Can The United States Afford Not To Be Properly Defended?

Submitted Testimony by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

Director of the Center for Security Policy

before the U.S. Senate Budget Committee

8 March 1990

On Counting Chickens

As a close observer of the debate over defense spending now consuming this Committee, its House counterpart and countless other organizations and forums in Washington and elsewhere, I have the unsettling sensation that I am witnessing a binge by people determined to count the proverbial chickens before they are hatched.

Worse yet, despite the fact that these chickens — namely, the widely anticipated dissipation of threats to U.S. security and interests around the world — are a long way from being surely and irreversibly secured, many have gone beyond merely counting the potential benefits of these developments for the Treasury. Instead, as we have heard from the Congressional Budget Office and other witnesses this morning, the debate is now preoccupied with which of several recipes shall be used to serve up the defense budget, which parts (like the chicken’s leg, breast or thigh — strategic forces, conventional weapons procurements or readiness) can be consumed most quickly.

With all due respect, even a cursory glance at the past two weeks’ headlines makes clear that such precipitous efforts to cash in on the so-called "peace dividend" are entirely premature — possibly dangerously so. Consider the following which capture the thrust of recent news reports:

  • "Civil Strife Spreading to Every Soviet Republic"
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  • "Military Coup in Soviet Union Seen as Increasingly Possible"
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  • "Libya Initiates Substantial Production of Chemical Weapons"
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  • "Sandinistas Announce They Will Retain Control of Military and Secret Police, ‘Govern From Below’"
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  • "Soviet Violation of the INF Treaty Discovered"
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  • "Soviet Government Refuses to Pay Western Suppliers for Goods and Services"
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  • "German Reunification Alarms Countries Throughout East and West Europe"
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  • "Crisis over U.S. Proposal Could Bring Down Israeli Government"
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  • "Tunnel For North Korean Invasion of South Discovered"
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  • "Extremely Advanced Soviet Fighters Appear in Cuba"

 

The list could go on and on. What this sampler is designed to convey is simply that — for all the talk of the end of the Cold War and the reduction of tensions — the world remains a very dangerous place for America and her interests.

In fact, I believe that this Committee and other participants in the debate over defense spending have an obligation to look beyond the rhetoric and the assertions of benign intentions by adversaries from Moscow to North Korea — and the wishful thinking in the West that they usually produce. U.S. security policy, and the level of resources allocated to underpin it, must instead be based on reality.

And the reality is that, while hopeful change is indeed occurring across a broad front, in important ways such changes are giving rise to an international environment in which American military capabilities may be as important as ever — if not more important than in the past.

Substantial Progress Toward Longstanding Soviet Goals

For example, I am deeply concerned about developments which suggest that — for all of its internal difficulties and economic problems — the Soviet Union is closer today to realizing long-term strategic objectives than at any time since World War II. Were it possible to be a proverbial "fly on the wall" at a Soviet Politburo meeting these days, it is entirely possible that Gorbachev could be heard citing the following checklist of "positive achievements," real progress being made toward classic Leninist objectives, made during this period of supposed Soviet "collapse":

Item:

 

The Soviet Union has long sought to be the preeminent military and political power on Eurasian landmass. The corollary to this goal has, throughout the Post-War period, been the elimination of U.S. forces from — and otherwise reducing American influence in — Western Europe.

 

Today, Soviet political influence, particularly in Europe, is at an all-time high. This is partly a function of the widespread perception that Gorbachev is a benign, Western-style democratic reformer and that — if the West does not accommodate his demands — someone worse will take over or, alternatively, that he might be forced to reverse recent steps toward liberalization, including through the use of Soviet military capabilities. The Soviets have actively encouraged such a perception.

Moreover, the U.S. military presence in Western Europe is likely to dwindle dramatically. This will result, if not from negotiated outcomes (i.e., the Conventional Forces in Europe talks), then as a product of the demands of the German Social Democrats (the party likely to form united Germany’s first government) to create a disarmed and neutral nation. On the other hand, such an outcome may simply result from the domestic American budget pressures with which this Committee is well acquainted, or some combination of these. At the very least, Germany will shortly be denuclearized, greatly increasing the pressure for a nuclear free zone in much of Europe.

