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Jewish World Review March 15, 2000 / 8 Adar II, 5760

Walter Williams

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The common defense --
Our Constitution says, "Congress shall have power to provide for the common defense." If that's Congress' job, then why are Americans unnecessarily naked to attack with weapons of mass destruction by adversaries such as China, Korea, rogue nations and terrorists?

The short answer is that it's a deliberate policy decision chosen by the White House and Congress. "Hold it, Williams," you say, "you're skating close to accusing the nation's leadership of treasonous dereliction!" Let's look at it.

According to the 1998 bipartisan Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to United States headed by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, nations hostile to the United States are acquiring sophisticated ballistic missile technology. Nations currently lacking missile technology can acquire it in five years and would be able to inflict major damage on the United States. It has become increasingly possible to conceal important elements of ballistic development, including those armed with biological and chemical agents. Finally, the United States might have little or no warning of rogue states' development or deployment of missiles capable of major damage.

"Oh c'mon, Williams," you say, "why to worry; the Soviet Union has collapsed. Our defense worries are over." Consider these threats: Last year, North Korean Defense officials publicly stated that "the Korean people are ready to annihilate U.S. imperialists," that North Korea "would plunge the damned U.S. territory into a sea of flame" and "blow up the U.S. territory as a whole." A couple of weeks ago, the People's Republic of China threatened that if we came to the defense of Taiwan it might mean nuclear annihilation of Los Angeles.

Adversaries make these threats because we haven't deployed any kind of missile defense. But we have several anti-ballistic missile systems, though by no means perfect, capable of offering some protection against threats from China, Korea, rogue nations and terrorists. The main reason we're completely defenseless against missile attack is because neither Congress nor the White House is willing to abrogate the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems. Since the Defense Department disallows anti-ballistic missile development that's not "ABM treaty compliant," our defense against missile attack is stifled. The Soviet Union no longer exists. Legal scholars conclude that the ABM treaty expired along with its signatory, the Soviet Union.

Rumsfeld warns that Americans can't wait for an "event" and then worry about defense -- it will be too late. Last year's Rudman-Hart Commission on National Security in the 21st Century reported that within the next 25 years, "America will become increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack on our homeland. ... Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers." In other words, we could see millions of lives in large metropolitan areas like New York City destroyed. We'd probably annihilate the adversary, but small good that would do for the millions of dead and injured New Yorkers.

Americans must face several realities. As of this moment, we could not wage a Gulf War, much less a two-theater major conflict. During the Clinton years, through budget cuts, social experimentation, adventurism and a dishonorable commander in chief, what was once a proud military a decade ago is going to shambles. We must develop and deploy a missile defense system. We start by invoking Article XV of the ABM treaty to announce that we are no longer bound by the treaty.

We should cease the lunacy of seeking Russian permission to defend ourselves and allies against missile attack. Finally, in the wake of China's recent saber-rattling, we should put them on notice that the United States will come to the military assistance of Taiwan.

Walter Williams Archives


© 2000, Creators Syndicate