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Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans
for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be
limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI
all over again?
(7804 previous messages)
- 08:05am Aug 9, 2001 EST (#7805
Senate Leader to Challenge Bush on Missile Defense By
ALISON MITCHELL http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/09/international/09DASC.html
"WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 — Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader,
plans to continue his challenge to President Bush on missile defense
by accusing the president of taking a "single-minded approach" to
national security, according to an advance text of a speech Mr.
Daschle is to deliver on Thursday.
"The South Dakota Democrat argued in the speech that Mr.
Bush's policies increase the risk of nuclear weapons spreading to
countries that do not now have them and uses money that ought to be
spent on more pressing security threats.
"Mr. Daschle's remarks, to be made in a speech to the Woodrow
Wilson Center , are part of an effort by prominent Democrats to
portray Mr. Bush as a unilateralist. They set the stage for a
struggle in September when Senate committees, under the control of
Democrats, begin considering Mr. Bush's request for $343.3 billion
for military programs for the new fiscal year, including $8.3
billion for missile defense.
"Trying to paint Democrats as more responsive than Mr. Bush to
the broader needs of the American military, Mr. Daschle said the
$8.3 billion would represent a 57 percent increase for missile
defense, at the expense of other security programs.
"We support an increase in both the Pentagon budget and in
missile defense," he said, according to an advance text of the
speech. "But a 57 percent increase this year — along with the
prospect of hundreds of billions of dollars in future years — would
cannibalize the personnel and force structure that deal with the
threats we are likely to face."
"Last month Mr. Daschle, who as the Senate majority leader is
now the most powerful Democrat in Washington, was rebuked by the
White House for calling Mr. Bush's foreign policy isolationist just
as the president was embarking on an overseas trip. Republicans
accused Mr. Daschle of ignoring the maxim that "politics stops at
the water's edge.
"But Mr. Daschle has not backed off. Noting that the
administration has recently found fault with six international
agreements, he said, "Instead of asserting our leadership, we are
"With the cold war over, he argued, "Fear of a common enemy no
longer keeps our allies by our side. Our allies will follow us only
if we use our unparalleled strength and prosperity to advance common
interests. Only then will our power inspire respect instead of
"As Democrats have stepped up such charges, the president's
senior advisers have replied that the administration would apply the
standard of American national interest in determining whether to
support or reject international accords.
"In the case of global warming, administration officials say,
for example, that the pact would endanger the American economy and
harm global financial health. On relations with Russia, the
administration has stated that the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty
is outdated and stands in the way of coupling historic reductions in
nuclear arsenals with a new defense against ballistic missiles.
"While Mr. Daschle said in the text of his speech that
Democrats could under "the right circumstances," support a limited
missile defense system, he accused Mr. Bush of putting far too much
emphasis on a defense shield and of looking at complex relationships
with Russia and China through the distorting prism of missile
""What else could explain for example, President Bush's
personal embrace of Russia's president Vladimir Putin — while
avoiding any public mention of Putin's crackdown on Russia's free
press and their continuing atrocities in Chechnya?" he said.
- 08:06am Aug 9, 2001 EST (#7806
"Setting the stage for a battle over Pentagon priorities, Mr.
Daschle described the chief threats to the United States as coming
not from intercontinental ballistic missiles, but from "biological
and chemical weapons and bombs that could be smuggled in a cargo
container, bus or backpack" as well as attacks on such
infrastructure as computer systems.
""National missile defense," Mr. Daschle said, "is the most
expensive possible response to the least likely threat we face."
"His speech cited a list of tradeoffs that could be made if
Congress provides the missile defense program with only a 10 percent
increase in the next fiscal year, freeing up $2.5 billion for other
programs that he says will address "more imminent, more immediate
"Among his recommendations were restored funding to help
Russia control and destroy nuclear weapons, training for emergency
workers to deal with chemical or biological attack, an increased
counterterrorism budget, reinforced border patrols, increased
research into cruise missile defense, and funding to help control
North Korea's nuclear fuel production and re-engage it on ending its
""These are all here and now threats," he said, "and we could
fund all of these programs at levels necessary to start addressing
them without shortchanging our troops, the weapons systems they rely
on or missile defense."
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