President-elect G.W. Bush: Key Defense Appointments and
Arms Control Policy
[The first of a series of articles
to examine two of the Bush campaign’s defense cornerstones: missile
defense and arms control. An in depth analysis of expected Bush staff members
George W. Bush is unabashed in his support of a national missile defense system
to protect the United States from an accidental or limited attack from
nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. While the Clinton
Administration had endorsed missile defense reluctantly after years of pressure
from Congress and even signed a law making it official U.S. policy to deploy a
missile defense system as soon as technologically feasible, it had insisted
that the ultimate decision on missile defense depends on factors such as system
affordability, the threat from “rogue states”, and the impact of
missile defense on arms control agreements with Russia and relations with other
green light on a missile defense should come early in the Bush presidency so as
to have the introductory, $30 billion system up and running by 2007 to meet
projected threats from North Korea, Iran and Iraq. All indications show that
Bush would push for missile defense, even though the Clinton Administration had
no success in getting the Russians to accept American missile defense plans.
Said Bush, “If elected President, my job would be to convince the
Russians and other countries why employing a missile defense system is the
right step to take.” He has said he would consider exercising the
withdrawal option in the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, signed in 1972 with the
now non-existent Soviet Union, if the Russians fail to agree to amendments allowing
missile defense systems, a potential strategic landmine as the Russians still
maintain a formidable nuclear arsenal that could be used in a counterattack.
Also, Bush wants a far more ambitious missile defense system than the
land-based system of 100 interceptors in the Clinton proposal. His would
protect not only the 50 states, but U.S. forces and allies abroad. The
extensive plan is not without a significant cost. Most experts believe that
such a system would necessarily have to involve Navy ships and possibly
space-based interceptors. One independent estimate has placed the cost of the
system at between $100-120 billion. An expanded missile defense would take
additional years of research and development, during which time the Russians
and Chinese could either counter the technologies or simply build more missiles
to overwhelm the defense. Opponents of the national missile defense system
often portray it as too complicated and too expensive, in addition to their
concern over potential violations of the ABM Treaty. If Bush is willing to
withdraw from the ABM Treaty, he might well consider the plusses of the
Navy’s Theater-Wide paln that takes advantage of the many destroyers and
cruisers alrady equipped with the AEGIS radar and battle management system.
However, Bush would be hard-pressed to pass such an ambitious agenda with an
evenly divided Senate and a razor-thin Republican majority in the House. An
expansive system could also prove a drain on other priorities such as a tax cut
or Social Security.
argue that Bush’s plan challenges the longtime orthodoxy of arms control:
that prohibiting defenses limits offenses. One opinion offered is that
abrogation of the ABM Treaty will provoke an international crisis, not just
with China and Russia, but with our country’s closest allies. Bush could
risk delving into a major controversy in his first year while military benefits
would likely only come after his presidency. Eventually, Bush may succeed in
developing a plan for the deployment of theater defenses, or he could develop
joint systems with the Russians, or perhaps after deep cuts in nuclear weapons
are implemented, he might negotiate modifications to the treaty that would
permit the limited national missile defense system.
Nevertheless, despite all the risks
of adopting such a comprehensive plan, in a pre-election Reuters/Zogby poll,
respondents strongly favored the Bush plan to Vice President Gore’s. This
public sentiment should aid in the launch of a Bush NMD program which the Army
whole-heartedly supports and predicts implementation by 2006.
