home workshop info research articles research links definitions online coaching
 
Source: National Review, Nov 23, 1998 p64(1).

Title: The Missing Technology: Statesmanship NEW YORK, OCTOBER
23.(commentary on chemical weapons ban; Starr Report; arrest of
Augusto Pinochet)(Column)

Full Text COPYRIGHT 1998 National Review Inc.

THE sense of terrible dangers just over the horizon is felt and transmitted to a rather sleepy people by fuglemen on several fronts. On Friday it was A. M. Rosenthal of the New York Times, surveying the astonishingly successful evasions of Saddam Hussein in his campaign to outwit the U.S. on the matter of his development of weapons of mass destruction. The New Republic also zeroes in on Iraq and speaks of the development there of "implosion devices." These are denatured atomic bombs-"merely add enriched uranium." And with some sweep Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, surveys for Commentary the world scene in the matter of biological and chemical weapons.

His findings on that front can, without too much danger of over-simplification, be reduced to postage-stamp size bulletins: Chemical-weapon concentrations and chemical-weapon technology exist and are encouraged and are for sale to other countries. Russia has forty thousand agent tons and flourishing research on the whole question. China has the stuff. So does Iran, so does Iraq, so does North Korea. Moreover, according to the Department of Defense, "Pyongyang is currently capable of producing large quantities of nerve, blister, and blood chemical-warfare agents." The South Korean military had reported that the North has amassed "a one thousand-ton stockpile-seventy tons of which could be used immediately upon South Korean population centers." Mr. Gaffney adds, "Given Pyongyang's willingness to sell virtually everything in its inventory, it also seems likely that North Korea will offer for sale the chemical (and, perhaps, biological) weapons that go aboard the missiles it is now making available to countries like Iran, Syria, and Pakistan."

Mr. Gaffney thinks that the idea, begun by President Bush and consummated by President Clinton to eliminate chemical weapons, was simply a mistake, less because we need our little deposit of chemical weapons than because the treaty encourages deception. This is so because quite generally acceptable chemical technology can be transformed quickly to generate not medicines, but poisons. Our bombing in August of the Al-Shifa chemical plant in Khartoum awakens us to the inherent problems of regulating the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention: a) the world was not entirely persuaded that the Al-Shifa plant was engaged in chemical-weapon production; b) our own analysts seem equivocal in their analysis of the question; c) the very idea of sending missiles here and there against isolated chemical manufacturers strains the accepted ration of superpower perks; and d) it becomes increasingly clear that that much of world opinion that is transacted by formal agencies of international organizations, like the UN, pulls further and further away from encouraging U.S. assertion of authority to do that kind of thing.

Nothing is clearer than this from the retreat of the UN on the matter of Iraq. The often-cited UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission) bounces about Iraq with less and less credibility as a reliable investigator of the compliance of Iraq with the terms of the cease-fire. And we have the burgeoning paradox: the wilier Saddam Hussein gets in evading tough investigation, the weaker the sentiment within the UN to maintain the economic embargo. What appears predictable is that the day after tomorrow, Iraq will proceed relatively unmolested with whatever it chooses to do.

Which leaves us of course with the matter of conventional deterrence. Frank Gaffney believes that the 1925 Geneva Convention remains the strongest weapon in the arsenal of deterrence. What it did was proscribe not the manufacture of chemical weapons, but the first use of them. Any country that actually deploys chemical weapons can pretty reliably be detected as having done so. If "mechanisms [are] in place to ensure that violators faced real and substantial costs, some CW attacks might thereby be prevented."

But what shines through it all is the failure of what one might call the technology of statesmanship to come forward with a strategy. Last February, The New Republic reminds us, President Clinton was at the brink of a showdown with Saddam Hussein, and he needed to spell the problem out very lucidly to his military. As so often is the case, Mr. Clinton framed the question well. He said, "Let's imagine the future. What if [Saddam] fails to comply and we fail to act? . . . Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to build an arsenal of devastating destruction."

So? So what then?

"And some day, some way, I guarantee you he'll use the arsenal."

That's how Mr. Clinton has left it, and that's how we sit at this moment.

Did We Need To Know

It Was Easter Sunday?

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 13

ANDREW Sullivan, writing for the Sunday New York Times Magazine, makes a splashy case against some modern conservatives not here our concern. But he does touch on a point that burrs in the conscience. "I can't remember now at which point during the Starr report I stopped reading. Maybe it was the sudden prim reminder that 'the President's wife' was out of the country during one of President Clinton's hallway trysts. . . . Or the inclusion of the date for one of the President's liaisons: Easter Sunday. Or any one of the points when it simply became obvious that the narrative, compelling and lucid as it was, seemed to be building a case not so much for the President's public, legal impropriety but for a private, moral iniquity."

The affront had got to me too, though in the other direction, i.e., Clinton the Christian as provocateur. Clinton the ostentatious Christian. Clinton the telegenic Christian. A few weeks after the August 17th ordeal, when Clinton gave his grand-jury testimony in the White House and later his four-minute hate-Starr bite, he was seen by a watching world on television not only leaving church, but leaving it arm entwined in his wife's, prayer book in hand.

It was especially hard for those who believe in Christian sacramental institutions, prominent among them penitence, to criticize Christian displaymanship. Is it uncharitable, in such a situation, to ask oneself: Did Dick Morris, or James Carville, or maybe even David Kendall, say to him: "Be sure to go to church this coming Sunday because, well-"

"Because the semen on the dress was yours, stupid."?

"Awright, Hillary. We don't have to go over that again." The President nods at his scheduler. "Eleven o'clock service, Foundry United Methodist Church."

