- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

The ABM treaty, which for 30 years prevented this country from defending itself against missile attacks, has been tossed out with the garbage. Yet so-called arms controllers are still trying desperately to contain, cripple, derail or otherwise prevent the deployment of missile defenses.
Their criticism of President Bush began as soon as he took office. Ending the treaty would start an arms race with Russia and China, they warned. It would destroy "strategic stability," a euphemism for the balance of terror known as mutual assured destruction. Mr. Bush was in over his head, they claimed. The self-appointed wise men in the arms-control palaces along Massachusetts Avenue knew better.
In Moscow in May, Mr. Bush proved them wrong. He ended the treaty, secured the deepest reductions in nuclear weapons ever and established the best relations with Russia in more than 50 years all at one time. Would such stunning success lead to a new era of bipartisan cooperation in defending the country?
Regrettably, it does not seem so. The anti-defense enthusiasts have millions to spend in grants from the liberal wealth dispensers at the MacArthur, Rockefeller, Carnegie and other foundations. Their goal is to cut defense spending and use the money for social welfare schemes. Their mission is to reduce the defense budget and control U.S. weapons, even defensive ones. They are like gun-control activists trying to disarm the U.S. military.
During the Cold War, they were too often on the side of our adversaries, despite their clever diplomatic language and practiced spin. When the Soviet Union had a greater nuclear arsenal than the United States, the arms controllers called for a nuclear freeze, which just happened to be the Soviet position. The policy postures of the Kremlin and domestic arms controllers often were indistinguishable.
One missile defense critic said North Korea's development of long-range missiles was understandable. He explained that since North Korea fears a U.S. attack it is only developing such weapons to deter the United States. According to the hate-America crowd, the United States is the real evil empire threatening poor North Korea.
After September 11, there was hope for a bipartisan approach to national security. Many defense critics were temporarily silenced, the allies began to accept the end of the ABM treaty, and Russian President Vladimir Putin cast his lot with the West. Mr. Putin cooperated in the war on terrorism and accepted a U.S. presence in Central Asia, the demise of the ABM treaty, deployment of U.S. missile defenses and the expansion of NATO.
Now things would be different, some thought. But the professional arms controllers just dusted off the same old press releases, changed a few words and continued to oppose effective U.S. defenses. The planned missile defenses, they claim, will not be able to overcome the imaginary countermeasures those wily North Koreans will develop. Russia may be cooperating with the United States, they say, but there will be an arms race with China, even though Chinese officials say they are not going to race with the Americans and risk a Soviet-style economic collapse.
When the Missile Defense Agency announced it would no longer release highly sensitive details about future flight tests, the arms-control community raised a howl of protest. Much of their criticism of the potential effectiveness of U.S. defenses has been based on biased "studies" of countermeasures such as balloons, dummy warheads and other devices that might possibly cause a missile interceptor to miss its target, assuming the enemy had such countermeasures and could make them work.
These studies have been given some credence by the media because they were based in part on Defense Department data as interpreted by physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere. But while the media describe the authors as scientists, they often neglect to report that the authors also are arms-control activists working in arms-control programs. Their studies have shown everyone, including the rogue states, how to design missile countermeasures. But now the Pentagon says it no longer will release information that can be helpful to the enemy, and the arms controllers are irate.
These are many of the same people who during the Clinton years tried to solve everything with arms-control negotiations, even as more countries joined the nuclear club, rogue states tested increasingly improved missiles, and missile technology proliferated from China, Russia and North Korea. Even with the United States at war with terrorists who would dearly love to get their hands on nuclear weapons, the arms controllers still claim there is no threat.
The one thing they truly loved and fought hard to save was the ABM treaty, which successfully blocked this country from defending itself against ballistic missiles. But now that the treaty is gone, we can ignore the naysayers and get on with the business of defending the United States.

Peter Huessy is president of Geostrategic Analysis of Potomac. James Hackett is a contributing writer to The Washington Times based in San Diego.

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