- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 6, 2004

The American people seem likely to decide who will be their next president on the basis of whose policies will best provide for their security. Unfortunately for George W. Bush, four senior congressional Republicans are taking steps that will make it harder for him to differentiate the GOP’s defense agenda from that of his challenger. Presumably, none of the four wish to be known as “Kerry Republicans,” but unless they change course, the effect of their actions could be not only to weaken U.S. security but to undermine their party’s hopes to hold onto the White House for another four years.

c Sen. Larry Craig and the “AgJobs” bill: Last week, John Kerry pandered to radical Hispanic interest groups by promising an “amnesty” for illegal aliens, the preponderance of whom come from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. This week, Mr. Craig — an otherwise loyal Bush legislator from Idaho — may try to foist upon the Senate, over the strenuous objections of his leadership and the Bush administration, his own version of an amnesty.

While the Craig Agriculture Jobs bill purports to limit the reward it offers for breaking our immigration laws to those illegal aliens who can prove they worked for a few days in the agricultural sector, the reality is that it will have a vastly multiplied effect. It would, for example, apply not only to those sometime agricultural workers who are now in the United States but to others who have left the country. All those thus allowed to gain temporary worker status (and, in due course, permanent status and then citizenship) would be able to bring their families, as well. Terrorists could well be among the beneficiaries of such an ill-advised amnesty.

President Bush’s ability to appeal to the vast majority of Americans who oppose rewarding those who violate our immigration laws will be undercut if no perceptible difference exists between his party’s amnesty and the more sweeping one John Kerry promises promptly to enact if elected president.

c Rep. David Hobson and the U.S. nuclear deterrent: In recent days, Senate Republicans beat back several Kerry-favored Democratic anti-nuclear legislative initiatives. These would have precluded research and other work needed to ensure the future safety, reliability and effectiveness of the American arsenal, as called for by the 2003 Bush Nuclear Posture Review. Although the Senate GOP successfully mustered a majority each time to stave off the proposed budget cuts, funding restrictions and other impediments, even more draconian action was being taken on the House side — at the behest of a Republican appropriations subcommittee chairman, Mr. Hobson of Ohio.



Thanks to Mr. Hobson and a failure of either the House leadership or the Bush administration vigorously to oppose his actions, the House-passed appropriations bill eliminates all funding for research concerning a new, robust Earth penetrating warhead and low-yield nuclear weapons, for increased readiness to conduct nuclear test made necessary by the obsolescing of our existing arsenal and for a facility to manufacture the cores (or “pits”) of modern thermonuclear weapons — precisely the outcome favored by those like John Kerry who have long favored unilateral U.S. restraint and disarmament.

c Sen. Ted Stevens and space control programs: Kerry-style Democrats have also sought unilateral disarmament in another, equally strategic arena — America’s ability to use outer space for military purposes, and to deny such use to others should the need arise. Even though both the Clinton and Bush administrations declared the importance of space-control as part of their respective national security strategies, the former eschewed programs that would provide the required capabilities. The latter has, surprisingly, not done much more.

Regrettably, in the defense appropriations bill hastily enacted by the Senate before the July Fourth recess, Chairman Ted Stevens failed to provide funding for even the Bush administration’s modest space control-related programs. Needless to say, this Republican-led action can only have heartened those in the Kerry campaign and its allies who are now inveighing against the “militarization of space” — in the fatuous expectation that such U.S. restraint will prevent potential enemies from exploiting the vulnerability of America’s civilian economy, as well as its defense posture, to space-denial attacks.

c Sen. John McCain and the Selective Service System’s director: The growing strains upon the U.S. military give rise to intensified speculation about the need to reinstitute compulsory service. If Democrats, like Kerry-supporter Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, are willing to address this prospect at all, however, it seems transparently for embarrassing Mr. Bush and encouraging public opposition to the war on terror.

There are many reasons to hope it will not be necessary once again to augment volunteers in the U.S. military with draftees. One regrettable reality, however, about the global war in which we find ourselves is such a step may well be unavoidable — particularly if we lose the “battle of Iraq” or suffer catastrophic acts of terror at home. At the very least, the Selective Service System must be fully prepared and staffed up.

Unfortunately, accomplishing that has been complicated by the fact the president’s nominee to run the System, William Chatfield, has been denied a confirmation vote in the Senate because Mr. McCain of Arizona is holding up his nomination — along with those of a number of senior Defense Department officials — over an unrelated fight concerning a now-shelved aerial-refueling modernization program.

Sensible, bipartisan national security-minded policies are needed with respect to immigration reform, maintaining a nuclear deterrent, protecting U.S. interests in space and ensuring the ready availability of a draft if one is required.

President Bush should be able to run a formidable campaign, contrasting his support for such policies with the opposition to them from John Kerry and many Democrats. To do so, however, he needs to be able to count on all Republicans.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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