Bush promises to 'renew bond of trust' between president, military
September 23, 1999
Web posted at: 6:28 p.m. EDT (2228 GMT)
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) -- GOP presidential frontrunner Gov. George W. Bush of Texas outlined his national security policy Thursday, taking several shots at the defense policy of the Clinton administration in a speech billed by his campaign as a major policy address.
Gov. George W. Bush spoke Thursday in South Carolina
"I will renew the bond of trust between the American president and the American military. I will defend the American people against missiles and terror. And I will begin creating the military of the next century," said Bush. The speech was given at The Citadel, a military college in this coastal city.
The Republican presidential hopeful said the military men and women who "love their country more than comfort" deserve better pay, better treatment and better training. Bush said if elected, he would add $1 billion a year to his defense budget for military pay raises, noting that thousands of military personnel receive food stamps and live in substandard housing.
"This is not the way a great nation should reward courage and idealism," said Bush. "It is ungrateful, it is unwise, and it is unacceptable."
'Endless and aimless deployments'
The governor said he would not send U.S. troops out on "endless and aimless deployments" -- a clear swipe at Clinton.
"This administration wants things both ways: to command great forces without supporting them; to launch today's new causes with little thought of tomorrow's consequences," said Bush.
Bush said the U.S. military is now overextended around the world. And if he became commander-in-chief, he would order an immediate review of overseas deployments, he said.
But while promising "we will not be permanent peacekeepers dividing warring parties," Bush distanced himself from Pat Buchanan and other isolationists.
"America will not retreat from the world," Bush promised. "On the contrary, I will replace diffuse commitments with focused ones, I will replace uncertain missions with well-defined objectives."
ABM treaty would go back on negotiating table
Bush said another goal of his administration would to build up the country's defenses against missiles, terrorism and technological invasions.
"Hacker terrorists may try to disrupt finance, communication, transportation and public health," said Bush, adding, "Our first line of defense is a simple message: Every group or nation must know that if they sponsor such attacks our response will be devastating."
The son of former President George Bush said the world today is very different from when anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty was signed. Gov. Bush called the treaty an "artifact of the Cold War confrontation and said his administration would quickly move to deploy ABM systems to guard against attack and blackmail.
"We will offer Russia the necessary amendments to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty," said Bush. "If Russia refuses the changes we propose, we will give prompt notice under the provisions of the treaty that we can no longer be a party to it."
Behind the speech
Bush has assembled a high-powered team of formal and informal advisers -- most of whom have one thing in common: they once worked in his father's administration.
They include former defense secretary Dick Cheney; former Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; former national security aide Condoleezza Rice; and former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft.
President Bush once introduced Rice to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, saying, "She tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union."
The familiar faces were noted by Democrats. This is just a defense retrenchment of his father's old advisors, said one Clinton supporter. Other Democrats accused the younger Bush of "shopworn 80s talk" and of having limited national security experience of his own.
Critics also doubt Bush's ability to pay for both the defense program he outlined and for the Republican tax cut he says he supports.
Correspondents Wolf Blitzer and Candy Crowley contributed to this report, written by Linda Petty.