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    Missile Defense

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?

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rshowalter - 12:29pm Aug 13, 2001 EST (#7858 of 7905) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

Lead Editorial, NYT, August 13, 2001

The Senate and the World

" Americans concerned about the direction of President Bush's foreign policy are looking to the Senate for relief. Last week, the Democratic majority leader, Tom Daschle, outlined an alternative, more internationally minded view of America's role in the 21st-century world. If Mr. Daschle and his colleagues in the Democratic majority have the gumption to follow the example of J. William Fulbright, the Arkansas senator who used the Foreign Relations Committee as a battering ram against the Vietnam War, they can make White House policy more accountable to public opinion and more in line with America's broader national interests.

"No foreign war now inflames domestic politics. But the Bush administration's haste to erect a missile shield before the technology is perfected, its shortsighted hostility to important international treaties and its scorn for the environment threaten to undermine American influence and damage relations with Russia, China and European allies.

"The modern presidency has come to dominate American foreign policy by taking maximum advantage of the constitutional authority vested in the office, especially that of commander in chief. In a dangerous and complex world, the management of American diplomacy and military forces should rest primarily with the president.

"But the founders wisely provided for close Senate involvement in foreign affairs, through the Congressional power to declare war and review financial requests, and the Senate's mandate to ratify treaties and confirm ambassadorial and other appointments. Through a deft use of these and other prerogatives, Mr. Daschle and committee chairmen like Joseph Biden at Foreign Relations and Carl Levin at Armed Services can help steer the government toward more enlightened policies.

"The Democrats, with the help of Republican moderates, need to lay out the clear philosophical differences that distinguish them from the administration. Mr. Daschle's speech pointed the way, emphasizing the importance of working closely with allies, helping Russia and China build market democracies and leading efforts to fight infectious diseases, fend off environmental threats and reduce dangers from nuclear and biological weapons.


rshowalter - 12:30pm Aug 13, 2001 EST (#7859 of 7905) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

"Senators should use public hearings to challenge administration policies, propose alternatives and present them to the country for debate. To that end, Mr. Daschle is working to coordinate the efforts of Mr. Biden, Mr. Levin and chairmen like Bob Graham at the Intelligence Committee and Patrick Leahy at the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee. He needs to hold the Democrats to a clear set of priorities. Senators will not play a constructive role if they intervene in day-to-day diplomatic issues that must be left to the president and the secretary of state.

"Arms control is particularly urgent, with the White House prepared to cast aside the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty without adequate public debate or consultation with Russia. The administration's discussions with Moscow may eventually yield an agreement to modify or set aside the treaty. The Senate can encourage that outcome by denying the Pentagon money for activities that clearly violate the ABM Treaty while approving a robust program of research and flight tests.

"Under Senator Biden's direction, the Foreign Relations Committee should hold extensive public hearings on the foreign policy implications of rushing to build an antimissile system, including the risk of igniting a new arms race with Russia and China. At Armed Services, Senator Levin should direct an exacting examination of Pentagon weapons and strategy plans and budget requests.

"At Appropriations, Senator Leahy will have increased power to press for the vital causes he has championed over the years, like increasing spending to combat H.I.V. and AIDS in Africa, attaching strong human rights conditions to American military cooperation with Colombia and Indonesia, and lifting the gag rule the White House has imposed on recipients of American family planning aid that use their own money to advocate abortion.

"House Democrats also plan to challenge administration policies and to try to build bipartisan coalitions to block the abandonment of the ABM Treaty. But the main arena for foreign policy debate will be the Senate, as the new Democratic leadership seeks to reclaim that institution's historic role in helping to guide international relations.

It seems to me that the TIMES is right, and that we are dealing with an evolving process where right answers that are widely understood are in the public interest of the United States, and the entire world.

btourny - 01:45pm Aug 13, 2001 EST (#7860 of 7905)

rshowalter 8/13/01 12:27pm

Right you are, and nothing is done in isolation in today's world. If the US stops following Bush's theocracy, behaving like a loose cannon, and instead works within the framework of existing treaty, the dollar would fall to a more rational level, business would be able to "translate profits", and sell US goods abraod. In short US corporations would once more be able to compete and be profitable, and thus to increase capital spending, and we might start moving out of this economic downturn.

If the Democrats accomplish this reversal of the Bush Administration's destructive policies and yet let Bush take yet another photo-op credit, it will be the greatest tragedy, as the most important thing is to oust this theocracy and not let it gain more power.

I see nothing in the TV news media, but Bush Photo Ops.

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