Every nation on President Bush's "axis of evil" list is now
challenging the United States on the proliferation of weapons of
Thus at a time when it wishes to focus on Saddam Hussein, the
administration is having to conduct something approaching a three-
front diplomatic antiproliferation war.
From Iraq to North Korea to Iran, each "axis" nation presents a
different kind of problem. Each will require a different prevention
The White House is likely to take a hard line with Iraq, a mixed
threats-and-blandishments tack with North Korea, and a softer
political stance with Iran.
Whatever their success, the world may have reached a crucial
point in its decades-long effort to keep the genie of WMD capped in
its bottle. "Things are becoming more tense all around and we may
not have a choice to concentrate on Iraq exclusively.... That really
does stretch everybody but nevertheless, that is the way the world
is playing it out," said Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana, incoming
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a recent
Some experts worry that the unfolding of a series of slow-motion
crises could cause the US to lose focus on the war against
terrorism. The US military is no longer large enough to fight two
regional wars at one time, they say. The time of senior officials
only stretches so far.
But Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis, writing in the current
issue of the journal Foreign Policy, says that many successful
strategies have violated the one-adversary-at-a-time rule. The US
successfully fought both Germany and Japan in World War II, for
instance. The cold war involved militarily deterring the Soviet
Union while building up the economies and confidence of Western
Europe and Japan.
In these instances the fronts were different, but the enemy was
the same, writes Mr. Gaddis: authoritarianism and the conditions
that produced it.
"The Bush administration sees its war against terrorism and
tyrants in much the same war," according to Gaddis.
On its primary worry, Iraq, the administration this week appeared
to be consolidating its evidence for a final push to convince the UN
Security Council that Mr. Hussein's massive arms declaration isn't
worth the paper it is printed on.
There are reports that the US will send the UN a detailed report,
complete with rebutting intelligence, as early as tomorrow. While
officials won't confirm this publicly, they have begun speaking out
about the declaration in more forceful terms. …