NEW YORK -- In the weeks since Russian President Vladimir Putin's trip to Texas for informal talks and a barbecue with President Bush, it is clear that the war on terrorism has claimed a surprising victim, which most Americans thought was dead long ago: the Cold War.
The essential operational requirements for combating terrorists depend heavily on intelligence gathering and other military and nonmilitary activities across the globe -- on both sides of the Cold War's geopolitical divide. Fully recognizing this after the Sept. 11 attacks, Russia and America saw it in their unavoidable mutual interest to finally put stubborn Cold War barriers behind them.
Now the question is, will the Pentagon reconfigure our armed forces to fight terrorists and modern threats, or will it continue to prepare for Cold War battles?
Unfortunately, while Pentagon leaders readily talk about the need for change, there is little real movement toward it.
Homeland defense is now officially the Defense Department's No. 1 priority for the foreseeable future, but the Pentagon has made few substantive changes in military readiness or new weaponry to carry out the mission. We continue to hear a constant flow of promising rhetoric from the administration about moving beyond the Cold War. Not long after the Sept. 11 attack, Secretary of State Colin Powell went out of his way to declare the Cold War dead as a result of the war.
If the administration's pronouncements were reflected in its programs, it quickly would have scaled back or eliminated an array of Cold War weapons under development at the Pentagon -- the V-22 Osprey tilt-wing aircraft, F-22 fighter, the Crusader artillery system, the new attack submarine, the F/A-18 E/F Raptor jet, the Virginia Class missile sub and the Comanche helicopter.
All of these weapons, which were developed for Cold War conflicts on the traditional battlefield, are of limited or no use in the war against terrorism, or other conflicts likely to occur in this new century.
None of these weapons, along with wasteful Cold War overseas troop deployments or other outdated military readiness postures, has come under scrutiny as part of the Pentagon's alleged retooling program.
None was even debated as Congress marked up the military's $343 billion budget last week -- a budget higher in real terms than what we spent during the Cold War.
There is plenty of talk about a "new generation" of warfare. But when budget time comes around, all we hear is silence, followed by the status quo.
But there are encouraging signs that the Pentagon is preparing for modern threats.
For example, the recently announced nuclear arms reductions, which will cut the U.S. arsenal by 60 percent, make good sense -- even if they are too slow and not deep enough. In addition, the Pentagon is finally going to buy a significant number of unmanned aircraft.
Unfortunately, these modest steps do not go far enough.
If the Pentagon's Cold War orientation was transformed, at least $40 billion could be saved -- more than enough to pay for new investments required for the war on terrorism such as more aircraft, larger special forces and better intelligence.
Extra funds could be used for other expenditures such as education, health care and foreign aid, which are clearly essential to our nation's new security needs.
It's time for America to stop spending more on developing Cold War weapons than on the Coast Guard, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the FBI combined.
If administration officials would make their vision of America's future armed forces consistent with how the Defense Department actually spends its budget, the Pentagon could, without any additional budget increases, rapidly transform our military into the force required to fight and win America's conflicts of today and tomorrow.
Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant defense secretary during both Reagan administrations, is director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.