A new player at the table
By Bill Hengst
I've never had the honor of sitting down at a poker table with George W. Bush, but something tells me if I ever did he would clean me out. For eight years the Clinton administration played it safe with the North Koreans and the Russians. Every time they raised he folded, every time they bluffed he caved. For eight years the Clinton administration hemmed and hawed at the prospect of developing an anti-ballistic missile system because we were worried that the Russians would hold us to a 1972 treaty signed with the Soviet Union prohibiting either nation from developing such a system and worried that we would look like some sort of international bully in the eyes of the world.
For eight years the Clinton administration played this game at a serious disadvantage because it assumed that North Korea and Russia weren't bluffing, that they actually held the cards. The defense of our nation, the protection of our very sovereignty were based not upon our needs, our what was best for us, rather it was based upon a the needs of our rivals! The one rule that Bill Clinton never understood, the cardinal rule in poker is "If you look around the table and you can't figure out who the sucker is... it's probably you!" For eight years we were the sucker.
Let us not forget the way and reason the cold war against the Soviet Union was won. Peace through strength, initiated by former President Ronald Reagan. The Gipper cow-towed to no one and sat down at the poker table with the winning hand. He couldn't be bluffed, he held a straight flush and he knew it. Threats from the Soviet Union, cries of protest from the international community, even dissent from home when the bleeding hearts cried that we were to hawkish. Through all of this he never even broke a sweat and with an even hand, and a determined glare he raised the stakes. Faced with such resolve, and determination, what did the Soviet Union do? Well they folded of course, figuratively and literally.
Now comes a new player to the game, only a couple months in office and he has already sent the message that the United States is no longer the sucker at the table. Following last week's meeting with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, Bush's first meeting with an Asian leader, he had this to say, " I...told the president (Kim) that we look forward to, at some point in the future, having a dialogue with the North Koreans, but that any negotiation would require complete verification of the terms of a potential agreement." Raise. Bush also said he has "skepticism" about the leadership in North Korea and added that he remains concerned that the country is helping spread "weapons of mass destruction." I'll see you and raise. Colin Powell has left absolutely no doubt as to how the United States sees the North Koreans: "North Korea is a threat, It's got a huge army poised on the border within artillery and rocket distance of South Korea. And the president forcefully made this point to President Kim Dae Jung." I'll see your raise and raise you once more!
As for the Russians, they have responded to this new player the same way the Soviets did to Reagan. When faced with fierce determination, when faced with the reality of U.S. domination they fold. There will be an ABM for the United States, not because the Russians and the North Koreans allowed us to have one, not because we negotiated or bargained for one, not because the United Nations has given us permission to develop one. It was because George W. Bush said we would have one, because it is in the best interests of this nation to have one, and because once more in the tradition of Reagan we actually decide what is best for this nation!
After only a couple months with Bush in office the Russians have suddenly changed their tack on the ABM system, rather than fight and cry and whine about it they have come to the realization that it will happen, and so have begun research on their own. They folded, and not only have they folded, they also are now reacting to the terms we set rather than the other way around.
Note to self: Make sure you bring plenty of cash to the table when you sit down with Dubya!
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