one of the world’s major cities could cause as much death and economic and psychological damage as a nuclear attack.

And while the United States remains concerned about state-sponsored biological warfare and proliferation, we are equally, if not MORE concerned, about an act of bioterrorism, due to the increased access to advances in the life sciences.

Around the world, we are experiencing an unparalleled period of scientific advancement and innovation in biology.

Techniques that once were cutting edge innovations are now commonplace. Capabilities once found only in a few advanced laboratories are increasingly wide-spread.

We ALL hope that this science is used for good, but we cannot ignore that it also can be used for ill.

Neither I, nor anyone else in the Obama Administration, need any further evidence of the terrible nature and consequences of a bioterrorism attack. I have, unfortunately, seen the dangers of bioterrorism up close. I served as a Member of Congress when a small amount of anthrax was mailed to the United States Senate in October 2001, just weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

A few envelopes containing anthrax spores paralyzed the Congress. The office buildings of both the House and the Senate were closed down almost immediately. My offices in the Longworth Building were closed for 8 weeks to be sanitized. Five people who came into contact with spores from the letters were killed and hundreds more were put on antibiotics. Years later, no one has been brought to justice and it appears that a single person may have perpetrated these attacks.

This underscores the fact that significant capabilities for harm are already available to small groups and individuals and the prospect of bioterrorism represents a growing risk for the global community. Already we have seen terrorist groups like Al Qa’ida seek biological materials and expertise in order to conduct a biological attack.

That is why we in the United States are calling for all of you to join us in bolstering the Biological Weapons Convention, the premier forum for dealing with biological threats.

The Obama administration’s new strategy for countering biological threats—both natural and man-made—rests upon the main principle of the Biological Weapons Convention: that the use of biological weapons is “repugnant to the conscience of mankind.”

That’s why we believe we have developed an approach that strikes a balance between supporting scientific progress and curbing and stopping the potential for abuse.

Over the last several months, the Obama administration has engaged in a thorough review of our approach with scientists, academics, NGO’s and government officials.

We have determined that we have made considerable progress in recognizing and responding to a potential biological attack or outbreak of disease, although we can do more.

More importantly, the Administration concluded that there was no comprehensive strategy to address gaps in our efforts to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons and scientific abuse.

So just last week President Obama approved a new National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats.

Our new strategy has a clear, overarching goal … to protect against the misuse of science to develop or use biological agents to cause harm.

Copies of that strategy have been supplied to all of you. I would like to request that the strategy document be circulated as an official conference room paper.

Let me outline the broad goals of the strategy:

First, we will work with the international community to promote the peaceful and beneficial use of life sciences, in accordance with the BWC’s Article Ten, to combat infectious diseases regardless of their cause. We will work to promote global health security by increasing the availability of and access to knowledge and products of the life sciences to help reduce the impact from outbreaks of infectious disease whether of natural, accidental or deliberate origin.

Second, we will work toward establishing and reinforcing norms against the misuse of the life sciences. We need to ensure a culture of responsibility, awareness, and vigilance among all who use and benefit from the life sciences to ensure that they are not diverted to harmful purpose.

Third, we will implement a coordinated approach to influence, identify, inhibit, and interdict those who seek to misuse scientific progress to harm innocent people. We will seek to obtain timely and accurate information on the full spectrum of threats and challenges. This information will allow us to take appropriate actions to manage the evolving risk.

Finally, and most relevant to this body, we want to reinvigorate the Biological Weapons Convention as the premier forum for global outreach and coordination. The Biological Weapons Convention embodies the international community’s determination to prevent the misuse of biological materials as weapons. But it takes the active efforts of its States Parties – individually, and collectively – to uphold these commitments that continue to bolster the BWC as a key international norm.

The United States wants to work to ensure that this is the principal forum dedicated to these issues. We appreciate and applaud this forum’s past efforts, and commit to engaging fully as we work together towards our common goals.

Before describing our proposals to reinvigorate the BWC, let me reiterate that the Obama Administration’s commitment to the Biological Weapons Convention is steadfast. The United States will continue to meet its Article One commitments not to develop, acquire, produce or possess biological weapons.

