Jewish World Review Nov. 14, 2000 / 16 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
The world won't wait
WHILE THE AMERICAN BODY POLITIC hangs in a state of suspended
animation awaiting a resolution of the 2000 presidential election, the rest
of the world is moving on. And in important respects, it is not moving in
directions favorable to U.S. interests.
The trouble is that, in the absence of the mandate being clearly
given to a new President-elect, America's foes, competitors and friends are
taking advantage of a lame-duck incumbent who was, on a good day, regarded
by many around the globe as irresolute and unreliable. Matters are only
made worse by the prospect that he may eventually be succeeded by a man
fully implicated in the hash-up the Clinton Administration has made of
security policy over the past eight years.
Consider a sampler of the international problems currently festering
due, at least in part, to the discounting of American leadership and power:
In these and too many other areas to list in this limited space, the
perception has taken hold that the United States is, at best, not paying
attention and, at worst, a paper tiger. While there is, of course, a
government in place in Washington, its past record has contributed to this
perception and its present status only serves to compound it.
In the Netherlands, a "summit on global climate change" has gotten
underway this week for the purpose of hammering out specific rules for
compelling parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to meet required reductions in
the production of greenhouse gases. There remain serious questions about
the science of global warming. These include: Is the warming of the climate
that can be discerned really the product of human activity, and therefore
likely to be influenced by curbs on such activity? Or is it a function of
solar activity or but a phase in our planet's natural cycle that will not be
ameliorated even if the internal combustion engine were banned?
Meanwhile, European nations hoping to make their heavily socialized
economies more competitive by hobbling the relatively booming U.S. GNP see a
great opportunity in the Clinton Administration's willingness to permit the
United States to be further implicated in the Kyoto process. This is all
the more outrageous insofar as Mr. Clinton has not deigned even to submit
the Protocol to the Senate for its advice and consent -- to say nothing of
securing its approval by that body.
- The effort to get to the bottom of the terrorist attack on the
U.S.S. Cole is foundering in Yemen. According to Sunday's New York Times,
the State Department is backing the American Ambassador there, who is
resisting FBI efforts to follow the investigation wherever it may lead --
including possibly to people in high places in the Yemeni government.
Similar fears of offending Middle Eastern potentates and impeding the
Clinton-Gore Administration's efforts to normalize relations with
state-sponsors of terrorism throughout the region effectively aborted the
inquiry into the Khobar Towers bombing when it led unmistakably to Iran.
- Russian trawlers are collecting intelligence in U.S. waters against
our ballistic missile and attack submarines -- intelligence that may
compromise the safety and security of these vitally important naval assets
and their crews. Under President Clinton, the American government has
chosen largely to ignore this activity, to the point of making a non-person
of a courageous Navy officer, Lieutenant Commander Jack Daly, whose eyesight
was permanently damaged in April 1997 by a laser attack from one of these
trawlers as he and a Canadian colleague were monitoring its hostile
- OPEC oil ministers have announced, naturally after the U.S.
election, that they have no intention of further increasing their oil
production. In fact, the cartel intends to consider further production cuts
at its next meeting in 2001. These actions could have profound effects on
not only the U.S. economy and Americans' quality of life, but on the global
economic situation as well.
In addition, the head of one of OPEC's most important member nations
-- Venezuela's Hugo Chavez -- has begun to use his country's oil bounty to
extend the influence of his increasingly despotic regime elsewhere in Latin
America. Worse yet, he is doing so for the purpose of promoting an
explicitly anti-U.S. agenda, together with such ideological soulmates as
Fidel Castro and the Marxist narco-guerrillas trying to topple the
democratic government of Colombia.
- China is one of the United States' potential adversaries that has
recognized this nation's extraordinary vulnerability to the disruption of
its civil and military space assets. Although Beijing regularly denounces
American anti-missile programs and other defense systems that use or could
be based in outer space, the PRC is aggressively pursuing with Russian help
its own anti-satellite, jamming and electro-magnetic pulse weapon systems
that could, if used against us, have a devastating effect on both U.S.
national security and economic well-being.
It remains to be seen to what extent a new President will be able to
ameliorate these and similar looming challenges. What is safe to say is
that the longer the national nightmare of an endless election persists --
encouraging fair-weather friends and foes alike to believe they can act
against U.S. interests with impunity -- the more difficult it will be for
even a competent, visionary and principled American leader to mitigate the
damage inflicted by such
JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
© 2000, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.