Item:

 

The USSR seeks, through whatever means are available, to fracture hostile alliances, especially NATO.

 

NATO is in fact fractured and paralyzed as never before. The coming talks on German reunification will showcase this reality as the "two-plus-four" nations take up the question of Germany’s association with NATO (or lack of it). Those allies not included at the table are deeply suspicious of these proceedings.

In all likelihood, despite President Bush’s protestations, the matter of stationing allied forces in the western part of the country will be up for grabs; at the very least the eastern portion of the country will be neutralized — a powerful sirens’ call to the western half and, possibly to the smaller nations of Western Europe, as well.

Item:

 

Moscow seeks to obtain: virtually unencumbered access to Western economic, financial and technological resources (notably hard currency borrowing on favorable terms; markets for exports — principally natural resources and energy; penetration of Western securities markets; and militarily relevant technology). Traditionally, the preferred device for accomplishing this access is through a modus vivendi with Germany (a la the 1922 Rapallo Treaty and the 1939 Nazi-Soviet economic agreement).

 

As President Bush and his NATO counterparts have emphasized their commitment to Gorbachev’s success, the prospects for massive Western government-sponsored (or guaranteed) investment, lending, trade, etc. have increased exponentially. A bilateral trade agreement is in the works, as are Soviet entry into GATT, the World Bank and IMF. The United States is clearing the way for Soviet bond offerings in this country, affording the USSR extraordinary new sources of capital and unprecedented opportunities for strategic penetration of American society.

Similarly, a wholesale decontrol is afoot of militarily relevant Western high technology. Unilateral and multilateral decisions taken in recent weeks threaten to eviscerate the mechanism Western nations have successfully used for several decades to deny the USSR dual-use technology.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more in evidence than with respect to Germany. It is reasonable to speculate whether at the Kohl-Gorbachev meeting last month the price established for the Soviet Union’s acquiescence in Germany’s reunification was not an agreement by the latter to underwrite the economic recovery of the USSR. In fact, it seems increasingly likely that a reunited Germany may be willing to serve as the capital and technology base for a revitalized Soviet empire.

Item:

 

The Soviet Union strives to maintain favorable "correlations of forces" wherever possible by constraining the ability of U.S. and allied military forces to exploit their technological advantages. A favored technique for accomplishing this is through arms control agreements.

 

Agreements are imminent on strategic arms, chemical weapons, conventional forces and nuclear testing. The net effect of these may actually be to worsen the United States’ relative military posture. What is certain, however, is that these agreements will impose significant new constraints on the ultimate determinant of U.S. security — qualitative superiority — by interfering with, slowing down or precluding technological innovation. This danger is likely to be heightened by the synergistic effect of defense budget cuts in constraining U.S. military technology developments.

 

Item:

 

The USSR believes it must maintain a militarily unthreatening buffer zone in littoral states, particularly to its west.

 

The Soviet Union continues to enjoy considerable influence in the Warsaw Pact states. This is true even in Czechoslovakia, notwithstanding an agreement recently signed by Gorbachev and Vaclav Havel in which the Soviets promise to rupture certain intelligence ties and remove Soviet forces.

In fact, between active KGB links, the continuing control by communists of key defense, security and intelligence portfolios throughout Eastern Europe and Moscow’s economic leverage over its neighbors, the USSR is likely to be able to ensure that — at worst — it has nothing but demilitarized states on its Western border.

Item:

 

Last, but not least, the Soviet Union strives to exploit overseas client states to promote Soviet strategic interests.

 

The Soviet Union still provides support — in some cases in staggering quantities — to regimes from Hanoi to Havana, support that has proven more than sufficient to sustain pro-Moscow regimes. In addition to ensuring that their clients succeed in holding their own in places like Afghanistan, Angola, and Ethiopia, the Soviets may well shortly succeed in greatly expanding their influence in places like South Africa.

