The Rockets' Red Glare

While the Bush administration is still in its early days, commentators of repute abroad and at home—never wavering or unsound in the old Cold War days—are complaining (sometimes bitterly) that the new administration's foreign policy defies reason and experience.

Writing in the Toronto Star (February 18), Richard Gwyn imagined what would happen if the dictator of "Lower Volta" acquired a nuclear missile by smuggling diamonds, despite the U.N. sanctions imposed because of the ethnic cleansing that brought him to power:

The U.N. is only an irritant. . . Your real object of anger is the United States, which insisted on the sanctions despite Russian and Chinese concerns about state sovereignty. So you set up your missile in the jungle and get your scientists to aim it at Washington. Then you push the button. About 20 minutes later, half of Washington is devastated. About 15 minutes after that, all of Lower Volta, including you, disappears from the map.

Substitute a "rogue state" like North Korea, Libya, Iran, or Iraq, says Gwyn, and you have the entire intellectual and geopolitical justification for the NMD system that President Bush intends to build:

It's absurd. It's laughable. It's surreal. Why would the leader of any of these backward, near-bankrupt, states commit suicide, even if, as is highly improbable, any of them...

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