July 23, 2009

Droppin' Bombs

Resting an injury does the body good. After leaving India, an energized Hillary Clinton logged double duty by heading America’s delegation at the Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s (ASEAN) regional forum in Phuket, Thailand. The Secretary of State’s mission is to sign ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, a pledge to peacefully resolve conflicts.

Clinton declared, “I want to send a very clear message that the United States is back, that we are fully engaged and committed to our relationships in Southeast Asia.”

Immediately an implication was drawn to the lack of attention devoted to Asia by the Bush administration, but political distractions have little value. Clinton listed poverty, refugees, disaster relief, human trafficking, and counter-narcotics as areas America should rightfully continue supporting in Thailand. Asia, minus China, still looks to America for leadership and President Obama must make good use of the opportunity.

But Clinton soon shifted into war mode after dispensing with pleasantries, revealing her ulterior motives.

“We know there are also growing concerns about military cooperation between North Korea and Burma which we take very seriously,” she said at a news conference in Bangkok. “It would be destabilizing for the region, it would pose a direct threat to Burma's neighbors.”

Then Clinton opened the bomb bay doors - “We worry about the transfer of nuclear technology.”

Intelligence agencies have spent years monitoring North Korea and Myanmar’s military alliance. Someone uninterested in politics might be able to make the nuclear connection, it’s a 1+1 equation. Think Myanmar is building an underground, reinforced military city for fun? The way it treats its people suggests their safety wouldn’t be a deterrent.

Nonetheless Clinton made a bold move by dropping the nuclear card because it stinks like Iraq. An American intelligence official quickly clarified that no positive link has been established, but a strong case can be built against North Korea, already nuclear, and Myanmar’s friendship. They’re freaks, outcasts, rebels, and those types join forces. The question remains unanswered: what if peaceful means fail to prevent proliferation between North Korea and Myanmar?

Diplomacy can’t even save one woman. “We expect fair treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi,” Clinton somehow said straight-faced, knowing the odds aren’t high.

Nothing short of a military blockade has the long-term potential to limit military transfers between the rogue states. Unfortunately such a tactic would only escalate tensions instead of foster a neutral environment to resolve disagreements. Thus if all else fails, would an international coalition led by America launch a land assault into North Korea or Myanmar? Doubtful, but Clinton is laying the foundation.

Nuclear weapons must also be considered as bait for regime change. Nuclear accusations trigger fear and vigilance, but also suspicion. Iraq’s story is known, North Korea is the next bad boy, and Myanmar continues a theme that only Iran could end.

"We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment,” Clinton warned, “that if the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to develop the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it is unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer because they won't be able to intimidate and dominate as they apparently believe they can once they have a nuclear weapon."

Clinton's ultimate purpose in Asia disclosed itself as she laid the hammer down - America’s plan B for Iran is global isolation. There is more to President Obama's praise and encouragement of Europe, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and the rest of Asia. He wants them to grow stronger so he can form a “defense umbrella,” a concept partially designed by the Israeli lobby.

So what if the umbrella collapses from a downpour? Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan maintain positive diplomatic relations with Iran. Russia and China are reluctant to isolate Iran into oblivion. Israel denounced the idea and only has faith in the military option, which will jeopardize European support. Continental isolation will take near superhuman unanimity on strategy and tactics; the four estimated years before Iran builds a bomb may not be enough time.

Such a strategy, long considered but seldom discussed publicly, has no promise of success even if the world does unite. Iran’s leadership is already feeling the pressure as evident in its last election. Suffocating Tehran won't prevent nuclear weapons, only drive it further to them. Ostracizing Iran could lead to a North Korea in the Persian Gulf and spark an arms race in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey.

All future details though. Clinton dropped her own bombs and successfully completed her mission. She's earn her day at the resort.

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