Read Eric's bio and previous columns
June 16, 2008
Americans on the
Homefront Pay for U.S. Mistakes Abroad
Here is a quick lesson in how interconnected things are:
Last week’s surge in oil prices was caused, in part, by a
Pakistani-based arms smuggling ring.
The impact of American
foreign policy on domestic affairs isn’t always entirely appreciated.
Secured by two oceans,
the idea that what happens in foreign places stays in foreign places is
deeply embedded in American thinking. It is at the root of the idea that
we must fight our enemies in their homes rather than on our own shores.
Last week, however, one
of the things credited for causing the price of oil to spike was
uneasiness in the market because Israel was rattling its saber
especially loud over Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Over last weekend came
reports that, as late as 2003, Iran was working with an arms smuggling
group headed by the man credited as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear
weapons program. A hard drive discovered by investigators was very
recently cracked, and among the information believed shared with the
Iranians were the blueprints for a nuclear bomb small and compact enough
that it could conceivably be loaded into a ballistic missile. This was
happening, mind you, right about the time that American arms inspectors
were learning that Iraq’s nuclear program consisted of some crude
drawings and bits of junk buried in someone’s back yard.
The Iranians have just
such a missile, a copy of the North Korean design. Although the missile
doesn’t have the juice to reach the American mainland, it could easily
This could explain
Israel’s saber-rattling, which in turn prompted oil prices to go up.
Most everyone knows the impact of that in the lives of ordinary
Americans already – higher gasoline prices are prompting people to
choose between gasoline and food.
It could very well get
worse. Over the weekend, Afghani president Hamid Karzai did some saber
rattling of his own – toward Pakistan. He threatened to send Afghan
soldiers into the Pakistani frontier to fight the elements of the
Taliban that launch cross-border raids over the weekend.
The threat came as
Pakistan is hoping to find peace with the militants, including those
responsible for last year’s assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
This highlights the great
danger of a nuclear-armed Pakistan, not that the state would use the
weapons against its neighbor and chief nemesis India, but that it is a
volatile nation. Considering that the chief architect of Pakistan’s
nuclear program sold his secrets to dangerous regimes, it’s not hard to
figure where disaster could result from political turmoil.
With American forces tied
up in Iraq, despite the president’s warning, not all options are on the
table. An American military strike, which would be made without adequate
follow-up (i.e. invasion) forces, is unlikely to destroy Iran’s nuclear
weapons program, which is dispersed around the country.
Sanctions are also
unlikely to help a great deal, since the pain felt by those is almost
universally felt by the governed rather those who govern.
That leaves diplomacy,
although it would be a rare thing indeed to convince a nation that seeks
regional influence to willingly abandon a program designed to achieve
Last week, the president
said that it might take 40 years to discern whether the invasion was a
success. From the standpoint of nuclear proliferation and Iran, the
failure of our invasion is readily apparent right now. It’s tied our
hands in regard to a critical issue involving a nation that helps slake
the world’s thirst for oil.
For average Americans,
that means a couple of rare treats. The first is being in a unique
position to watch the knife get twisted in our bodies. That’s especially
useful for knowing the extent of the damage.
The second is the
realization that average Americans get to pay for our misadventure in
Iraq twice – once through taxes and the second as the gas pump.
North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback
about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
This is Column #
Request permission to publish here.