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Right Solution, Wrong Problem

Right Solution, Wrong ProblemPresident Bush’s recent measure to address nuclear proliferation is the right step in the wrong direction, wrote Tufts’ Adil Najam in a recent USA Today op-ed. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.20.04] In an address last week, President George W. Bush made the case for tighter controls on weapons of mass destruction around the world. Identifying them as "the greatest threat to humanity today," the president called for an expanded mission to halt the propagation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear arms. But the initiative, says an expert at Tufts' Fletcher School, is treatment for a symptom - not the disease.

"President Bush's Proliferations Security Initiative (PSI) provides the right solution, but the wrong problem," Adil Najam, associate professor at The Fletcher School, wrote in an op-ed for USA Today. "Nuclear proliferation is merely a symptom: the real issue is the nuclear weapons themselves."

The Tufts expert added, "In this sense, the PSI is no more than a Band-Aid, and a quite small one at that."

The approach is not new. According to Najam, the U.S. has tried many times since World War II to limit weapons of mass destruction.

"For 60 years, ever since Hiroshima, the U.S. and the world have tried to control the spread of nuclear weapons," wrote Najam, who specializes in international negotiation and diplomacy. "We've tried treaties, economic sanctions and moral persuasion. And we've failed."

Lack of consistency in American policy, said the Fletcher School professor, is a contributing factor to the problem.

"Are we really surprised that the rest of the world rolls its eyes when we pontificate about the dangers of nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction in general?" wrote the Tufts expert. "What other countries doubt is our sincerity. It is hypocritical to tell the rest of the world that nuclear weapons are good enough for us, but not for them. We can't have a world part nuclear and part not."

Najam added, "As my grandmother used to say, ‘If you point one finger at someone, at least three will point back at you.'"

The Tufts expert wrote in USA Today that disposal of nuclear weapons altogether - however improbable - may be the only solution.

"We must insist on a nuclear-free world," wrote the Fletcher School professor. "Rather than better mousetraps for proliferating nations, we need an approach to eliminate nuclear weapons. Some may argue this is unrealistic. But no more so than the misguided, even nave, hope that a feel-good Band-Aid called PSI will make the world a safer place."

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