January 11, 2006Foreign Affairs

More extracts from Langewiesche’s article on A Q Khan

An excellent article in The Atlantic magazine

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

William Langewiesche writes in The Atlantic monthly:

But trading in nuclear-weapons technology is more than just a form of misbehavior. To ignore such activities once they are known is in effect to participate in them. The lack of financial trails is inconvenient, but it does not obscure the essential history. A. Q. Khan had allies in high places who, rather than ignoring his activities, were directly involved. In Pakistan this can only mean the generals, including some of those currently in power, and to a certain but unknowable degree Musharraf himself.

(Former Pakistani minister Mubashir) Hasan used the term traitorous” to characterize A. Q. Khan’s activities. I said, Can an activity be traitorous when the government itself is complicit, and in a country without effective law? I mean, at what point does such activity in such a place simply become a policy?”

He gave that to me. He said, You’re right. You can be a traitor only if the power is not aware.”

When the Bush administration finally decided to go public with its concerns about the North Koreans’ nuclear-weapons program, it delayed leaking the intelligence information until late October of 2002, after Congress had given its approval for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The blundering that fall defies belief: while dragging the United States into a disastrous war in the pursuit of phantom weapons programs in Iraq, the U.S. government condoned the tangible actions of Pakistan—which, as any reader of Hibbs would have known, was delivering nuclear-weapons capabilities into the hands of America’s most significant enemies, including regimes with overt connections to Islamist terrorists. Before the attacks on New York and Washington, Musharraf himself had accommodated Osama bin Laden, had supported the Taliban, and had used international jihadis against the Indians in Kashmir and beyond.

Pakistan’s investigation (of A Q Khan’s sales to Iran, Libya and North Korea) was a cover-up and a sham—moreover, of a sort possible only in a morally bankrupt and corrupt nation where cowardly and illegitimate rulers, propped up by huge infusions of American dollars and dependent on their soldiers’ guns, suppress genuine inquiries because they themselves would be implicated and, in the embarrassment that followed, would be cut off from foreign aid and driven from power by their own people, who almost universally now detest them.[The Atlantic Online]

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