While the Congress is primarily responsible for national domestic policy, the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and is chiefly responsible for America's foreign policy. Next year's presidential race is therefore an important opportunity for Americans to debate the direction of America's military and our country's role in the world. In late September, Policy Review asked eight leading conservatives to define the most important defense and foreign-policy issues of the 1996 elections.
The United States has not had a foreign policy since January 20, 1993. Before then, with the exception of the Gulf War, the foreign and defense policies of the Bush administration were geared not to shaping the post-Cold War future, but to managing the Cold War's endgame. The Republican president inaugurated on January 20, 1997, will thus have an immense responsibility: creating the first post-Cold War foreign policy worthy of the name.
If the candidates in the 1996 GOP presidential primaries could forge agreement on the following six points, presidential leadership in 1997 and beyond will prove much easier:
- The United States needs a foreign policy. With the end of the Cold War, time, energy, and resources can and must be directed toward reconstructing civil society in America. But disengagement is not an option for the world's leading democracy and leading military power. The proliferation of ballistic-missile technology and weapons of mass destruction, hostile ideologies, and international terrorism place America always at risk. The risks are manageable, but not unless they are acknowledged and dealt with.
- The completion and preservation of freedom's victory in the Cold War requires the expansion of NATO before the end of the century. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia should be admitted as full members, and Ukraine and the Baltic states engaged in some form of associate membership en route to full participation. As even Strobe Talbott now concedes, NATO expansion is a mortal threat neither to Russia nor to the evolution of Russian democracy. An appropriate security relationship can be defined between the new NATO and the Russian Federation while the former democracy evolves. If the history of Europe in the 20th century teaches us anything, it is that an ounce of preventive diplomacy and collective security is worth a ton of terrible cure.
- Preventing the spread of ballistic-missile technology and weapons of mass destruction ought to be one of the highest priorities of U.S. national-security policy. This means clamping down on regimes that import or export such weapons, as well as improving counter-terrorist measures. The new president should confer quietly with Congress and America's principal allies on the conditions under which preemptive military action will be used to counter weapons proliferation against rogue states or terrorist organizations. The president should appoint a national coordinator of counter-terrorism, and he should instruct the relevant intelligence agencies and the FBI that a coordinated counter-terrorism program is essential to national security and that institutional roadblocks put in its way will be swiftly removed.
- The essential technological complement to an assertive policy of nonproliferation and counter-terrorism is missile defense. It is criminally irresponsible to deny the American people and America's allies the benefits of missile-defense systems just because of Cold War shibboleths. Early in his term, the new president, in consultation with the Congress, should announce America's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, while pledging to share appropriate defense technologies with its allies.
- For tens of millions of people around the world, the United States remains a beacon of freedom. U.S. human-rights policy must be reinvigorated, stressing the universality of such basic human rights as religious freedom, free speech, freedom of association, and freedom of the press. The United States should rebut the argument that these rights are " culturally conditioned," while making vigorous use of instruments like the National Endowment for Democracy to support proponents of freedom living in totalitarian and authoritarian societies. We should place special emphasis on aid to the democratic opposition in China and Cuba.
- On its 50th anniversary, the United Nations is in desperate straits. It has demonstrated its ineptitude at "peacekeeping" in Bosnia, its functional agencies (like the World Health Organization) are awash in corruption, and the "soft" side of the U.N. has become a hotbed of internationalized libertinism, as demonstrated by the 1994 (anti-) population conference in Cairo and the 1995 Beijing conference on women. The next administration should reform the U.N. and its functional agencies, while shunning wastes of time and energy like the Cairo and Beijing conferences and the 1995 Copenhagen "Social Summit." If, by the year 2000, the U.N. has not been dramatically cleaned up and slimmed down, another Republican administration should seriously consider withdrawing from an institution that, at present, hinders the pursuit of the very ends it was intended to serve.
Any candidate worthy of consideration should begin by understanding and expressing that the peace and prosperity we enjoy were dearly bought with the blood of Americans on countless battlefields the world over. No nation has given more selflessly to the cause of liberty; no nation has ever had a people wiser in distinguishing among the nations of the world our natural friends, our inevitable enemies, and the barbarians to be left alone. Thanks to the sacrifices of American people, we can say today, as Abraham Lincoln said a century and a half ago, that "all the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined with all the treasure of the earth, our own excepted, could not by force make a track on the Blue Ridge or take a drink from the Ohio in a trial of a thousand years."
