Axis of Evil TM Roundup

This week’s visit to our friends at Beijing’s People’s Daily will give us a brief look at all three members of the Axis of Evil TM.
First, from Iran, we see that the Iranian foreign ministry is quibbling with the recent purported agreement with European powers Britain, France and Germany to suspend uranium enrichment activities, though Iran (“with the support of nations from the non-aligned movement”) is seeking to modify aspects of the agreement, including keeping 20 centrifuges “for research”. Note that the USA continues to accuse Iran of developing weapons. Our problem here is that (1) we have no real military leverage– we are overspent in Iraq right now, and short of some bombing runs which I don’t think would get the job done, are reduced to “diplomatic” leverage against a nation we’ve had no relations with for a quarter century, (2) the rest of the world has no leverage either, other than, perhaps “moral suasion”, or worse (3) other than the USA and the EU, the rest of the world has little interest in whether or not Iran develops nuclear weapons, which they perceive will be aimed at Israel, the EU or USA, and not them. I have suggested that this IS an area for our friends in Beijing: pointing out to President Hu that the USA being subject to nuclear blackmail (or even having to deal with its principal client Israel subject to nuclear blackmail) is bad for business. I would have liked a credible military threat, of course, but Bush-family-bogeyman Saddam Hussein was far more important, don’t you know.
Closer to home (if your home is… Beijing), comes to this report that (inexplicably) North Korea is suspending work on is light water nuclear reactor. This reactor, not usually used for weapons, is the product of our 1994 agreement with the DPRK to suspend its weapons program– the deal that wildman Kim Jong Il’s government broke around 2000, and caused all sorts of trouble. My guess is that the North Koreans are simply diverting resources to their actual weapons programs, rather than something merely designed to generate energy for their desperately poor nation. Once again– the answer as I see it is to make it clear to the Chinese that nuclear blackmail of us (and our key clients in Seoul and Tokyo) would be very bad for business. Here, the Chinese have far more direct leverage. Again, my view is that the ultimate deal should be buying North Korea’s nuclear program lock, stock and barrel, and while we’re at it, buying down its conventional army (the kind of aid package I’m talking about would cost a fraction of our little Iran adventure, btw). Again, though– the Chinese would have to broker it. I have every confidence in their ability to do it (though none in our own…)
And finally, its back to Iraq, where the interim government states that (God willing) the January 30th elections will not be delayed (the Sunnis be damned, even though 17 political parties, including Interim PM Allawi’s own party have called for a six month delay, and the American elections have safely returned the Imperium). This is not unexpected: the January 30th elections are a key part of American domestic policy, possibly to enable the Pentagon to declare victory and start drawing down troops so that they might be available for an adventure in Iran or Syria (or something). I’ll just say this: the Iraqis are a resilient people. This might somehow work out, despite the ham-handed American actions which have turned the country into a complete and total hash (key stat: child malnutrition has doubled and gone back to the same level as the height of sanctions; we have made things far worse than under the discredited Oil for Food Program; but I digress). In short, I am convinced that the best gift we can give the Iraqi people is to leave as soon after their election as possible. Given domestic political imperatives, the Bush Administration may well agree with this sentiment– doing a double-back-flip on those who voted for it thinking that the perceived pussy John Kerry would “cut and run”. Well, time will tell.
This has been Axis of Evil TM roundup.