Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Those Who The Gods Would Destroy...

Those who the gods would destroy they first make mad.

By that Shakespearean dictum, Shireen M Mazari, Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, seems well on her way to perdition. Speaking in Delhi at the 10th Asian Security Conference on 'Asian Security in the 21st Century,' Mazari dismissed those who are concerned that Pakistan's nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. They should worry, instead, about American "loose nukes", she said.

Speaking from a written text on the threat of nuclear proliferation among non-state actors in Asia, Mazari defended A Q Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, who ran an international bazaar in nuclear weapons technology, selling complete plans to build a bomb and the hardware to do it with to such countries as Libya, North Korea, and perhaps Iran. "Why should he be punished when he did not break any of Pakistan's international commitments?" she asked: "Why does nobody talk about his counterparts in other countries who break the laws of their countries?" At worst Khan was guilty of nothing more than "corruption." The United States and France, she said, had proliferated nuclear weapons technology to Israel; they had broken the laws of their own countries in doing so.

Mazari also told the reportedly stunned audience that in her view non-state actors were "not a major concern in the nuclear proliferation context." Nuclear weapons were too difficult for terrorist groups to manage and too destructive for their political ends, she said. "Purely from the operational point of view, in the context of terrorism, the target and victim are separate entities and destruction of the victim is intended to send a message to the target. But with the fallout from the use of nuclear weapons, the separation will be difficult to sustain,"

The "mobile strategic doctrine" of terrorist groups would not allow them to use nuclear weapons which could not "simply be carried around endlessly. ... So, logic suggests that nuclear weapons will not be the weapon of choice for terrorists." From her "vantage point" the "whole cacophony of non-state actors seeking and acquiring nuclear weapons," was no more than "a strategy of victimising particular states seen as untrustworthy in terms of loyalty to the US and its interests," Mazari said.

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