- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2000


Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore each shed more light over the weekend on their different positions on one of the most important issues in the presidential campaign a national missile defense system.
In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Mr. Gore made clear that his highest priority would be the preservation of the outdated Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. "You don't want to discard the ABM treaty," emphasized Mr. Gore, who has repeatedly called the treaty the "cornerstone" of strategic stability. As such, whatever type of anti-missile system Mr. Gore might seek to deploy would have the distinction of requiring the fewest changes to the highly restrictive ABM treaty that Mr. Gore so warmly embraces. In other words, Mr. Gore's version of national missile defense would be the least effective imaginable and deployable. Mr. Gore also declined to say whether he would encourage President Clinton to begin construction next spring of an Alaska-based radar.
Such policy dereliction would merely build on the record the Clinton-Gore administration has compiled on the strategic arms control front. Indeed, the Clinton-Gore administration's principal contribution, negotiated with Russia in 1997, delayed by four years the START II treaty requirement that Russia eliminate its land-based, multiple-warhead missile launchers by 2003. These launchers have long been the most destabilizing and most threatening weapons in the Russian arsenal. Also in 1997, the Clinton-Gore administration negotiated changes in the ABM treaty that would significantly restrict the speed and range of interceptor missiles developed for U.S. theater missile defense systems and would ban satellite-based theater defense systems. These changes were never ratified by the Senate.
For his part, Mr. Bush, who was interviewed on ABC's "This Week," was quite emphatic that his administration would not be restricted by the ABM treaty. "[W]e ought to do everything we can to develop a system that will protect America and our allies. Absolutely," Mr. Bush declared, promising that as president he would pursue "a full-scale effort to make sure we develop an anti-ballistic missile system."
Mr. Bush embraced the far more promising sea-based anti-missile system that would have the capability of shooting down ballistic missiles in their boost phase before they have released their warheads and decoys. Mr. Bush assured voters that he would terminate those self-imposed testing restrictions that limit the speed and range of the Navy's interceptor missiles and that preclude the sea-based system from using space-based sensors.
Unlike Mr. Gore, who favors the most ineffective, constrained anti-missile system, Mr. Bush seeks the most effective system. The sole purpose of the system Mr. Bush envisions would be the protection of the American public and U.S. allies and forces overseas. On the issue of missile defense, voters are given a clear choice.

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