June 2003

Food for Nukes, the Answer for Brazil

The big lesson from the Iraq fiasco to all nations around the world is:
 if you don't have nuclear weapons to defend your country, then
you are out of luck. Brazil should learn this lesson and withdraw
from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Brazilians should exchange
food for North Korean nuclear weapon know-how.

Ricardo C. Amaral

On April 27, 2003, The New York Times had an article in the section Week in Review titled: "American Power Moves Beyond the Mere Super." The article said: "Stealth drones, G.P.S.-guided smart munitions that hit precisely where aimed; antitank bombs that guide themselves; space-relayed data links that allow individual squad leaders to know exactly where American and opposition forces are during battle—the United States military rolled out all this advanced technology, and more, in its lightning conquest of Iraq. No other military is even close to the United States. The American military is now the strongest the world has ever known, both in absolute terms and relative to other nations; stronger than the Wehrmacht in 1940, stronger than the legions at the height of Roman power. For years to come, no other nation is likely even to try to rival American might.

"Which means: the global arms race is over, with the United States the undisputed heavyweight champion. Other nations are not even trying to match American armed force; because they are so far behind they have no chance of catching up. The great-powers arms race, in progress for centuries, has ended with the rest of the world conceding triumph to the United States. Now only a nuclear state, like perhaps, North Korea, has any military leverage against the winner."

In my opinion, that New York Times article is full of hot air. "…The American military is now the strongest the world has ever known, both in absolute terms and relative to other nations;…stronger than the legions at the height of Roman power." I don't think so! The Romans had real power on their day. I wonder what kind of damage a few Russian nuclear warheads would do to the US, if they landed on US soil. The US has an undisputed power today? Not as long there are other countries armed with nuclear weapons.

North Korea is a country slightly smaller than Mississippi, and has a total population of 22 million people including 15 million people in the age range of 15-65 years. The male population age 15-65 is estimated to be around 7 million people. The question is: can the United States beat starving North Korea if they go to war? I just want to remind the readers that the United States wasn't able to win the first Korean War in the 1950's.

I don't know why The New York Times inflated the United States victory in Iraq so much. In the end, what is amazing to me; is the fight that the Iraqis were able to give to the United States with such a small army and so little resources. I believe that the war against Iraq was the equivalent of an undisputed heavyweight champion, such as Mike Tyson or George Foreman, beating up a 5-year-old kid and afterwards having the illusion that he had a great victory.

As I mentioned on other articles, the war against Iraq was about oil. There is no question about that anymore. The first thing that the US armed forces secured, as soon as the war started, was the oil fields.not only in the North, but also in the South of Iraq. The oil fields were priority number one in the US agenda.

The Wellington Effect

On May 2003, the Atlantic Monthly magazine published an article saying: "…Two German political scientists, Ralph Rotte and Christoph Schmidt, looked at 625 battles from 1600 to 1973 to determine how much influence each of several key factors has on the outcome of military engagements. Having the advantage of surprise, for instance, turns out to be a strong determinant of "battle success," adding 15 percentage points to the likelihood of victory.

"And whereas superior training doesn't appear to give much of a competitive edge, superior intelligence does: it has a marginal impact of 25 percent on the likelihood of victory….But Rotte and Schmidt's central finding is that although there are individual exceptions (for instance, breech-loading rifles helped Prussia to defeat Austria at the Battle of Koniggratz, in 1866), technology has generally not affected battle outcomes: surprise, morale, logistics, and intelligence are all far more important….So what is the most important factor in determining victory in battle?

Leadership: its marginal effect is nearly 50 percent."

When Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, on June 18, 1815, he had only an 18 percent chance of winning that day. Had the Duke of Wellington not commanded the British forces that day, Napoleon, the authors calculate, would have had a 79 percent chance of winning at Waterloo.

The Coming North Korean War

Why is this war inevitable? The North Korean government would be gone in no time if they give up on their nuclear arms capabilities.

Washington is discredited in many ways in the international arena. They make only empty promises, they don't follow-up on their promises, and look at the mess that the US created in Afghanistan, and now in Iraq. Washington doesn't care even about its own people. They just passed major tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and did not give a dime or any help to 4 million long-term unemployed Americans. The government left them out in the cold. Can anyone trust such a government?

Are today's policies in Washington any different of North Korea's, when it comes to its starving population? I don't think so. It is a disgrace what is going on in Washington these days. There is no room for negotiation with North Korea; either the United States would have to accept North Korea as a nuclear power or take military action to stop it. It will be very foolish of the North Koreans to give up or negotiate away the only thing that will keep them independent.

The nuclear plant that forms the heart of North Korea's nuclear program, is located in the town of Yongbyon in North Korea. Only 60 miles north of North Korea's capital Pyongyang, the Yongbyon nuclear complex might be the target for a United States pre-emptive attack.

The reason to go to war against Iraq was the weapons of mass destruction that Iraq was accused of having in massive quantities. Since the US has not found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the US has lost the little credibility that the US had around the world before the war.

A genuine powerful United States would have sent the Stealth bombers to destroy the North Korean nuclear complex and proved to the world of its real power. In the same manner that Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear threat in the early 1980's.

Seems to me that the United States is afraid of taking action against the North Koreans. The new tactic being used in Washington is to say that everything that the North Korean government is saying is a mistake of translation. Suddenly to avoid war against North Korea, everything in Washington becomes a mistranslation and miscommunication.

Is Washington having second thoughts about a confrontation with North Korea? Why the United States is so afraid of poor and starving North Korea? After all they have only a few nukes. Are these few nukes enough to scare the United States?

Let's see what these warmongers in Washington are made of. Let's see if they have the guts to go to war against a country armed with nuclear weapons. Let's see if George W. Bush will reach a new low, and becomes the first American president to bring the US to the limit—a nuclear war.

Brazil, North Korea and Food for Nukes.

I have a feeling that the North Koreans will be able to keep their nuclear capabilities; after all they don't have much oil. Without oil there is no incentive to the United States to go to war and take them over such as was the case in Iraq. But Iran should watch out, because Iran also has lots of oil.

Here is a golden opportunity for Brazil to make a deal with North Korea. This is not about a political point of view; it is strictly a business deal. The North Koreans get something from Brazil that they need:lots of food. And Brazil get something in return from North Korea that they need:the know how of building nuclear weapons.

Let me clarify one point, before anyone start thinking that I am suggesting that Brazil should adopt some obsolete communist ideology. Please don't mixture politics with trade; after all during the cold war, a capitalist country such as Brazil, still traded with the Soviet Union. This transaction will not be about ideology; this will be about a fair trade that will meet the needs of two sovereign countries.

Since January, North Korea has become the first country to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and they have restarted a plutonium-producing reactor. Now, Brazil should also withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and make the agreement with the North Koreans: food for nukes. This will be a win/win situation for both parties.

The North Koreans will get what they need very badly: food to feed its starving population. In the other hand, Brazil will get the nuclear weapons capabilities that will provide Brazil and the investment community with a sense of security against any foreign invasions. Brazilians have a short memory, but a foreign country has invaded Brazil at least three times in the past.

The world should take a good look at what is happening in Iraq and North Korea today, and I hope they learn an important lesson. If your country doesn't have nuclear weapons to defend it, then your country doesn't have actual sovereignty. If anything, the events of the last few months show to most countries around the world the necessity of a country having a strong nuclear weapons program.

Ricardo C. Amaral is an economist and author. You can reach him at

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