But I want to be clear and forthcoming and I hope this will not be a surprise to anyone. The Obama Administration will not seek to revive negotiations on a verification protocol to the Convention. We have carefully reviewed previous efforts to develop a verification protocol and have determined that a legally binding protocol would not achieve meaningful verification or greater security.

It is extraordinarily difficult to verify compliance. The ease with which a biological weapons program could be disguised within legitimate activities and the rapid advances in biological research make it very difficult to detect violations. We believe that a protocol would not be able to keep pace with the rapidly changing nature of the biological weapons threat.

Instead, we believe that confidence in BWC compliance should be promoted by enhanced transparency about activities and pursuing compliance diplomacy to address concerns.

I know there are some that may disagree with this decision. Instead, I would urge you to join us in implementing the more robust BWC activities already underway.

We want to develop a rigorous, comprehensive program of cooperation, information exchange, and coordination that builds on and modifies as necessary the existing Work Program approach.

As we look toward the 2011 Review Conference, the United States believes that a reinvigorated, comprehensive Work Program is the best way to strengthen the Convention. So I would ask you to demonstrate your good faith and commitment to the BWC by joining us in increasing transparency, improving confidence building measures and engaging in more robust bilateral compliance discussions.

To highlight our three areas of emphasis in this area, let me provide a bit more detail about our goals.

First, we seek to promote confidence in effective treaty implementation:

A key consideration related to any treaty is the ongoing need to promote confidence in compliance. We believe that greater emphasis should be placed on voluntary measures to provide increased confidence. We must also increase participation in the existing Confidence-Building Measures. We should work together to review the Confidence Building Measures forms to assess their effectiveness and identify areas for improvement. States Parties, in conjunction with the Implementation Support Unit, should provide appropriate assistance to meet these goals.

In a gesture of our transparency, I want to announce that the United States will

  • Invite the 2010 Chairman to visit our National Interagency Biodefense Campus in Maryland. The facilities there include the high containment laboratories of three different U.S. government agencies and provide an excellent opportunity to highlight the steps we are taking to ensure safe and secure research for the benefit of public health, and;

  • Work toward posting future annual CBM submissions on the public access side of the Implementation Support Unit website and we will encourage other Parties to follow suit.
As part of this effort, we must seek to make membership in the BWC universal. We will be looking to work with you on outreach efforts to countries that have not yet joined the Convention.

Second, we will seek to enhance cooperation through the BWC on natural and deliberate disease threats to complement the work being done by the World Health Organization and other international bodies. In order to implement our Article Ten commitments, it is critical that we work together to achieve, sustain and improve international capacity to detect, report, and respond to outbreaks of disease, whether deliberate, accidental or natural. This includes implementation of the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations.

Fundamentally, if we improve a country’s ability to respond to natural outbreaks, we have improved their capability to deal with bioterrorism.

In this respect, the United States is dedicated to continuing our substantial assistance and we want to work closely with other BWC States Parties to enhance and coordinate these efforts - including through the G-8 Global Partnership, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 and other mechanisms.

The BWC should be fully utilized as a forum to inform States Parties of related bilateral and regional activities, to consult on new avenues of multilateral engagement, and to promote the support of the international community.

Greater cooperation and technical assistance are key to achieving and sustaining the capabilities we need to prevent biological weapons use and to combat infectious diseases.

To this end:
  • The Center for Disease Control will soon become the world’s first World Health Organization Collaborating Center for implementing International Health Regulations. It will assist the WHO and other international partners to help build the necessary global infrastructure to fully implement the IHRs in all six WHO Regions.

  • In May, we propose a two-day meeting to share information on offers to support IHR implementation, hear from those receiving assistance about their experiences and to make specific suggestions for improvement.

  • We will follow up with a meeting in August that builds upon the May discussion and looks at new technologies and new approaches to build the core capacities on disease surveillance needed under the IHRs.
As the final piece of our strategy to enhance this forum, we want to make the BWC the premier forum for discussion of the full range of biological threats – including bioterrorism – and mutually agreeable steps States can take for risk management.