So, candidates, begin with pride in your country and gratitude to its people. We are a great country and deserve a prominent place in world affairs. We must never diminish our strength and purpose, since as Charles de Gaulle used to jest, the future lasts a long time. Serious threats will surely arise; whether they prove deadly will depend on us. Americans can be defeated or our interests thwarted only if we lose our moral virtues, make foolish moves in the world, and neglect our military power. No government has ever matched the Clinton administration in these failings.
America's only glaring weakness over the past half-century has been leadership sometimes unworthy of the American people. The nation's "leadership class" -- high officials, professors, and heads of big corporations -- has committed America's youth, blood, and credit to wars it did not intend to win. Communism was here to stay, they thought, and even Republican stars such as Henry Kissinger counseled accommodation with it. They dreamed not of freedom's triumph but of convergence and accommodation to tyranny. They dreamed up the idiocy that America's safety depends on continued vulnerability to missile attack, a doctrine that still prevails in Washington. These opportunities to equivocate will come again.
Since President Bush's time, this leadership class has decided that political and military history has ended and that our real enemies are the French and Japanese who sell us cheese and cars at good prices.
First observation: Foreign policy does not exist in a vacuum; it must have military capability to protect and project it. Diplomacy without power is a prayer -- not to God, but to one's adversary, and its fulfillment depends on the mood and whim of the party prayed to. No nation can devise a military posture until it has defined its purpose through national interest. America, therefore, needs a new doctrine to replace Monroe and containment.
Such a doctrine must acknowledge that America has legitimate interests. First is the defense of the homeland.
Second, our economy depends on trade. We need access to our trading partners.
Third, we are a nation that values travel—for trade, scholarship, science, and pleasure. Americans abroad must have a nation behind them.
Lastly, America's interest in regional stability cannot be ignored. If America's presence and purpose in the world can be doubted, if we tolerate vacuums of power, they will be filled by others, and ultimately American blood will be spilled. In the past century, we have been called upon time and again to secure peace and liberty after our leaders thought the world no longer needed us.
Along with the doctrine we need common sense -- in both diplomacy and military policy. This means not squandering American generosity in petty ventures cooked up by the U.N.'s petty bureaucrats. While our leaders downsize the U.S. military and tergiversate with our commitments to traditional allies in Europe and the Pacific Rim, the future and vitality of those regions is being shaped by petty tyrants whose only asset is the willingness to make war. The administration treats military matters as a spectator sport. The foreign-policy establishment calls Americans' objections to such leadership by turns warmongering and isolationism. Our candidates should recognize these objections as wisdom.
Collective response is a contemporary stupidity. The U.N. cannot respond, nor can Europe nor NATO nor the Pacific nations, unless one of them is both willing and able to respond alone. Joiners follow leaders, but when joiners have no leaders, they have conferences.
As for Bosnia, the president and the supreme Allied commander in Europe should tell our allies to join us in giving Serbia an ultimatum to stop the Balkan war or else face a united declaration of war by NATO's 15 nations. Otherwise, America should quit NATO, lift the embargo, and arm the Bosnians. The continuing policy vacuum has sapped America's prestige abroad and fostered European excuses for death, destruction, and "ethnic cleansing" in their own backyard.
Lastly, America needs missile defenses. There can be no further excuses for inaction. Even Democrats say that nothing so threatens regions and continents as the proliferation of nuclear weapons. To the nuclear threat, we can now add chemical and biological weapons. The Clinton idiocy is to make us all equally vulnerable. America has the technology to protect Americans and American allies from missiles. What possible excuse can be offered for failure to act? Why should Americans or their allies be threatened and blackmailed because our leaders are hooked on treaties and invalid concepts further outmoded by recent events?
Respect for Americans, pride in our selfless achievements in this dark century, and confidence in our future are the basis of military and foreign policy. These Americans are a wise and brave lot, and they deserve both common sense and courage from their leaders.
JAMES M. INHOFE
In a time of great uncertainty about America's role in the world, it is not the details of America's foreign policy that trouble her citizens so much as the sense that the man in the White House doesn't know what he's doing. Republican candidates will be tempted to dwell on the Clinton administration's specific foreign-policy blunders. Some of this will, of course, be necessary and valuable. But the American people will not and should not be satisfied solely with an indictment of the president's actions.
Clinton's main problem as commander in chief is that, like many American liberals, he is uncomfortable with America's power. This makes him uncertain about how to use it. And this uncertainty is the source of the administration's misguided foreign and defense policies. The 1996 election is a superb opportunity to craft an alternative vision of presidential leadership. Articulating this vision, rather than promising a specific blueprint, should be the focus of the presidential campaign.
