Sunday, February 8, 2009

How do you solve a problem like A.Q. Khan?

How do you solve a problem like Abdul Khan?
How do you catch a nuke and track it down?
How do you stop those nukes in North Korea?
Oh, screw this $#¡+! I give up the chase! I'm gone!

I think it's still too early in the morning to fully implement my plan to present all future news stories in the form of parodied lyrics of pop songs or numbers from famous musicals. 

So let's just go back to good 'ole prose: In a snub to the United States and its nuclear non-proliferation efforts, a court in Pakistan has released Abdul Qadeer Khan, the rogue nuclear scientist who the Americans believe sold nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya, and Iran. 

The 73-year-old Khan is a "pariah" in the West but he's a hero in Pakistan, not so much for selling nuclear technology to rogue states, but for putting together Pakistan's own nuclear program, which has allowed it to stand up to rival India. 

As an aside, if you ever want to see how South Korea and Japan would behave as nuclear states, check out Pakistan and India's colorful past. Well, maybe it wouldn't be that bad, but it wouldn't be pretty, and one of them may eventually accidentally on purpose sell a little tiny bit of nuclear technology to some other future rogue state that we don't want to get nukes, like Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Uruguay, or Iceland. Can you imagine the dangers we'd face if boozed up Viking descendants had their finger on the button. [shudder]

And while I'm doing asides, it's rogue, not rouge. Just because Microsoft Word didn't catch it doesn't mean it's right. Being able to run a spell-checker, kids, is no substitute for actually knowing how to spell words. A rogue, a person who is rogue, or a roguish person is someone who is dishonest, unprincipled, or whose behavior is somehow widely disapproved of. 

Rouge, on the other hand, is a red-colored cosmetic used to color the cheeks or lips, or a ferric oxide used by jeweler's and opticians to polish metal or optical glass. Rouge can also refer to the color red, such that calling someone a rouge scientist, a rouge political operative, or a rouges gallery would suggest either communist leanings or homosexual proclivities. 

Or both. Exhibit A: Go to the Interweb and google "Stalin + secret cabaret boy toy." Go ahead, I'll wait. I've got some coffee and a Blockbuster DVD; I'm in no hurry. 

Anyway, the move to release Khan was partly political, to shore up the government of President Asif Ali Zardari. Releasing this man who the West blames for helping spread nuclear technology to some of the last places they'd want to have nukes, and doing so just days before special envoy Richard Holbrooke is to visit, is a way of showing that Islamabad is not kowtowing to Washington.

Okay, must fine silver lining. Perhaps this little bit of snubbery will be enough to give Asif Ali Zardari street cred, which will put him in a better position to actually do what matters at this point, which is to get its lawless border region with Afghanistan under control so we can, I don't know, maybe find Osama bin Laden. 

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