Old Myths and New Realities
Signals of Strength and Weakness
“U.S. Warns Soviets With B-52 Flights” proclaimed a recent headline over a wire service story telling that the Carter Administration had sent “a calculated warning to the Soviet Union” by flying four separate missions of B-52 bombers from Guam to the Arabian Sea to track Soviet ships.
As a signal of strength to the Soviets, the B-52 missions rank with Carter’s call for the draft registration of women, or as it is now known in Washington, his call for “coeds at the Khyber Pass.” The Soviets are no more apt to be scared by 20-year-old planes than by female troops.
The way to send a signal of strength to the Soviets is so simple that it cries out to be implemented. Build the B-1 bomber which Carter cancelled shortly after he took office! Reassemble the manufacturing team and go into production at once!
The State Department is currently putting out the line that we can’t build the B-1 because SALT II won’t let us. To which our response should be, “In case you hadn’t heard, SALT II wasn’t ratified. It was never brought up for a vote because, admittedly, the Administration didn’t have the votes to pass it.”
The report on SALT II issued by the Senate Armed Services Committee was scathing in its denunciation of this inequality. It said that , “even the most modest intelligence estimates of the Soviet supersonic Backfire bomber attribute to it the capability to strike targets in the United States without refueling on missions similar to those planned for the U.S. B-52 strategic bombers.”
One of the most revealing parts of the Senate report is its revelation of why the Carter Administration did not insist on the Soviets’ including the Backfire bomber in the treaty count. The Carter Administration gave in on this point early in the SALT II negotiations on the argument that U.S. acquiescence in the Soviet position was “inevitable” and would be more “embarrassing” later. In other words, surrender now rather than later.
The Carter Administration tried to cover up the SALT II disparities about bombers by getting an “assurance” from Brezhnev. According to the Armed Services Committee report, this assurance “promises not to give the Backfire capabilities the U.S. knows the Backfire already has.” The Committee concluded that the so-called assurance was not only “false” but “deceptive toward the American public.”
We are so fortunate that the U.S. Senate rejected SALT 11. There is no excuse for not building the B-1 at the same production rate as the Soviet Backfire bomber.
Rebuilding U.S. Power and Prestige
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” As events abroad propel our nation from the illusions of detente to the reality of the New Cold War, President Carter is thrashing around with stopgap measures he should have taken long ago. Nothing will solve the Iranian or Afghanistan or future crises until Americans understand what kind of naked nuclear power the Russians are using. Their actions speak so loudly that we can hardly hear their words, but we should listen anyway.
The Hot Line from the Kremlin to the White House was designed for use in a nuclear confrontation. After Russian troops moved into Afghanistan, Brezhnev used it to tell Carter they would stay there until “they have completed their work.”
A Soviet diplomat in Iran was asked by a reporter what would happen if the Iranian student-mob had imprisoned Russians in their own embassy in Teheran as the American hostages have been treated. The Russian took out his watch and said, “It is now three o’clock. By 3:45, there would be no Iran.”
America is waiting for a President who will come forth with a platform to restore American power and prestige. The American people realize that it is more important for our country to be respected than to be loved, and they would support a plan of action to reach that goal.
- Rebuild U.S. strategic military superiority so that we will not be subject to nuclear blackmail or a surprise attack on us or on our allies. No matter what this costs, it will be cheaper than allowing the Soviets to have the power to cut off our imported oil, to cause wild gyrations in the price of gold, the dollar, and the stock market, and to continue their encirclement of our nation and suffocation of our vital interests.
To achieve this objective, we should go into immediate production of the B-1 bomber, speed up production of the cruise missile, reopen the assembly line of the Minuteman III missiles and put them on mobile platforms, proceed quickly with building the MX mobile missile, and build Trident submarines at least as rapidly as the Soviets are building their Trident class subs.
We must build an anti-missile defense so that our population and our cities will have some protection against missiles launched from Russia, Soviet submarines prowling our coasts, Cuba, or some third-world nation. We must build a civil defense system and a shelter program that is credible and not a joke (as is our present system).
This means scrapping the MAD (mutual assured destruction) strategy, which isn’t mutual and doesn’t assure anything except our own destruction. Obviously, the Soviets don’t believe it; when a dozen U.S. Senators traveled to Moscow last year to confer on the
SALT II treaty, Brezhnev arrogantly said, “You know, gentlemen, I have the capability to destroy your entire country within 22 minutes.”
