- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2000

Vice President Al Gore has moved the political calendar into the "silly season" with his schoolyard taunt of Gov. George W. Bush to "put up or shut up." One expects Mr. Gore to follow up with the next schoolyard debating point "and your mother wears combat boots." But no that would only serve to bring attention to the biggest political vulnerability of the Clinton-Gore administration, their stewardship of national security.
Currently the debate rages on the decline of the U.S. military even below the famous "hollow" years of the Carter administration. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Clinton-Gore administration is spinning like a gyroscope to deflect this most serious charge. What is disappointing is the administration using uniformed military to dissemble.
Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff entered the debate with celerity or speed to assure America all is well with U.S. forces. The nations' top military officer offered his comments because in his own words, "National security is so important it should be above politics." A serious statement from a serious man.
Time will reveal the truth about the serious decline in our military, the troops always know and the soldiers, sailors, airman, and marines will simply tell of their personal experience, regardless of Pentagon apple polishing. However, Gen. Shelton correctly touches on a much larger issue, the politicalization of the U.S. military. He is right. National Security should be above politics especially in the use of force as a headline grabber.
Since Gen. Shelton volunteered to enter a political debate it is only fair to get his views on the following questions:
Was it politics or national security to withhold armor support for the Rangers in Somalia?
Was politics or national security the motivation for launching a cruise missile attack against an aspirin factory in Sudan as Commander in Chief Bill Clinton went before a grand jury?
Was it politics or national security that caused the United States to initiate Operation "Desert Fox," the bombing of Iraq the day before Commander in Chief Bill Clinton faced impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives?
Was the release altitude for air-to-ground munitions set at 15,000 feet in the NATO action in Kosovo politics or national security?
Were bombing targets during the NATO attack chosen in the White House because of politics or national security?
Was it politics or national security that inspired the commanding general of NATO forces in the war against Yugoslavia to threaten to sink the Russian Navy if it sortied into the Mediterranean?
Was it politics or national security that created a conspiracy of silence when the Peoples Republic of China sold cruise missiles to Iran, thus not triggering sanctions called for in the "Gore-McCain Act"?
Was it politics or national security when the admiral over U.S. forces in the Pacific referred to Taiwan as the "[expletive] in the punch bowl of U.S.-China relations"?
Was it politics or national security that caused you to testify in defense of Clinton-Gore administration policy that anti-missile defense technology was not immediately needed because the threat was years out when a short time later, the North Koreans fired a three-stage rocket over Japan that splashed down only a few hundred miles north of the state of Hawaii?
If the answers to the above questions indicate that military action was undertaken for domestic politics then it is time for the Clinton-Gore administration to go and Vice President Al Gore not be honored by being elected president and commander in chief.
The evidence is mounting that Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore squandered the most precious resource the American people entrusted to them the stewardship of national security. America is weaker today than eight years ago, especially in relationship to Clinton-Gore's "strategic partner," the People's Republic of China.
Identifying and rectifying this decline is Mr. Bush's stated mission. If we lose national security, we lose everything.


Edward T. Timperlake and William C. Triplett are the co-authors of "Red Dragon Rising," Regnery, 1999.

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