Fitzgerald: “We Walked Away From Them Twice,” Or, What Exactly Does Robert Gates Know About Pakistan, And While We Are At It, What In God”s Name Does He Know About Islam? (Part Two)
(Part One is here.)
Does Robert Gates think it would have been better not to have expressed anger, or otherwise have shown Pakistan that there were limits to the kind of behavior of which it had been guilty for decades? When Congress passed the Pressler Amendment (named after Larry Pressler, of Harvard, Oxford, and the U.S. Senate), it showed itself, not for the first time, and not for the last, more sensible than our executive branch when it comes to dealing with tyrannies. Think of what Senator Henry Jackson accomplished, for example, with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Congress continues to do so today when it confronts the Obama Administration on its cruel and stupid policy toward Israel.
For the Obama Administration, not knowing where to put its feet and hands, is trying to curry favor with this or that state full of Muslims by pressuring Israel. It thus reveals that instead of doing anything to bring to an end its incoherent and wasteful policy toward Muslim states, it is continuing that policy. Yet that policy is based on a refusal to grasp the meaning and menace of Islam. Thus Obama continues the Bush Administration”s naÃ¯ve and stupid policy of trying to diminish, or prevent, a widening of the ethnic and sectarian fissures in Iraq (and there are some similar fissures in Afghanistan), rather than identifying, welcoming, and exploiting those fissures in order to divide and demoralize the Camp of Islam and Jihad. No, in the end it will be Congress that will prevent a failed policy that, inherited from Bush, is being continued by the Obama Administration, with the main change being that the Americans have moved from one theatre in the Muslim Multiplex to another, some one thousand miles to the East — that is, from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Oh, it”s a very big Multiplex.
And there is one more change: the Obama Administration is full of people who do not understand that the war on Israel has no end, and there is no one-state or two-state or n-state “solution” because that war, a Lesser Jihad, will forever be conducted, by whatever means prove effective and available. It has no end, and there is no “solution” to that Lesser Jihad, as there is no “solution” to the worldwide Jihad being waged, in various ways, not all of them through violence, by Muslims against non-Muslims. But the very idea of thinking that everything is a “problem” to which there must be a “solution” is a typically American notion, one that is naÃ¯ve and dangerous, and that obscures the need for cunning, patience, ruthlessness, and above all, knowledge of how the enemy pursues its goals, and how the forces on one”s own side allow themselves to be fooled, or to be confused, or to constantly misconstrue what is often — in fact — utterly obvious. Was it Churchill who once commented on the failure of so many to see “the obvious”?
Congress is likely not to allow this Administration to pay for its own continuing incoherence and the failures (of the stated goals) in Iraq (when it descends into renewed violence) and Afghanistan in the coin of Israeli security — in forcing the Jews of Israel to forget their own legal, historic, and moral claims.
The Pressler Amendment was passed in 1985. It was intended to ensure that the enormous amount of aid that was being given to Pakistan would not be used to further Pakistan”s nuclear ambitions, but would be used, as the State Department and successive administrations kept assuring Congress and the American public, in order to make Pakistan feel secure, so that it would not develop nuclear weapons. A discussion of the Pressler Amendment can be found here.
Among those who had been most astute and most critical of the policy of continued ceaseless appeasement of Pakistan was Senator John Glenn of Ohio. It would be useful, I suspect, to remind people who have not been in government about that Pressler Amendment by quoting at length from what Senator Glenn said in Congress:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to testify on U.S. responses to nuclear developments in Pakistan. I was tempted also to address my many concerns about India’s large unsafeguarded nuclear program, but given time limitations and the focus of this hearing, I will address these concerns in another forum. Besides, your Committee has every reason to focus today on Pakistan. After all, American taxpayers shelled out billions of hard-earned tax dollars in aid that was explicitly justified as necessary to curb Pakistan’s bomb program. This aid was provided only after repeated waivers of our nuclear nonproliferation laws. Congress has both the right and the duty to see what happened to these funds.
A review of this evidence will also encourage us to reexamine some old policy assumptions–like the faith some of our leaders have put in transfers of arms and high technology as tools of nuclear nonproliferation–and to appreciate the importance of some old fundamentals, like the duty of the Executive to `faithfully execute the laws,’ the need for a working relationship between Congress and the Executive, and the public’s right to know.
My testimony will address five questions: First, what were Congress and the American taxpayers told about the relationship between U.S. military aid and Pakistan’s bomb? Second, how have these claims stood up over time? Third, why did Congress impose nuclear conditions on aid only to Pakistan? Fourth, did the Reagan and Bush administrations implement these conditions as Congress had intended? And finally, where do we go from here?