position on arms control is less certain than on other matters. Besides the
possibility of abrogating the ABM Treaty with Russia, Bush has said that he
favors reducing arsenals below the 3,000 to 3,500 warheads negotiated under the
second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START II. However, he has not
indicated that he would go as low as the proposed START III levels of 2,000 or
2,500. Bush has been purposely vague on the amounts of cuts he would make, so
as to avoid confrontation with U.S. military leaders who want to maintain at
least 2,000 warheads. He has gone so far as to say that U.S. Russian
ratification of the START agreements “is not our most pressing
challenge.” Furthermore, Bush has emphasized that he would never make any
reductions that the Pentagon did not endorse. In May, the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, along with Admiral Richard W. Miews, the Commander of the Strategic
Force, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that they would oppose any
further reductions in warheads beyond START III, something that Russia has
has also indicated that passage of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is
not necessary, noting that “In the hard work of halting proliferation,
the CTBT is not the answer…The CTBT does not stop proliferation,
especially to renegade to regimes. It is not verifiable. It is not
enforceable. And it would stop us from ensuring the safety and reliability of
our nation’s deterrent, should the need arise. On these crucial matters,
it offers only false words and false hopes and high intentions-with no
guarantees whatever. We can fight the spread of nuclear weapons, but we cannot
wish them away with unwise treaties.” Bush endorses continuing the
moratorium on testing.
also plans for “substantially” increased funding for the Nunn-Lugar
Cooperative Threat Reduction Program to assist former Soviet Republics pay for
the dismantling of nuclear weapons and deal with the nuclear materials.
Bush favors de-alerting American nuclear forces, arguing
that the present posture has unacceptable risks of accidental or unauthorized
launch, noting “The United States should remove as many weapons as
possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status-another unnecessary vestige of
Cold War confrontation.” A number of Bush’s advisers believe there
is little reason to field more than a thousand strategic nuclear weapons. Thus
there is every reason to believe that Bush would quickly and sharply reduce
deployed nuclear forces, with or without treaty agreement, and without a
conservative backlash because, besides being a matter of increased trust among
congressmen, the far right has no place to go politically in the next Congress.
the Bush arms control strategy will focus on reducing U.S. nuclear stockpiles
to their “lowest possible number” without sacrificing readiness or
security levels, measured cooperation with Russia on the START and Nunn-Lugar
agreements while dealing with the ABM issue, and rejection of the CTBT. Perhaps
the best assessment of the Bush arms control policy comes from the new
president himself, who said, “Arms reductions are not our most pressing
The Supporting Cast
Bush often noted to audiences on the
stump that they were not only electing a president, but an administration. To
get a clearer picture of how the Bush administration will operate, a closer
look at his closest advisors, on whom he relies greatly upon for policy
formation, is necessary.
President-elect Cheney represented Wyoming in the House from 1979-1989. Cheney
consistently voted for President Reagan's foreign policy agenda. A steadfast
supporter of Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), Cheney also
backed military funding of the Contras, as well as the rebels in Afghanistan
the Senate rejected Texas Sen. John Tower as Secretary of Defense in 1989,
President George Bush nominated Cheney for the post. Sailing through the
confirmation process, his first task as the new Defense Secretary was to trim
$10 billion from the defense budget. However, his biggest test came in forming
a coalition to help execute Operation Desert Storm, the nation's largest
military operation since Vietnam.
currently on leave from JINSA’s Board of Advisors, is widely credited for
persuading Saudi Arabia to allow American ground troops and war planes in their
country, vital elements to the U.S. victory. He also lobbied within the Bush
administration for a large military operation. At the 1992 JINSA Jackson Award
dinner which included Maj. Gen. David Ivry, then Israel’s Director
General of the Defense Ministry, Cheney publicly thanked the Jewish state for
its 1981 bombing of the Osirak Reactor. Due to Israel’s foresighted
action, Cheney said, American forces did not face a nuclear-armed Iraq in the
war. It was the first time Israel received public credit for the bombing.
worth exploring is Cheney's managerial style as Secretary of Defense.
Sometimes, Cheney was very interventionist, while at other moments he left
military matters up to the military and allowed generals and admirals under his
control to work out policies. Within a week at the helm, Cheney fired Air
Force Gen. Larry Welch for privately negotiating with Congress to update the
Air Force's nuclear arsenal. Edwin Dorn, an Undersecretary of Defense for
President Clinton said, "Cheney clearly did that merely to show he was in
charge…Larry was doing what every service chief does. Cheney knew that,
but he, I believe, wanted to send a message to the services.” And while
Cheney told former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Colin Powell, to
"stick to military matters" when questioned about the policy of going
to war, after the Gulf War Cheney deferred to Congress on efforts to increase
the role of women in the armed forces and to military leaders who opposed gays
in the armed forces.
