[A-List] US imperialism: pre-emption
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Dec 2 06:18:27 MST 2002
Preemption takes aim at Ukraine and China
By David Isenberg
Asia Times, November 30 2002
In what is perhaps the first concrete initiative to come out of an expanded
and covert Pentagon counter-terror program, US Special Operations Forces
(SOF) have been ordered to launch operations against arms supply lines to
terrorists and the three rogue nations referred to by President George W
Bush as the axis of evil, Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
This action dates to last month when Bush signed a classified executive
order giving the SOF unprecedented authority to combat and, if necessary,
destroy arms suppliers who aid terrorism or attempts to develop weapons of
Such actions are consistent with news reports from October, when it was
revealed that earlier this year the Pentagon's Defense Science Board had
conducted a "Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support
of Countering Terrorism" which, among other things, called for
Specifically, it urged officials to launch secret missions and intelligence
operations to penetrate and disrupt terrorist cells abroad. Some of those
operations should be aimed at signaling to countries that harbor terrorists
that "their sovereignty will be at risk".
Yet such actions may be easier said than done, considering the number of
countries that have been eagerly lining up to sell dual-purpose materials
and military equipment to axis of evil countries.
Consider the case of Ukraine, which has been in the news the past few months
for a scandal over the alleged sale of Kolchuga air defense radars to Iraq.
The radars can be used to track Western aircraft in Iraq's no-fly zones.
While there is no definitive smoking gun that Iraq received the systems, the
presumption is that it must be considered likely. In fact, according to an
investigation by a joint US-UK team, which released a report on November 27,
"The Government of Ukraine failed to provide the team with satisfactory
evidence that the transfer of a Kolchuga to Iraq could not or did not take
place. As a result, the issue of the transfer must remain open". It also
said "covert or illegal arms transfers, particularly with the complicity of
third parties, remain a credible possibility." In this case, the suspected
third party is China. As the report put it, the government of Ukraine
"asserts that four Kolchuga stations are in China, but the team was not
given access to documents to confirm no third party transfer".
One wonders if the United States would risk taking action against a third
party in the future, especially China, with all the danger and risk that
could bring about, in order to stop an arms sale.
One can also only wonder if, under the new US policy, the SOF might
undertake actions against Ukraine if future weapons sales were attempted.
Especially when recent news reports indicate that Iraq might not be the only
axis of evil country with which Ukraine has done business.
This past Wednesday, an opposition Ukrainian lawmaker claimed to have
evidence of Ukrainian arms sales to North Korea and Iran, which, if true,
means that Ukraine has pulled off the triple crown of arms sales to rogue
The lawmaker, Hryhoriy Omelchenko, a former security official, appealed to
the parliament speaker to convene a closed hearing next month with President
Leonid Kuchma, cabinet ministers and the national security chairman.
Omelchenko promised to lay out "proven facts" of Ukraine's arms sales "not
only to Iraq, North Korea, China and Iran," but even other states, according
to his office.
Ukraine is far from the only supplier to the axis of evil. Other states have
made headlines for supplying Iraq. Indeed, if the SOF do start trying to
disrupt arms deals, they are going to be kept very busy. For example,
Yugoslavia has been a hub for east European arms smugglers who have supplied
Saddam Hussein with crucial equipment and know-how.
According to one news report, some Western officials analysts say that
Serbia is the center of the illegal trade, which involves at least seven
countries in the Balkans and former Soviet eastern Europe.
A recently released report by the International Crisis Group on the
arms-to-Iraq scandal concludes that Jugoimport, the Belgrade-based Yugoslav
state arms export agency accused by the US last month, also brokered arms to
Iraq via Bosnia, Ukraine, Russia and "possibly Macedonia and Belarus".
Also, Bulgaria has admitted that the Terem plant in Turgovishte had been
sending armored vehicles and spare parts to Iraq via Syria, while Belarus
has been supplying Baghdad with missile expertise and machinery, which can
be adapted for military use.
Last month, Croatian authorities seized 14 steel containers from the
freighter Boka Star. Inside barrels and crates labeled "active carbon" and
"filter inserts for water purification" were some 208 tons of nitrocellulose
propellant and nitroglycerine, compounds that could be used for Iraq's
dwindling arsenal of Scud missiles.
And in early November, police in the German cities of Mannheim and Cologne
opened inquiries into a German-Russian businessman suspected of
masterminding the illegal supply of weapons to Iraq. Similarly, in late
August, Russian and North Korean experts held talks that could lead to a
boost in Russian arms sales to Pyongyang.
A final problem with the policy is that it reflects the belief, widely held
in the Bush administration, and explicitly expressed in its National
Security Strategy released in September, that deterrence no longer works
against rogue states.
But such a belief may be invalid. A draft of a forthcoming working paper
from the Brookings Institution says that with respect to North Korea, it
"illustrates both the potential and the limits of deterrence in dealing with
rogue states. [North Korea] clearly has shown a willingness to flout
international norms and agreements, as underscored by its recent admissions
of a secret nuclear weapons program. But that program probably reflects an
effort either to extort money from the outside world or to deter attack. It
does not appear to be designed to help North Korea undertake aggression, as
further suggested by the fact that North Korea may have had one or two
nuclear weapons for a decade without going on the offensive. Indeed, on the
whole, its external behavior has improved substantially in recent years.
"Its support for terrorism is virtually non-existent, according to US
government sources; its missile testing moratorium continues; its arms
exports have declined substantially; and it is coming clean on its history
of kidnapping Japanese citizens decades ago. It is also engaging with South
Korea, Japan, the United States and the outside world in general, even if
fitfully and slowly. Certainly it is not attacking the United States or its
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