Important Caveats

Noting that the USSR may view these as propitious developments is not to suggest that Moscow is in every case responsible for bringing them about. Indeed, much of what is precipitating these developments is a function of perceptions and events arising from changes clearly not in the "script" Soviet leaders would like to be following. Non-communists sharing power in much of Eastern Europe; loss of communist parties’ primacy; forced evacuation of Soviet occupation forces from Warsaw Pact states; and internal chaos within the USSR — these are surely not what Gorbachev has in mind.

Also it is readily acknowledged that, in part as a result of these unscripted developments, Moscow may not be in much of a position at the moment fully to exploit the opportunities available to it.

Furthermore, one must also emphasize that a large number of nations and movements, fronts and organizations are acquiring the capability to threaten vital U.S. interests. The proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons technology and that of the means of delivering such weapons over very long distances with ballistic missiles are of particular concern in this regard.

It would be extreme folly, however, to ignore the fact that — unless the Soviet Union is radically transformed — the USSR will remain the preeminent military threat to the United States. Consequently, we must view with particular concern the likelihood that Moscow will continue to be far more able to exploit progress now being made toward obtaining its long-term goals than the West will be able to prevent the Soviets from doing so, a reality that will probably prove most detrimental to U.S. and allied security interests.

Designing a U.S. Defense Posture for a Dangerous World — Recognizing the Dangers

With those caveats noted, in my view, the movement in these various areas of standing strategic interest to the Soviet Union is a more sure basis for measuring the USSR’s true intentions and for judging the military capabilities the United States needs to maintain.

I especially believe that these are a better guide to American security policy than that offered by the Director of Central Intelligence in his appearance last week before the House Armed Services Committee. In particular, I strongly disagree with the "bottom line" of his testimony as characterized by the Washington Post, namely that "it is highly unlikely that there ever will be a reversal of the collapsing military threat from Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces in Europe, even if Soviet reformer Mikhail Gorbachev is ousted from power and replaced by a repressive hardliner." (Emphasis added.)

Before President Bush or the Congress act on what can only be described as a prescription for radical surgery on the defense budget, I urge that a second opinion be secured. We at the Center for Security Policy have long believed that in a period of such international turmoil and uncertainty, the United States should have a regularized mechanism for "second-guessing" the official intelligence estimates — especially those relating to Soviet policy and behavior. I hope the Committee will join us in calling for a "Team B," a group of experts who can be tasked with reviewing the classified and unclassified data, the assumptions and conclusions on which Judge Webster’s analysis is based.

Designing a U.S. Defense Posture for a Dangerous World — Making the Right Investments

We at the Center for Security Policy believe that a realistic appraisal of the potential risks to U.S. national security argues for a level of defense expenditure at least as high as that sought by President Bush. That said, we do not agree with every spending decision in the budget he has submitted to you; to help illuminate these differences, we have produced two papers we call "scorecards." These are designed to illuminate the priority activities and programs which we believe must be pursued — virtually irrespective of the ultimate level of funding allocated to the 050 account.

The second of these papers, released this morning, identifies specific areas where we feel changes could — and, in some cases, must — be made in the Administration’s submitted request. In the latter category, we would put: the mobile ICBM programs, which (together with Soviet counterpart systems) must be terminated; the V-22 Osprey, which must be produced; and the Brilliant Pebbles-Space-Based Interceptor programs of the Strategic Defense Initiative which must receive additional funds and a deployment commitment.

The latest scorecard also identifies programs that are likely to be a subject of particular scrutiny by the Congress but which we believe should be funded at the requested levels. Among such programs are the B-2 bomber, research and development funding for an anti-satellite system, and the C-17.

While I would be delighted to address any questions you might have about these recommendations, let me outline very simply the key elements of the philosophy that produced them:

  • We must preserve a U.S. military posture with the inherent size, flexible and long-range power-projection capabilities, technological sophistication and robustness to constitute reliable deterrents to the range of prospective threats.
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  • We must avoid reducing unilaterally or otherwise removing from service or from their present deployment locations forces affected by future arms control agreements until such agreements have been completed and ratified.
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  • We must place a priority on the preservation of national technology and production bases, irrespective of the size of the proposed reductions in top-line spending. Ironically, the more draconian the U.S. defense cuts, the more important it is that we maintain vigorous research and development programs and avoid critical shortfalls and bottlenecks in defense production capacity that constitute vital hedges against future security threats.

