Friday, March 05, 2004

Human Health in the Spotlight
Arms Control as a Public Health Issue, Part III

This is a continuation of the series from the past two days.  The first article in the series was a general discussion of disarmament/arms control as public health issue; specifically, a public health issue that should be considered by voters in the USA in the November 2004 election.  Health care is recognized as a big issue for the candidates, as is national security.  Arms control is an issue as well, but it does not appear to be shaping up as one of the major contested issues.  These issues are not entirely separate.  If national security is threatened, it could be bad for our health.  If arms control is not pursued avidly, it could be bad for our health.  I suppose one could close the circle by saying that if health care is not addressed appropriately, it could be bad for our national security. 

One kind of political sophistry involves blurring of issues.  For example, one could blend the issue of arms control and national security, effectively discounting the importance of arms control.  Today,  I emphasize that these issues are related, but should be examined and discussed with clarity.  In practice, that means talked about them as issues that are distinct but related. 

My original intent was to focus on George W. Bush's arms control policies yesterday, then contrast those with the policies voiced by Edwards and Kerry.  After Edwards withdrew, I wrote that I would not review what he had said about arms control.  Accordingly, today I will review what appears in the media, in NGO websites, and in blogs about Kerry's advocacy of arms control policies.

News Media:

February 26, 2004    

Sizing Up the Democratic Contenders' Strengths: Kerry
By Maria L. La Ganga and Janet Hook, Times Staff Writers
JOHN KERRY: He claims bold leadership in the Senate on several major issues. The record bears him out on some but not quite on others.

[...]"I've been a leader … on arms control issues, the MX missile, the antisatellite weaponry and the 'Star Wars' program." — Jan. 30, Wilmington, Del.

Kerry offered many amendments to curb funding for the missile defense initiative proposed by Reagan that was known as Star Wars, and for antisatellite weapons programs. But most of those issues have faded from prominence, as Democrats have backed away from confronting Republicans on the need for such missile defense systems.

"Democrats have largely ducked," said John Isaacs, head of the Council for a Livable World, an arms control group. "That includes all of them that have been active in the past. Kerry was active."

Democrats had planned to confront Bush on his plans to develop a missile defense program akin to Star Wars after he campaigned on the issue in 2000. But they decided not to oppose the program after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Research is proceeding and the Pentagon hopes the system will start operating in Alaska in September.[...]

It is tricky to interpret this.  This would appear to be an instance in which his claim of "bold leadership" is  borne out by his actions: Kerry was active.
Why the authors include the statements "Democrats have largely ducked,"  and "they decided not to oppose the program after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks," is not clear; they do not appear germane to the ostensible purpose of the article: Sizing Up the Democratic Contenders' Strengths: Kerry. These statements appear to serve the purpose of introducing journalistic bias.  They are negative statements, and as such, they lend an general negative cast to the article without actually saying anything negative about Kerry specifically.   I encourage readers to look at the factual content of the article: Kerry said that he was a leader on arms control issues.  The record indicates that he made efforts to curb military spending.  That is what is pertinent.  Whether the Democrats in general have backed way from confronting Republicans is a different matter. 

February 12, 2004
Bush wants new nuke rules
By Dana Milbank
The Washington Post [as echoed in Salt Lake Tribune]
  WASHINGTON -- President Bush called Wednesday for a tightening of international rules governing the spread of nuclear technology, a proposal that, if adopted, would be the most significant change to nonproliferation efforts in more than three decades.
    In a speech at the National Defense University, Bush proposed revoking the long-standing bargain in the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty that allows countries to develop peaceful atomic energy in return for a verifiable pledge not to build nuclear weapons. Calling that agreement a "loophole" exploited by North Korea and Iran, Bush instead proposed that nuclear fuel be provided only to countries that renounce nuclear enrichment and reprocessing.

  [...]"Nothing the president proposed today will be successful unless the administration reverses course and undertakes serious and sustained cooperation in law enforcement, intelligence gathering and diplomacy to halt nuclear proliferation," said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the leading Democratic candidate for president.

