The Blog

Coalitions of the Willing

10:14 AM, Oct 31, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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Given the Security Council's routine dithering, it's good to see the Bush administration steadily building a parallel and flexible structure to deal with threats rather than just debate them at Turtle Bay. On Monday, the New York Times reports,

more than two dozen countries, including three gulf states, practiced intercepting and searching vessels suspected of trafficking in unconventional weapons in major military maneuvers on Monday that emphasized their coordination and willingness to aggressively block the spread of arms.

The daylong exercise, about 20 miles outside Iranian territorial waters, seemed to signal to Iran, too, that a coalition of Western powers and neighboring states was intent on denying it access to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, even on its doorstep….

"This is ultimately important because of where it's happening, when it's happening and why it's happening," said a diplomat observing the exercise, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment. "Iran and Korea are two main targets, but there are many others of interest to this effort."

It was also notable for the involvement of Bahrain, and support by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which sent observers.

The operation began last week with war games to practice intelligence cooperation, then moved to the exercise at sea, which included Australian, British, French and Italian warships and three Bahraini frigates.

The exercise was part of the administration's target=_blank>Proliferation Security Initiative -- a program created in 2003 to track and intercept illicit wmd trafficking by rogue nations.