By seeking the U.N.'s blessing on the American-led operation in the Persian Gulf War, where U.S. interests were clearly at stake, President Bush showed that Washington was uncertain about its newly acquired status as sole superpower. Over the past three years, the Clinton administration has taken this precedent to extremes. It has subjected U.S. and NATO actions in Bosnia to U.N. approval, even where those actions directly risked the lives of troops from our major NATO allies. It has accommodated U.N.-instigated "nation-building" in Somalia, going well beyond the Bush administration's original humanitarian objectives. In an astounding abandonment of American prerogatives, Clinton sought U.N. approval of the occupation of Haiti last fall, but sought no such approval from Congress.
Many Americans have passively accepted the notion, implicit in Clinton's approach, that actions taken in the name of the U.N. are morally purer than actions taken or led by the United States. A look at the source of U.N. power reveals the emptiness of this point of view.
Whereas American decisions are shaped by Virginians, Texans, Rhode Islanders, and the free citizens of 47 other states, a majority of the nations represented at the U.N. have political and social structures that are, to one degree or another, undemocratic. Many have governments that abuse their citizens and threaten other nations. None of the representatives at the U.N., including our own, is freely elected.
Presidential candidates need to articulate the argument in a straightforward way: American power is the greatest force for good in the material world, and that power is derived from our Constitution, not from the U.N. Charter. How can the decisions of the United Nations have greater moral authority than those taken by the U.S. Congress which, despite its flaws, embodies the most representative and accountable political system in the world? No president should feel guilty for using wisely American power derived from our constitutional system.
As they make this argument, candidates must brace themselves for the inevitable charge of "isolationism." The use of this term, now being leveled against the administration's congressional critics, is meant to conjure up frightening images of the 1930s and the unchallenged rise of fascism. It fits neatly with the liberal view of the world, which sees our commitment to world leadership and our participation in the United Nations as one and the same. Much like the domestic debate over welfare, this worldview also equates our "compassion" for developing nations to the amount of foreign aid money we give away.
The candidates must explain, in positive terms, America's deep involvement in world affairs, and how this has very little to do with either the United Nations or our foreign-aid program. The combined dollar value of our foreign-aid budget and our contribution to the U.N. amounts to a tiny fraction of our private-sector trade. And we should not forget that much of our $270 billion military budget goes to keep the peace around the world, which is in everyone's interest.
In a very imperfect world, our military and economic power is derived from the fairest, most humane system of government ever devised. This should be a source of tremendous confidence for a president, not confusion and embarrassment.
As a trading partner, a military ally, and a beacon of democracy, the United States has a huge stake in world affairs. The successful candidate should affirm these roles and dispute any suggestion that our internationalism should be measured by the degree of our subservience to U.N. policies.
Foreign policy without armed force is like sheet music without the orchestra. We must be concerned about the Big Questions, but we must not neglect what has been happening to the "orchestra."
General George C. Marshall once said, "The soldier's heart, the soldier's spirit, the soldier's soul are everything. Unless the soldier's soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his country in the end." Marshall understood the decisive military importance of the intangible moral factors. No doubt he knew Napoleon's dictum that "in warfare, the moral is to the material as three is to one."
The Clinton administration appears bent on crippling the military's moral powers as well as its material strength. Though it's uncomfortable, Americans must face the fact that revolutionary social policies are undermining the cohesion and combat effectiveness of the forces. Political correctness is replacing military character.
Most uniformed people agree, but dare not say it openly. Thus the problem of women in combat roles or homosexuals in the ranks is compounded by an institutionalized lie necessary to inject social deconstruction into an unwilling organism. And it leaches away the ethic of honor and integrity that are the heart of an effective military. Junior ranks see their seniors denying what everybody knows and forcing others to lie. They see careers of fine officers ruined because they will not genuflect to falsehood. They see flag officers putting self-interest above the welfare of their people. The moral damage is potentially disastrous.
Since a soldier must be "obedient unto death," sending him into battle is a moral transaction. He must be certain his life will not be wasted because of moral blindness or character defects in his commander. If his leaders are contemptuous of his sacrifice -- as was the British commander who reportedly remarked in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in 1915, "Casualties? What do I care about casualties?" -- it breaks the vital link that enables him to do the bloody, terrifying work of grappling with and killing the enemy.
