Alexander's Column

From Russia with a Treaty

Mark Alexander · May 24, 2002

Shoring up support for our expanded war against Jihadistan and our upcoming foray into Iraq, President George Bush traveled in Europe this week. With considerable European skepticism over the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign, tensions over new tariffs and trade regulations, as well as enormous criticism over U.S. support for Israel and deepening European anti-Semitism, the president faces stiff diplomatic opposition.

In Moscow, Presidents Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement yesterday to drastically reduce the number of nuclear warheads possessed by each country – a pact thought impossible by critics of the unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the 1973 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (see Federalist No. 02-20). Unlike the ABM, this treaty places no restrictions on the development and implementation of missile defense systems. With these improved relations, President Bush will look for stronger Russian support in the war on terrorism, specifically in requesting the Russians to terminate an arms deal with Iran, which provides the rogue nation with conventional weapons and technical assistance in the development of a nuclear weapons capability. The scheduled May 28 meeting in Rome to sign the declaration forming the NATO-Russia Joint Council will hopefully bring a swift end to Russian arms supply to Iran, as a key objective of the new NATO-Russia alliance is the halt of a global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

WMD proliferation was front and center in the State Department’s annual report on terrorist activity, “Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001,” which listed the familiar state sponsors of terrorism suspects: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Cuba. Notably, the report’s chronological list of terrorist activities for the year did not include any events with Yasser Arafat’s fingerprints.

Speaking of Arafat, there was a meeting in Beirut two months ago between al-Qa'ida lieutenants and members of Hamas and Hezbollah, the third such terrorist convention this year. Representatives of Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein and the mullahs of Iran were also believed in attendance. Chillingly, one such meeting took place in Tehran, Iran – just prior to 9/11.

“Just facing the facts, we have to recognize that terrorist networks have relationships with terrorist states that have weapons of mass destruction and that they inevitably are going to get their hands on them, and they would not hesitate one minute in using them,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld remarked, singling out Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea as WMD developers and suppliers. “The only way to deal with terrorism is to go after it, to deal with the global terrorist network and to deal with the countries that are providing sanctuary and safe haven.”

And a footnote on state sponsors of terrorism – you will note that Cuba made the list. Monday was Cuba’s 100th independence day and prior to leaving for Europe, President Bush acknowledged the occasion with a fiery speech in Miami. Despite growing support for ending the embargo, to do so would only serve to bolster Castro’s regime: “The goal of the United States policy toward Cuba … is freedom for Cuba’s people. … Without meaningful reform, trade with Cuba would do nothing more than line the pockets of Fidel Castro and his cronies,” Mr. Bush said. He spoke to the Cuban exiles – and to Castro – in no uncertain terms: “For 43 years, every election in Cuba has been a fraud and a sham. Mr. Castro, once – just once – show that you’re unafraid of a real election. Show the world you respect Cuba’s citizens enough to listen to their voices and count their votes. …Viva Cuba Libre!” In an effort to support democratic change in Cuba, the president promises eased restrictions on non-governmental humanitarian aid and help in expanding pro-democracy television and radio efforts in Havana.

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