If I understand this correctly, the Bush Administration thinks the current draft treaty is difficult to implement and wouldn’t be very effective anyway, so they’re not going to back it – But aren’t those arguments (difficult to implement and not very effective anyway) some of the same ones used by folks against the nuclear missile defense system?
Or am I being silly for trying to apply logic and consistency to this “President’s” administrative decisions?
No, you’re being silly for putting “President” in quotes.
But if we can set aside the tired old algore-ithms about the election for now, there’s a legitimate concern over the Bush Administration’s obsession with hugely expensive and untried anti-missile technology, coupled with a relative lack (of publicly stated, anyway) concern about terrorism via biological weapons.
Here’s an interesting and chilling article on the subject.
The part that gets me is the prospect of a major bio weapons facility being set up for $10K in a 15 by 15 foot room. An inspections team is unlikely to find such a place tucked away in a back alley in Baghdad or Moscow. At the same time, you have to wonder about how effective spying by foreign inspectors would be given the days’ worth of notice required under the biological weapons treaty proposal - is the Bush administration concern on this score realistic, or mostly paranoia?
Even if the treaty produces only minor successes in the fight against biological warfare/terrorism, it’s still hard to understand how accepting it could be anything but beneficial to the U.S. - even if it’s mostly for the p.r. value. As the Army tells us, we’ve been out of the offensive end of biological weapons since 1969 - so maybe the experts here can explain what we’d be giving up by going along with the treaty.
I see the problem that the Bush administration is having here. Essentially, we would be signing a treaty that would allow foreign inspectors access to our country’s development labs. In return for this we get the opportunity, with other countries, to inspect labs elsewhere. All of this inspecting has a snowball’s chance in hell of actually finding a bioweapons lab since, as Jackmannii linked below, a major lab can be put together for less than the cost of a used car, and located in just about anybody’s basement.
Is it worth having foreign inspectors rooting around our most advanced biological labs, when the chances of our actually finding a real bioweapons lab elsewhere is so remote?
Is Bush right on this? It all depends on what the chances really are of finding a weapons lab, I don’t know the answer to that.
Sure, but if you took away all the crutches and aids given to the interceptors, the current NMD tests have a ballpark success rate of less than 5%, IMO. But that’s another topic…
Sure, but if the United States were to sign the draft treaty, it’d give us some diplomatic leverage to deter/scare off/watchdog the parties that we’re suspicious of, similar to the tenuious arguments we’re using already to destroy suspected labs in Iraq. The treaty certainly isn’t perfect at this point, but to reject it and do nothing (other than to throw out the usual lip service to come up with an alternative “at a later date”) seems to be the poorer choice to make.
I would think that an ineffective treaty would motivate the countries involved to try and come up with something better.
*Originally posted by rjung * Sure, but if you took away all the crutches and aids given to the interceptors, the current NMD tests have a ballpark success rate of less than 5%, IMO. But that’s another topic…
Actually I agree with you here **rjung[/g]. The ABM will never work IMHO.
**Sure, but if the United States were to sign the draft treaty, it’d give us some diplomatic leverage to deter/scare off/watchdog the parties that we’re suspicious of, similar to the tenuious arguments we’re using already to destroy suspected labs in Iraq.]/b]
“Diplomatic leverage”? The only DL that SAddam would recognize would be an assasination or the clear threat of one. Words on a piece of paper won’t work.
The thing is that the only thing we could do was basically look through their haystacks to see if maybe they have any needles in there. In return, we have to allow others to look through ours, which we believe have other little valuable information in them.
Basically, we risk having industrial secrets stolen by other countries in return for being allowed to look for biological weapons in places where no one is going to hide them. Not a good deal, IMO.
You can pretty much forget any effective countermeasures except perhaps to produce boatloads of medicine. As already mentioned a major bioweapon lab can fit in a basement. In addition, smuggling the stuff is ridiculously easy. You don’t need a missile. Just some guy carrying it in a water bottle, or in the ink cartridge in a pen or any other million ways. You don’t need much to do a lot of damage. A water bottle full of botulism would be enough to poison a city’s water supply (assuming they use a reservoir).
About the only real deterrent I see to bioweapons is they have a way of turning on their owner (once released you can’t control them and they may easily find their way back to your country). In addition, most countries would view such a thing as a major attack on them and will respond accordingly (potentially even with nukes depending on the scope of the attack). You can’t cripple the United States fast enough via a bioweapon before the US could retaliate against an attack. As a result bioweapons have limited to no use in a tactical or strategic sense.
Mostly they are a terror weapon. A treaty that spells out our noble intentions to never use or make such things is all well and nice but it isn’t really worth the paper it is written on.