World War III
Ron Rosenblum had this must-read article about World War III over at Slate magazine this weekend.
I think this is the urgent debate question that should be posed to both parties’ candidates. What happens if Pakistan falls into the hands of al-Qaida-inclined elements? What happens if Musharraf hands over the launch authorization codes before he’s beheaded?
Don’t kid yourself: At this very moment, there’s a high probability that this scenario is being wargamed incessantly in the defense and intelligence ministries of every nuclear nation, most particularly the United States, Russia, and Israel.
War is just a shot away, a well-aimed shot at Musharraf. But World War III? Not inevitably. Still, in any conflict involving nukes, the steps from regional to global can take place in a flash. The new “authorized” users of the Islamic bomb fire one or more at Israel, which could very well retaliate against Islamic capitals and perhaps bring retaliation upon itself from Russia, which may have undeclared agreements with Iran, for instance, that calls for such action if the Iranians are attacked.
If Pakistan is the most immediate threat, U.S., Israeli, and Iranian hostilities over Iranian bomb-making may be the most likely to go global. That may have been what the “very senior” British official was talking about when he said the Israeli raid on Syria brought us “close … to a third world war.” Iranian radar could easily have interpreted the Israeli planes as having its nuclear facilities as their target. On Nov. 21, Aviation Week reported online that the United States participated in some way in the Israeli raid by providing Israel information about Syrian air defenses. And Yossi Melman, the intelligence correspondent with Haaretz, reported a few days later that—according to an Israeli defense specialist—the raid wasn’t about a nuclear reactor but something more “nasty and vicious,” a plutonium assembly plant where plutonium, presumably from North Korea, was being processed into Syrian bombs.
How America Lost the War on Drugs
Ben Wallace-Wells meanwhile wrote this instant Pulitze prize contender for Rolling Stone on “How America Lost the War on Drugs” with the subhead: “After Thirty-Five Years and $500 Billion, Drugs Are as Cheap and Plentiful as Ever: An Anatomy of a Failure.”
On anti-drug advertisements
The ads, which ran under the slogan “The Anti-Drug,” had been designed by a committee of academics who apparently believed that kids needed to be shown that not doing drugs could be fun too. In one characteristic spot, a pen draws an animated landscape, with a cartoon boy avoiding the advances of cartoon dealers before driving off into the distance with a cartoon dragon on a cartoon motorcycle. “My name is Brandon, and drawing is my anti-drug,” the narrator says sweetly. The commercials made abstinence seem so lame they could have been designed by the cartels…
On the escalating political rhetoric
[Bush’s drug czar] Walters called citizens who plant and tend marijuana gardens “terrorists who wouldn’t hesitate to help other terrorists get into the country with the aim of causing mass casualties.”
Ben Wallace-Wells’s conclusions
By virtually every objective measure, the White House had lost the War on Drugs. Last year, Walters boasted that drug use among teenagers has fallen since 2002 – ignoring the fact that overall drug use remains unchanged. The deeper problem is that the drug czar has stopped measuring anything other than drug use. During the 1990s, at the direction of Gen. McCaffrey, Carnevale had created a comprehensive system to measure whether we were winning the drug war. The system took into account drug price and availability in the United States, how difficult it was for drug smugglers to get their product into the country and the consequences of drug use on public health and crime. But Walters simply tossed out that system of evaluation – as well as the unflattering facts it highlighted. “Had we kept it,” Carnevale tells me, “we would see that the Bush administration has not made a positive impact on any of the measures.”
Most unexpectedly of all, crime – a problem that seemed to have been licked a decade ago – is beginning to creep back up. In October 2006, the Police Executive Research Forum released a report declaring that violent crime in the country was “accelerating at an alarming pace.” Murders were up twenty-seven percent in Boston over the previous year, sixty percent in San Antonio and more than 300 percent in Orlando. Even in the cloistered world of policing, complaints began to build about the numbers and about the cuts in federal funding. “The reality is a lot of police officers are politically conservative folks,” says Ron Brooks, the president of the National Narcotics Officers’ Association. “But there’s been a lack of leadership in this administration on this issue.”