April 17, 1997
By Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
Imagine it's the year 2000 and you have a son or daughter in the
U.S. armed forces, stationed in some hot spot like Israel's Golan
You receive some terrible news: Syria has launched an attack
using chemical agents that wreak hideous deaths upon a large number
of U.S. troops. You pray your child wasn't in the wrong place at
the wrong time.
As you are making urgent calls to find out whether your loved
one is safe, a question is gnawing in the back of your mind:
"Didn't the United States sign a worldwide ban on chemical weapons?
Wasn't the treaty supposed to make it virtually impossible for
renegade nations like Syria to get their hands on the frightful
stuff?" You resolve to call your congressman and ask about this --
as soon as you find out whether your son or daughter is all
When you make that call, what you learn is an outrage: The U.S.
Senate ratified a treaty in 1997 that made the use of chemical
weapons against American forces more likely, not less!
That's right. If the Senate caves in to a relentless pressure
campaign being mounted by the Clinton administration and the
professional "arms control" community, it will soon ratify --
hastily and without proper review -- the Chemical Weapons
Convention (CWC), a treaty aimed at "banning" chemical weapons.
This treaty, one of the most potent pieces of politico/military
naiveté to come down the pike since President Jimmy Carter,
will not just fail in its goal to bar the production and
stockpiling of chemical weapons. It actually will disarm the "good
guys," like the United States, which are the only countries that
will conscientiously abide by the treaty.
This, in turn, will encourage "bad guys" -- rogue nations like
Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea -- to build up their
chemical stockpiles and possibly use them.
After all, even in World War II, we saw the murderous Nazis
refrain from using chemical weapons because they knew "the good
guys" could retaliate in kind. Based on the other atrocities they
committed, it's hard to imagine they would have behaved in the same
way if we hadn't had our own chemical weapons.
As usual, the Clinton administration is not taking foreign
policy and U.S. security seriously. The only reason this treaty is
being pushed so hard by the White House is because of the political
brownie points President Clinton will score for signing such a
Yet, if the Senate allows itself to be rushed to ratification,
here's what will happen:
Why put the argument in terms of "good guys" and "bad guys?"
Because that's precisely the point that treaties like the CWC fail
to recognize; the same truth liberals were never able to face
during the Cold War: In this world there are, indeed, good guys and
bad guys. "Moral equivalence" is just as much a delusion today as
it was when the Soviet Union stood on the brink of world
By treating all nations as moral equals, the Chemical Weapons
Convention makes the same fundamental mistake that almost lost the
Cold War for America. One would think liberals would have learned
this lesson by now.
Note: Edwin J.
Feulner, Ph.D. is president of The Heritage
Foundation, a Washington-based public policy research
ED041797a: Closer To Chemical Warfare
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
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