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Rethinking Foreign Intervention

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     There is now a major breakthrough against the "neo-conservative"  US world empire positions dominating most of the foreign policy debate.  The lead article is in FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Jan/Feb, PO Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142), the prime publication of what used to be, before "neo-con" power, the flagship of the American foreign policy establishment.   It is titled "Weapons of Mass Destruction" by Richard K. Betts, Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relation and Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute for War and Peace Studies at Columbia University.

    Following are first some quotes of highlights of Prof. Betts article and then excerpts from the newsletter of DOCTORS FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS:--

      "(Biological and chemical instruments) no longer represent the technological frontiers of warfare.   Increasingly, they will be the weapons of the weak..... deterrence and arms control are not what they used to be....Today some groups may wish to punish the United States without taking credit for the action...."American intervention in troubled areas is not so much a way to fend off such threats as it is what stirs them up....The other main danger is the ire of smaller states or religious and cultural groups that see the United States as an evil force blocking their legitimate aspirations....It is hardly likely that Middle Eastern radicals would be hatching schemes like the destruction of the World Trade Center if the United States had not been identified for so long as the mainstay of Israel, the shah of Iran, and conservative Arab regimes and the source of a cultural assault on Islam.

     "Cold war triumph magnified the problem. U.S. military and cultural hegemony--the basic threats to radicals seeking to challenge the status quo--are directly linked to....American responsibility for maintaining world order.  Playing Globocop feeds the urge of aggrieved groups to strike back.

     "There are few answers to this question that do not compromise the fundamental strategic activism and internationalist thrust of US foreign policy over the past half century.  That is because the best way to keep people from believing that the United States is responsible for their problems is to avoid involvement in their conflicts.....The United States should not give up all its broader political interests, but it should tread cautiously in areas--especially the Middle East, where broader interests grate against the core imperative of preventing mass destruction within America's borders."

     Mr. Betts urges a major rethinking of the US military budgets where only .2% (two tenths of 1%), less that $2 per person went to chemical and biological defense...."why haven't policymakers attended to first things first--cheap programs that can cushion the effects of a disaster........

    "The response...highest priority is one long ignored, opposed, or ridiculed: a serious civil defense program to blunt the effect of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) if they are unleashed within the United States."





March, l998 Vol. XV, No. 2


For civil defense to be advocated as our "highest priority" in a lead article in Foreign Affairs (Jan/Feb 1998) is a striking new development. Whether the U.S. government will take the need seriously remains to be seen. But the account of the "New Threat of Mass Destruction" by Richard K. Betts, Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, is sobering indeed.

  1. The recent ban on chemical weapons has increased the danger. If legality were of any concern to a nation intent on acquiring a capacity for mass destruction, the chemical weapons treaty would cause it to pay more attention to biological weapons, which are "no less illegal, no harder to obtain or conceal, and far more damaging than chemical weapons."

The danger of use of nuclear weapons is also increased. Again, treaties are no guarantee. "The NPT Non-Proliferation Treaty] will continue to impede access to fissile

materials on the open market, but it will not do so in novel or more effective ways."-Moreover, it does not address the problem of "loose nukes." Many delivery mechanisms are available: aircraft, ship-launched cruise missiles, and smuggling. The chemical weapons ban increases the probability of U.S. use of nuclear weapons. As Betts observes, forswearing the use of chemical weapons practically precludes a no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons, since they become the only weapon of mass destruction (WMD) available for retaliation.

Betts notes that a host of "minor measures can increase protection or recovery from the effects of WMD. Examples include: stockpiling or distribution of protective masks; equipment and training for decontamination; standby programs for mass vaccinations and emergency treatment with antibiotics; and public education about hasty sheltering. Yet, until recently, only $0.5 billion federal dollars ($2/head) went to chemical and biological defense.

"Only a small fraction of that went to defense for American civilians," stated Cresson Kearny, foremost U.S. expert on expedient civil defense. Kearny notes that 40,000,000 gas masks were distributed in the British Isles shortly before the Munich crisis, greatly improving Britain's ability to resist, especially since Hitler had no masks for Germans.

America's status as the "world's only remaining superpower," and its "activism to guarantee international stability," is, in Betts's view, "the prime source of America's vulnerability." He asks whether retreat might be the best defense. "Playing Globocop feeds the urge of aggrieved groups to strike back." While he does not advocate isolationism, he urges caution: "The interest at the very core--protecting the American homeland from attack-may now often be in conflict with.. the interests that mandate promoting American political values….in regions beyond Western Europe and the Americas."


Copies and Subscriptions available from DOCTORS FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS   (Newsletter --March, 1998), PO Box 272, Tucson, AZ 85719 (Telf: 520 325-2680)