It appears increasingly likely that the most important
and enduring legacy of the Bush-Cheney administrations will be the destruction
of the international nuclear-weapons proliferation-prevention regime as it existed
at the end of the second Clinton-Gore administration.
Which is ironic, since President Clinton had hoped to make his legacy
the elimination of nuclear-weapons altogether, getting every nation – including
India, Pakistan and Israel – to become a signatory to (a) the Treaty
on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and (b) the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty.
You see, it was a Clinton-Gore article
of faith that the 21st Century would see the end of the nation-state. Believing
that, Clinton-Gore proceeded to hand over to the United Nations – the presumptive
world government for the 21st Century – every semi-international problem that
arose, including gun control and women's reproductive rights.
The NPT was viewed – then and now – by other signatories as having three "pillars"
- a promise by the NPT nuke-states to eventually dispose of nukes
- an affirmation of the inalienable right of all other NPT states to the peaceful
uses of nuclear energy "without discrimination"
- a mechanism for verifying that nuclear energy was not being diverted from
peaceful to military purposes
The NPT required those signatories not yet having nukes to negotiate a Safeguards
Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency – an existing United Nations
agency already charged with facilitating the widest possible international transfer
of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes – for the "exclusive purpose"
of "verifying" that certain proscribed materials were not "diverted" to a military
Understand that [a] arms-control, [b] non-proliferation and [c] disarmament
are three very different animals. Especially when it comes to nukes.
Most of those treaties you heard about during the Cold War – SALT, START, ABM,
whatever – were arms-control agreements, which placed limitations on the numbers
of certain kinds of arms each side could have.
However, there is this Article VI of the NPT that says something about the
"declared" nuke states agreeing to someday seriously consider getting
rid of all our nukes, too.
So, soon after taking office, President Clinton began to pledge at UN Conference
after UN Conference that he would comply with Article VI, then, rather than
Now, before he became president, North Korea had threatened to withdraw from
So, the Clinton-negotiated Agreed
Framework of 1994, under which North Korea agreed to not only remain a NPT-signatory,
but to "freeze" its plutonium-producing reactors and related facilities and
to "eventually dismantle these reactors and related facilities," all subject
to IAEA oversight, of course.
In September 1993, Clinton called for a multilateral convention banning the
production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons, and in March 1995
the Conference on Disarmament established a committee to begin drafting such
Next, at the 1995
NPT Review Conference Clinton got all signatories to agree to its indefinite
At the 40th General Conference of the IAEA in 1997, Director General Hans Blix
announced the U.S.-IAEA-Russia Trilateral
Agreement, hyped as an important step towards the U.S. and Russia meeting
NPT nuke "disarmament obligations." Each side would dispose of – under the watchful
eyes of IAEA inspectors – 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium, recovered from
thousands of dismantled U.S. and Soviet nukes.
Clinton hoped to get every nation-state on earth to sign the CTBT, the enforcement
of which would be entrusted to the UN.
The basic idea (since full-scale tests of new nuke designs were generally considered
absolutely necessary) was that without testing, nation-states such as Pakistan
– which had not then tested its nuke designs – could never develop nuke stockpiles.
Neither could nation-states such as India – which had tested some of its nuke
designs – upgrade their designs or test actual nukes.
Although President Clinton told Congress that our weapons labs could maintain
the integrity of our stockpile without testing, the rest of the world
was led to believe that – without full-scale testing – the reliability of existing
nuke stock-piles would soon be so suspect, that all nuke nation-states would
soon be effectively disarmed.
(Perhaps that was the reason India tested a few of its nuke designs in 1998
and Pakistan did the same a few weeks later.)
Then, Clinton approved the "action
agenda" of the 2000 NPT Review Conference calling for "systematic
and progressive efforts" to implement the NPT disarmament requirement.
Of course, Bill Clinton was not adverse to killing tens of thousands of women
and children from 20,000 feet – just so long as few, if any, Americans were
put at risk – to effect regime change in accordance with the expressed desires
of various groups of his supporters, including Likudniks, eco-wackos, and religious-human-animal
However, Bush-Cheney entered office realizing that the only rationale most
Americans would accept for forcibly effecting regime change in Iraq, Iran, Syria
and North Korea – which might put at risk more than a few of our servicemen
– would be for those regimes actually having nukes and a willingness to supply
them to terrorists.
Then came the second attempt by the Islamic jihadists – this time armed with
box-cutters – to bring down the World Trade Center Twin Towers.
What to do? Make it a federal crime to buy, sell or have possession of a box-cutter?
No; the obvious thing for Bush-Cheney to do was deliberately set out to discredit
– even destroy – the NPT-associated nuke proliferation-prevention regime with
which Iraq, Iran, Syria and North Korea were in total compliance.
In fact, Bush-Cheney came in with an "ABC" agenda; anything but Clinton.
Above all they repudiated the Clinton-Gore "globalist" end-of-the-nationstate
philosophy, vowing, instead, to establish an American
As a result, who, today, is the most ardent foe of the "inalienable"
right of all NPT-signatories to the use of atomic energy – without discrimination
– for peaceful purposes?
And who, today, is the most ardent advocate of those rights?
So, will Obama-Biden pursue a "globalist" – end of the nation-state
– agenda or continue the pursuit of an American Hegemony? And, either way, what
justification will be used – either from 20,000 feet or on the ground – for
regime change, here and abroad?