But mutual trust does not happen overnight. It takes attention and commitment. Commissioned and non-commissioned officers have to set good examples, displaying truthfulness and integrity as well as military competence. Any policy that undermines this process hurts national defense as surely as cutting the budget or canceling vital weapons programs.
Liberals have a teleological compulsion to remake every institution in their own image, and politicize everything they touch. They love to get their hands on the military, largely because it is a command institution and can be reshaped with relative ease from the top down (just as the Left, which is antidemocratic despite its sanctimonious posturing, would like to do to our entire society).
To be sure, most military men still cling to the martial virtues, the very antithesis of liberal enlightenment. The military may yet manage to remain resistant to alien transformation. But it may still be forced to undertake more "acceptable" missions, like nation-building and peacekeeping, even though the operations in Somalia and Haiti got men killed, hurt morale, and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, without benefiting any vital national interest. Liberals hope thereby to drain away the ethos of the warrior and replace it with the ethos of the global welfare caseworker.
Social policy and defense policy intersect at this issue. It could unite conservatives concerned about national security with those worried about the moral health of the nation. But strangely, Republican presidential candidates haven't focused on it. They are missing a good bet. In 1993, Clinton's decision to open the services to homosexuals generated an unprecedented outpouring of opposition. That deep reservoir of concern about the welfare of the armed forces is still there, waiting to be tapped.
Perhaps it is hard to believe that the force that triumphed so magnificently in the Persian Gulf War could ever lose its soul. After all, that extraordinary victory was due as much to superior motivation, morale, leadership, and training as it was to technological superiority. Nevertheless, we cannot afford to take these qualities for granted, for they require constant cultivation. Throughout history, complacency has always been the forerunner of military disaster. Because it occurs outside the material domain, damage to the military spirit can't be quantified. It is subtle, insidious, and generally not noticed until it is revealed in the unforgiving crucible of combat.
Every candidate who wants to become commander in chief had better make sure he will have reliable forces to carry out the nation's foreign policy and defend our vital interests. Otherwise he may one day find this now unmatched military instrument crumbling in his hands just when it is needed most.
In July 1992, members of the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces visited the carrier U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, to hear what Navy men thought about the question of women in combat. In anticipation of the two-day field trip, the Kennedy's commanding officer recorded a videotape encouraging all crew members to express their opinions freely -- whether in favor or opposed --provided they were prepared to explain their rationale.
Since that time, a great deal has changed. Almost nothing remains of the laws and rules exempting women from service in or near the front lines, and candor about the consequences of unprecedented policy changes now in progress can end a military career.
The armed forces have become a prime venue for social experimentation because those most directly affected must follow orders, without visible dissent. Navy Secretary John Dalton's new policy regarding pregnant women on combat ships, for example, forbids "adverse comments" about deployability problems resulting from absences due to pregnancy.
At a time when international commitments are growing, defense budgets are shrinking, and the armed forces are carrying a heavy burden of social and cultural change, the next president must insist on complete information and objective evaluations throughout the chain of command. He must also be willing to reverse experimental policies that detract from morale, discipline, unit strength, and overall readiness.
A pro-defense administration should begin with sound priorities. Contrary to the notion that the volunteer force exists to provide job opportunities, the next president must recognize that the armed forces exist to defend the country, and the needs of the military must come first.
Technology and hardware are important, but money alone cannot buy a strong national defense. Wars are deterred, or fought, not by computers and weapons, but by people -- young men and women who volunteer to defend their country in a still-dangerous world, despite countless sacrifices and personal risk. To improve the recruitment and retention of qualified troops, we must avoid anything that makes military life more difficult or dangerous.
Current policies placing women in or near close combat units must be reevaluated -- not in terms of career opportunities, but in terms of military strength and readiness. Lives must not be sacrificed, nor missions undermined, because of front-line soldiers who are less strong, less deployable, and more vulnerable to wartime violence and capture. The definition of the word "qualified," as in "qualified to do the job," must not become flexible and therefore meaningless for the sake of women or any other favored group.
Affirmative-action quotas that subvert high training standards historically based on merit and wartime requirements should be ended by executive order. In the tradition of Harry Truman, who promoted social change by ending racial segregation in the armed forces, the next president should insist on policies that judge people as individuals, not as members of groups.
The next president must seek a more sensible balancebetween the interests of parents, field commanders, and children who stand to lose the most when their mothers are sent to fight a war. Overly generous pregnancy benefits offered without regard to marital status, for example, degrade cultural values while escalating family stress, child-care costs, and non-deployability numbers. Disciplinary problems must be addressed as well, since human emotions do not always respond to military orders.
