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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 49, August 2000

US Republican & Democratic Conventions

Republican Convention

Republican Party National Convention, Philadelphia, July 31-August 3, 2000.

Policy Platform Document: section on 'Protecting the Fellowship of Freedom from Weapons of Mass Destruction'

"The new century will bring new threats, but America - properly led - can master them. Just as the generations of World War II and the Cold War were quick to seize the high frontier of science and craft the national defense America needed, so our country can build on its strengths and defend against unprecedented perils once again.

Ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction threaten the world's future. America is currently without defense against these threats. The administration's failure to guard America's nuclear secrets is allowing China to modernize its ballistic missile force, thereby increasing the threat to our country and to our allies. The theft of vital nuclear secrets by China represents one of the greatest security defeats in the history of the United States. The next Republican President will protect our nuclear secrets and aggressively implement a sweeping reorganization of our nuclear weapons program.

Over two dozen countries have ballistic missiles today. A number of them, including North Korea, will be capable of striking the United States within a few years, and with little warning. America is now unable to counter the rampant proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and their missile delivery systems around the world.

The response of the current administration has been anachronistic and politicized. Stuck in the mindset and agreements of the Cold War and immune to fresh ideas, the administration has not developed a sensible strategy that responds to the emerging missile threat. They have no adequate plan for how they will defend America and its allies. Visionary leadership, not the present delay and prevarication, is urgently needed for America to be ready for the future. The new Republican President will deploy a national missile defense for reasons of national security; but he will also do so because there is a moral imperative involved: The American people deserve to be protected. It is the President's constitutional obligation.

America must deploy effective missile defenses, based on an evaluation of the best available options, including sea-based, at the earliest possible date. These defenses must be designed to protect all 50 states, America's deployed forces overseas, and our friends and allies in the fellowship of freedom against missile attacks by outlaw states or accidental launches.

The current administration at first denied the need for a national missile defense system. Then it endlessly delayed, despite constant concern expressed by the Republican Congress. Now the administration has become hopelessly entangled in its commitment to an obsolete treaty signed in 1972 with a Soviet Union that no longer exists while it is constrained by its failure to explore vigorously the technological possibilities. In order to avoid the need for any significant revisions to the ABM Treaty, the administration supports an inadequate national missile defense design based on a single site, instead of a system based on the most effective means available. Their approach does not defend America's allies, who must be consulted as US plans are developed. Their concept is a symbolic political solution designed on a cynical political timetable. It will not protect America.

We will seek a negotiated change in the ABM Treaty that will allow the United States to use all technologies and experiments required to deploy robust missile defenses. Republicans believe that the administration should not negotiate inadequate modifications to the ABM Treaty that would leave us with a flawed agreement that ties the hands of the next President and prevents America from defending itself. The United States must be able to select the systems that will work best, not those that answer political expediency, and we must aggressively reinvigorate the ballistic missile defense technology base necessary to ensure that these systems succeed. There are today more positive, practical ways to reassure Russia that missile defenses are a search for common security, not for unilateral advantage. If Russia refuses to make the necessary changes, a Republican President will give prompt notice that the United States will exercise the right guaranteed to us in the treaty to withdraw after six months. The President has a solemn obligation to protect the American people and our allies, not to protect arms control agreements signed almost 30 years ago.

Clear thinking about defensive systems must be accompanied by a fresh strategy for offensive ones too. The Cold War logic that led to the creation of massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons on both sides is now outdated and actually enhances the danger of weapons or nuclear material falling into the hands of America's adversaries. Russia is not the great enemy. The age of vast hostile armies in the heart of Europe deterred by the threat of US nuclear response is also past. American security need no longer depend on the old nuclear balance of terror. It is time to defend against the threats of today and tomorrow, not yesterday.

It is past time that the United States should reexamine the requirements of nuclear deterrence. Working with US military leaders and with the Congress, a Republican President will reevaluate America's nuclear force posture and pursue the lowest possible number consistent with our national security. We can safely eliminate thousands more of these horrific weapons.