THE PROMISE OF THE POLICY
Between 1982 and 1990, America provided over $4 billion in assistance to Pakistan, about half of which was military. Some people think this aid was solely intended to get the Soviets out of Afghanistan, a goal we shared with Pakistan. My staff, however, has identified 20 official administration statements claiming since 1981 that military assistance would address Pakistan’s security concerns and thereby keep Pakistan from acquiring the bomb. I will submit with my testimony some relevant excerpts.
Given these many claims, the answer to my first question is crystal clear: the military transfers and other assistance were explicitly justified to Congress as instruments of a nuclear nonproliferation policy. Yet since this aid was only provided following waiver upon waiver of our nuclear nonproliferation laws, the administration had a heavy burden of proof to demonstrate that the aid was producing the promised results.
Unfortunately, the much-heralded nonproliferation benefits never materialized, which simplifies the job of answering my second question about the effects of the policy. It is well known that Pakistan was acquiring a nuclear weapons capability throughout the 1980′s. I will attach to my statement a table listing 50 events that show without a doubt that Pakistan was continuing and even accelerating its pursuit of the bomb despite all of our aid. [Attachment] Mr. Chairman, if you judge by the evidence and not by the promises, there was a direct–not an inverse–relationship between the level of our aid and Pakistan’s progress toward the bomb.
This leads to the answer to my third question about why Congress decided to impose new conditions on aid provided only to Pakistan. In the face of sensational daily headlines from around the world attesting to the failure of the administration’s arms-for-nuclear-restraint policy, Congress went to work in the mid-1980′s to strengthen conditions on further aid to Pakistan. It was no more `discriminatory’ for Congress to single out Pakistan for special aid conditions than it was for the Executive to issue waiver after waiver of our nonproliferation laws just on Pakistan’s behalf.
ORIGINS OF THE PRESSLER AMENDMENT
On March 28, 1984, this Committee adopted an amendment offered by Sen. Cranston and myself providing that no assistance shall be furnished and `no military equipment or technology shall be sold or transferred to Pakistan’ unless the President could first certify that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device, is not developing a nuclear device, and is not acquiring goods to make such a device. On April 3, 1984, the Committee narrowly voted to reconsider this amendment and adopted instead a substitute offered by Senator Pressler, Mathias and Percy, which tied the continuation of aid and military sales to two certification conditions: (1) that Pakistan not possess a nuclear explosive device; and (2) that new aid `will reduce significantly the risk’ that Pakistan will possess such a device. This text, which was enacted on another bill in August 1985, has come to be called the `Pressler amendment.’
In summary, the amendment made binding what had been an official policy, namely that our aid would reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation. It also clarified–by its broad prohibition on all arms transfers under any U.S. law–that a failure to meet these standards would lead to a cutoff of not only assistance but of military sales as well.
Let me just add at this point that neither the legislative history nor the text of the amendment itself contains any written or implied exclusion of commercial arms sales from the scope of these sanctions. Indeed, it is useful to recall that in past testimony at least one State Department witness has also dismissed this peculiar argument for allowing commercial arms sales to continue in the event of a nuclear violation. At a hearing of this Committee on November 12, 1981, I asked Undersecretary of State James Buckley to describe how a nuclear detonation by Pakistan would affect our transfers of F-16 aircraft and he replied that such an event would, in his words:
* * * dramatically affect the relationship. The cash sales are part of that relationship. I cannot see drawing lines between the impact in the case of a direct cash sale versus a guaranteed or U.S.-financed sale.
Yet as the evidence kept flowing in about new Pakistan advances toward the bomb, new rationalizations kept flowing out from Foggy Bottom for continuing our transfers of arms and aid in the service of nonproliferation–which brings me to my fourth question addressing how the Pressler amendment and other relevant laws were implemented.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRESSLER AMENDMENT
I have long believed that continued arms experts to Pakistan was no way to halt its bomb program. But when you consider that of the 50 nuclear weapon-related events I cited in my submission to the Committee, three-quarters of them occurred after the Pressler amendment was enacted, it becomes glaringly apparent that the Reagan and Bush administrations willfully violated not only the Pressler amendment but several other nuclear nonproliferation laws as well. I believe that the Pressler amendment was violated almost immediately after it was enacted, when U.S. assistance and arms were transferred even though our government knew Pakistan was continuing its pursuit of the bomb.
There are three specific violations I would like to discuss today. First, I believe that the President’s conclusion in October 1989 that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear explosive device conflicts with widely available information indicating that Pakistan was a de facto nuclear-weapon state. Indeed, Pakistan may well have attained that capability even before 1989, when would cast doubt on the accuracy of non-possession certifications by the Reagan administration as well.
