The Long Chill


ivers of blather and showers of cant have saturated public discourse since the fall of the Berlin wall, all to the point that the cold war was waged by the L)united States and its alfies in r-esponse to the Soviet threat. With that menace finally finished, almost everyone agreed, the hideous deformities tolerated because of the lifeand-death necessities of cold war survival would soon cease as well: nuclear arms testing and stockpiling, superpower military interventions in poor countries, international subversion and unlimited spying by the C.I.A. and its cohorts, blockades and boycotts of leftist governments and radical-bashing of Americans in public service or conspicuous private positions. That none of this has happened should demonstrate how much of the entire elaborate machinery of cold war policies and practices was directed toward domestic political considerations, not Russian threats. And it has taken Bill Clinton, the first completely post-cold war President, to iflustrate how thoroughly cold war attitudes have been integrated into the American political mentality. Clinton's most egregious action so far in the continuing cold war is his order, expected in July, to resume the testing of nuclear weapons (see John Tirman, "Non-nuke Nix:' May 24). The last Congress mandated a ban on testing, which expires July 1. Clinton has an opportunity to negotiate a comprehensive test ban treaty, which has been on the diplomatic table for thirty years. A Clinton round of new testing will derail that promising effort.

At the same time, the Administration has signaled its intention to increase funding for intelligence operations and to maintain the-c.i.a. structure in virtually the same form assumed for the duration of the cold war (despite the reforms undertaken after the Church committee hearings on intelligence abuses in the 1970s). Before his inauguration Clinton talked about turning the agency into an industrial espionage unit to improve U.S. corporate competitiveness; but it seems that the old-fashioned ways die hard, and new villains have already been targeted. …

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