We should do so. In the Cold War the United States rightfully worried about the danger of a conventional war in Europe and needed the nuclear counterweight. That made sense then. It does not make sense now. The premises of Cold War targeting should no longer dictate the size of the US nuclear arsenal. The current administration seems not to realize that this notion, too, is old-think of the worst order. In addition, the United States should work with other nuclear nations to remove as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status - another unnecessary vestige of Cold War confrontation - to reduce the risks of accidental or unauthorized launch.

In 1991, the United States invited the Soviet Union to join it in removing tactical nuclear weapons from their arsenals. Huge reductions were achieved in a matter of months, quickly making the world much safer. Under a Republican President, Russia will again be invited to do the same with respect to strategic nuclear weapons. America should be prepared to lead by example, because it is in our best interest and the best interest of the world. These measures can begin a new global era of nuclear security and safety.

Republicans recognize new threats but also new opportunities. With Republican leadership, the United States has an opportunity to create a safer world, both to defend against nuclear threats and to reduce nuclear arsenals and tensions. America can build a robust missile defense, make dramatic reductions in its nuclear weapons, and defuse confrontation with Russia. A Republican President will do all these things.

A comprehensive strategy for combating the new dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction must include a variety of other measures to contain and prevent the spread of such weapons. We need the cooperation of friends and allies - and should seek the cooperation of Russia and China - in developing realistic strategies using political, economic, and military instruments to deter and defeat the proliferation efforts of others. We need to address threats from both rogue states and terrorist group - whether delivered by missile, aircraft, shipping container, or suitcase.

In this context, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is another anachronism of obsolete strategic thinking. This treaty is not verifiable, not enforceable, and would not enable the United States to ensure the reliability of the US nuclear deterrent. It also does not deal with the real dangers of nuclear proliferation, which are rogue regimes - such as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea - that seek to hide their dangerous weapons programs behind weak international treaties. We can fight the spread of nuclear weapons, but we cannot wish them away with unwise agreements. Republicans in the Senate reacted accordingly and responsibly in rejecting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

A new Republican President will renew America's faltering fight against the contagious spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as well as their means of delivery. The weak leadership and neglect of the administration have allowed America's intelligence capabilities, including space based systems, to atrophy, resulting in repeated proliferation surprises such as Iraq's renewed chemical and biological weapons programs, India's nuclear weapon test, and North Korea's test of a three-stage ballistic missile. Again in a partnership with the Congress, a new Republican administration will give the intelligence community the leadership, resources, and operational latitude it requires."

Source: Convention website, http://gopconvention.com.

Speech by George W. Bush, August 3

"Little more than a decade ago, the Cold War thawed and, with the leadership of Presidents Reagan and Bush, that wall came down. But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton/Gore administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report 'not ready for duty, sir.' This administration had its moment. They had their chance. They have not led. We will. …

The world needs America's strength and leadership, and America's armed forces need better equipment, better training, and better pay. We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more - a commander-in-chief who respects our men and women in uniform, and a commander-in-chief who earns their respect.

A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam. When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming. I will work to reduce nuclear weapons and nuclear tension in the world - to turn these years of influence into decades of peace. And, at the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy missile defences to guard against attack and blackmail. Now is the time, not to defend outdated treaties, but to defend the American people. …"

Source: Text - George W. Bush 8/3 Republican National Convention Remarks, US State Department (Washington File), August 4.

Other Comment

Condoleezza Rice, Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to Governor Bush, August 1: "[Governor Bush] believes that America has a special responsibility to keep the peace - that the fair cause of freedom depends on our strength and purpose. He recognizes that the magnificent men and women of America's armed forces are not a global police force. They are not the world's 911. They are the strongest shield and surest sword in the maintenance of peace. If the time ever comes to use military force, President George W. Bush will do so to win - because for him, victory is not a dirty word.

George W. Bush will never allow America and our allies to be blackmailed. And make no mistake; blackmail is what the outlaw states seeking long-range ballistic missiles have in mind. It is time to move beyond the Cold War. It is time to have a President devoted to a new nuclear strategy and to the deployment of effective missile defences at the earliest possible date. George W. Bush knows that America has allies and friends who share our values. As he has said, the President should call our allies when they are not needed, so that he can call upon them when they are needed. …

I have watched him explain America's interests to the Russian foreign minister, while assuring him that a peaceful Russia has nothing to fear from America. … I know that he understands the complexities of our relationship with China. He believes that conflict between our nations is not inevitable. Yet he recognizes the challenge that the Chinese government poses to our interests and values and the irresistible demand for liberty that can be unleashed by freer trade with its people. …"

Source: Text - Condoleezza Rice Remarks to Republican Convention, August 1, 2000, US State Department (Washington File), August 2.

