Meanwhile, In Other News …


“The deepest freeze in U.S.-Russia relations since the Cold War has brought diplomatic efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions to a halt just as Western governments and U.N. inspectors are warning that Tehran could be gaining the ability to build a nuclear weapon.

Russia this week pulled out of a six-nation meeting scheduled for Thursday to discuss further sanctions against Iran, freezing for the time being a 3 1/2-year old diplomatic campaign to persuade Tehran to abandon uranium enrichment.

Neither the United States nor Israel has ruled out attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, although there are no overt signs that planning for a military strike has intensified.

The Bush administration’s other major effort to curb the spread of nuclear weapons suffered a significant setback Wednesday, when North Korea, which has tested a crude nuclear device, told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it plans to restart a reprocessing plant that produces plutonium for nuclear weapons.”

Great. Another rogue nuclear power. Just what we need right now.

Obviously, both North Korea and Iran are responsible for their own decisions about whether or not to pursue nuclear programs. Equally obviously, though, their success to date is largely due to this administration’s ineptitude. In the case of North Korea, we called off a deal that had frozen the most rapid form of nuclear development because of we thought they might have had a program that would have taken much, much longer to produce any actual nuclear weapons. In the case of Iran, we rebuffed Iran’s feelers about a comprehensive deal that would have involved ‘full cooperation on nuclear weapons’, rejected the very idea of negotiating with them, and needlessly alienated a lot of the countries whose help we needed to actually make progress on this issue, most recently Russia.

As far as I can tell, besides invading two countries on their borders and making noises about how they might be next, our Iran strategy has involved trying to keep them from developing nuclear weapons by scrunching up our faces and sending really bad thoughts in their general direction. Possibly we also have people from Other Government Agencies sticking pins into Ahmedinejad dolls in some Top Secret bunker somewhere.

What we don’t have is a policy that makes sense. That’s a pity. The stakes are very high.

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