 

Designing a U.S. Defense Posture for a Dangerous World — Avoiding Cost-Imposing Actions

Finally, I believe it is incumbent on this Committee and others concerned about safeguarding national security at the lowest responsible cost to resist policy initiatives that will add substantially to the defense burden we must bear. Three examples come to mind:

 

    Technology Transfers

     

Historically, the United States and other leading Western nations have recognized that denying the Soviet Union and its allies access to sophisticated, militarily relevant (i.e., "dual use") technology helps reduce the West’s defense costs. Accordingly, a sustained — and highly successful — effort has been made since 1949 to control the export of such technology to the Soviet bloc.

In the absence of such controls, or on occasions when they have been disregarded, real and sometimes even staggering additional costs have been imposed on U.S. and allied defense establishments. The best known of such incidents was that involving the sale by Toshiba and Kongsberg of advanced machine tools and enabling software to the USSR for the purpose of producing extremely quiet submarine propellers. For an investment of approximately $18 million, the Soviets obtained what has been conservatively estimated to be a $10-30 billion degradation in Western anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

The United States can ill afford such a subsidy to the Soviet military establishment, particularly at a moment when our own investment in the research and development of defense technology is waning and we have little prospect of adding back additional funds to correct deficiencies created in this manner. A potentially decisive shift in the qualitative advantage upon which we have historically relied — and therefore, in the correlation of forces — could ensue.

And yet, the United States is in the process of acquiescing in a wholesale dismantling of the domestic and international mechanisms used to maintain effective controls on technology. House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt is just the latest in a growing chorus urging extensive technology assistance to the nations of Eastern Europe who have displayed no ability to prevent the transfer of dual use equipment to Moscow and even directly to the USSR, itself.

 

    Energy

     

A similar move is afoot to assist the Soviet Union in the exploitation of its considerable energy resources. While this initiative has important technology security implications in its own right, it is doubly troublesome for the strategic repercussions that will likely attend increased Soviet energy exports.

Last week, the Center for Security Policy released a major paper that reveals the extent to which Moscow is already using such exports as an instrument of economic warfare, notably to leverage its erstwhile East European clients and restive Baltic republics into following policies more compatible with Soviet interests. If anything, this leverage on both Eastern nations and, in all likelihood, Western states, will increase should the USSR become an even more important supplier of energy resources. Obviously, such leverage has security implications — not the least for the useful role it may play in inducing increasingly "independent" nations of its former empire to play the role of pass-throughs of Western technology and know-how.

 

    Untied Lending

     

Another initiative — also apparently embraced by Rep. Gephardt — that will greatly add to the costs of Western security involves the practice of providing untied loans to the Soviet Union. Through outright grants, lines of credit and, increasingly, through the sale of bonds in Western securities markets, Moscow is obtaining hard currency that it can use to finance its military programs, its own and allied espionage efforts and support for the subversive activities of its overseas clients.

Such practices are the more outrageous to the extent that Western taxpayers are liable to become, either knowingly or unknowingly, the underwriters of Soviet debt. While such devices as Eximbank loan and guarantees and the purchase by organizations like pension funds and life insurance companies of Soviet bonds may conceal this reality, Soviet indebtedness is certain to become an increasing burden to U.S. citizens already saddled with the tax repercussions of the Savings and Loan crisis, the trillion-dollar Third World debt fiasco and the emerging liabilities associated with failed leveraged buy-outs.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I strongly recommend that this Committee resist the temptation to subordinate the necessary investment in national defense to the all-too seductive — and prevalent — belief that U.S. military capability is no longer needed. This is no more true than the assertion that undisciplined, non-transparent economic, financial and technological assistance to the Soviet Union and its allies is as effective a way as defense spending (if not more so) to promote freedom and protect America’s national interests.

I urge you to provide a top-line for the 050 account no smaller than that sought by the Bush Administration and that you encourage the authorizing committees to adopt the general approach to the allocation of funds within that account described in the Center’s "scorecards."

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