Robert Zoellick, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Bush, August 2: "Governor Bush made a [statement a] couple of months ago where he proposed a new approach to nuclear security for the United States, which combined the role of missile defence, but also substantial cuts in offensive weapons, and particularly for those in Russia a recognition that with 10 years at the end of the Cold War we have been too long in restructuring our nuclear forces, recognizing that Russia is no longer a nuclear enemy. However, we do face a different set of threats in the world, and the type of situation that the United States is concerned about is one where you might have a repeat of an incident like we did in the Gulf War where a person like Saddam Hussein threatens key security interests, but this time he or his successor would have weapons of mass destruction and missiles. And the concern then would be: Would we be able to put together the Gulf War coalition if capitals in Paris and Rome and Berlin and London were threatened by those missiles? Would we be able to bring our forces in to the key ports if they were threatened by those missiles? And also, would we get support among our own public? So the strategic context for Governor Bush's approach is to have a defensive system that protects forces, allies, but also the US homeland. And that's not really the way the Clinton administration had structured this system.

Now, Governor Bush said at the time that we need to have a missile defence based on the most effective options, and here again there was a concern that some of the ideas that are discussed…are precluded under the ABM Treaty. And so what Governor Bush has said is that he would want to discuss with Russia the possibilities of changing the treaty so that he can focus on new threats that frankly put both the United States and Russia and others at risk… But ultimately, if Russia were unable to make those changes, then the United States would feel under that treaty, there is a provision to give six months notice to leave the arrangement. But, again, I was encouraged by the statements of President Putin about a few weeks or months ago when he talked about Russia's interest in a boost-phase missile defence. This signaled to me, while I know there is a debate in Russia, that Russia recognizes that it too faces threats from missiles. And the question may not be whether there is a missile defence or not, but what type of missile defence. And I know this is playing out in the Russian debate right now, for example the debate between [the] defence minister and the chairman of the joint chiefs in Russia in terms of the role of your strategic rocket forces versus conventional forces. So I suspect a new President would engage closely with our allies, but also with Russia on the types of threats we see, and why we hope that Russia will agree with us that we no longer need the thousands of nuclear weapons that we have targeted at one another, because the last thing I think either country has in mind would be a nuclear strike against one another."

Source: Transcript - Television 'Dialogue' Program on Republican Convention, US State Department (Washington File), August 2.

Colin Powell, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, July 31: "[W]e stand at an historic turning point in world history. For the first time in almost a century, America does not face an enemy fuelled by an ideology claiming to be superior to our beloved system of democracy, free enterprise and the rights of men and women to pursue their individual destinies. We defeated communism and fascism on the field of battle and on the field of ideas. The sick nations that still pursue the 'fools gold' of tyranny and weapons of mass destruction will soon find themselves left behind in the dust bin of history. They are investing in their own demise as surely as the Soviet Union did by investing in the Red Army."

Source: Text - Colin Powell Remarks to Republican National Convention, US State Department (Washington File), August 1.

II. Democratic Convention

Democratic Party National Convention, Los Angeles, August 14-17, 2000.

Policy Platform Document: section on 'Peace'

"Democratic leadership has brought peace and security to Americans and to millions of freedom-loving people around the globe. … We have made Americans safer by reducing Russian nuclear arsenals. We strengthened and expanded NATO for a new century. …

Al Gore and the Democratic Party know that we must be able to meet any military challenge from a position of dominance. But Al Gore and the Democratic Party also recognize that there is a new security agenda - threats that affect the entire world and transcend political borders.

