Dueling Twins

Accord

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The 'Dueling Twins'

Treaties are like roses and young girls - they last while they last

Charles De Gaulle

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One Way To Reduce The Warhead Count!

Point:

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No Accord in Crawford

by James Hall, From the Left

The president did his best in Crawford, but the compelling strains of country-western music and the delights of chicken-fried steak didn't budge Vladimir Putin, the president's new soul-mate. Putin took Bush's already-announced pledge to drop America's nuclear arsenal from around 7,000 warheads to around 2,200, but didn't feel any urge to reciprocate by giving the president what he wanted, a change in the 1972 ABM Treaty. This leaves the administration in the awkward position of delaying the testing and acquisition of a missile defense system it made a central part of its 2000 campaign.

Unfortunately for Bush, the fault can be laid directly to that campaign and to the war on terrorism. In 1999, the Bush campaign announced their willingness to drop the number of strategic warheads to around 2,400 or so, subject to Pentagon review. The campaign made a big deal about doing so unilaterally, even though previous reductions had been based on negotiations with the Soviets--SALT, START I and II--and the Clinton administration was in the middle of negotiations on START III, which would have covered reductions with the Russian Federation.

The Bush people felt that they had the Russians at a disadvantage and didn't need to bargain. The Russian Federation desperately needed to cut back on its 6,800 ready nuclear weapons to save money for other military programs, in particular the war in Chechnya. Bush also had ideological support from his party to go so far as to just cancel the ABM Treaty if the Russians refused to renegotiate it, based on a legal technicality--that the Russian Federation is no longer being the Soviet Union. (Though of course we continue to honor other treaties signed by the Soviets that are to our advantage.)

But the events of September 11 changed all that. Suddenly the Russians were among our most important supporters, and we needed their help to gain access to air bases in Tajikstan and Uzbekistan, gather intelligence, and to provide weapons for the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Tearing up the ABM Treaty and risking Russian anger no longer made sense. The Russians, who had nothing to give the Bush campaign in 1999, have a lot to give the Bush administration in 2001.

Had the Bush people played their cards closer to their vests, had they not announced ahead of time their decision to unilaterally reduce the American nuclear arsenal, they might have been able to trade the nuclear arsenal reductions that Putin wants for changes in the ABM Treaty that Bush wants. As it is, they've needlessly complicated things for themselves. By hesitating and publicly announcing that they won't conduct tests of ABMs that might violate the treaty, they're abandoning the legalistic argument they were ready to use--that the ABM Treaty no longer applies.

Now they're in a position where they've publicly acknowledged that the ABM Treaty still applies, and fear to break it lest they anger the Russians and lose their support for the terrorist war. Perhaps candidate Bush should have taken to the example of President Reagan, who always insisted on a quid pro quo before giving anything to the Soviets, and who never took his close personal relationship with Premier Gorbachev as state policy. "Trust, but verify," was always Reagan's motto, while Bush appears eager just to trust his friend Putin.

Now it remains to be seen just when Bush will give the green light to the Pentagon to begin the tests of the ABM system and start construction on the radar installations, each of which would constitute a break in the ABM Treaty. Those tests and installations are a necessary component of a system that the president wants ready at least in part by 2004, and which will likely take years to perfect or complete. The Bush administration is now left with the difficult choice of pushing the Russians into making changes in the Treaty, offering them something they want--like a substantial increase in American aid, or alienating them by going ahead with an ABM shield at the cost of their significant support in a war against terrorism.

So it appears that Putin and the Russians can play President Bush--nod and smile and joke with our Commander in Chief, while putting themselves in a position to delay and frustrate him on a campaign promise dear to his primary constituency's heart, the wall of missiles he promised would be in place before 2004. The bitter fruits of his campaign's foreign policy unilateralism have now ripened.

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Rebuttal:

Who expected the Crawford Accord? Only the man who needed it badly--George W. Bush. The man who pulled out all the stops to talk his buddy into easing back the 1972 ABM Treaty, but ended up with no promise after all.

If Bush doesn't intend to honor the ABM Treaty and stay in the good graces of the Russian Federation, why have Donald Rumsfeld announce the postponement of testing to honor the Treaty? When Rumsfeld did so, he undercut the ideological arguments of Jesse Helms, et al, that the Treaty didn't exist, because the Soviet Union didn't exist. Nobody keeps treaties with ghosts--unless they aren't ghosts after all.

The fact of the matter is that the Russians have acquired political capital, and want to spend it delaying and even killing the American ABM program. Why? It's in their interest to do so. A missile shield that starts out defending against a rogue nation attack can be readily increased to create Reagan's dream shield capable of stopping any and all missile attacks. Putin surely understands this and is taking his buddy along for a ride, getting him to postpone and delay the testing and developing a shield until it's too late to implement it.