This article  doesn't say much about Kerry, except that he alleges that Bush's efforts toward arms control have been weak.  From the way the article was written, we cannot tell if Kerry had more to say on the subject.  I would have liked to see a more specific statement by Kerry, pointing out that it will be hard for the USA to obtain "sustained cooperation" unless we drop the unilateralist posture that has been so pervasive lately. 

Kerry, Too, Needs to Clear the Air

By Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter, former UN chief inspector in Iraq, 1991-1998, is the author of "Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America."

February 9, 2004

On April 23, 1971, a 27-year-old Navy veteran named John Kerry sat before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and chided members on their leadership failures regarding the war in Vietnam.[...]

Sen. Kerry was given the opportunity to make good on his promises that he had learned the lessons of Vietnam. During a visit to Washington in April 2000, when I lobbied senators and representatives for a full review of American policy regarding Iraq, I spoke with John Kerry about what I held to be the hyped-up intelligence regarding the threat posed by Iraq's WMD. "Put it in writing," Kerry told me, "and send it to me so I can review what you're saying in detail."

I [Scott Ritter] did just that, penning a comprehensive article for Arms Control Today, the journal of the Arms Control Association, on the "Case for the Qualitative Disarmament of Iraq." This article, published in June 2000, provided a detailed breakdown of Iraq's WMD capability and made a comprehensive case that Iraq did not pose an imminent threat. I asked the Arms Control Association to send several copies to Sen. Kerry's office but, just to make sure, I sent him one myself. I never heard back from the senator.

[...] Sen. Kerry followed up this performance in October 2002 by voting for the war in Iraq. Today he justifies that vote by noting that he only approved the "threat of war," and that the blame for Iraq rests with President George W. Bush, who failed to assemble adequate international support for the war. But this explanation rings hollow in the face of David Kay's findings that there are no WMD in Iraq. With the stated casus belli shown to be false, John Kerry needs to better explain his role not only in propelling our nation into a war that is rapidly devolving into a quagmire, but more importantly, his perpetuation of the falsehoods that got us there to begin with.

President Bush should rightly be held accountable for what increasingly appears to be deliberately misleading statements made by him and members of his administration regarding the threat posed by Iraq's WMD. If such deception took place, then Bush no longer deserves the trust and confidence of the American people.

But John Kerry seems to share in this culpability, and if he wants to be the next president of the United States, he must first convince the American people that his actions somehow differ from those of the man he seeks to replace.

Here, Scott Ritter points out that Kerry had access to Ritter's Arms Control Today paper that claimed Iraq had no WMD's, and that, despite having access to the information, he voted (two years later)  by voting for the war in Iraq.  Ritter's point is that, had the Arms Control Today article been given sufficient weight, Kerry should not have voted for the Iraq War. 

Democratic candidate and Middle East policy by John Munro24-02-2004

[...]Of perhaps greater significance is the person John Kerry tapped for advice on the Middle East, Rand Beers, a counter-terrorism expert who made news recently by leaving public service under President Bush to assist Kerry’s campaign. A former US marine, Beers is a forceful supporter of America’s war against illegal drugs. In fact, he was the public face of Washington’s much criticized aerial crop fumigation campaign in Colombia, which certainly helped eradicate the cultivation of illicit drugs but also reportedly induced cancer among the local population and forced the already impoverished peasants to the brink of starvation. But Beers was unrepentant, saying that “an illegal activity is an illegal activity. And one doesn’t get a special pass for being poor.” Beers is also on record for making the bizarre statement that Colombia’s FARC guerrillas had been trained in Afghanistan. With regard to Israel and Palestine, he seems to share the Sharon government’s view that one should tackle “terrorism” first then talk about peace later. He was against US intervention in Iraq, however, but only because he felt it “clouded” the international fight against terrorism.[...]

The quote above comes from the Middle East gateway, Al Bawaba, which appears to be a portal site, something like Yahoo, but more modest.  The author, John Munro, is described: John Munro has been an educator and freelance journalist living in the Middle East for more than thirty years. He is currently visiting lecturer in media and human rights at the University of Malta.  The article does not address directly Kerry's arms-control policy, but it does provide some information on the issue, by reporting on one of his advisors.  It presents Rand Beers in an unfavorable light. 


