- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2000

In a remarkable speech in Washington last week Texas Gov. George W. Bush shrewdly turned the rhetorical tables on Vice President Al Gore, who last month accused Mr. Bush of being "stuck in a Cold War mindset." Mr. Bush observed that the world has changed much faster during the last seven years than has U.S. nuclear weapons policy. "The emerging security threats to the United States, its friends and allies and even to Russia now come from rogue states, terrorist groups and other adversaries seeking weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them," Mr. Bush asserted.

Arguing that Russia is no longer an enemy and that the former Soviet Union's once overwhelming conventional force advantage in Europe has been replaced by NATO membership for three of its former Warsaw Pact allies (Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic), Mr. Bush said it "is time to leave the Cold War behind and defend against the new threats of the 21st century." The mutual security of Russia and the United States, he said, need no longer depend on "a nuclear balance of terror."

At the heart of an emerging Bush Doctrine would be the deployment of "effective missile defenses based on the best available options at the earliest possible date." He made clear that his plans for missile defense far exceed the "flawed" and inadequate approach to so-called national missile defense a land-based, single-site system in Alaska limited initially to 100 interceptor missiles the Clinton-Gore administration is contemplating. As President Clinton prepares to visit Russia in early June, Mr. Bush pointedly warned him not to negotiate a "flawed agreement that ties the hands of the next president and prevents America from defending itself" and its allies. Indeed, Mr. Bush's vision includes a missile defense system that protects America's allies, including Europe, Israel and Taiwan.

Confirming Mr. Bush's charge that he still was "locked in a Cold War mentality," Mr. Gore predictably responded by embracing the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, an agreement then-White House National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger negotiated nearly 30 years ago i.e., during the Cold War with the communist dictators of the now-defunct Soviet Union. "The ABM Treaty is the cornerstone of strategic stability in our relationship with Russia," Mr. Gore declared over the weekend. Interestingly, Mr. Kissinger, the Cold War architect of the policy of mutually assured destruction and the ABM Treaty's prohibition of national missile defense, said he "strongly support[s] Gov. Bush's proposal."

As if the Clinton-Gore administration's abdication of its responsibility to pursue national security in the new post-Cold War environment were not enough of a self-indictment, Leon Fuerth, Mr. Gore's national security adviser, accused Mr. Bush of seeking to "tear up all the technology and start all over again," thus delaying the ultimate deployment of a missile defense system. As it happened, three days after Mr. Fuerth leveled his attack, The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization has issued a report confirming that a promising sea-based missile defense option based on the Navy's existing Aegis air-defense system is technically feasible and could be built with existing technology. A declassified version of the report was to have gone to Congress more than six weeks ago, but, The Post reported, civilian Defense Department officials are delaying its release. Not even national security, including the life-and-death issue of defending millions of American lives from nuclear annihilation, is above being politicized by the Clinton-Gore administration.

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