Correspondence with Jesse Helms
Jude Wanniski
September 9, 1997

 

Memo To: Website browsers, fans, clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Letter from Jesse Helms

Two weeks ago, I wrote a note to Sen. Jesse Helms [R-NC] in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I've been acquainted with the Senator for as long as he has been a Senator and have admired him as a man who always speaks his mind. I've also agreed with him on most issues of foreign and domestic policy our closest association being in efforts to restore the dollar's link to gold. Since the end of the Cold War, though, I've become more dovish on national defense. In my note to him, I question the need to expand NATO, which I had been told by his staff that he was supporting. I also wondered if he would be prepared to shoulder the financial burden of the NATO expansion, as I was relatively sure the Europeans would not support NATO expansion if they had to pay for it. He answered back in a letter on Foreign Relations stationary dated September 2:

Dear Jude:

Somebody must be slipping a little something into your morning coffee. While I haven't yet torn my shirt over NATO expansion I've said nothing in favor of it either.

My firm position is that I do not favor further soaking the American taxpayers for any further NATO expansion (and I do favor diminishing our enormous outlays as soon as may be possible).

As for your observations that "there are no threats of aggression from any expansionary power," I invite you to ponder Russia's flat-out refusal to abide by the treaties she has entered into (e.g., missile destruction, chemical weapons destruction). Or maybe you don't define "expansionary" the way I do.

Stay tuned. You'll enjoy the result when Russia, Iran, Iraq, et al. conspire to shut off Mid-East oil to the U.S.

It's good to hear from you again.

Sursum corda!
Jesse

Dear Jesse:
I'm happy to hear you are not committed on NATO expansion. When I called the committee, the lady who answered told me you had endorsed it. My concern is that there has been no justification for a continued NATO, let alone an expansion. From a distance, it looks like our military-industrial complex is looking for something to do, and will wind up hoking up arguments on why our taxpayers should be financing a zillion-dollar leaf-raking project.

You are right when you say I have a different definition of "expansionary" than you infer by questioning Moscow's foot-dragging on weapons destruction. If either you or I were Moscow, we would drag our feet too, watching the United States and its Western allies creep up to its borders with enough firepower to raze the whole country at the drop of a hat. Put yourself in the shoes of the Russian people, who thought we were liberating them from communism, and now observe we are circling them with fortifications.

In any case, there is not the slightest threat of an expansionary power threatening our national interests anywhere I can see.
Cuba is not threatening an invasion of Florida; quite the contrary, our friends in the Cuban exile community seems to be terrorizing Havana, hoping to provoke a terrorist act on Miami.

The North Koreans are not threatening an invasion of South Korea. They are starving to death.

Iraq has cut down on the number of calories available to its citizens while we openly advise the world via our Secretary of State ~ that we will make life miserable for the people of Iraq until they remove Saddam Hussein.

Libya is making no threatening gestures, beyond opening diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

China is making no threatening gestures anywhere I can see. Yes, it does remind us now and then that Taiwan is part of China, but only when we try to suggest we were only kidding about our past agreements with Beijing on this topic.

What I'm trying to say, Jesse, is that I think when we are at war, we should deal with our adversaries in Old Testament style, an-eye-for-an-eye. But now that we are at peace, we should work  an-eye-for-an-eye. But now that we are at peace, we should work the New Testament, do-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-you.

The idea that these defeated countries are going to gang up against us by cutting off our oil supplies is, well, about as likely to happen as global warming. There is so much oil in the world 40 years worth of proven reserves that there is zero threat of the U.S. being without oil.

Our foreign policy has been specifically designed to stop the flow of Middle East oil into the world market. You know that, Jesse. If it were not, we would have worked things out with Iran, Iraq and Libya the way we did with Hanoi.

In any event, I hope you think all this through very carefully. Don't let yourself be railroaded with cock-and-bull stories about imminent threats from expansionary powers who are scheming to cut off our oil.

When you get finished, let's get together again and do something that will really add to our economic and political security getting the dollar linked to gold! Nobody will ever want to cut off our oil if they could again be paid in dollars as good as gold.

Salaam Alayka,
Jude

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