The Clinton administration has persisted in promoting homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle, despite the law passed in 1993 intended to exclude homosexuals from the military. The next president should deny the gay agenda, which has gained significant ground in all branches of government, including the uniformed services.
Ronald Reagan, who enlisted but did not serve in the front lines, demonstrated that a pro-defense presidency does not depend on military background alone. In the tradition of Ronald Reagan, the next commander in chief must convey a deep respect for military values, and be willing to defend the interests of the troops against civilian activists with different agendas.
Clinton has tried to convey respect for the military by using soldiers, sailors, and aviators as backdrops for "photo ops." The next commander in chief must earn the respect of the troops by standing on principle, not public relations.
PAULA J. DOBRIANSKY
The three most important foreign-policy and defense issues of the 1996 elections are America's vulnerability to nuclear missiles, foreign aid, and the extent of America's international engagement, including the use of force overseas.
In a post-Cold War world, a nuclear attack against American territory poses the single gravest security challenge. Despite several strategic-arms control agreements signed over the last decade, Russia retains a large nuclear arsenal. China is also modernizing its nuclear forces. A number of other countries are aggressively developing small, but potent, nuclear forces.
America's failure to deploy ballistic-missile defenses doesn't just perpetuate our national vulnerability. It also greatly weakens our diplomatic prowess. Imagine how different the outcome of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait might have been if, just as the Bush administration was contemplating its options, Saddam Hussein had informed the world that he had already built a dozen or so nuclear-tipped ICBMs.
Contrary to the musings of traditional arms-control theorists, American ballistic-missile defense deployments are likely to discourage other countries from embarking on the path of nuclear proliferation. I suggest that the candidate inform the American public about our vulnerability to nuclear attack and explain the imperative, including costs, of appropriate solutions. I propose a measured missile-defense program that deploys "brilliant pebbles"-like weapons as its first phase.
The popularity of foreign aid with the American people has reached a nadir. Americans complain, correctly, that significant amounts of U.S. aid have been misdirected, and many object to providing any foreign assistance when we have urgent domestic problems. But foreign aid, if it advances specific U.S. national interests, can be a useful foreign policy investment. I recommend that the presidential candidate begin a candid dialogue with the American people about the merits of a judicious foreign-aid program. While streamilining our foreign aid delivery by merging AID into the state department and eliminating wasteful social and developmental programs, I would show how it serves America's interest to use foreign aid to promote democracy and free markets in other countries. Furthermore, U.S. aid should be provided directly to its intended recipients rather than funneled through international institutions.
Finally, the use of American troops in such places as Somalia and Haiti and the speculation that American ground forces may be sent into combat in the former Yugoslavia have reintensified the long-standing debate about the proper scope of America's international engagement and the role of force in support of our national interests.
Presented with these realities, I suggest reestablishing the basic public consensus on this critical national-security issue. The American people need to understand that we must remain a key international player and that our troops should be deployed for combat overseas only when vital American interests are at stake. Once deployed, our troops should be given all the resources they need to prevail in combat quickly and decisively. Nothing would be more harmful than the specter of American forces suffering casualties because they either lacked heavy armor (as in Mogadishu), could not engage in an air-defense suppression (as in Bosnia), or were commanded by bungling U.N. officials.
There are two foreign and military policy issues that seem to me of greatest significance during the forthcoming campaign.
The first issue is missile defense. The spread of nuclear weapons and missile technology can be slowed but not avoided, for primitive versions of the bomb and of delivery systems are, after all, 50-year-old technology. The bizarre theory of mutual assured destruction and the obsolete Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty keep us defenseless against all logic, and the time has come to replace them with a policy of defending the country. The more plainly candidates speak about this, the more public support there will be.
The second issue is intervention: When do we risk the lives of our soldiers in crises overseas? This is obviously a complex issue and, with the Cold War over, many Americans (including some candidates) will be tempted to answer: "Never." I would like to see a candidate address this issue in more or less the following manner:
"During the Cold War, we had to lead a coalition of nations against the twin threats of communism and Soviet power. We rose to that struggle and won it, and our victory saved our own freedom was well as the freedom of hundreds of millions of others.
"Now that it is over, we can do less and spend less overseas. There are places on the globe that simply don't matter enough to demand American involvement. But just as we had interests to defend before there was a Cold War, and just as there were threats to us before then, the same is true now.