That is one view of it but proffered with trepidation. It is after all entirely possible that Bill Clinton has truly repented and Scripture tells us that Christ will forgive the sinner seventy times seven.

Moreover, in attempting to reason persuasively whether contrition is genuine, one takes the surrounding facts into account. If a thief is caught with hot goods in hand, his repentance is at least convincingly genuine at one level: He is sorry he was caught. But it is also possible that his being caught made him genuinely sorry that he had taken up stealing as a profession, and now his contrition before the judge is genuine. Like the drunkard whose car runs over a child and now genuinely deplores his habit. It is not unreasonable that Bill Clinton rues the surfeit of testosterone in his system, and his capacity, only episodic, to control himself.

All of which meant that when he walked out of the church that morning, in his heart he was truly contrite. But we reflect then on the words of Christ, according to St. Matthew. "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly."

Those are searing words that drive home the point. It is the basic moral architecture of philanthropy: Do what you can for others without ostentation. Yes, sometimes the gift must be public, to register your compliance with a civic resolution, or to challenge others to fill a quota.

But even as contrition is an entirely private affair, shared only with your priest or minister or rabbi, benefactions-alms-are best done in private. But this whole protective tent cannot easily shelter a President of the United States whose attendance at a church service becomes a public event.

Does the prosecutor properly point out the piquancies? That it was after a church service on Easter Sunday that Bill Clinton had sex with Monica Lewinsky? Was the jury made aware, in Florida, that the night Senator Teddy Kennedy led his nephew out to disport at the bar, from which he went to the beach to seduce/rape his date, was Good Friday?

Andrew Sullivan has a point of order, and it would be interesting to hear Kenneth Starr comment on the matter: Why, Mr. Starr, did you find it relevant to remind the reader that the day of that particular tryst was Easter Sunday and that the President had attended church before going on to sex with his intern? If you were merely tracing his movements on that day, could you not have left it that the President went from the White House, to church, to the couch with Monica? Is that rendering too Apollonian for your palette? Did you have to stick in "Easter" especially to antagonize the congregation?

Andrew Sullivan scores here.

Pinochet? Why Him?

NEW YORK, OCTOBER 20

AS a technical matter there is a lot that is agreeable about arresting a criminal wherever he runs out of cover, and making him answer for his crimes. It was widely thought pointless to proceed with the investigations by the World Court given the unlikeliness that the defendants would ever appear before a tribunal, let alone stand by a gibbet. Peter Galbraith, formerly U.S. ambassador to Croatia, remarked a year ago that General Milosevic is distinctly aware of the impediments attached to his situation. He can't leave the country; and even within his own country he needs to take special care because bounty-hunters, whether moved by money or blood passion, might swoop down on him-as happened to Adolph Eichmann-and whisk him off to The Hague.

But the General Pinochet business really burns us conservatives up. The reason being that it is, above all things, an act of ideological malice.

Ask the most relevant questions:

-Was this an obvious application of acknowledged international responsibility? No. If it were so, why wasn't Pinochet arrested on one of his other trips to the U.K., where he has frequently visited? What makes it the right thing for the Blair government to do if the Major government did not do it? If it was obvious that Pinochet should have been detained, why was not Major criticized for failing to do so?

-If Pinochet's diplomatic passport was invalid, on the grounds that he was engaged, in England, on private business (his health), then why was he admitted into England under that passport? Does this not get to sound like an ambush?

-Is it really the case that countries that support the World Court are going to start interning passersby when a claim is filed that they were in positions of power when one or more civilians were imprisoned or executed?

That is quite an idea. Which will be the first country to nab Gorbachev? He was in power for six years during which how many Afghans were killed, to say nothing of Russians and others who got in the way of the KGB?

Fidel Castro presumably has a diplomatic passport, but what about the sundry ex-Castro officials who served in positions of power and seem to wander about the globe without any problem? Che Guevara was one of those.

Has anyone begun to count the East Germans, who enforced the rule of Moscow with such accouterments as a Berlin Wall, machine guns, razor wire, gas, grenades, and wild dogs-where are all those people? Is it sheer luck that they haven't had to go to London for treatment for their backs?

And then, respecting Pinochet himself, there are the qualifiers.

-Pinochet took power in September 1973, against a president who was defiling the Chilean constitution and waving proudly the banner of his friend and idol, Fidel Castro. Across the Andes there was civil rage as revolutionaries and left activists sought power and engaged in terrorism. Pinochet fought back. It is charged that three thousand people lost their lives. It is worth reflecting on the great cost of civil wars. Our own resulted in approximately 700,000 casualties. In order to avoid civil war, extreme actions are taken. Did Pinochet give off the flavor of a sadist? A thoughtless, indifferent executioner? Are we quite certain that the job that needed doing could have been done by a few MIT technicians, with less bloodshed?

-Does it matter to the British government that Pinochet put Chile to the use of the British in the Falklands War? This act, considered fratricidal by many Latin Americans, was critically helpful to the British.

-Pinochet gradually diminished his own power, gave over the government to voters chastened after their experience with Salvador Allende. He served as chief of the army for as long as he thought a watchful eye was needed and inasmuch as he gave up that office for a permanent senatorial seat, isn't it reasonable to conclude that his judgment was relatively free of vainglory?

-And, finally: Since we are engaged in slowly putting into place the machinery to exact justice for crimes against humanity, does it really make sense, as a human matter, to start in on a retired 82-year-old general in London to see his doctor?

Yes, and to send him to Spain to be tried. Every Spaniard with a sense of history should be giving thanks every day for having had an Augusto Pinochet in his past. Universal Press Syndicate

 
  [ Mackinac Center | Search | Debate Home ]
-Ask the Debate Coach a question
-Questions, problems to webmaster