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We're Still Blind to the Dangers

Monday, 06 May 2002 12:00 AM

This time the call came from John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

The courageous Bolton spoke before the Heritage Foundation and warned that Cuba, just 90 miles from our shore, has an advanced bioweapons system. Cuba is also helping other rogue states to build such weapons.

Add Cuba to threatening nations like Iraq, Iran and North Korea – the so-called "axis of evil."

But that doesn’t finish the list. Syria and Libya are building weapons of mass destruction and seem hell-bent on finding delivery systems like ballistic missiles to hit their enemies, including us.

Their targets may someday be cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or any target in the continental U.S.

And with Cuba just a ferryboat ride across the Florida straits, Castro probably today has the ability to kill millions of Americans.

Just this year, Castro visited Iran and spoke to a group of students at Tehran University who were chanting "death to America."

Castro openly bragged about the new power that countries like Iran have over the U.S.

Castro said, "Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees. The U.S. regime is very weak, and we are witnessing this weakness from close up."

Obviously, the liberal establishment media don't see Castro as a threat. They never did. But they also never saw al-Qaeda as a real threat to the U.S. or to our cities.

We now know that threat is real.

We also know America was put to sleep with decades of liberal secularization of our schools and institutions. We have been purposely blinded to informatiom – should I say fair and balanced news – that would have allowed Americans to decide through their electoral system their needs for national and military security.

A year before 9-11, an important book, largely ignored by the media establishment, was published.

Authored by historians Donald Kagan and Frederick Kagan, the book explained how, over the past decade, America had allowed its military to seriously erode.

The Kagans not only predicted terrorist attacks on U.S. soil but also warned that nation-states themselves will soon be able to strike U.S. targets on U.S. soil.

The Kagans wrote that America let its guard down even though "experience shows that terrible storms can appear with little or no warning and that when they do they cause the greatest harm."

In fact, I believe, America today lies in the greatest danger it has been in since the beginning of the Cold War.

We still have not come to grips with that danger.

To understand the extent of the danger, you may want to read Mark Helprin's "Phony War" in the April 22 edition of National Review.

Helprin, a defense analyst, paints a truly frightening picture of America's current lack of readiness – a result of the Clinton years, no doubt.

But Helprin argues that the Bush administration has done little, even after 9-11, to correct the problem.

"If bin Laden is alive, he may believe that, since September 11, the United States has become more vulnerable to terrorists, to rising states, and to new coalitions that see in America's careless delusions about its powers and prospects an irresistible opening for their own," writes Helprin, adding "... if he did believe such a thing, he would be right. ..."

Instead of heeding the alarm of 9-11, American policymakers have bought into claims of our invincibility, especially after the Afghanistan campaign.

Helprin notes that in just one short month, "with fewer casualties than on a bad weekend in Houston, we subdued a country where the Soviets could make no headway in ten years, and quickly jumped to the conclusion that we now possess a revolutionary form of military power that we can direct wherever we please."

But the truth is that the war in Afghanistan was a small matter, fought against an exhausted enemy barely able to scrape up more than a handful of old rusty tanks and World War II infantry weapons, and totally devoid of any air cover whatsoever.

Our real enemies – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and potential foes such as China and Russia – would not fall so easily, and could strike back using weapons of mass destruction on American soil.

Despite the clear and present danger, America is, and will remain, woefully prepared to take on these foes.

Helprin lays out the facts and figures.

Despite the president's campaign pledges to restore the military, his proposed defense budgets after 9-11 call for only small increases: "The 2003 defense budget of $379 billion, less purely operational costs of the war, is 3.1 percent of the estimated U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)."

Helprin compares that budget increase to other years: "average yearly military expenditure from 1940 to 2000 was 8.5 percent of GDP; in war and mobilization years, 13.3 percent; in non-war years, 5.7 percent; by Republican administrations, 7.3 percent; by Democratic, 9.4 percent; and by the Clinton administration, which did not speak to the military, 3.6 percent."

How does all this add up? Let's look at the effects of starving the armed forces:

I don't understand what good will come from the U.S. having fewer nuclear weapons when so many other nations are trying to acquire and build them, and Russia maintains a nuclear stockpile much larger than the current U.S. stockpile.

The answer isn't pretty.

Helprin says the U.S. does not have the military resources to attack Iraq. And unlike the Gulf War, America may have to fight Iraq alone.

With the U.S. pinned down in Iraq, what would happen if Korea blew, or if China decided to make its long-awaited move on Taiwan?

The answer is America would face disaster.

The way to prevent this disaster is to remember the most important thing: America needs to be strong at every level, with conventional weapons and also strategic ones like our nuclear weapons. So strong that no nation would dare cause us harm.

But this common sense is not prevailing because we don't want to spend the money.

Helprin thinks we can easily afford the $655 billion rebuilding our military would cost.

He asks, "Have we become so dependent upon the entitlements we have manufactured in recent decades that we have lost the will to defend ourselves, and cannot spend in war what once was spent routinely in peace?"

Good question.

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This time the call came from John Bolton, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. The courageous Bolton spoke before the Heritage Foundation and warned that Cuba, just 90 miles from our shore, has an advanced bioweapons system. Cuba is...
We're,Still,Blind,the,Dangers
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2002-00-06
Monday, 06 May 2002 12:00 AM
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