Friday, August 22, 2008
Despite U.S. efforts, the nuclear suppliers group meeting in Vienna did not give India the waiver it sought. The sticking point: India at present voluntarily observes a ban on further nuclear tests; some NSG members want that ban to be worked into the conditions that would govern India's ability to engage in the nuclear trade. India cites the U.S. position--it needs to retain the right to test at some indefinite point in the future to ensure the credibility of its deterrent. Deadlock today; talks reconvene 4 August.
My big question on the Iraq deal. Given the reluctance of the current central government in Baghdad to integrate the Sunni "Sons of Iraq", is the U.S. withdrawal predicated on no killings/fighting in Iraq, or just no killing/fighting that targets U.S. personnel? Is essentially the U.S. going to stand aside if intercommunal strife begins again? And what is the strategy if the Sunnis decide to retarget U.S. forces? Something's not adding up.
This approach was tried before in Afghanistan; the USSR Forces left in order and unmolested.
Whether there will be a low intensity civil war in Iraq will depend on who supports Iraq's current government. Certainly both US and Iran will support that government. So chances for a repeat of the state disintegration that we saw in Afghanistan is rather low in Iraq.