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October 9, 2006
Pelosi Speech A Revelation In More Than One Way

Hugh Hewitt points to a speech by Nancy Pelosi that seems rather interesting in light of today's nuclear test by North Korea -- but also in another way that Hugh missed. Pelosi spoke in April 2003 to accept an award -- to which we'll soon return -- from the Global Security Institute. In that speech, she gives her perspective on missile defense, even post-9/11, which the Democrats might want to bury:

"Some of our most significant foreign relations achievements over the last 30 years were our agreements with the former Soviet Union to reduce the size of our nuclear arsenals – the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the START treaties.

"Yet by shredding the ABM Treaty and flirting with the unthinkable – 'usable' battlefield nuclear weapons – the Bush Administration turns the clock back on three decades of arms control.

"The United States must not create new nuclear weapons and ignite new arms races. As the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, we have a moral obligation to be a leader in ridding this scourge from the face of the Earth forever.

"The United States does not need a multi-billion-dollar national missile defense against the possibility of a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile.["]

The ABM suited the purposes of a binary world-power system, in which two superpowers only had each other to fear and the rest of the world chose sides. In that world, both superpowers acted rationally if at cross purposes, and the doctrine of mutually-assured destruction ensured that both powers would refrain from ever launching the missiles. Under those circumstances, the ABM made sense. The pursuit of missile defenses could have destabilized the MAD equation, although as it turns out, Reagan used that destabilization to win the Cold War.

In a world where ICBMs now appear in the hands of many nations, including some seriously non-rational actors such as the apocalyptic Shi'ites in power in Iran, the eschewing of missile defense is ludicrous. Iran has no interest in MAD doctrine; they have made clear that world chaos suits them just fine, as long as the Twelfth Imam shows his face as a result. The ABM had lost its meaning ten years prior to Bush's withdrawal from the treaty, as North Korea and Iran have shown in their clandestine pursuits of nuclear weapons throughout the 1990s and their open development of long-range missiles during the same period.

If the lunatics and millenials of the world possess missiles of any kind that can reach the US, then we had better build defenses that work, rather than wave treaties like a modern-day Neville Chamberlain. Anyone who cannot tell the differences in context between 1970 and 2003 has no business running a nation.

But Hugh misses one interesting aspect of Pelosi's speech. She gave it while accepting the Alan Cranston Peace Award, and showered praise on the longtime California Senator after whom the GSI named it:

"To Members of the Board of GSI, thank you for the honor you have bestowed upon me. As a personal friend of Alan Cranston, it is a personal and official privilege to receive the 2003 Alan Cranston Peace Award.

"It is an honor to receive this award named for a leader worthy of so many titles. Public servant. Senator. Statesman. Patriot.

"When Alan Cranston became Senator Cranston, Lyndon Johnson told him, 'There are two kinds of senators: show horses and workhorses. You are a workhorse.'

"I beg to differ – he was both.["]

Pelosi goes on in this vein for some time, taking about a third of her speech to lionize Cranston. A few kind remarks would have been polite, but Pelosi gushes over Cranston at quite some length. For the leader of a party that wants to proclaim a "culture of corruption" in its midterm, one might want to rethink the love for Cranston. He departed the Senate in 1990 after having been labeled by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics as the worst of the Keating Five. Cranston took over a million dollars in campaign contributions from savings and loan mogul Charles Keating in exchange for interfering with federal S&L regulators on his behalf. Cranston got the only official censure from the Senate as a result of his corruption.

What was that theme you wanted to discuss, Rep. Pelosi?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 9, 2006 8:16 PM

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