The BWC should provide an international forum for advancing the dialogue on pathogen security and laboratory biosafety practices, and for promoting legislation, guidelines and standards through cooperation and partnership.

We must work here to develop international standards and practices for these important elements that advance our mutual security. To this end, we would like to announce that:
  • Our FBI and CDC have developed best practices and guides on the conduct of joint criminal and epidemiological investigations of suspected intentional biological threats or incidents. We will bring our experts to discuss this in more detail at the August Experts Meeting.

  • We also propose a workshop just after the August Experts Meeting where all interested countries can share information on bio risk management training, standards, and needs.
The threat of a bio attack is much like other transnational threats and challenges that we face today: climate change, nuclear proliferation, and food security. We’re all in the same boat and none of us, no matter how big, can afford to go it alone.

The United States takes biological weapons threats very seriously and that’s why we have adopted an energetic new approach that is tailored to counter today’s threats.

In closing, I want to thank you for this opportunity to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s support for revitalizing the BWC. I hope to join you once again at the 2011 Review Conference as we continue to move forward together on the critical work of countering biological threats.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Iran's Big Victory in Geneva - We are now even further from eliminating Tehran's threat

Iran's Big Victory in Geneva. By JOHN BOLTON
We are now even further from eliminating Tehran's threat.
WSJ, Oct 05, 2009

The most widely touted outcome of last week's Geneva talks with Iran was the "agreement in principle" to send approximately one nuclear-weapon's worth of Iran's low enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia for enrichment to 19.75% and fabrication into fuel rods for Tehran's research reactor. President Barack Obama says the deal represents progress, a significant confidence-building measure.

In fact, the agreement constitutes another in the long string of Iranian negotiating victories over the West. Any momentum toward stricter sanctions has been dissipated, and Iran's fraudulent, repressive regime again hobnobs with the U.N. Security Council's permanent members. Consider the following problems:

• Is there a deal or isn't there? Diplomacy's three slipperiest words are "agreement in principle." Iran's Ambassador to Britain exclaimed after the talks in Geneva, "No, no!" when asked if his country had agreed to ship LEU to Russia; it had "not been discussed yet." An unnamed Iranian official said that the Geneva deal "is just based on principles. We have not agreed on any amount or any numbers." Bargaining over the deal's specifics could stretch out indefinitely.
Other issues include whether Iran will have "observers" at Russian enrichment facilities. If so, what new technologies might those observers glean? And, since Tehran's reactor is purportedly for medical purposes, will Mr. Obama deny what Iran pretends to need to refuel it in 2010?

• The "agreement" undercuts Security Council resolutions forbidding Iranian uranium enrichment. No U.S. president has been more enamored of international law and the Security Council than Mr. Obama. Yet here he is undermining the foundation of the multilateral campaign against Tehran's nuclear weapons program. In Resolution 1696, adopted July 31, 2006, the Security Council required Iran to "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development." Uranium enriched thereafter—the overwhelming bulk of Iran's admitted LEU—thus violates 1696 and later sanctions resolutions. Moreover, considering Iran's utter lack of credibility, we have no idea whether its declared LEU constitutes anything near its entire stockpile.

By endorsing Iran's use of its illegitimately enriched uranium, Mr. Obama weakens his argument that Iran must comply with its "international obligations." Indeed, the Geneva deal undercuts Mr. Obama's proposal to withhold more sanctions if Iran does not enhance its nuclear program by allowing Iran to argue that continued enrichment for all peaceful purposes should be permissible. Now Iran will oppose new sanctions and argue for repealing existing restrictions. Every other aspiring proliferator is watching how violating Security Council resolutions not only carries no penalty but provides a shortcut to international redemption.

• Raising Iran's LEU to higher enrichment levels is a step backwards. Two-thirds of the work to get 90% enriched uranium, the most efficient weapons grade, is accomplished when U235 isotope levels in natural uranium are enriched to Iran's current level of approximately 3%-5%. Further enrichment of Iran's LEU to 19.75% is a significant step in the wrong direction. This is barely under the 20% definition of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU). Ironically, Resolution 1887, adopted while Mr. Obama presided over the Security Council last week, calls for converting HEU-based reactors like Iran's to LEU fuel precisely to lower such proliferation risks. We should be converting the Tehran reactor, not refueling it at 19.75% enrichment.