Do Democrats have a better game plan for protecting U.S. national security?

Post March 4, 2004

YES: The Democrats advocate a strategy that is based on reality instead of ideology.

[...]It is not surprising that Kerry labeled this [Bush's] foreign policy as the most inept, reckless, arrogant and ideological in U.S. history. But when leading Republicans such as Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and former national-security advisers such as Brent Scowcroft and Henry Kissinger express similar sentiments, Americans should be worried and seek a different policy. Hagel has argued that our interests are best served through alliances and consensus. Scowcroft has warned that we cannot win the war on terrorism without enthusiastic international cooperation, and Kissinger has noted that it is not in our national interest to establish pre-emption as a universal principle. Democrats do advocate a different national-security strategy - one based on reality, not ideology and false illusions. This strategy agrees that terrorists with a global reach (as opposed to all terrorists), rogue states, and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and materials are the most serious threats to U.S. security and the American way of life. But it also acknowledges that we cannot deal with these threats effectively in all places and at all times through the unilateral use of U.S. military force. The Democratic strategy is based on five principles.

First, focus on the primary threat to the security of the United States. The threat today is terrorists with a global reach, such as al-Qaeda and its affiliates. While the United States must combat global terrorism that threatens U.S. interests, the security of the United States is not threatened equally by all terrorists or tyrants. Therefore, the United States must give priority to minimizing the threat from al-Qaeda and prevent its members from obtaining nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, materials and technologies.

Second, ensure that our armed forces and first responders are strong enough to carry out their missions. Rather than wasting money on such Cold War-era weapons as the F-22, V-22 and Virginia-class submarines, or spending more than $10 billion to deploy an untested national missile-defense system and developing a new nuclear weapon, the United States must focus on the people who fight our battles at home and abroad. We need an active-duty and reserve army that has two more divisions and is equipped to carry out multiple tasks in many theaters across the globe. We also need police, fire and medical personnel properly equipped and trained for their duties at home.

Third, use and adequately fund every weapon in our arsenal - diplomatic, economic, technological and military. Force as the centerpiece of a national-security strategy will not by itself be able to address all transnational threats. The United States must emphasize diplomatic and economic cooperation - from strengthening treaty regimes to increasing development assistance. We need to remain the strongest military power on Earth, but we also should lead and adequately fund collective efforts to gather intelligence on threats that extend beyond orders; prevent the spread of WMD; and confront health, humanitarian, environmental and other catastrophes that can lead to failed states.

Fourth, work with allies and international institutions to best advance our national interests. This does not mean giving other nations a veto over America's actions in pursuit of its security, nor does it navely hold that the national interests of others always can be set aside to achieve consensus in favor of U.S. interests and values. But alliances provide a vital framework to achieve a shared perception of common threads and a shared responsibility for the cost of action. They enhance rather than detract from our ability to succeed in today's complex threat environment.

Fifth, employ U.S. power and technology to strengthen those norms and institutions designed to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the biological- and chemical-weapons convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. These are conventions we should rely on to verify that countries such as Iran and Libya are meeting their treaty obligations. At the same time, existing cooperative security agreements, such as NATO, should be further adapted to deal with the new threat environment.

This cooperative and multilateral Democratic approach will make this nation more secure than the arrogant, narrow unilateralism of the Bush administration, which is not in keeping with the traditions of this country or the Republican Party.

Lawrence Korb is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information, both in Washington,and served as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.Contact Korb at lkorb@AmericanProgress.org.

The above article was taken from Insight, a conservative publication.  It purports to report on Kerry's arms control stance, although from the way it is written, I have the impression that it present's the author's opinions as much as Kerry's. 

Also in Insight is a companion article that argues for sticking with Bush's policies.  It does not say much about Kerry in particular; rather, is speaks of "Democrats like Kerry," lumping all Democrats together as though they all have the same arms control policies.  The companion article can be found here, but is not included here because it is so vague about Kerry.