During the past century, we have learned that if we wish to avoid war, we must be strong enough to deter aggression, but also farsighted enough to invest in peace. Now it is time to apply this lesson to the new global challenges we face - to shape a new strategy of Forward Engagement to guide our conduct around the world. …

While we must always stand prepared to use our military power when all other options fail, Forward Engagement also means addressing societal and political problems before they evolve into threats to our national security and values - before armed conflict becomes the only way to achieve our goals. And Forward Engagement means drawing on all three main sources of American power - military strength, a vibrant, growing economy, and a free and democratic political system - to advance our objectives around the world. …

At a time when new conditions require new thinking, the Republican Party offers little more than outdated positions and a narrow worldview that lets international problems fester. Some Republicans believe America should turn away from the world. They oppose using our armed forces as part of international solutions, even when regional conflicts threaten our interests and our values. Other Republicans want America to act unilaterally. They attack the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty - even at the risk of precipitating a new nuclear arms race. They voted down the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, threatening both our security and our global leadership. They have attempted to sabotage the Clinton-Gore administration's efforts to negotiate with other nations by declaring that any arms control agreement - regardless of content - would be 'dead on arrival.'

Mired in the past, the Republican Party fails to realize that ensuring peace and security for Americans today does not just mean guarding against armies on the march. It means investing in building the global peace. It means addressing the fact that more than 1 billion of the Earth's inhabitants live on less than $1 a day - inviting social dislocation, violence, and war. It means meeting new challenges such as international crime and terrorism, environmental degradation, and pandemic diseases head-on. And it means that Forward Engagement must be the new pole-star of our global strategy. …

Transforming Our Military

A strong, flexible, and modern military force is the ultimate guarantor of our physical survival and the protection of our interests and values. Today, America's military is the best-trained, best-equipped, most capable, and most ready fighting force in the world. With Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the White House, Democrats reversed a decline in defense spending that began under President Bush, boosted pay and allowances, and provided the funding for a new generation of weapons.

The Democratic Party understands that, good as they are, the armed forces must continue to evolve. They must not only remain prepared for conventional military action, but must sharpen their ability to deal with new missions and new kinds of threats. They must become more agile, more versatile, and must more completely incorporate the revolutionary implications and advantages of American supremacy in information technology. …

Closing the Gates of War

… We helped facilitate the dialogue between North and South Korea, without which the recent summit could not have occurred. We continue to work with China and Taiwan to resolve their differences by peaceful means. And we continue our work with India and Pakistan to dampen down a nuclear arms race on the sub-continent and continue to urge them to deal with their differences over their conflict in Kashmir with peaceful means. President Clinton's historic trip to India and Pakistan has created new possibilities for dialogue with these countries, and under a Gore Administration these will be continued vigorously. …

Engaging Former Enemies

Democrats understand that we must engage former enemies. This Administration's efforts to design new relationships with the Russian Federation and China have been continuously subjected to every form of harassment and attack by the Republicans - but they have been in America's national interest and they have been the right thing to do. …

[W]e must continue to engage China - a nation with 1.3 billion people, a nuclear arsenal, and a role in the 21st Century that is destined to be one of the basic facts of international life. … A deterioration of the US-China relationship would harm, not help, American national security interests and the promotion of our values. A Gore Administration will fulfill its responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act. A Gore Administration will also remain committed to a 'One China' policy. We support a resolution of cross-Straits issues that is both peaceful and consistent with the wishes of the people of Taiwan.

Enhancing Existing Alliances

… Under a Gore Administration, the US will continue to work with our transatlantic allies to make the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) even stronger, thereby enhancing stability, promoting prosperity, and fostering democracy throughout Europe. The Democratic Party strongly supported the accession of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary as a milestone in building a stronger NATO and a more democratic and unified Europe. We look forward to bringing in additional qualified members in the future who share our values and are willing to take on the responsibilities of membership. A Gore Administration will ensure that the issue of NATO's future enlargement is part of the Alliance's agenda at the next summit in 2002 and that no non-NATO member has a veto over NATO decisions in this regard.

