Australia -- the next rogue nation
Here's one example that proves that it is logically untrue to say that "nobody can be worse" than President George Bush in foreign policy. From today's newspapers in Australia.
By Geoff Elliott October 28, 2006 12:00am Article from: The Australian
Harold Ford, a handsome 36-year-old from Tennessee, has become one of the sensations of the mid-term elections in the US and a reason why Democrats are a good chance of winning back control of the US Congress for the first time in 12 years. But if Mr Ford, already a US congressman, wins his bid to become a more powerful senator, Australia had better watch out. Because according to Mr Ford, Australia has an interest in nuclear weapons and is part of the broader nuclear threat to the US. ...
His skilled oration on domestic politics may be flawless, but his grip on foreign policy is error-prone. Yesterday he stumbled into gaffes on the North Korean nuclear tests and then mentioned Australia in the same breath as rogue nations wanting to go nuclear.
"Here we are in a world today where more countries have access to nuclear weapons than ever before," Mr Ford said, adding that when he left college in 1992 he thought the nuclear age had come to an end "and America would find ways to eliminate the number of chances that a rogue group or a rogue nation would get their hands on nuclear material".
"Today nine countries have it - more than ever before - and 40 are seeking it, including Argentina, Australia and South Africa," he said. Mr Ford was referring to the nine known nuclear weapon states: the US, the UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and now North Korea.
He said this made the US less safe because "more countries have nuclear weapons today which means the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands has increased dramatically".
What makes Ford's comments really funny is that Australia has probably had the capability to build both nukes and missile delivery systems since the 1950s but foreswore the weapons voluntarily. From Wikipedia:
Australia – Following World War II, Australian defence policy initiated joint nuclear weapons development with the United Kingdom. Australia provided uranium, land for weapons and rocket tests, and scientific and engineering expertise. Canberra was also heavily involved in the Blue Streak ballistic missile program. In 1955, a contract was signed with a British company to build the Hi-Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR). HIFAR was considered the first step toward the construction of larger reactors capable of producing substantial volumes of plutonium for nuclear weapons. However, Australia's nuclear ambitions were abandoned by the 1960s, and the country signed the NPT in 1970 (ratified in 1973).
With 30% of the world's cheap uranium deposits, F-111 bombers, attack submarines, leased Global Hawk UAVs, OTH radar surveillance of SE Asia, F-18s and a commitment to buy into the F-35 and possibly the F-22 programs, besides being integrated into the US-UK intelligence sharing system, Australia would be in a totally different league from North Korea if it were anything like a "threat" to the US. But of course it isn't. Australia 's a US ally of about the same power order of magnitude as Israel with somewhat more extensive beaches.
Ford is an intelligent man and he probably misspoke largely out of ignorance on his specific subject. How else would he lump North Korea and Australia into the same basket? But whether mistakes are made in ignorance or malice they are still mistakes. It's natural to feel somewhat uneasy about politicians who want to defend Iraq from Okinawa and are fixing to treat Australia as the next North Korea. But then, sometime back a Washington Post reporter discovered that many politicians in Washington today didn't know the difference between a Shi'ite and a Sunni, so maybe ignorance is never cured simply with the passage of time. If so, we're doomed! We're doomed!