Two elder statesmen of the foreign policy community have grown forgetful. In the April 23 Washington Post editorial section, Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft reprise the Cold War and make an odd call for old-fashioned arms control.
Many people favoring unilateral U.S. arms reductions will leap on the op-ed as prima fascia evidence that America needs to return to a seriously outdated way of thinking. This is not a positive thing, but it is not the most damning aspect of the piece.
The main problem with the article is that it makes little mention of missile defense. The world is not the same as it was in Kissinger and Scowcroft’s time. America has new leverage at its disposal, and it is completely ignored. This is foolish and wastes an asset that has taken a long time and a great deal of effort to develop. It is leverage that America needs for its legitimate self-defense and the defense of its allies.
Those opposed to missile defense must have howled with delight when they read the paper. They have hated missile defense since the germ of an idea became a reality. They said it was impossible, but it was built. They said it was useless, but it has proven itself in tests and in eliminating the threat of a falling satellite. Its utility is shown in how badly potential adversaries want it to go away. This is true even of the Russians, whom U.S. officials have bent over backwards to placate and appease, trying against hope to show them that missile defense was not aimed at them.
Kissinger and Scowcroft are both brilliant men who have long served this country. Why have they suddenly developed a blind spot for this crucial issue? Their affinity for a return to an era and a paradigm they know so well is understandable, if misguided for today’s world. Their ignoring of the new role and advantages of missile defense is inexplicable. They should be taken to task despite their past accomplishments.