Leadership: September 13, 2001

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The Bush Administration is running into a brick wall on defense policy. Its huge tax cut left no money for the defense increases everyone agrees are needed (to modernize weapons, provide adequate training, and catch up on eight years of neglected maintenance), let alone for his missile defense program. Republicans are now denouncing him for creating the hollow military he swore to restore. Democrats bash him for even thinking of missile defense while Republicans complain that he isn't moving fast enough. While some analysts note that missile defense will actually control proliferation as there would be no reason to build a few missiles if the US defenses would stop them, but other analysts note that potential enemies would simply switch to cruise missiles as the ABM system won't stop those. Democrats complain that he has trashed three decades of diplomacy by refusing to support or threatening to quit key treaties (ABM, Comprehensive Test Ban, Kyoto global warming, international war crimes tribunal, global ban on infantry weapons sales, new protocols on biological weapons) while Republicans complain that he has failed to explain to the American people why these treaties were bad ideas in the first place. His modernization plans ran into a Pentagon stonewall that any such efforts must be new spending without cutting the current force structure.--Stephen V Cole

 


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