The Zionist Organization of America
Jacob & Libby Goodman ZOA House Phone: 212-481-1500
4 East 34th St. New York, NY 10016 Fax: 212-481-1515
e-mail: email@zoa.org Web Site: www.zoa.org

March 2, 2004 Contact: (212-481-1500)

All Four of Kerry's Possible Candidates for U.S. Envoy To Arab-Israeli Talks Are Biased Toward Arabs

    NEW YORK- All four of the reported candidates for a future position of U.S. envoy to Arab-Israeli negotiations have records of pro-Arab bias, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has warned.

    The New York Times reported on March 1, 2004, that U.S. Senator John Kerry has mentioned former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and former Mideast envoy Dennis Ross as possible choices for the post. Previously Senator Kerry also named former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker as additional candidates.[...]

The ZOA article is critical of Kerry because of the list of choices he has presented, regarding possible choices for Envoy to the Mideast.  The rest of the article states that Kerry could be dangerous as President, at least to Israel, because his choices seem to be pro-Arab. 

January/February 2004
A veteran—and outspoken opponent—of the Vietnam War, John Kerry has made foreign policy both a high priority during his 18-year Senate career and a centerpiece of his campaign for the Democratic nomination. He has been a member of the Foreign Relations Committee since entering the Senate in 1985 and points to the normalization of U.S. relations with Vietnam as one of the high points of his congressional service.
[...] The senator fought for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, stating that failure to do so “will seriously undercut our ability to continue our critical leadership role in the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.”
[...] As president, Kerry says he would move quickly to shore up U.S. alliances abroad and develop a multifaceted approach that leverages international cooperation against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). According to the candidate: “It is time…for the most determined, all-out effort ever initiated to secure the world’s nuclear materials and [WMD].” Kerry would appoint a presidential coordinator to direct a “top-line effort” to secure nuclear weapons and materials worldwide and claims that, within four years, his administration will have “entirely” removed chemical, biological, and nuclear materials from the world’s most vulnerable sites.
[...] Kerry vows that his administration would be “committed to revitalizing the arms control process” and said efforts to research a new generation of nuclear weapons “could set off a dangerous new nuclear arms race.”
[...] Like the other Democratic candidates, Kerry supports negotiations with North Korea that would include providing Pyongyang with strong incentives to end its nuclear weapons program verifiably. He advocates direct negotiations addressing a broad range of issues, including conventional force deployments; North Korea’s alleged drug running and human rights record and dire humanitarian conditions; and Pyongyang’s security concerns.

This is from the ACA review of the arms control policies espoused by the various candidates.  I have selected the high points, but interested readers should consider reading the entire article, since it appear to be one of the more comprehensive treatments available. 

Where do the Candidates Stand on Foreign Policy?

John Kerry
US Senator from Massachusetts

1. Do you oppose the development and funding of new nuclear weapons? Yes
2. Do you support programs designed to reduce and secure the world’s existing nuclear stockpiles? Yes
3. Do you support the resumption of explosive nuclear weapons testing? No
4. Do you support the development of national missile defense? Yes
5. Would you work to prohibit US arms sales and military training to governments that the State Department deems human rights abusers? Yes
6. Do you support government restrictions on civil liberties (such as those imposed by the USA Patriot Act) in the name of national security? UNCLEAR
7. Do you intend to uphold the rights of those who dissent, such as the right of Americans to hold peaceful protests without being monitored, harassed, or jailed? Yes
8. Do you support the policy of “preemptive” war? UNCLEAR
9. Do you support US participation in the International Criminal Court? Yes
10. Would you use negotiation, diplomacy and international institutions as the primary tools to resolve friction with other counties (such as N. Korea, Syria, Iran and others), rather than military intervention? Yes
11. Do you favor reductions in the Pentagon budget in order to fund investments in human needs? No

