Americans have traditionally been optimists, and
still probably think that if we could only make the right choices, the next
President – working together with the next Congress – could clean up the mess
Bush-Cheney and The Best Congress Money Can Buy have made, thereby making it
safe to go abroad once again carrying an American passport.
Perhaps you're wondering, now, how we ever got into this mess?
Well, scroll back in time to the dissolution
of the Warsaw Pact in 1991.
Hallelujah! Dancing in the streets! Peace in Our Time! The prospect of Armageddon
in central Europe was no more!
Hence, both the Soviet Union and the United States began to withdraw from service the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons that had been specifically developed and deployed to fight that final battle.
Later that year, with the Soviet Union itself on the verge of economic collapse, Russian officials came to "lobby" our Congress.
They told Senator Sam Nunn that they wanted to dismantle the tens of
thousands of Soviet nukes excess to Russian needs, recover the fissile material
(essentially pure U-235 uranium and Pu-239 plutonium) from those dismantled
nukes, and then store it until they could eventually dispose of it as reactor
The problem was, the Russians didn't have the money to do all of that. Would Congress help?
Rarely has Congress responded
so quickly to any request. The Nunn-Lugar Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act
was attached to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty Implementation Act
of 1991, which just happened to be pending before the Senate.
Nunn-Lugar declared "that it is in the national security interest of the United States to facilitate on a priority basis the transportation, storage, safeguarding, and destruction of nuclear and other weapons in the Soviet Union, its republics, and any successor entities, and to assist in the prevention of weapons proliferation."
Congress immediately authorized Bush Senior to "reprogram" up to $400 million from funds already appropriated for that fiscal year to the Department of Defense (DoD) to implement Nunn-Lugar!
But hold on.
In 1992, Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense and Paul Wolfowitz was Undersecretary for Policy.
Periodically, the Undersecretary develops for the Secretary a top-secret document entitled Defense Planning Guidance. The document is supposed to be "threat-driven."
Once developed and approved, the Secretary issues it to the military Departments and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It tells them what their "force structure" needs to be as well as the manpower, weapons, equipment, and logistical support that will be required to meet the "threat."
So when the New York Times revealed
in 1992 some contents of Wolfowitz's Defense Planning Guidance – which
"envisioned a future in which the United States could, and should, prevent
any other nation or alliance from becoming a great power" – there was understandably
quite a flap, here and abroad, in and out of government.
But surely Cheney-Wolfowitz shared the view of President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker and the Congress that nukes getting into the hands of terrorists was the Number One threat to our national security? Surely they were anxious to implement Nunn-Lugar as soon as possible, weren't they?
Apparently not then. Not ever.
But, with Cheney-Wolfowitz gone from the Pentagon, surely incoming President
Clinton could proceed to apply correctly and expeditiously the Nunn-Lugar solution
to "loose nukes"; still widely acknowledged to be the Number One Threat
to our national security – right?
For one thing, the Republicans soon took control of both Senate and House and many Republicans were not all that appalled at the Cheney Cabal vision.
As a result, of the billions of "Nunn-Lugar" dollars that have been
appropriated over the years, the vast majority of it has been spent by the Pentagon
– most of that going to American contractors – with only a small fraction ever
being spent in Russia to prevent proliferation of nuclear materials, technology
In addition, for the entourage that Clinton brought to power, our national
security was not as important as world peace.
For that entourage and its fellow travelers, the thousands of nukes – yea,
even the hundreds of nuclear power plants – in our hands were more of
a threat to world peace than a few "loose" nukes in the hands of terrorists.
So, instead of pursuing nuke proliferation-prevention with the Russians, Clinton
pursued, instead, "a Treaty on general and complete disarmament
under strict and effective international control" as required by Article
VI of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
And if that wasn't enough, taking a page from the Cheney-Wolfowitz 1992 grand
strategy, Clinton – with the support of Congress – began pushing the boundaries
of NATO eastward, toward the walls of the Kremlin.
Furthermore, at the urging of the Cheney
Cabal and human-rights activists, Clinton – with the support of Congress
– began bashing the Russians for their efforts to suppress Islamic terrorist
activities in Chechnya.
Now, there could have been some good news. Iraq had agreed, as a condition of the Gulf War ceasefire, to accept UN Security Council sanctions and to allow the IAEA to preside over the complete destruction of all Iraqi nuclear programs, peaceful or otherwise.
By mid-1998, Director-General ElBaradei was able to report
to the Security Council that Iraq's nuclear program did not now pose a "threat
to the peace in the region." So, the Security Council should have
removed some or all of the sanctions previously imposed.
But No! President Clinton – with the
support of Congress – declared he would never
allow sanctions to be lifted, despite the IAEA report that
Iraq was in total compliance with its Safeguards Agreement, so long as Saddam
Hussein was in power.
Consequently, over the Christmas Holidays, Clinton tried to effect regime change
in Iraq from 20,000
feet, claiming he had "intelligence" that Saddam was conducting
a nuke development program beneath the palaces he bombed.
Clinton further angered the Russians that year by attempting to achieve regime change in Kosovo-Bosnia from 20,000 feet, killing many thousands of Russia's Slavic brethren, the Serbs, on the ground.
Worse, Pakistan surprised everyone that year by testing a half-dozen or so
nuclear fission devices, just days after India – defying Clinton – had tested
several of their own.
The prospect that the next India-Pakistani conflict would involve – thanks
to Clinton – nukes was bad enough. But nuke-armed Pakistan openly supported
the ruling Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, and the Taliban openly provided
refuge to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
What a mess.
So, there we were, eight years ago, thinking that if we Americans could only
make the ‘right' choices, the next President – working together with the next
Congress – could clean up the mess Clinton and a complicit Congress had made
of the world, thereby making it safe to once again go abroad carrying an American