Clinton Foreign Policy Weakens America, Makes Us Vulnerable to War

Published in Washington, D.C.           5am -- December 1, 1998 


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  The Washington Times
Beware the policy fanatics! 
By Frank Gaffney Jr. 

Author and philosopher George Santayana once defined a fanatic as someone "who redoubles his effort upon losing sight of his goal." Unfortunately, this week is likely to be a big one for the fanatics who run what passes for security policy in the Clinton administration. 
     For example, at this writing, some 40 nations are convening in Washington. Their common purpose? To pony up perhaps as much as $9 billion dollars in pledges to help launch a Palestinian state. 
     To be sure, no one on the Clinton team (with the notable exception of the first lady) has openly acknowledged that it is now U.S. policy to welcome and underwrite the creation of the 28th Arab state in the Middle East. The fact remains, however, that the Palestinian Authority's Yasser Arafat continues to assert he will formally declare by May 14, 1999, an independent, sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital. 
     The international donors talk glibly about needing to invest in such an endeavor to "keep the peace process on track" -- and ignore the corruption that has wasted previous grants to the Palestinian Authority. The reality, though, is that spending vast amounts of tax dollars (perhaps as much as $900 million from the U.S. alone) to advance Palestinian independence is more likely to produce a deadly train wreck than the ostensible goal of this "process": a durable peace. 
     After all, such a state will inevitably give rise to a safe haven for terrorism (or worse). It will be run by a government -- whether under Mr. Arafat or Hamas -- that makes no secret of its intention to liberate what the Arabs consider to be the rest of Palestine (namely, pre-1967 Israel). And this Palestinian state's internationally recognized borders will greatly increase the costs associated with any prophylactic Israeli action against it. 
     In fact, the present exercise is reminiscent of the story about the man who is asked how he's doing as he passes the 20th floor of a skyscraper from which he has fallen and responds, "So far, so good." It makes no more sense to be redoubling efforts that will produce a Palestinian state on the basis of the Clinton team's fanatic enthusiasm for the so-called peace process than it would to re-up the free-falling man's life insurance policy. 
     Equally detached from reality is the Clinton administration's commitment to U.S.-Russian arms control. The Kremlin no longer has any choice but to make sharp reductions in its nuclear arsenal. This week, therefore, Russia's Duma is expected at long last to ratify the START II Treaty. 
     Such a step however will not produce a reduced threat to the United States -- the presumptive purpose of arms control agreements -- if the Clinton team seizes on this development as a pretext for a redoubling of its efforts to, as President Clinton has put it, "denuclearize." To the contrary, the treaties and other initiatives likely to ensue will probably increase the dangers we face. 
     The problem is not just whether we can assure a credible deterrent at the dramatically lower levels of nuclear weapons being contemplated for follow-on START III and IV agreements already under discussion. With the ascendancy of nationalist/communists like Yevgeny Primakov in Russia; a China arming to the teeth with advanced nuclear weapons, anti-satellite lasers, information warfare technologies, etc.; and the array of rogue states getting biological, chemical and nuclear weapons -- and the long-range missiles with which to deliver them -- this would hardly seem a time to be engaging in radical U.S. disarmament. Yet, the administration is fanatically engaged in the following: 
  • The hollowing out of the Energy Department's nuclear weapons complex. That is the effect of its pursuit of: dramatic funding cuts (most weapons-related monies are now allocated to dismantling warheads and cleaning up now-closed nuclear arms facilities); the determination permanently to stop underground testing (denying a critical diagnostic tool and principal reason for leading scientists to remain involved in nuclear "stockpile stewardship"); and the palpably reduced priority being accorded to the U.S. nuclear deterrent in the competition for defense resources and skilled personnel.
  • The pursuit of a radical nuclear arms control agenda that has involved at least internal consideration -- if not yet in every case formal tabling -- of such ideas as: fissile material production cutoffs; de-alerting of U.S. nuclear forces; a no-nuclear-first-use policy; elimination of nuclear war-fighting from U.S. doctrine and planning; and the standing down of many early warning assets and capabilities designed to assist the continuity of government in the event of nuclear attack.
  • Last but hardly least, a commitment to permanent adherence to the obsolete 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which precludes the deployment of effective missile defenses for the American people. If, as expected, the Russian Duma makes its ratification of START II contingent upon continued U.S. adherence to the ABM Treaty, the task of freeing our technology from the garrotting constraints of that accord will become all the more problematic -- even as the dangers associated with relying upon an increasingly dubious nuclear deterrent become all the greater.
     It will fall to the 106th Congress to operate as the Founding Fathers anticipated -- as a check-and-balance against these and similar fanatical executive branch initiatives that are inimical to the nation's security and vital interests. 
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is the director of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.