George W. Bush has always run his political campaigns on his ability to deliver on his promises. If the Russians successfully delay him, it will prove impossible to get back on track with his goal to have at least a minimal system working by 2004--in time for his reelection campaign. And that might well contribute to a second term loss. What a terrible thing for one friend to do to another--but then what else do you expect from a KGB guy?

James Hall, From the Left

Counterpoint:

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Who Ever Expected One?

With the shift in global alliances, we have a situation that is both fluid and basic in its nature. Countries only have interests. Friends are better found in pets. If the contention is that Bush blow a deal, who ever said there was a pact to be made? Russia has emerged after the terror of the better part of a century as a country who needs friends more than additional enemies. The reason that Russia will cozy up to the West is that they have no where else to turn. Their geography dictates that her borders can never be secure from the threat of what is perceived as Islamic fundamentalism and Chinese expansionism .

Ideology doesn't cut alliances in this modern era of cash flow. The reason that Putin will make a deal is that the greed of the oil industry will provide what Vladimir wants and needs. The trade is not in the count of warheads, but in the open check book and transfer of cutting edge technology. Even the most innocent, will understand that money talks.

Down home hospitality, Texas style; is more about cutting up the steer to the liking of the guest. There is enough meat to go around on this one! New lands to conquer and exploit is the common interest of both players.

The issue on reduction in nuclear weapons might be better be viewed within the context of there usefulness and protection capacities. Do any of these weapons make anyone safe? The distorted logic that more offers greater protection is crazy. The only question that has meaning is whether the new Russia would be willing to launch against the hand that promises to feed her better than what she has been able to do for herself. Pragmatism is the reigning standard.

The square dance that went on, on the range of the Bush spread, was pure theater. The heavy lifting goes on in private over several bottles of Stolichnaya. Public consumption back in the mother land has reached new heights. And I'm not just talking about drinking the clear liquid. Russia has developed factions of varied interests that has influence, separate from the old party structure. Putin's spy background is no accident and certainly an asset for his prospects to remain in power. The days of one man rule perished with Uncle Joe, even if few fully understood the transition at that time.

The ABM Treaty is dead for all intensive purposes. Putin knows this fact and is just raising the bet to build up the size of the pot in this western stud poker game. Does anyone doubt that Halliburton won't join Bechtel in this new black gold rush? That is where the real trade will be conducted. Linkage between reduction in warheads is defined as drilling expertise and customer guarantees for resources. When the market evolves to Caspian Sea routing, who benefits from the reduction in Saudi sales? Answer both W's, Bush and the West. But the real winner is the little czar. NATO protection against the southern flank of discontent for the cost of renting a few out dated military bases!

Missiles are not the terror weapon they once were. ABM defense could have some modest deterrent value to stop a rogue launching, but the cost for development and deployment can be better spent on measures that can defuse potential madmen from gaining control of such weapons.

One real risk is for a nuclear detonation or a dirty bomb floating down the river on a barge taking out a major port. ABM technology won't prevent that kind of scenario. No one claims that Russia is a new found friend that will offer up the next Alaska deal. But debates about treaties that are more for show than substance, misses the significance of the courtship.

The Texas culture thinks big! Spec houses can run over eight figures. Dinning under the open skies of a prairie sunset will not be disturbed with the flash of a blast from a Russian device launched by Putin. As for the suitcase version, that's anyone's guess. Crawford may be known for the heat of its summer climate. Reducing the impotent stockpile will not raise the temperature any higher. Be patient, greed always wins over rash policies. Campaign promises point to final results. Unilateralism may just be leadership! Who knows, the next Secretary William Seward may just be VP Cheney. What do you think he is doing from the confines of that secure location?

James Hall aka SARTRE

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Final Word:

You must be right. All those polls mean nothing! You must have been a great negotiator. Did you ever hear that the technology was offered to be shared? If the Russians could afford the investment, why would they pass on the gift of the plans? It would save them the time and effort from stealing them.

If the U.S. really wanted to have such a defense, they would simply give notice and terminate the Treaty. Such a clause would be most advantageous when dealing with your beloved federal employees . . . just tell them to go home. Just maybe the priority has changed for the IMC. You remember that industrial military complex that Ike warned us about. They evolved into the government itself.

And when have the supports of the left ever been concerned about broken promises? Who is the constituency for this boondoggle to begin with? The public is more concerned with that foreign looking transient that just moved into the neighborhood than the prospects of shooting bullets with smarter bullets.

The issue with Putin centers more on the anticipation of Russia joining a quasi revamped NATO, than a worry about dragging out an ABM deployment that the Bush folks were only lukewarm about to begin with. Terrorism is the catch word of the day. Prove that a SKUD missile has a bin Laden name on it and you will revive interest. Until then sleep well, only the DemoRAT'S have been sent that powder through the mail. Oh, that's right you are one of them.

James Hall - 'The Right'


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We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will. I cannot believe that such a program would be rejected by the people of this country, even if it does mean the establishment of personal contact with the dictators.
Neville Chamberlain

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