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You’ve probably heard of the Darwin Awards, intended to honor those who have eliminated themselves from the gene pool in spectacularly stupid ways. These awards commemorate specific deaths: for example, the 49-year-old stockbroker who “totally zoned out when he ran” and accidentally jogged off a 200-foot cliff; the Detroit man who drowned in two feet of water after squeezing his head through an 18-inch sewer grate in order to retrieve his car keys; and a North Carolina man who died at the beach after digging an 8-foot-deep hole that caved in and buried him alive.

Well, in the realm of national defense policy we need something like the Darwin Awards. It isn’t only private individuals who kill themselves with stupid moves. If some poor fool is remembered for accidentally burying himself alive, it isn’t right to forget those witless Washington politicians who seem to be burying America with mistake after mistake. Therefore, since today is Dec. 7, a day when lack of vigilance cost us thousands of lives and several battleships, let us offer up a Pearl Harbor Award to those bungling national leaders who ought to have the following warning label tattoed on their foreheads:

“Danger! This idiot is a national security hazard.”

The leading nominees for Pearl Harbor Awards in recent years should include key security officials in the Energy Department, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the United States Congress and President Bill Clinton. But since the Nov. 7 elections a new nominee has emerged, with a strong claim to the award. This nominee is none other than Vice President Al Gore, who so valiantly facilitated Russian arms transfers to Iran, and who continues to disrupt our nation’s presidential transition for the fifth straight week at a moment of international danger.

And what international danger am I referring to?

Pick a danger, any danger. Perhaps the most obvious one is in the Middle East, where America’s Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, said last Sunday that a regional war could break out at any moment. Such a war would also entail an energy crisis which could seriously impact the American economy. If that weren’t bad enough, top officials in Russia have warned that a regional war in the Middle East could quickly spread to other regions.

What other regions could they mean?

Since America’s military has been weakened by Clinton’s policies, fighting two regional wars simultaneously is not something the U.S. military can easily do. Should our forces become drawn into a Middle East crisis we would be vulnerable to aggression on other fronts.

Think of how much worse this situation gets when you factor in a muddled U.S. presidential transition. Undeniably, America is vulnerable. At present we need to be united — not divided. By stubbornly persisting in his attempt to challenge the legitimacy of the certified president-elect, Mr. Gore offers an added temptation to hostile powers who are already prepared to do their worst.

The most dangerous crisis areas outside the Middle East are Korea and the Taiwan Straits. China has not left off preparing for war. As for the North Korean communists, a Dec. 5 UPI headline reads, “North Korea Expands Military.” Americans ought to ask themselves why the North Koreans — cold and starving as they reportedly are — should be devoting scarce resources to further war preparations. Is it possible they are waiting for the Middle East to blow up?

According to a recent South Korean military report, the North Koreans have upgraded and reorganized their armed forces, adding 500 short-range missiles to an already massive artillery and rocket deployment. According to South Korean intelligence, the North Korean communists have armed themselves with large stocks of biological and chemical munitions. Blood tests of North Korean defectors show they have been immunized against smallpox — a disease which only exists today in weaponized form.

If that were not enough, the Russians have recently begun to strengthen their military ties to the North Korean communists. Even more ominous, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants the Duma to reinstate the Soviet national anthem. He also wants the red flag of communism to become the official flag of the Russian military.

As reported in the national media last week, the Russians sent strategic bombers to Arctic bases opposite Canada and Alaska. Russian aircraft have also been probing NATO defenses — in the Atlantic and Pacific — and testing the West’s radars as they deploy yet another regiment of highly advanced mobile ICBMs.

If Vice President Al Gore continues to disrupt this year’s leadership transition, threatening the legitimacy of the next president, our nation’s enemies could be tempted to take advantage of our distracted condition. As things stand, President Clinton is not known as a strong leader in the area of national defense. With only a few weeks left in his presidency, and no acknowledged successor, continued wrangling over the election result could pave the way to catastrophe.

The idea of Darwin Awards are in bad enough taste, but the prevalence in this country of national leaders who deserve the equivalent of Darwin Awards goes beyond bad taste. We cannot allow another Pearl Harbor situation to develop against us. Today our enemies have gigantic missiles packed with hydrogen bombs. Pearl Harbor under present conditions would not mean the loss of a few ships or air squadrons.

All Americans should pray for the country’s security. And we should also pray for political leaders who seek unity rather than division.

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