After Geneva, the administration misleadingly stated that once fashioned into fuel rods, the uranium involved could not be enriched further. This is flatly untrue. The 19.75% enriched uranium could be reconverted into uranium hexafluoride gas and quickly enriched to 90%. Iran could also "burn" its uranium fuel (including the Russian LEU available for the Bushehr reactor) and then chemically extract plutonium from the spent fuel to produce nuclear weapons.

The more sophisticated Iran's nuclear skills become, the more paths it has to manufacture nuclear weapons. The research-reactor bait-and-switch demonstrates convincingly why it cannot be trusted with fissile material under any peaceful guise. Proceeding otherwise would be winking at two decades of Iranian deception, which, unfortunately, Mr. Obama seems perfectly prepared to do.

The president also said last week that international access to the Qom nuclear site must occur within two weeks, but an administration spokesman retreated the next day, saying there was no "hard and fast deadline," and "we don't have like a drop-dead date." Of course, neither does Iran. Once again, Washington has entered the morass of negotiations with Tehran, giving Iran precious time to refine and expand its nuclear program. We are now even further from eliminating Iran's threat than before Geneva.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The ICC Investigation in Afghanistan Vindicates U.S. Policy Toward the ICC

The ICC Investigation in Afghanistan Vindicates U.S. Policy Toward the ICC. By Brett D. Schaefer and Steven Groves
Heritage, September 14, 2009
WebMemo #2611

Last week, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) stated that investigations into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan may result in the prosecution of U.S. policymakers or servicemen. The potential prosecution of U.S. persons by the court over incidents that the U.S. deems lawful is one of the prime reasons why the Bush Administration did not seek U.S. ratification of the treaty creating the court, rejected ICC claims of authority over U.S. persons, and sought to negotiate agreements with countries to protect U.S. persons from being arrested and turned over to the ICC.[1]

The investigation is not complete, the prosecutor has not determined if he will seek warrants against U.S. officials or servicemen, and Afghanistan is constrained from turning over U.S. persons to the ICC under existing agreements. However, the potential legal confrontation justifies past U.S. policy, emphasizes the need to maintain and expand legal protections for U.S. persons against ICC claims of jurisdiction, and should lead the Obama Administration to endorse the Bush Administration's policies toward the ICC.

U.S. Policy toward the ICC

The U.S. initially was an eager participant in the effort to create the ICC in the 1990s. However, America's support waned because many of its concerns about the proposed court were ignored or opposed. Among other concerns, the U.S. concluded that the ICC lacked prudent safeguards against political manipulation, possessed sweeping authority without accountability to the U.N. Security Council, and violated national sovereignty by claiming jurisdiction over the nationals and military personnel of non-party states in some circumstances.

In the end, U.S. efforts to amend the Rome Statute were rejected. President Bill Clinton urged President George W. Bush not to submit the treaty to the Senate for advice and consent necessary for ratification. After additional efforts to address key U.S. concerns failed, President Bush felt it necessary to "un-sign" the Rome Statute and take additional steps to protect U.S. nationals, officials, and service members from the ICC, including passing the American Service-Members' Protection Act of 2002, which restricts U.S. interaction with the ICC and its state parties, and seeking Article 98 agreements to preclude nations from surrendering, extraditing, or transferring U.S. persons to the ICC or third countries for that purpose without U.S. consent.[2]

The Afghan Investigation

On September 10, the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, Argentinean Luis Moreno Ocampo, announced that ICC investigators had begun looking into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture, "massive attacks," and collateral damage resulting from military action in Afghanistan. The allegations were made by human-rights groups and the Afghan government. According to Béatrice Le Fraper du Hellen, a special adviser to Ocampo, the ICC has been "collecting data about allegations made against the various parties to the conflict" since 2007.[3]