We must strengthen our alliances and partnerships in Asia, with Japan and with South Korea. We must intensify our strategic cooperation with our ally Japan, building on our Joint Security Declaration, while finding more avenues to deal with Japan on a range of issues, from supporting democracy in Asia to promoting fair trade. And we remain committed to the defense of South Korea. …

Preventing Proliferation

We must strengthen our defense against the proliferation of conventional and unconventional weapons that threaten America. Our first priority must be to continue the work we have begun in cutting stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, halting testing, and ensuring that weapons and weapons-grade material do not fall into the wrong hands. Working with the government of the Russian Federation, we have helped safeguard nuclear material against the danger of theft. We have made it possible for thousands of Russia's nuclear scientists and weapons experts to find peaceful pursuits. And we have helped deactivate nearly 5,000 nuclear warheads.

We are also equipping our military and continuously preparing our defenses for an unconventional attack. We have been an active player in international efforts to strengthen compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention. We renewed and made permanent the Non-Proliferation Treaty and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, but our effort to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was derailed by Senate Republicans. As President, Al Gore will promptly resubmit this treaty to the Senate with a demand from the American people for its ratification.

Al Gore and the Democratic Party recognize the possibility of change in Iran, but we remain focused on the realities. Even as elements in Iran press for reform, the country still supports international terrorism, strives to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and represses its citizens, as evidenced by the immoral trial of 13 Jews in Shiraz. Ultimately, we must judge Iran by its actions. Al Gore will make an all-out effort to halt Iran's acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems.

In Iraq, we are committed to working with our international partners to keep Saddam Hussein boxed in, and we will work to see him out of power. Bill Clinton and Al Gore have stood up to Saddam Hussein time and time again. As President, Al Gore will not hesitate to use America's military might against Iraq when and where it is necessary.

In light of the possibility that US Forces or our allies will have to contend with hostile tactical range ballistic missiles, we have been working rapidly to develop anti-tactical ballistic missile systems. We are working successfully with Israel on developing and deploying the Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile system and the Tactical High Energy Laser.

Our diplomacy has helped to halt North Korea's push for nuclear weapons. We got North Korea to stop testing long-range ballistic missiles and are also engaged in continuing negotiations regarding their testing and export of long-range ballistic missiles. The tight coordination between the United States, South Korea, and Japan is critical to our success, and we will maintain it as the two Koreas continue the dialogue begun at the recent summit.

We reject Republican plans to endanger our security with massive unilateral cuts in our arsenal and to construct an unproven, expensive, and ill-conceived missile defense system that would plunge us into a new arms race. Al Gore and the Democratic Party support the development of the technology for a limited national missile defense system that will be able to defend the US against a missile attack from a state that has acquired weapons of mass destruction despite our efforts to block their proliferation. A decision to deploy such a system should be made based on four criteria: the nature of the threat, the feasibility of the technology, the cost, and the overall impact on our national security, including arms control. The Democratic Party places a high value on ensuring that any such system is compatible with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. We also support continued work in significantly reducing strategic and other nuclear weapons, recognizing that the goal is strategic nuclear stability at progressively lower levels. …"

Source: Convention website, http://www.dems2000.com.

Speech by Al Gore, August 17

"I'm excited about America's prospects and full of hope for America's future. Our country has come a long way, and I've come a long way since that long ago time when I went to Vietnam. I've never forgotten what I saw there - and the bravery of so many young Americans. The price of freedom is sometimes high, but I never believed that America should turn inward. As a Senator, I broke with many in our party and voted to support the Gulf War when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait - because I believed America's vital interests were at stake. Early in my public service, I took up the issue of nuclear arms control and nuclear weapons - because nothing is more fundamental than protecting our national security. Now I want to lead America because I love America. I will keep America's defenses strong. I will make sure our armed forces continue to be the best-equipped, best-trained, and best-led in the entire world. …"

Source: Text - Gore 8/17 Democratic National Convention Remarks, US State Department (Washington File), August 18.

Note: in contrast with the Republicans, the Democratic Convention did not include a session dedicated to foreign affairs and defence issues. Prominent arms control advocate Joseph Biden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, did request an opportunity to address the Convention on foreign policy and arms control issues, but, according to reports, was informed that a focus was to be maintained on domestic issues throughout the week. Biden told reporters on August 18: "I think it's a mistake for us not to engage the Republicans on defence policy and on foreign policy issues." (Foreign policy gets scant attention, Associated Press, August 18.)

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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