BOMBS AWAY I knew there was a reason I couldn’t stand this guy. Yesterday, the Senate voted down a treaty that may, or may not, have deserved defeat. My guess is that it did, but reasonable people may differ. Regardless, the president of the United States accused Republican Senators of willingly and knowingly risking the lives of millions of Americans out of selfish partisan spite. In his opening remarks at yesterday’s press conference, the president attributed the defeat of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the “reckless partisanship” and “partisanship of the worst kind,” of Republican Senators. This “blatant” partisanship threatened the “safety of the American people and the world.”
Now, this is from the man known in certain corners of the globe as “Urq Al’li Uhl haq namib Lalil!!” or, “He who, with fiery abandon, hurls from his pants cruise missiles at aspirin factories to impress grand juries.” This from a guy who has sold super computers to his four-star donors in Beijing. These computers allow them to improve their nuclear weapons and disseminate take-out menus with abandon. This from a guy who’s commonly referred to throughout North Korea as the “Nuclear Sugar Daddy,” because he’s helped pay for the indoor pools and sweet new DVD systems of various Stalinist generals. Whenever the generals need a little extra scratch for their weekends in Bangkok, they just launch another missile over Japan like it was a room-service bell. They’re still deploying their missiles — which can hit Tokyo and L.A. — but they’re doing it on lay-away in the hopes that Clinton will hook them up with Lakers tickets.
Bill Clinton, like Al Gore, has this notion that if people disagree with him it must be for dishonorable reasons. When Judge Ronnie White (see Washington Bulletin 10/6/99, G-File 10/6/99) was rejected by the Senate, President Clinton accused Republican Senators of being motivated by racism. Bill Clinton in essence wants us to believe that Senator Dick Lugar, a man who would be happy if the Senate dedicated all of its time to talking about and ratifying arms-control agreements, a man who has endorsed every such agreement that has ever crossed his desk, rejected this one out of partisan lust.
According to the president, John McCain — who was content to stuff his face with rats and cockroaches in the Hanoi Hilton while Bill Clinton was stuffing his with pot brownies and the blouse buttons of Oxford coeds — was willing to risk the lives of Americans for the benefit of his party. And remember: This is the John McCain who spent all day yesterday fighting for a campaign-finance bill that would devastate his party. So, in other words, McCain’s willing to do the right thing when it comes to keeping soft money out of the political system, but he’s not willing to do the right thing when it comes to keeping nuclear bombs from raining down on us. Then it’s party before country.
(Indeed, McCain would be wise to talk about his “honor” here and now on this issue. If he did so as eloquently as he has on campaign finance he might win over some Republicans who think he’s left the reservation.)
President Clinton asserted that the proof of the “reckless partisanship” that “turned its back on 50 years of American leadership” was the “surprise” vote on the bill that caught the White House unawares. For a devastating rebuttal to this poppycock, see Paul Gigot’s column in today’s Wall Street Journal. But the long and short of it is that the White House had approved a craven partisan strategy to beat up on the Republicans for their refusal to bring up the vote. Democrats threatened to attach the treaty to every piece of legislation. So the Republicans said, fine, let’s vote on it. What really seems to bother Clinton and the Democrats is that they planned on using the treaty as a partisan cudgel for the next year and the Republicans took it away from them.
But what about the treaty itself? “It is the eternal dispute,” Albert Sorel said long ago, “between those who imagine the world to suit their policy, and those who arrange their policy to suit the realities of the world.” The thinking behind the CTBT is that wishing will make something so. This is an ancient argument. Remember how the Kellogg-Briand pact outlawed war?
In his McCarthyite tantrum of international scale, Clinton labeled Republicans isolationists of dubious, un-patriotic motives. He continuously referred to them as isolationists. He dubbed the post-CTBT GOP as “the New Republican Party” (you’ll be hearing more of that sort of thing, I guarantee you). Well, the GOP is not now, nor has it ever been isolationist in any meaningful way. It is the Democratic party which has time and again walked away from its international responsibilities, or tried to pawn them off on multilateral boondoggles. It is the Democratic party which largely rejected the president’s NAFTA bid. It is the Democratic party which turned its back on the Gulf War. The Republican party is usually, and should always be, a realist party. During the Cold War — at least on the right — the differences between realism and utopianism became blurred against the backdrop of international Communism. National interests were indistinguishable from ideological interests. That’s why Pat Buchanan has called Communism the great exception.
But today, President Clinton and his entourage of Carter retreads, nuclear-freeze vets, and Gorbachev voluptuaries believe that if you get applause at the U.N. or get some strategic guarantee from the French (the French!) you are a latter-day Bismarck. Thus it should be no surprise that Clinton thinks Republicans are knuckle-dragging war mongers.
Thus the White House says that by signing the treaty America would be lending its moral authority to the international consensus that we all know is the passionate concern of states like North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. These states do not care a whit about the treaties they sign, let alone the ones they don’t sign.
But what about nations like Pakistan and India? In 1993, the president declared, to much fanfare, an absolute unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. What an example of leadership! What a statement by the world’s most powerful nuclear state! Shortly thereafter, the Pakistanis and Indians detonated their own nuclear bombs in celebration of this profile in courage. Ah, but you see, if the United States signed the treaty, Pakistan and India would never have pulled the nuclear trigger. And, in order to prevent future Pakistans and Indias from doing the same thing, we must sign the treaty as quickly as possible. That little extra bit of ink is all it would take. Ink is very powerful stuff.
BLAME IT ON THE GLUE SNIFFER Yesterday National Review Online suffered what they call in radio “dead air.” Our Webmaster had sniffed some bad glue and had to stay home. He’s been working extra hard on the redesign, which is coming soon and the pressure got to him. Since this was a short week and it’s such a nice day outside, I’ll be running corrections next week.