Friday, June 25, 2010
By Tom Risen
Global Security Newswire
WASHINGTON — Vocal objections from Republican lawmakers to the Obama administration’s nuclear-weapon policy moves to date could signal danger for the president’s future ambitions, experts said (see GSN, June 17).
In a highly touted April 2009 speech in Prague, President Barack Obama said his government would pursue a global nuclear disarmament strategy that included reducing the importance of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security, seeking U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and establishment of a pact banning production of fissile material for weapons.
The Defense Department one year later issued its latest Nuclear Posture Review. The document reflected the president’s viewpoint — highlighting the administration’s disarmament aspirations but pledging that the United States would maintain a reliable deterrent as long as one was necessary. The document ruled out development of new nuclear weapons and restricted the circumstances in which the U.S. strategic arsenal would be used.
That same month, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the “New START” pact, which would obligate each nation to cut its deployed strategic nuclear forces to 1,550 warheads — down from a maximum of 2,200 ordered under a 2002 deal — and 700 delivery vehicles.
Both documents have faced opposition from GOP members on Capitol Hill.
“While the administration pursues deep cuts in our nuclear forces in the hopes that others will follow, Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs continue unabated,” said Representative Michael Turner (R-Ohio), ranking member of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee.
Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other conservatives have criticized provisions in the posture review, concerned they could limit the “spectrum of options” to maintain and use the nuclear deterrent.
The review pledged that Washington would not use its strategic arsenal against non-nuclear weapon states that have joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and meet their commitments under that regime. It also indicated that a nation would be likely to face a “devastating conventional military response” rather than a nuclear strike for using biological or chemical weapons against the United States or allied nations.
“One reason that we got rid of chemical and biological weapons is that we were told that we would always have the nuclear deterrent available,” McCain said with fellow Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl in an April 6 statement criticizing the Pentagon report. “The Obama administration must clarify that we will take no option off the table to deter attacks against the American people and our allies.”
When a deterrent is no longer a deterrent
To put it mildly, I am no fan of John McCain. But on this occasion, with the utmost reluctance, even I must give the devil his due and admit that he is correct.
I am also no fan of disarmament, nuclear or otherwise. We don’t live on the Good Ship Lollipop and the sooner we stop pretending we do, the better.
The problem is that Obama is trying to take our nuclear and thermonuclear deterrents off the table. He didn’t bother to ask the rest of us what we thought of that, and I for one don’t like it one bit.
No, we don’t have the Soviet Union threatening us any more. Our thermonuclear deterrent worked very well in holding the Soviet Union at bay, and we never had to use it. But now, instead of the totalitarian, expansionist Communist Bloc, we are faced with a different enemy, the equally totalitarian and even more expansionist threat of Islam. And yes, Islam is at war with everything that is not Islam, and its leaders have issued fatwas against us that comprise both an explicit declaration of war and a mobilization order for enemy forces.
By taking a hard line from the very beginning, we could have prevented the 9-11 attack. The nuclear deterrent is a vital part of any defensive strategy. Had we made it clear that we are likely to uncork some Oak Ridge vintage bottled sunshine on any country that harbors, aids and abets, or exports jihadis who attack the US, even if the culprit has been pretending to be our ally, nobody would have dared attack us. That’s why they call it a deterrent! If your enemies know you WILL use that weaponry if need be, and not necessarily as the very last resort, then it is exceedingly unlikely that you will ever NEED to use it.
On the other hand, if you assure your enemies that you won’t use that deterrent, no matter how much damage they do you by other means, then your deterrent is a deterrent no longer. Once you make that mistake, as Obama did, there will most assuredly come a time when you run out of other options.
Other than surrendering the US to expansionist Islam and creeping shari’a, of course.
But then, weakening the US to the point of surrender was probably the intention of Obama and his handlers all along.
How Bill Clinton forever discredited nuclear nonproliferation
Every country, friendly or otherwise, that watched the US bomb the Serbs in 1999 immediately figured out that such an onslaught will someday happen to them if they don’t have their own nuclear deterrent. Clinton let the genie out of the bottle over a decade ago, and there is no putting it back in.
As a result, nuclear nonproliferation agreements have become the equivalent of gun control writ large: these days, they protect only evildoers who ignore the constraints that others take pains to follow.