Speaker: Cut nuke build-up for security

Tracy Ellingson

Former Special Assistant to President Clinton, Morton Halperin, said Monday that Americans should be concerned about security, prosperity and democracy in the post-Cold War world.
Halperin spoke to more than 150 members of the University’s Minnesota International Center and the St. Paul/Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations at the Hubert H. Humphrey Center.
Halperin said one way for the United States to ensure its security would be to help reduce the threat of nuclear warfare. “Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction are the only things that can directly threaten the United States.”
Reducing the risk of such arms can be accomplished by containing the amount of nuclear weapons the United States owns and by asking other countries to follow its example, he added.
The United States needs to recognize the link between the amount of nuclear forces it has and the desire of other nations to obtain equivalent amounts, he said.
“We cannot continue to rely on nuclear weapons to meet our own security needs and threats and expect other countries to renounce their own possibilities of getting nuclear weapons,” he said.
Joseph Schwartzberg, a University professor of geography, said he agreed with much of Halperin’s speech. But he added that Halperin’s talk ignored some important points such as U.S. involvement with Israel.
“We tend to make excuses for Israel,” Schwartzberg said, adding that he thinks the exceptions the United States makes in giving aid to Israel reflects a double standard in American nuclear disarmament philosophies. “We give (Israel) a tremendous amount of aid — military and economic — which frees their expenditure for nuclear technology.”
Halperin also said the United States has a vested interest in promoting free trade markets and democracy in other nations.
“The more interchange we have with (other countries), whether it’s trade or business or people or the Internet … the more likely we are to contribute to a more peaceful, democratic development,” he said.
Halperin’s talk was sponsored by the University’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.