Five years ago, a London newspaper published excerpts from an interview with no greater authority than Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s bomb; in Dr. Khan words, `what the CIA has been saying about our possessing the bomb is correct.’ Later, in February 1992, the Pakistan foreign secretary publicly conceded that his government had `inherited’ a nuclear capability. He told a U.N. audience on February 7th that `there was a capability in 1989,’ but he denied that the program was `moved forward’ and maintained that `we froze the program.’ In an interview reported in the Washington Post the same day, the foreign secretary state that Pakistan possesses `elements which, if put together, would become a device. He referred to specifically to weapons `cores.’
The foreign secretary’s statements raise some thorny problems for both the administration and the Pakistani government:
1. If Pakistan possessed these `elements’ back in 1989, then how could the President have certified that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device? By the State Department’s own interpretation of the Pressler amendment, if Pakistan possessed the bomb in pieces, it possessed the bomb.
2. If Pakistan did not possess these `elements’ back in 1989, but acquired them after President Bush made his certification of nonpossession in October 1989, then the foreign secretary’s statement that the program was `frozen’ when his government came to power in November 1990 is hardly reassuring. The foreign secretary is saying that Pakistan has frozen its status as a de factor nuclear weapon state. He is also admitting that Pakistan has violated its solemn commitment to the United States in 1984 that it would not enrich uranium beyond the 5% level needed for civilian uses.
The foreign secretary’s candid remarks about the existence of a nuclear capability in 1989–combined with his remarks about weapons `cores’ that he claims were produced before his government came to power–raises the real possibility of a violation of the non-possession standard in that year or even earlier.
The second violation also occurred in 1989–actually it was just a repeat of 4 prior violations by President Reagan–when President Bush certified that the provision of new assistance would `reduce significantly’ the risk that Pakistan would possess a nuclear explosive device. In contrast to voluminous evidence indicating that Pakistan’s program to develop nuclear weapons was advancing throughout the late 1980′s, there were just no credible grounds for concluding that the provision of new foreign aid was reducing the risk of Pakistan possessing the bomb.
In fact, I believe there is considerable evidence that America’s aid and high technology undoubtedly contributed to Pakistan’s nuclear and missile capabilities. The F-16 aircraft we provided along with the dual-use goods we transferred to nuclear and missile facilities in Pakistan provide sufficient grounds for this conclusion.
The third violation–and I do indeed call this a violation–occurred in 1992, when it was officially confirmed that the United States government was continuing to license arms sales to Pakistan despite the clear requirement of the Pressler amendment that `no military equipment or technology shall be sold or transferred to Pakistan’ if it has not received the required Presidential certifications.
Evidently, this is what we are now down to: elements of our bureaucracy are grasping at straws to perpetuate the myths that additional military transfers will buy us influence over Pakistan’s bomb program, and that such transfers are perfectly legal.
The rationale that our government is somehow justified in licensing sales of munitions to maintain current military capabilities (which the Pakistani foreign secretary now tells us includes nuclear weapons) flies in the face of the black-and-white words of the Pressler amendment.
Commercial arms sales do indeed contravene both the spirit and the letter of the Pressler amendment. All the more so, given that the equipment we are evidently continuing to supply includes spare parts for F-16 aircraft, a known delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons. Mr. Chairman, I would like to submit a list of official statements from the Reagan and Bush administrations taking mutually contradictory positions on the issue of whether the F-16 can be used by Pakistan to deliver nuclear weapons. Clearly somebody–and not just in Pakistan–has not been telling the truth to the people, which raises the possibility of yet another violation of the law.
In summary, the administration’s position on commercial arms sales not only lacks a solid foundation in law, it seems almost contrived to subvert and frustrate the very purposes of sanctions, which are to impose a cost for noncompliance with legitimate nonproliferation standards, to offer an incentive to correct the policies to noncompliance, and to signal the priority of nuclear nonproliferation on America’s foreign policy agenda.
As I said, if you are under forty, you might not remember the brouhaha over the behavior of Pakistan that led to the Pressler Amendment, and then led to the expression of great Congressional unhappiness with the way the Executive Branch chose to “interpret” the Pressler Amendment. But Robert Gates is not under forty. He”s close to seventy. He has spent most of his life in the government, intimately connected to matters of high policy. But he apparently has a great deal of trouble remembering exactly how the government of the United States was betrayed, and betrayed again, by Pakistan, led by the nose, and led by the nose before, and then after, the Pressler Amendment was passed. His statement the other day about Pakistan having reasons to “mistrust” the United States — the sheer utter idiocy of it all, the rewriting not of ancient history but of recent history — simply amazes. The Pressler Amendment was passed because members of Congress were fed up with the behavior of Pakistan. The long discussion by Senator Glenn that took place at hearings held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1992, some seven years after the Pressler Amendment were passed, were prompted by a realization, and disgust, that the American government had not been diligent in enforcing the letter, or being vigilant about the spirit, of the Pressler Amendment.
To be continued.