- Stop permanently the subsidized shipment to Soviet bloc countries of technology and plants which build materials that can be used to wage war. The detente-lovers won the battle several years ago when they persuaded U.S. companies to design and equip the largest truck factory in the world near the Kama River in the Soviet Union. Trucks made there carried Soviet soldiers into Afghanistan to lock another country behind the iron curtain.
- Organize an OPEC-type group of grain-producing exporters, of which there are only about a half dozen in the world (the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina) so that food can be used to defend the free world and will be invulnerable to Soviet blackmail.
- Adopt a program to make the United States self-sufficient in energy by reducing taxes on all domestic energy production, and by use of gasohol and alcohol to help solve the gasoline shortage
The War Has Already Started
When Secretary of State Cyrus Vance returned from his trip to Western Europe soliciting support for Carter’s boycott against the Moscow Olympics, he expressed surprise and disappointment at the lack of enthusiasm among our longtime friends to climb aboard this American cause. Even a British newspaper asked, if the West cannot join in such a relatively simple punishment for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, how could anyone believe we would be willing to fight a war?
The answer is that the Soviets don’t believe it. Maybe President Carter’s saber rattling can impress voters in presidential primary states, but the Soviets deal in the real world of power, not the make-believe world of political bluff.
Our friends in Western Europe remind me of the old commercials about B.O.: “even your best friends won’t tell you.” They are polite, but old ties between Western nations make it difficult for them to tell us bluntly why they don’t want to cozy up to the United States and any anti-Soviet policies.
A more recent friend who lacks such sentimental inhibitions has bluntly told it to us straight. Listen to this remarkable interview which Egypt’s President Anwar El-Sadat gave to Walter Cronkite, as reported on the CBS Evening News.
Cronkite: “Sadat said that the West already was at war with the Soviet Union, the war to control the Middle East, particularly the Persian Gulfs great oil reserves. And he said the United States is losing that battle.”
Sadat: “I wonder if you recognize the fact that the battle of oil, of energy, of the survival of the whole Western civilization, has started. Why, whatever you do, if it is economic boycott or economic siege, or it is a military action to release the hostages, or any action, there will be repercussion on all the oil in the oil Gulf states.”
Cronkite: “So the battle has started?”
Sadat: “Has already started. . . . We shall say in history, ‘After Iran.’ 1980 is crucial in the whole decade of the eighties . . . it will be crucial for a very long time.”
In another part of the interview, Sadat said that all the countries want U.S. protection and a U.S. presence, “but no one dares to raise his voice now, because we are living in a moment when the Soviet Union is taking full liberty and adopting certain stooges in this area, and they fear that those stooges may attack them vehemently.”
The conclusion is obvious. Neither our Western nor our oil friends dare to cast their lot with the country they believe is the loser. The harsh reality is that governments, like individuals, prefer to side with the winner, or at least do not dare to antagonize him.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who has issued warning after warning to try to wake up the West, is becoming increasingly frustrated at the failure of Americans to listen. In a recent essay in Time magazine, he pointed out that there is nothing new or different about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. “The Afghan tragedy in fact [took] place two years ago . . . but the West shut its eyes and postponed recognizing the problem – all for the sake of an illusory detente.”
Solzhenitsyn describes how Communism needs “the whole charade of detente” to gain additional strength through Western financing (“those loans will not be repaid”) and Western technology (to help it launch “its next large-scale offensive”). With pitiless prose he shows that Communism is “driven by a malevolent and irrational instinct for world domination” and is “a mortal danger to mankind.”
And yet Solzhenitsyn still has hope. He believes that “the West cannot now avoid erecting a wall of resolve in its hour of extremity. . . . The present generation of Westerners will have to make a stand on the road upon which its predecessors have so thoughtlessly retreated for 60 years.”
Five years ago our leaders ignored Solzhenitsyn’s warnings. Let us hope our present leaders will heed the words of Solzhenitsyn and Sadat.
War and Politics
“U.S. Would Go To War For Pakistan” proclaimed three-columned headlines after Zbigniew Brzezinski finalized his discussions with Pakistani leaders earlier this month. If the Soviets advance toward the Persian Gulf, “this means war,” announced Administration spokesman Clark Clifford after his conferences in India.”
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Harold Brown told U.S. News that it is “important to be able to move ground-combat forces in very quickly” to the Persian Gulf.
