Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nuclear Proliferation

The predictable seems to be happening in the Middle East. The failure of the world community to dissuade or prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons has had the completely unsurprising result that other nations in the region have decided it's in their interest to obtain such weapons for themselves. The newest proud owner of these weapons of mass death, if this report is correct, is Saudi Arabia which has allegedly purchased a pair of warheads from Pakistan:
With an eye on the nuclear arms race led by its neighbor Iran, Saudi Arabia has arranged to have available for its use two Pakistani nuclear bombs or guided missile warheads, debkafile's military and intelligence sources reveal. They are most probably held in Pakistan's nuclear air base at Kamra in the northern district of Attock. Pakistan has already sent the desert kingdom its latest version of the Ghauri-II missile after extending its range to 2,300 kilometers.

At least two giant Saudi transport planes sporting civilian colors and no insignia are parked permanently at Pakistan's Kamra base with air crews on standby. They will fly the nuclear weapons home upon receipt of a double coded signal from King Abdullah and the Director of General Intelligence Prince Muqrin bin Abdel Aziz. A single signal would not be enough.
I haven't seen this report anywhere else so it may not be true, but if it is, it's very troubling.

We still have the chance to avoid this proliferation by preventing Iran from building its own nukes, but so far we've chosen half-measures and dithering. Now the whole region is on the brink of becoming nuclearized. How many dictatorships will have nuclear weapons before someone decides to use them? As North Korea becomes more nuclearized and more bellicose, how long will it be before Japan and South Korea decide that they better arm themselves as well? Will we also stand aside while Venezuela purchases these weapons?

I'm not saying that the international community should use military strikes to halt Iran's weapons program, but it should at some point be an option. War is a terrible thing with manifold unforeseeable consequences, but sometimes the lack of war can also be a terrible thing. In the case of declining to decisively prevent Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons the consequences are pretty much predictable. Within a decade or so everyone will have them and someone will eventually use them.

Good News from Afghanistan

Included in a helpful update on the battle for Afghanistan at Strategy Page was this interesting datum:
Meanwhile, the country, overall, prospers. GDP grew over 20 percent this year. Inflation has been reduced (from 9 to 3 percent) in the last two years. All this is a new experience for Afghanistan, which has for centuries been too chaotic to generate much sustained economic growth. The occasional violence in the south makes the news, but the economic growth is what most Afghans pay attention to. The violence has been around here forever, the prosperity is something new.
Who'd have thought it? We keep hearing reports suggesting that we're bogged down in an unwinnable war, but whenever there's an actual analysis of what's happening there the news is often much less gloomy than we'd been led to believe it was.

Public Employees' Unions

In light of allegations that supervisors of New York city's municipal workers union ordered that snow removal be slowed down as payback for union layoffs and other offenses, calls for the abolition of public sector unions are growing louder.
As John Hinderaker points out at Powerline such unions only gained legal status in the 60s and 70s. He notes:
Public employee unions flourish because government is, by its nature, a monopoly. Thus, there is no need for unionized government units to compete against non-unionized units. Moreover, public officials who negotiate with public employee unions generally lack the same incentives that private employers have to keep costs down. The result has been a fiscal disaster, with numerous states and municipalities now going over the waterfall of bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, public employee unions have become perhaps the dominant force in our political life. They extract dues from their members which go to fund the candidacies of politicians who will pay public employees even more money. The unions' ill-gotten clout has created a vicious cycle; at the same time that government units are going broke, public employees are now far better paid than their private sector counterparts, while enjoying better benefits and ridiculous job security.
Not to mention extravagant pension plans which the taxpayers, often with very little in the way of a pension plan themselves, are obligated to pay.

Around the nation a number of cities have had enough and are privatizing things like garbage and snow removal and are saving their taxpayers a boodle. We've experimented with public employees' unions for fifty years, but we can no longer afford to continue the experiment. It's time to end it.

It's also time to make public employees accountable for their own retirement. People who are directly responsible for the death of a newborn infant in New York because an ambulance couldn't traverse the streets that these guys didn't plow surely don't deserve to receive for twenty five years or more a pension close to, or more than, 100% of what they were making when they were working and paid for by the very taxpayers whose child is now dead.

Thanks to Hot Air for the video.