CEO of Halliburton Company, a diversified energy services company, before his
vice-presidential nomination, applied the same business sense he used in the
private sector while Secretary of Defense. After the Soviet threat subsided,
Cheney oversaw 25 percent cuts in the armed forces. These cuts included such
programs as the Seawolf attack submarine, the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft and the
A-12 stealth naval attack plane. During the campaign, Bush often cited a
“military in decline”, yet nearly two-thirds of the decline in
defense spending during the Clinton administration was put in place by Dick
Cheney under President Bush, according to former Clinton Secretary of Defense
William Perry. In his defense, Cheney lamented making such massive cuts but
had to abide by President Bush who saw cuts as means of avoiding more tax
increases after violating his “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge.
Nevertheless, Cheney worked to foster a business environment
at the Pentagon that still resonates today. For example, members of Cheney's
staff launched the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which runs the
Pentagon 's payroll, bill-paying and other book-keeping, finance and accounting
systems for the entire Defense Department. And while Cheney, a longtime backer
of a large military, took the lead from Congress in developing incentives for
soldiers to retire early, he let Powell decide how much each branch of the
military should be cut.
retired Army Colonel and Professor Emeritus of military history at Embry-Riddle
University, Paul Braim, put it best when he summed up Cheney's leadership
policy as Secretary of Defense as "He deferred to the military in their
judgment but he was the man in charge."
Presumptive Secretaries of
President Clinton's choice of William Cohen, Bush had hoped to cross party
lines as a show of bipartisanship in his choice of Secretary of Defense.
However, the Bush team's desired choice, former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Georgia),
withdrew himself from consideration leaving the field wide-open.
Republican Senator Dan Coats of Indiana has caught the eye of the Bush team. A
former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Coats was a powerful
voice for increased defense spending, but also for reforming the military to
meet post-Cold War challenges. In 1998, he told the service chiefs at a
hearing, "I'm all for more money, but I don’t think more money is
going to address the fundamental underlying problems."
was instrumental in gaining Pentagon support to fold the former U.S. Atlantic
Command into today's Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va., which is responsible
for all joint experimentation within the Department of Defense. Said James
Blaker, former advisor to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
"Coats has been the one to keep the notion of true joint experimentation
speculation was Coats' November 28 meeting with a three-member Army team,
headed by the colonel who runs the Army's transformation office, an unusual
privilege granted to a private citizen. The meeting focused on the recent
decision to award the Army's new light-armored-vehicle contract to General
Dynamics Corp. The vehicle is the centerpiece of the Army's planned
transformation to a lighter, more rapidly deployable force. In addition to
discussing the new vehicle, which runs on wheels instead of treads, the
officials also discussed the Army's broader transformation strategy. Coats is
said to be seeking the job enthusiastically and has the strong support of
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.
Wolfowitz, Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies,
is thought to be the other front runner. A State Department official in the
Reagan administration and Undersecretary of Defense in the elder Bush's
cabinet, Wolfowitz helped advise the younger Bush on national security issues.
According to the New York Times, Wolfowitz argued that the U.S. should support NATO
military action to protect Kosovar Albanians - and Bush agreed. In the Persian
Gulf, Mr. Wolfowitz has not ruled out using American troops to support Iraqi
insurgents in toppling Saddam Hussein. Wolfowitz wrote, "It will take
American forces to create a protected area in which opposition forces can
organize and to which units from Saddam's army can defect. This policy is
risky. But it is less risky than the present course, which is leading us to
the day that we are obliged to face Saddam ourselves, when he is armed with
weapons of unparalleled destructiveness." Even if passed over for
Secretary of Defense, Wolfowitz will serve in some high level advisory position
in the Bush administration.
