Counterproliferation

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Vis-à-vis my earlier post on Bush policy, Matt Yglesias has a great Guardian piece online about Bush’s pie-in-the-sky idea that Iraq was supposed to be an example of why other countries shouldn’t build WMD or nukes:

The crux of the matter, however, is that the Iraq war was not just about Iraq, but about a new approach to nuclear proliferation more generally. The old way had been based on binding international commitments that, while allowing the US and a select few other countries to possess nuclear weapons, did impose some real commitments on the nuclear weapons states.
[snip]
Iraq was targeted not merely on its own terms but in order that Bush might make an example out of Saddam and send a message to the leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea and other states. Cutting a deal with Saddam wasn’t an option.

So, uh, how’d that work out?

In particular, the invasion force needed to be small enough, and the reconstruction plan fast and cheap enough, that the US could credibly threaten to do it again if other countries didn’t get the message.

Of course, the threat of a rapid American invasion is no longer a deterrent — we couldn’t pull it off if we had to:

The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies.

That’s Gen. George Casey, one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifying before Congress at a hearing he requested.

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