With Al Gore winning an Oscar for propagandizing about an admittedly somewhat hyped threat of global warming, the convergence of Hollywood with public policy is indisputable. It seems appropriate, therefore, to use an old Tinsel Town marketing line to herald the advent of a portentous strategic development: "They're Baaack!"
Presumably, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meant to be reassuring when she responded to a pointed question on Fox News Sunday about Russian threats to nuke Poland and the Czech Republic if the latter cooperate with the United States on missile defense. She declared, somewhat dismissively, to host Chris Wallace, "I used to do [arms control] for a living."
Having thus established that she was a woman who knows what throw-weight is, Dr. Rice claimed it was "ludicrous" for the Kremlin to contend that "somehow 10 interceptors deployed in Poland are going to threaten the thousands of warheads in the Russian deterrent." For good measure, the Secretary of State professed that "what we'd like to do is to pursue with the Russians missile defense cooperation."
Unfortunately, far from instilling confidence, Dr. Rice's throw-away line about her arms control pedigree offers a prism through which one can see clearly what increasingly is wrong with American foreign policy, over which she exercises virtually unchallenged sway.
The comment calls to mind, for example, the reprehensible "Chicken Kiev" speech she helped craft back when she made a living "doing arms control" at the "Bush 41" National Security Council. The thrust of that August 1991 address delivered by George H.W. Bush as the Soviet Union was coming apart was an appeal to the Ukrainians to remain under Moscow's thumb.
This preference for "stability" over potentially positive but uncertain, and possibly risky, change is the default-setting for professional arms controllers, and the diplomatic corps and foreign policy establishment more generally. It is also what passes for the Democrats' big policy idea on Capitol Hill: Negotiations will take care of everything from the bloodletting in Iraq to China's bid to control outer space. Don't worry about the megalomaniacal mullahs in Iran; talk to them. And so on.
Call it the "love-the-one-you-are-with" syndrome. Yes, horrible totalitarians may be nasty to their own people and a threat to us but, as long as we have a "process" that has them at the negotiating table or better yet, has us making arms control or other deals with them the appearance of a peaceable and stable "world order" can be maintained.
The arms controllers' proclivities are much in evidence in a number of recent policy shifts adopted in the name of "Bush 43." Now, for example, we have an agreement that is worse in a number of respects than even the much-reviled and -violated accord struck with Pyongyang in 1994 by Bill Clinton's deal-makers.
Here's the short form of the new "breakthrough" with North Korea: We have paid through the nose to "get them back to the Six-Party talks" including promising to eliminate financial sanctions on the North and listing it as an officially designated state-sponsor of terror. These tools represent the greatest hope for bringing about the downfall of the world's most odious regime. Instead, thanks to the professional arms controllers, the United States is going to help perpetuate Kim Jong-Il's hold on power, in exchange for his shutting down an obsolescent reactor and his promises to keep talking, probably endlessly and certainly inconclusively, about his growing nuclear weapons stockpile.
Condi Rice has a similar deal on offer for Iran, if only it will "suspend" its enrichment of uranium. Not end, to say nothing of verifiably dismantling its burgeoning covert nuclear weapons complex and programs. With nothing more than a pause in bomb-relevant production, as she put it on the Fox Sunday show, "Iran can re-enter the international community, and I'm quite certain that we can discuss any and every thing."
One of the most troubling characteristics of those who make a living doing arms control and other feats of diplomatic derring-do is their tendency to dissemble about the true nature of things. For example, the Russians, Chinese and European Union are described as "cooperating" with us when, generally, they are doing anything but. The Saudis are described as part of the "moderate" Arab center, even as they continue to invest in worldwide proliferation of the Islamofascist ideology and infrastructure.
Of course, this "stability uber alles" business is completely at odds with President George W. Bush's harsh critique of his predecessors' approach to international affairs. Just two years ago, he told a National Defense University audience: "…Decades of excusing and accommodating tyranny, in the pursuit of stability, have only led to injustice and instability and tragedy. It should be clear that the advance of democracy leads to peace, because governments that respect the rights of their people also respect the rights of their neighbors. It should be clear that the best antidote to radicalism and terror is the tolerance and hope kindled in free societies. And our duty is now clear: For the sake of our long-term security, all free nations must stand with the forces of democracy and justice…."
These inspiring words marked a sharp and inspiring break from the mantra of those who make a living doing arms control and otherwise pursuing phony stability. The return of the arms controllers means that the leader of the world's "free nations" is once again doing the easy, but fatefully wrong thing abandoning the forces of democracy and justice and excusing and accommodating the tyrants.