12 May 2010

New Addition to the Axis of Evil

Israeli's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has added Syria to former president George W. Bush's Axis of Evil. In a speech in Tokyo he told reporters that Syria, North Korea, and Iran are cooperating to spread weapons of mass destruction. Last December, an aircraft traveling from North Korea to Iran was seized in Bangkok and was found to contain 35 tons of weapons including rocket propelled grenades and SAM components. Mr. Lieberman cited this incident as evidence against Syria, saying that the weapons were going to be smuggled by Iran to Syrian-supported groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

This incident highlights a pet peeve of mine. The term WMD's has evolved quite a bit over the years. Personally, I think the term is used way too often and its definition is absurdly broad. IEDs are considered weapons of mass destruction. Large caliber rifles are WMDs. Any definition that puts pipe bombs and nuclear missiles in the same category is on the fast track to uselessness. Policymakers use the term for political leverage whenever weapons they don't like get used by people they don't like. Its become vacuous and without the rhetorical efficiency that it had back when George W. Bush was president, when everyone thought that it meant nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons (even if legally it included a lot more).

In related news, Israel and the Palestinians concluded their first round of indirect talks over the weekend. It's been almost a year and a half since the two sides have engaged in any negotiations. The current stumbling block that is inhibiting progression to direct talks is the issue of Israeli settlements. Israel is continuing to build settlements in East Jerusalem, the site that the Palestinians want as their future capital.

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