These questions and summary responses were taken from a survey, the Peace Action Candidate Questionnaire, that Peace Action gave to the various candidates.  The full text on their website provides the detailed responses given by the candidates.  The one-word summaries in green are the bottom-line interpretations of those comments.  Note his last response indicates that he is not in factor of reducing the military budget.  Critics have pointed out that, in the past, Kerry has tended to vote against military appropriations.   Of course, those previous votes were cast in peacetime.  Presumably, Kerry is basing his current response on the fact that this is not peacetime and probably we will not be at peace in the anticipatable future. 


from: KWSnet Weblog

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

World Socialist Web Site
by Patrick Martin
02 Mar 04

In a speech Friday in Los Angeles, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the likely presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, attacked the Bush administration's management of the "war on terror" and declared that he would be a more effective - and more aggressive - "war president."
[...]In his Los Angeles speech, Kerry outlined a foreign policy posture hardly distinguishable from the Bush "doctrine of unilateral preemption," as the prospective Democratic nominee termed it. He said that he would, if necessary, "order direct military action" against terrorist groups, with or without international support. "Allies give us more hands in the struggle," he said, "but no president would ever let them tie our hands and prevent us from doing what must be done... As president, I pledge to you, I'll never wait for a green light from abroad, from any other institution, if our safety and security are legitimately at stake."[...]

Most or all of this was taken from the World Socialist website.  I could not tell if some of the text was written by the blogger himself, or if it all was from WSW.  In either case, it appears that the SOcialist viewpoint is that there is not much difference between Bush and Kerry.

from: Rodger A. Payne's Blog

Thursday, February 26, 2004
Is Kerry soft on terror?
Yesterday, I looked at the National Security Blog and discovered a post entitled "ElBaradei's Warning: We Can't Sit Idly By." After running a long quote noting the importance of the threat from nuclear proliferation, the blogger, John Little, then refers readers to a recent quote by John Kerry claiming that the threat of terrorism had been overstated by the Bush administration. Poke around the website and you know Little is not making this contrast because he agrees with Kerry.

Little implies that even UN-types like ElBaradei agree that nuclear proliferation is a great threat, while Kerry disagrees.

This is a misleading argument on many levels.[...]

First, I'm sure ElBaradei and Kerry would agree that the world is not sitting idly by on the proliferation question. Indeed, both would agree that the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and IAEA are important norms and institutions that need to be strengthened.[...]

Moreover, it was the Bush administration who didn't trust the IAEA's March 2003 finding that Iraq had no nuclear weapon. As I noted recently, Cheney basically accused the IAEA of being fools. [...]

Second, Kerry was talking about terrorism and not proliferation per se, which the Bush administration has linked since the "axis of evil" reference in the State of the Union address in January 2002.[...]

Third, Kerry and other Democrats have been proposing all sorts of policies to fight terror and work against proliferation (like spending a lot more money on Nunn-Lugar to protect former Soviet arms stocks). They oppose the unilateralist and inflammatory policy pursued by the Bush administration. [...]

In other words, Democrats primarily disagree with the administration about the means to fight the war on terror, not so much about the ends. It is absolutely false to try to frame the national security debate as if Democrats don't care about these issues. They do care a great deal, but they often have different tools in mind.[...]

Mr. Payne expresses the point that Kerry has a well-developed stance on arms control, and takes issue with the post on the National Security Blog that suggests Kerry is soft on terrorism.  Note  that Payne has other posts on the issue; I've included only excerpts from the one that is most pertinent.  If you go back and read the NSB post, then re-read Payne's, you see a good example of the fact that you have to get the whole story to interpret the validity of someone's assertions. 

In conclusion, it is clear that there is no consensus of opinion regarding Kerry's arms control policies.  I disagree with the Socialist position that Kerry and Bush are "hardly distinguishable" on this topic.  Clear, Kerry promotes greater mutilateralism, but is willing to use a unilateral approach if necessary; he is more in favor of arms control; and he is well-versed about foreign policy in general, and arms control in particular.  This would suggest that electing John Kerry in November 2004 is likely to have a positive impact on public health, by reducing the probability of open military conflict.  Individuals who are particularly concerned about Israeli security or who are philosophically opposed to mutilateralism may find that these concerns override the public health concerns.