F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
October 1, 2000
Don't Forget That We Have Enemies

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

"America's status as superpower will be challenged during the next few decades."

"At the dawn of the 21st century, the United States remains unrivaled as a superpower, yet its military supremacy is not preordained," observe Baker Spring, Jack Spencer, and James Anderson of the Heritage Foundation. They point out that "many of America's adversaries are designing weapons systems specifically to counter the U.S. military . . . at its weakest points." The three Heritage analysts charge that "the U.S. military cannot adequately defend Americans against long-range ballistic missiles, advanced cruise missiles, chemical and biological weapons, or electronic and information warfare." They emphasize that "these are capabilities that America's enemies aggressively pursue."

In a chapter contributed to Issues 2000, the Heritage Foundation's candidate briefing book, Spring, Spencer, and Anderson warn that "national security threats are emerging at an unprecedented rate" and that "U.S. military forces suffer from aging hardware, low wages, inadequate training time, maintenance backlogs, and shortages of qualified troops. The readiness problems largely associated with underfunding are exacerbated," they say, "by the increase under the Clinton Administration in noncombat missions."

Spring, Spencer, and Anderson report that "North Korea, China, and Russia have intercontinental range ballistic missiles in their current arsenals that can reach U.S. territory. Iran and Iraq are threatening to boast similar capabilities," they add, while still other nations "could strike the United States with a cruise missile or shorter-range ballistic missiles launched from ships." Spring, Spencer, and Anderson also find "America's increasing vulnerability to information warfare" troubling. "Nearly every sector of American society is reliant on telecommunications and Internet-related technologies," they note. "The United States, at the very least, must be able to safeguard the security of its own military and civilian information systems," Spring, Spencer, and Anderson advise. "And it should invest in cyberwarfare capabilities of its own to deter potential enemies."

In another chapter of Issues 2000, Anderson and fellow Heritage analyst James Phillips report that state-supported terrorism "has become an insidious part of the global struggle for power. Hostile states," they note, "have employed terrorism as a form of low- intensity warfare to advance their interests at the expense of the United States and other democracies. The State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism includes Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria," say Phillips and Anderson. "These states," they affirm, "have backed terrorist acts intended to drive the United States out of strategically important regions, humiliate its military forces, and undermine governments and political movements friendly to the United States."

The acquisition by these states of weapons of mass destruction is "a disturbing trend that threatens to raise the potential costs of terrorism dramatically," Phillips and Anderson lament. "A terrorist attack against the United States with chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons is a nightmare scenario that appears to be increasingly plausible." They stress the need for accurate intelligence "to link state sponsors to specific acts of terrorism or to anticipate potential terrorist attacks against U.S. interests. Accurate intelligence also is essential," Phillips and Anderson add, "if the United States is to have any reasonable expectation of targeting specific vulnerabilities of the states that sponsor international terrorism."

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