"Some of these interests are very old: The first American statesmen saw what we had at stake in Mexico and the Caribbean; today, drug and migration flows are still major issues. Some interests are new: The spread of nuclear weapons and missile technology now gives small nations and terrorist groups the ability to strike at America. But it is clear that a world in which every petty tyrant is armed to the teeth, and our foreign markets are in turmoil, and our own region is plagued by instability, will not be a very good gift to our children. America still has an irreplaceable role if the world is to be a less dangerous place.
"Why us? Because our wealth, power, and freedom grant us the leadership of the world's democracies. It is true that our power provides a continual temptation to meddle in situations where our interests do not require us to jump in, and one test of a president is to keep his cool and stay out of those.
"But if we are to keep the world moving toward freedom, and protect our freedom, safety, and prosperity, we cannot act as if we lived on some other planet. Another test of a president is to know when our interests really are at risk today, and the toughest test is to understand when they will be at risk tomorrow if we don't act now. We can pass those tests or fail them, but we cannot avoid them."
The overriding foreign-policy issue in the coming presidential campaign is the loss of the strong place America held in 1991—the year of victory in the Persian Gulf War and the formal disintegration of the Soviet Union -- and the nation's progressive weakness in international affairs. Do the American people approve of this direction?
Presidential candidates would be wise to reject the conventional wisdom that Americans are uninterested in foreign policy, that their desire to address serious domestic problems comes at the expense of concerns about U.S. influence abroad. Voter confusion is understandable, since no national political leader has explained why Americans should be interested. The task of a challenger is to show plainly what a world bereft of American leadership looks like. This should be at the heart of any conservative presidential candidate's foreign-policy position.
At risk in Bosnia is America's historical commitment to the principle that employing force to seize another country is unacceptable. The current administration has effectively given the U.N. secretary-general veto power over the use of our forces in the Balkans. This failure has neutered U.S. policy there and promises to cripple it in the future.
Up to now, American weakness in Bosnia -- as evidenced by years of inaction, and demonstrably poor military advice -- 0has encouraged only one leader (Jacques Chirac of democratic France) to fill the void. But if this administration's incomprehensible Bosnia policy continues, it will eventually embolden some dangerous challenger armed with nuclear weapons. The conflict in the former Yugoslavia could also spread throughout the Balkans and beyond. Presidential candidates should remind voters of this century's brutal history and of America's immediate economic and security interest in maintaining a peaceful, prosperous Europe.
To underline the character of excessive multilateralism, the eventual challenger to Clinton in 1996 should use in a political advertisement the videotape of the U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi's press announcement on July 26. That's when he declared that "the secretary-general has decided to delegate the necessary authority [to conduct air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions] to commanders in the field." Insofar as Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali really holds the power to decide when American commanders may or may not use force, the challenger should make the current administration's responsibility for this plain. Voters will not be pleased.
America's gyrating policies in Asia for the past three years undermine this nation's general commitment to free trade, as well as its specific commercial and security ties to Japan and the future of its relationship with China. Asia has the fastest-growing economies in the world, and American exports there support more than three million jobs. Blown by domestic political winds, the current administration's policies in Asia have touched every point on the compass. Going to the brink of a trade war with Japan is, politically, perhaps unassailable. But if Japan is true to form, there will be no significant increases in imports of American auto parts by this time next year.
The challenger should exploit this fact. He should call attention to the inconsistency between the administration's support for NAFTA and GATT, and its managed-trade policy towards Japan. He should also note that Japan is slowly becoming more democratic by itself, and that U.S. pressure for managed trade thwarts this evolution.
Finally, the candidate should demonstrate that he will take his responsibility as commander in chief seriously. A missile defense is only one thing that this administration is ignoring in order to keep the military as ready as it needed to be during the Cold War. America now has within its technological grasp the ability simultaneously to reduce defense spending and construct a military that can move swiftly to any part of the world, and from a safe distance wield decisive conventional power. This is the kind of force that we should be building, not a smaller version of the Cold War model. To achieve this, the defense department must shrink the huge and ungainly central bureaucracy it has developed over the years. The candidate will be on firm ground in arguing that the sound political principle of decentralization and returning authority to the states should apply equally to the wise management of the nation's defenses.
It has been years since a presidential candidate said anything about defense except that there should be more of it, or less of it. The candidate who breaks this pattern next year will add to his qualification as prospective commander in chief, and perform for the defense department a vital task that it may not be able to accomplish on its own.