Since Afghanistan acceded to the Rome Statute--the treaty establishing the ICC-- on February 10, 2003, the prosecutor is empowered to receive and investigate crimes alleged to have occurred in Afghanistan after the establishment of the court in July 2002.[4]

Although the investigation will also look into crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban, Ocampo confirmed that North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops participating in the United Nations mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission to bolster the Afghan government could become a target of ICC prosecution. A decision to prosecute ISAF forces for actions in Afghanistan would almost certainly involve American servicemen which, as of July 23, 2009, constituted nearly half of all foreign troops involved in the mission (29,950 out of 64,500[5]) and represent one of the few countries willing to fully engage in military action to confront Taliban forces.

The ICC investigation is at an early stage. According to du Hellen, "[I]t's particularly complex. It's taking time to gather information on crimes allegedly committed on the government side, on the Taliban side and by foreign forces." [6] In the end, the ICC may find no evidence to proceed with a warrant against anyone--American or otherwise.

Status of Forces Agreement

The ICC can act only if a country is unwilling or unable to pursue the alleged crimes. However, in a situation like Afghanistan, it is very likely that the ICC would have to assert jurisdiction because the government of Afghanistan has extremely limited legal jurisdiction over U.S. officials and service members. Specifically, the U.S. and the Afghan government entered into a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) regarding military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan engaged in "cooperative efforts in response to terrorism, humanitarian and civic assistance, military training and exercises, and other activities." Under the SOFA,

U.S. personnel are immune from criminal prosecution by Afghan authorities, and are immune from civil and administrative jurisdiction except with respect to acts performed outside the course of their duties. [The agreement] explicitly authorized the U.S. government to exercise criminal jurisdiction over U.S. personnel, and the Government of Afghanistan is not permitted to surrender U.S. personnel to the custody of another State, international tribunal [including the ICC], or any other entity without consent of the U.S. government.[7]
Although the SOFA was signed by the interim government, it remains binding on the current government and the Afghan government could not try U.S. officials or service members for acts committed during the "course of their duties," even if it wanted to.

Thus, the ICC would undoubtedly find the Afghan government unable to pursue the alleged crimes. Such a finding would raise another issue. Under the Article 98 agreement with Afghanistan, the government has agreed not to turn over U.S. persons to the ICC or to allow a third party to do so without U.S. permission--an unlikely development, given that a U.S. official has stated that the United States has no reason to believe that U.S. persons have committed crimes in the conduct of their official duties under ISAF that have not been properly investigated and adjudicated.[8]

These safeguards are not a guarantee of protection from the illegitimate claims of ICC jurisdiction, but U.S. officials and service members are much more protected than they would be without them. Most likely, an ICC warrant would be executed against a U.S. person in Afghanistan only if that person traveled to an ICC state party that does not have an Article 98 agreement with the U.S. The current scenario, therefore, only underscores the urgency of negotiating more such agreements.

Reject the Rome Statute

The Obama Administration is reportedly close to announcing a change in U.S. policy toward the ICC, including affirming President Clinton's 2000 signature on the Rome Statute and increasing U.S. cooperation with the court. Weakening protections against ICC prosecution of U.S. officials and service members would be a grave mistake, as illustrated by the ongoing investigation in Afghanistan.

The ICC's Afghan investigation is a testament to the wisdom of the Bush Administration. To protect its officials and servicemen, the U.S. should continue to insist that it is not bound by the Rome Statute and does not recognize the ICC's authority over U.S. persons, maintain and expand legal protections like Article 98 agreements, and exercise great care when deciding to support the court's actions.

Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs and Steven Groves is Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

References at the original article

Monday, September 14, 2009

Japan concerned at weakening of U.S. nuclear umbrella

Japan concerned at weakening of U.S. nuclear umbrella
Japan Today, Monday 14th September, 07:01 AM JST

TOKYO — Japan has expressed its reluctance to accept a proposal that urges the United States to limit the role of nuclear weapons to deterring only nuclear attacks and that seeks a no first-strike commitment in a draft report compiled by an international panel on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, panel sources said Sunday.