under consideration is Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. A Vietnam veteran,
Ridge's potential nomination has been criticized by sources such as the
National Review as "bad news" for his skepticism about missile
defense while he served in Congress, among other issues. Other potential
problems that could prevent Ridge from getting the nod include his opposition
to President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, opposition to aiding the
Nicaraguan Contra rebels and favorable comments about the nuclear freeze
a dark horse candidate is Norman Augustine, President and CEO of defense
contractor Lockheed Martin.
the self-proclaimed nickname the "Vulcans", George W. Bush's foreign
policy team is an elite team of defense experts who held behind the scenes
positions during the Reagan-Bush years. A seasoned cadre who, like Bush,
champion internationalism, voice a tougher security approach to dealing with
China and Russia, and promise an overhaul of spending and strategy. The focus
of the armed forces will be staying prepared to fight and win wars, not delve
into peacekeeping missions.
the team is Condoleeza Rice, Bush’s choice for Nationanl Security
Advisor. Along with Paul Wolfowitz, Rice coordinated the foreign policy
advising team. A provost at Stanford University, Rice was a Russian specialist
on President Bush's National Security Council, and is the favorite for the
National Security Advisor post.
will be central in shaping the Bush policy on Russia. She has chided the
Clinton Administration for continuing to support economic assistance to the
Russian government despite widespread evidence of graft. “The last thing
you wanted to do was accept the rhetoric of reform…when there’s no
evidence that the Russians were undertaking any of the difficult steps,”
she said. Furthermore, has seared the Clinton administration for its coziness
with Boris Yeltsin and for allowing its agenda to become “synonymous with
the agenda of the President of Russia.” Generally, Rice believes
U.S.-Russia relations should be reoriented to focus on security issues like
nuclear disarmament rather than political and economic reform. Although she
would halt talk of Russia as a strategic partner, she doesn’t seek confrontation.
“Sometimes Russia’s interests will conflict with ours, and
sometimes they will coincide,” she says.
Rice, the Bush team is composed of:
Armitage-Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration and was the
U.S. ambassador to the newly independent Soviet states during the Bush
adminstration. Armitage caused a stir in Australia during the summer of 1998
when tensions in Asia ran high over the rejection by Taiwan's President, Lee
Teng-hui, of the longstanding "one China" formula. He told the Australian
that "Australia must stand ready to give military support to the U.S. if
Washington goes to war with China (over Taiwan)." Mr. Armitage emphasized
that Washington did not want to go to war with China, and that there was a low
risk of conflict, but if a misjudgment triggered fighting, he said, the United
States would expect Australia to help with "the dirty, hard and dangerous
Blackwill-Harvard professor, fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a
specialist in European and Soviet affairs with the National Security Council
and Rice's boss during the Bush administration.
Hadley-International lawyer and Assistant Secretary of Defense for
International Security Policy in the Bush administration.
Perle-Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Assistant Secretary of
Defense for International Security Policy in the Reagan adminstration, a
director of the Jerusalem Post. Has advocated that the U.S. withdraw from the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Treaty if Russia refuses to agree to allow both countries to
employ systems to protect against long-range missile attacks - a position Bush
Zakheim-Defense consultant and Undersecretary of Defense in the Reagan administration.
Played a "key role in weapons procurement issues and strategic
planning" according to the National Journal.
Zoellick-International economics advisor, Harvard research scholar, Deputy
Chief of Staff in the Bush White House.
of "Cold Warriors" combated the Soviet Union, worked as mediators in
the reunification of Germany, invaded Panama, sent troops into Somalia,
downsized the armed forces by 25 percent after the Cold War, and led Pentagon
strategy during the Persian Gulf War. The Bush team has only one expert in
international economics, Zoellick, and no specialists in Africa or Latin
America. Acknowledged Rice, "If there's a weakness in the team, it's that
its heavy on security issues."
Former Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, Bush
National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and Dick Cheney also advise George W.
Secretary of State
Retired General Colin Powell, the former Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, is Bush’s pick for Secretary of Defense. Powell is
the embodiment of former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger's doctrine of
cautious military engagement-committing U.S. troops overseas only if a vital
national interest is at stake, and only with the full commitment of the
American people to fight and win.