- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2000

Clark's departure

The story went this way. The White House relieved Gen. Wesley Clark as NATO commander three months early to fit the career timetable of his successor, Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston.

But the Pentagon cover story was just that. The administration easily could have extended Gen. Ralston's term as Joint Chiefs vice chairman, with the consent of the Senate, until Gen. Clark's full tenure ended.

Instead, the White House chose to embarrass Gen. Clark by forcing an early exit. The reason: During the 1999 bombing of Kosovo, Gen. Clark made a number of public statements about waging a ground campaign that were inconsistent with President Clinton's views. The Pentagon was also unhappy with the slow pace of attacks on Serbia's transportation infrastructure.

But more egregious, in the eyes of White House officials, was Gen. Clark going behind their backs and lobbying European allies to push his plan for putting ground troops near Kosovo. The general's aim was to give the Army a larger role and put more pressure on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Particularly upset were White House National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger and Gen. Henry H. Shelton, the Joint Chiefs chairman.

"The White House perceived Clark as letting his head get too big and that no one was more important to mankind than he was," said our insider.

Pro-China attache

The Pentagon's new defense attache to China is Army Col. Gratton O. Sealock, a former China policy-maker on the U.S. military's Joint Staff. He brings to Beijing the reputation as a soft-liner.

Col. Sealock, currently the Army attache in Australia, will take over for Brig. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, who is moving from Beijing to a cushy posting at the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii.

Both attaches worked the China account in the Pentagon during the early 1990s. They participated in the ill-fated U.S.-China "defense conversion" program set up by Defense Secretary William Perry. The program was killed by Congress over concerns China was using it for covert acquisition of defense technology.

Col. Sealock, whose promotion to one-star general is pending, and Gen. Eikenberry also signed off on the controversial designation of China as a U.S. "strategic partner." The Clinton administration carefully dropped the label amid growing hostility from China and a real anti-U.S. strategic partnership taking shape between Moscow and Beijing.

Left out in the selection was Col. John Corbett, who speaks Chinese and is a China specialist at the Pentagon; and the Joint Staff China specialist, Navy Capt. Michael Mulcahy. Both are considered "realists" with a contrasting healthy skepticism of the People's Liberation Army.

"They promoted the wrong guy," one defense official said of the Sealock appointment.

Gen. Sealock's posting to Beijing continues a tradition of pro-China defense attaches who can't speak Chinese. The trend began with Rear Adm. Eric A. McVadon, the attache in Beijing from 1990 to 1992. Adm. McVadon was identified to us as a leading "panda hugger" as pro-China analysts are dubbed who aggressively plays down the growing threat from China.

Adm. McVadon and his ilk are to blame, these critics say, for helping the United States remain ignorant about the Chinese military's true goals and intentions. That was done by focusing U.S. military intelligence efforts on unproductive "military diplomacy." There is too much schmoozing of Chinese military and Communist Party leaders instead of spying on them and providing vital intelligence for U.S. policy-makers, Pentagon critics tell us.

The result: severe gaps in what is known about China's military. The most important example: The Pentagon doesn't even known whether the 5-megaton nuclear warheads for China's 24 CSS-4 nuclear missiles most of which are targeted at the United States are "mated" to the missiles or stored nearby, defense officials told us.

Libyan nukes

The government of Libya is wasting no time in taking advantage of the U.N. decision last year to lift a seven-year embargo against the North African state. According to sensitive U.S. intelligence obtained by the U.S. National Security Agency, Libya last month went shopping for nuclear weapons components.

And a company in Malta is ready to oblige, offering to sell "hundreds" of items of nuclear weapons-related equipment, along with scientific data, to Libya's Tajura nuclear research facility, about 10 miles down the road to the east from the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

A report two years ago by the Center for Strategic and International Studies stated that Libya sought a development and production capability for nuclear weapons but had shown little progress. The report stated that Libya "continues to train nuclear scientists and technicians abroad."

The nuclear acquisition efforts followed recent intelligence reports on Chinese-Libyan cooperation on missile development and official U.S. protests to Beijing over the sharing.

Cheney's appetite

"Dick Cheney is a cholesterol-producing machine," an aide once said, explaining the former defense secretary's three minor heart attacks and bypass surgery.

Mr. Cheney's clog-prone arteries forced him into a strict low-fat diet. When he traveled as Pentagon chief, his plane full of aides and reporters were treated to hearty meals. Out of the flight kitchen came chicken smothered in gravy, mashed potatoes, dressing, desserts and a selection of wine.

But for the secretary, an Air Force flight attendant compiled a simple fruit plate, hand-delivered to the VIP cabin.

Mr. Cheney did allow himself one indulgence. When the trip was over and the jet headed back to Andrews Air Force Base, an attendant poured him one full glass of beer. Just one.

After leaving office in 1993, Mr. Cheney sat down for a chat with Heritage Foundation's Policy Review. He made it clear he opposes women in land combat.

"The physical requirements are sufficiently difficult and the physical differences between men and women are sufficiently great, that the capabilities of these units would be degraded if women were incorporated into them," he said.

No gay jokes

Hollywood sitcoms revel in jokes about the homosexual lifestyle. But such humor is now forbidden in the politically correct military.

The Army inspector general report on the command climate at Fort Campbell, Ky., determined that one anti-homosexual incident there involved an e-mailed joke read by a noncommissioned officer. "BDUs (battle dress uniform) would be called 'green fashion ensembles' and combat boots would come in pink and purple instead of black and green," the joke read in part.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at [email protected] Rowan Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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