Japan’s representative to the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament expressed reservations about the proposal due to concerns over a weakening of the U.S. nuclear umbrella, the sources said.

The commission, established at the initiative of Australia and Japan, aims to reinvigorate international efforts on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. It is co-chaired by former Japanese and Australian foreign ministers—Yoriko Kawaguchi and Gareth Evans.

The draft document envisages U.S. President Barack Obama working out a new nuclear doctrine before the review conference of parties to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty which is scheduled to be held next May.

It says that the ‘‘sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter use of nuclear weapons against the United States and its allies.’’

Japan has agreed to the principle of reducing the role of nuclear weapons but has expressed reservations not just about the specific proposal but also the suggested timetable and sequence or weapons reduction, the sources said.

Japan is arguing for Washington to maintain its broad nuclear deterrence apparently due to concerns about possible biological and chemical attacks from North Korea, they added.
An adviser to the Japanese commission member said, ‘‘From a Japanese defense perspective, there are two concerns under current security circumstances in East Asia for the time being,’’ according to the sources.

‘‘First, limiting the role of nuclear deterrence in preventing nuclear attack may give the wrong signal to North Korea or other ‘rogue states’ which may have a different strategic (escalation) calculation. To deter such threats, the credibility of nuclear deterrence would remain important.
‘‘Second, a no-first-use declaration by the United States without a reduction in threat would undermine the security of Japan, or at least it would raise the sense of uncertainty and anxiety over security.

‘‘In light of the reality that China has been rapidly catching up in air and sea power balance...in addition to the rapid modernization of its nuclear capability, no-first-use should be come after or along with the commitment of a tangible nuclear threat reduction in the region,’’ the report quoted the adviser as saying.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Assassins Debate - Why Seymour Hersh is still wrong about Cheney's hit squad

The Assassins Debate. By Michael C. Moynihan
Why Seymour Hersh is still wrong about Cheney's hit squad
Reason, July 17, 2009

A few months ago on this website, I cast doubt on a claim by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh that former Vice President Dick Cheney was running “an executive assassination ring” out of his West Wing office. Urging caution when repeating such claims—predictably, outside of the conspiracy-friendly websites like Raw Story and Digg, only MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reported this dubious "scoop"—I argued that because Hersh had previously admitted exaggerating stories in order to “convey a larger truth,” a healthy dose of skepticism was warranted.

The story quickly disappeared, only to be reanimated this week by CIA director Leon Panetta’s revelation that the Bush administration deliberately obscured an unnamed secret CIA program from Congress. A flood of stories from the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and The New York Times followed, revealing that the CIA plan involved the targeted assassination of al-Qaeda targets. Many observers quickly connected the dots back to Hersh. The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein wondered if the CIA, with whom the Bush administration famously battled, was “hiding Cheney's executive assassination ring." A handful of indignant emailers, claiming vindication on behalf of Hersh, demanded a retraction of my blog post.

Not a chance.

Let's briefly revisit Hersh’s bombshell assassination claims. Last March, during a speech at the University of Minnesota, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist revealed that the CIA "was very deeply involved in domestic activities against people they thought to be enemies of the state (emphasis added)." He offered the following as evidence: "[T]here was a story in the New York Times that if you read it carefully mentioned something known as the Joint Special Operations Command—JSOC it's called...They do not report to anybody, except in the Bush-Cheney days, they reported directly to the Cheney office...It's an executive assassination ring essentially."

But this is a non-sequitur. Hersh first references a secret, as-yet-unreported CIA program focusing on domestic targets after 9/11—which, as of this writing, hasn't been uncovered by those investigating the Panetta story, though it certainly doesn’t strain credulity—and quickly shifts gears to a discussion of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a special unit of the United States Special Operations Command known for tracking and assassinating the Jordanian al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

As pointed out by sources familiar with the program, Panetta cancelled the CIA operation before it became "fully operational,” though Hersh claims the Cheney “executive assassination ring” has been “going on and on and on” for years. Here is Newsweek's Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff, describing the lumbering and troubled evolution of the program:

Top CIA officials ultimately concluded the program posed an unacceptable risk of failure or exposure, according to another former official. As a result, the initial plans proposed by officers of the Directorate of Operations—now known as the National Clandestine Service—were put on hold by CIA Director George Tenet before he left office in 2004, former officials said. Tenet's two successors, Porter Goss and Gen. Michael Hayden, kept the plans in the deep freeze. But a former official said that until Panetta killed the program outright last month, the CIA never totally abandoned the plans for kill teams...

