- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Chinese nukes are deterrent against U.S. threat

Reacting to the first democratic elections in Taiwan in 1996, China "threatened Los Angeles with nuclear annihilation if the United States got involved," writes John Lenczowski in a Jan. 13 Commentary piece "Arms control tug on our China posture." It is time to discard this oft-repeated but mistaken assertion, based on a January 1996 New York Times mischaracterization of remarks by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Chas Freeman.

Ambassador Freeman subsequently clarified that the controversial statement attributed to a Chinese military official, "You care more about Los Angeles than you do about Taipei," was made in a deterrent context, and was in no way a threat to attack the United States. According to Mr. Freeman, the Chinese official remarked that the United States had decreased leverage over China because it could no longer threaten nuclear strikes, as it did in the 1950s, without fear of a similar response.

In fact, China's decision to acquire nuclear weapons appears to have been motivated in large part by American nuclear threats against the country during crises over Indochina, Korea, and Taiwan in the 1950s. Consistent with the notion that its weapons are intended solely for deterrent purposes, China has a longstanding policy of not using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, and its estimated 20 long-range nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching the United States are maintained at a very low state of alert. The United States, on the other hand, maintains thousands of nuclear weapons capable of attacking China, many in highly alerted postures, and has long declined to enunciate a no-first-use policy, preferring instead to maintain a strategic ambiguity.

"American strength is not what threatens China," Mr. Lenczowski writes. But China's experience in the 1950s raises Chinese concern about American nullification of its proportionately tiny deterrent force, particularly in the face of U.S. efforts to deploy missile defenses. We ignore China's likely response to missile defense deployment, and the possibility of a chain reaction as India and then Pakistan follow suit, at our own peril.


Research analyst

The Arms Control Association


Mideast myopia

In his Feb. 12 Commentary piece "Familiar geopolitical mix in the Mideast," Arnaud de Borchgrave makes an interesting point. However, the actions of the Stern Gang and Irgun during the British Mandate in Palestine were not instrumental in the creation of Israel. This was accomplished through diplomacy. Nor did Stern and Irgun deploy suicide bombers or set bombs in crowded civilian population centers. Equating them with Palestinian Arab terrorist groups only caters to the kind of propaganda the Israeli socialists spewed at that time to discredit the non-socialists and plays down the murderous tactics of the Palestine Liberation Organization and company. Stern and Irgun opposed the socialists who controlled the early Israeli government and were more concerned that future prime minister David Ben Gurion and his ilk would lead Israel into the Soviet camp. When Ben Gurion and Menachem Begin put down their arms and decided to work together, a strong democracy was created.

Mr. De Borchgrave may be correct in concluding that without terror, the PLO would now be a figment of one's imagination. What is forgotten is that in the 1972 time frame, under Israel's tutelage (and without foreign "help"), the Palestinian Arabs democratically elected an autonomous government, which many people saw as a prelude to an eventual confederation of Israel, an autonomous Palestinian Arab territory and Jordan. Unfortunately, the PLO waged a reign of terror against these newly elected leaders and the experiment collapsed. Soon afterward, the United Nations recognized Yasser Arafat (whose legacy to the world up to then was causing airports to install X-ray equipment to check against potential hijackers) as the leader of the Palestinian people. How much better the world, Israel and the Palestinian Arabs would have been if the PLO had faded into oblivion and the Palestinian Arabs and Israelis were able to realize the rapprochement they came so close to in the early 1970s.



For many reasons, Arnaud de Borchgrave is the greatest living American journalist, as I have insisted many times, not least in proposing a biography: The Last Newsman. He has done everything. But I have also referred to him as Arnaud of Arabia, and therein lies his error.

Nowhere was this flaw more apparent than in his Op-Ed piece of Feb. 12, "Familiar geopolitical mix in the Mideast." He contends that Mideast politics are back to where they were 30 years ago, when his acquaintance Anwar Sadat of Egypt offered peace for Israel's return to pre-1967 borders and a Palestine Liberation Organization state under Yasser Arafat. Golda Meir of Israel disdained Mr. Sadat and also publicly disdained Mr. de Borchgrave for referring to "the Palestinian people."

Mr. de Borchgrave's presentation does not describe what happened in October 1973, when we both reported the war from Cairo, he with great distinction.

Maybe Prime Minister Meir was a bit cocky, but Mr. de Borchgrave's column fails to supply the necessary background or the ensuing consequences. He omits that what caused the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's heart attack in 1970 and brought Sadat to power was the Black September uprising in Jordan against King Hussein. The Black September "Palestinians" were driven out to Lebanon, where they destroyed that country. The Black September group who killed Israeli athletes in 1972 (an operation masterminded by Abu Iyad, the PLO's #2 man) were the same ones who murdered in cold blood U.S. Ambassador Cleo Noel Jr., Charge d'affaires George Curtis Moore, and Belgian diplomat Guy Eid in Khartoum, Sudan, in March 1973, on the radio telephone orders of PLO chief Yasser Arafat.

For Mr. de Borchgrave to suggest that this kind of terrorism (which he does not mention) equates to Israel's Stern Gang and Irgun, is a grave error of history, and I know he is devoted to a true history.

We are not back to 30 years ago in the Mideast. We are in bad shape, but that is partly because the United States covered up and never followed up on Mr. Arafat's worst crimes, allowing him to achieve power and make trouble today. President Clinton even invited Mr. Arafat to the White House. Our failure doesn't make Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the "arrogant premier" described by Mr. de Borchgrave.



'Sunlight' needed in Milosevic trial

As David A. Keene so ably illustrated in the Feb. 14 Op-Ed, "Yesterday and today," for good or ill the United States had considerable involvement in shaping the events now being recalled in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic at the International War Crimes Criminal Tribunal for the Formal Yugoslavia. . American intelligence let us know very early exactly what Mr. Milosevic was up to. Unfortunately, the U.S. government backed Mr. Milosevic until the overpowering stench from his accumulated victims became publicly embarrassing to an administration that was supposed to care about such things.

U.S. policy changed in 1995 largely as a result of the 8,000 people who were killed by the Serbs in the U.N. "safe areas" as Dutch U.N. peacekeepers stood by at Srebrenica. Not long after that, the job of forcing Mr. Milosevic to the peace talks by shoving the Serb military out of Croatia and most of Bosnia was accomplished by Gen. Ante Gotovina and the Croatian army at the urging and under the watchful eye of the U.S. government.

Unfortunately, neither the magnitude of Mr. Milosevic's crimes, the rectitude of U.S. intentions, nor the innocence of Gen. Gotovina is likely to be honestly portrayed until chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte insists that all of the evidence and witnesses are made available to the tribunal. Justice demands at least that much even if it means embarrassing the Clinton administration. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis observed in his 1913 book, "Other People's Money": "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."



Croatian American Association


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