Russian authorities, assessing these official U.S. statements, have concluded that the Carter Administration wants a “confrontation” with the Soviets and is precipitating a “brinkmanship policy.” It is difficult to fault that conclusion.
Some explain the shift in Carter’s policy by his being “born again” to the belief that Communists are bad guys, after all. The shift in the Carter policy might also be diagnosed as patent political pragmatism in a presidential election year that will determine Carter’s place in history.
There used to be a popular Chicago politician whose perennial campaign slogan was, “I’m going to punch King George in the snoot.” Again and again, the anti-British Irish reelected the politician who “ran against” King George.
Political strategists know that war, or even the threat of war, tends to unify the nation in favor of the incumbent. Out comes the hoary slogan, “Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream.”
The fear of an unknown future, an uncertain policy, or an untested leader rises to the top of voters’ emotions like cream in a bottle. Forgotten is the question of how mismanagement put us in the middle of the raging stream, defenseless and off course.
Magicians ply their trade by making the audience watch one hand while the other is consummating the trick. Presidents and rulers who are over their heads in economic problems they cannot solve (inflation, unemployment, recession) often turn to war, or the threat of war, to distract public attention.
Political pundits are opining that Carter’s “handling” of the Iranian hostage crisis and his “strong” response to Soviet troops in Afghanistan are responsible for his dramatic recovery in the public opinion polls. It is easy for superficial strategists to deduce that, if jawboning the Russians could jump Carter 30 poll points over Ted Kennedy, it can do likewise when Carter is
pitted against his Republican opponent after the National Nominating Conventions.
Peeking around the corner is the additional possibility that Brezhnev will assist Carter’s reelection by withdrawing half or a third of the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. That would cost the Kremlin nothing because a corporal’s guard of Russian troops, armed with modern weapons, can easily stay on top of the scattered Afghan freedom fighters, armed only with hand-forged World War I-type rifles.
The trouble with the illusion that Carter’s sabre-rattling is the key to political success is that a battle of words with the Soviets is a phony test of power in the real world.
In poker, in street fights, in politics and in war, it is a dangerous game to make threats without the relevant power to deliver if the opponent calls your bluff. The Soviets called Carter’s bluff about their combat troops in Cuba. We hope the Kremlin doesn’t call Carter’s bluff about war in the Persian Gulf or Pakistan.
Afghanistan Was Predictable
“I cannot predict the future course of Soviet behavior,” said national security adviser Zbigniew
Brzezinski when asked on a Sunday morning public affairs television program about the Soviet military incursion into Afghanistan. But why can’t he? It’s his job to know what the Soviets will do. To those who have studied the Communist dialectic and Soviet military doctrine, the Soviet move into Afghanistan was as predictable as the movement of the sun and planets.
“What’s ours is ours, but what’s yours is negotiable.” That fundamental principle has always guided the Soviets in their negotiations, conferences, agreements, and relations with other nations.
That maxim was cast in steel in 1968 by the ostentatious demonstration of the Brezhnev Doctrine. Here is its definition: Once the Communists attain government status in any country, the Soviets will intervene with armed forces to sustain the Communists against any attack or overthrow.
The Czech Defense Minister, General Martin Dzur, told a secret session of his government that the Soviets used 650,000 occupation troops in the August 20, 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. In addition, the Soviets used thousands of tanks, armored cars, trucks, self-propelled artillery and rocket launchers – against a people with practically no weapons and an army of only 175,000.
The Soviets moved more troops into Czechoslovakia in five days than the Johnson Administration moved into Vietnam in five years, and the Soviets did it with complete surprise. They also, incidentally, attacked in violation of a treaty guaranteeing Czech independence
signed only seventeen days before, on August 3, as well as of 16 additional international agreements.
The Soviets, careful planners that they are, always test the will of the current U.S. President before they make a major move. The Soviets tested us shortly before the invasion of Czechoslovakia by having their North Korean stooges seize the Pueblo and hold its crew. This act of piracy not only humiliated the United States before the world, but it proved again, as
Khrushchev told the poet Robert Frost, “You are too liberal to fight, even in defense of your own vital interests” or even for the lives of our servicemen.
Before moving into Afghanistan with tens of thousands of troops, while the Western world was observing the Christmas holidays, the Soviets watched the test of our national will in Teheran. If the Carter Administration would do nothing except whine to the United Nations about 50 American citizens tied up and held incommunicado for months by the student streetfighters
in Iran, it certainly would not interfere with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Once the Soviets installed a Marxist regime in Afghanistan some 20 months ago, the Brezhnev Doctrine made Soviet military action inevitable because the Soviets would always protect what was “theirs.” The Soviets would never be the slightest bit embarrassed by having “outraged” the world community.
