|Beware the policy fanatics!
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
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
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:
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.
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.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is the director of the Center
for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.