One journalist looking into the program—a person, it is worth noting, deeply critical of Bush and Cheney's terrorism policies—suggested a more logical explanation. Hersh, he informed me, might have stumbled across the program exposed this week but perhaps "didn't understand what his sources were telling him." When asked if these revelations vindicated the "executive assassination ring" claim, another journalist working on the story told me that those who connect the Panetta revelations to Hersh's breathless talk in Minneapolis "have no idea what they are talking about."

Simply put, Hersh’s narrative of an operational, domestic cadre of assassins doesn’t fit with what we know about the plan scuttled by Panetta.

Nevertheless, The Daily Beast’s Benjamin Sarlin huffed that Hersh "was mocked in March when he referred to Dick Cheney’s secret squad of CIA assassins" but now it appeared that Hersh was "prescient," the "man who knew Cheney’s secret." Those who distrusted Hersh would soon be forced to eat crow: "Yesterday, the New York Times reported the hidden program in question was a death squad authorized by Dick Cheney without Congressional approval—almost exactly what he described."

But as The Daily Beast editors soon realized, the Times story said nothing about domestic operations, didn't mention JSOC, a group not even under CIA command, and told a very different story than Hersh. An editor’s note was tacked on to the piece, telling readers that the article "was updated to reflect differences between Hersh’s story and The New York Times'." The claim that Hersh’s story was "exactly" what the Times reported vanished (though it can be viewed via Google’s cache), replaced with a more equivocal sentence: "Now, there are key differences between Hersh's reporting and the Times' latest piece."

In an attempt to keep the "executive assassination ring" angle in play, Sarlin’s updated story concluded gamely that "The Times and Hersh could conceivably be reporting two distinct squads." MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann offered a similar conclusion, telling a guest that "Seymour Hersh's hint of the story in Minnesota in the spring was about stuff run out of the Pentagon and specifically not tied to the CIA," though there might be "two secret assassination squads."

The desire to eschew these contradictory facts in pursuit of a political point spread throughout the blogosphere. Soon after Cheney's former national security adviser John Hannah told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that it was “certainly true” that the there was a “well-vetted process, interagency process” targeting “those that have committed acts of war against the United States,” Center for American Progress blogger Satyam Khanna wrote that "a former Cheney aide suggests that Hersh’s account of [an] 'executive assassination ring' is 'certainly true.'" Well, no he didn’t.

My concern here is not with the efficacy, legality, or existance of Dick Cheney’s program to rub out members of al-Qaeda, but with those who warn us that journalism in the run up to the Iraq War failed the American people because its practitioners placed furthering a political agenda over the supremacy of truth. If the mainstream media in 2002 was hamstrung by sloppy and biased reporting, thereby necessitating a counterrevolution in blogging and online reporting, have the Enragés, the young bloggers who demanded higher standards and an upending of the old order, already become Robespierres? Is it now OK to engage in sloppy and lazy journalism, provided that the stakes are smaller and your target is widely considered to be a bastard?

In reporting the Panetta story, it was “old media” print journalists like Siobhan Gorman, Eli Lake, Joby Warrick, and Scott Shane that informed and illuminated, while the partisans of the new media took up the rear, pounding round pegs into square holes.

During the 2008 election, one writer praised the new breed of online journalists while cautioning that in rushing to scoop the mainstream media, Internet upstarts often risk missing “nuance and context,” valuing quantity over quality. Web journalists, he continued, often settle “for a timely article rather than a complete one,” though this is “an avoidable problem.”

Indeed it is. And the author, Huffington Post political reporter Sam Stein, might want to start taking some of his own advice.

Michael C. Moynihan is a senior editor of Reason magazine.