The Kremlin justified its estimated 80,000 armed troops, with armored formations, heavy tanks, and motorized infantry, with the false accusation that the attack was a defensive measure designed to counter ” imperialist [i.e., U.S.] interference in the internal affairs of democratic Afghanistan.”
Without a touch of facetiousness or sarcasm, Pravda charged that “the reactionaries [i.e., the anti-Communists] were actually receiving unlimited backing from the imperialist circles of the U.S. that [is] lavishly supplying the counterrevolutionary gangs with weapons, equipment and money.” That’s not only false; it’s ridiculous. Even the U.S. State Department
managed to call it “a patently contrived excuse.”
Soviet military doctrine has long called for the launching of a preemptive or preventive nuclear attack on the United States under cover of the charge that the United States is planning an attack on the Soviet Union. It’s time we put into advisory positions in the White House some persons who can predict Soviet actions and prepare our nation to cope with them. As former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird wrote, “Communism cannot change; and to believe in the possibility of change is a madness almost as far from the true ordering of reason as the ideology itself.”
The End of Detente
The stampede to buy gold is not just a sudden desire of people to possess the beautiful gold metal. It is not merely a depressing flight from the U.S. dollar, although that certainly is part of the phenomenon.
Most of all, the meteoric rise in the price of gold past $500 per ounce is an economic result of a military cause. The gold dealers themselves admitted the connection. It’s caused, they said, because people don’t believe that the United States can cope with the crisis in Afghanistan.
The pitiful sight of the American President attempting to jawbone away this latest Soviet aggression is humiliating for a once powerful nation. The day the Soviets moved into Afghanistan, Carter called it “a grave threat to the peace” and a blatant violation of
international rules of behavior.
The following day, Carter, in what the Washington press described as “the toughest diplomatic exchange of his Presidency,” warned the Soviet Union in a special message to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan or face “serious consequences.” He didn’t say what the consequences would be. The Soviets responded by quadrupling the number of invading troops.
The next day, Carter accused Brezhnev of giving him an “obviously false” account of Soviet actions in the invasion of Afghanistan. Carter added, “This action on the part of the Soviet Union has made a more dramatic change in my own opinion of what the Soviets’ ultimate goals are than anything they’ve done in the previous time that I’ve been in office.”
What kind of a cloistered world has Carter been living in that it took the surprise invasion of Afghanistan to wake him up to “what the Soviets’ ultimate goals are”? The Soviet move into that country is just a carbon copy of the same scenario that has been repeated again and again and again.
Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia are only the more dramatic of the previous victims of Soviet sneak attacks. It is obvious that the Soviets weighed the risks of offending the United States against the profit of plucking an overripe plum in the Middle East, and they made their choice.
The core of the crisis we face today is not that Carter speaks too softly, but that he has no big stick with which to make the bad guys of the world respect us. The Soviets know they can get by with swallowing another country; the petty tyrants in Iran know they can get by with blackmail; and the money dealers of the world are voting with their pocketbooks by unloading dollars and buying gold.
In his latest book, The Eleventh Hour, Marine hero General Lewis Walt, USMC (Ret.) points out that, from ancient Egypt to modern times, “no great nation has ever existed any longer than the supremacy of its military power.” The Golden Age of Greece came to an abrupt halt after the military power of Athens declined. The civilization of Carthage was wiped out when it could not match the armed might of Rome, and Rome itself fell when it could not defend itself militarily.
The philosophy and ideas of self-government in England, General Walt continues, were nourished behind the shield of the British Navy. Even tiny Switzerland, the classic neutral, has been able to maintain its neutrality only because the Swiss know that to live in peace you must be always ready to fight a war.
The entire fabric of what we affectionately call “the American way of life” is totally dependent on the restoration of U.S. military superiority. A war-winning capability for U.S. armed forces is the sine qua non of a free society in which preachers can preach, teachers can teach, businessmen can profit, artists and inventors can create, and each of us, rich or poor, can keep the fruits of our own labor and can dream of a brighter tomorrow.
The ultimate solution for the crisis in Afghanistan, in Iran, in gold, and in oil is once again to make the United States stronger than the Soviet Union. We should never forget that time is only on the side of those who use it.