Lead­ing no fol­low­ers to ‘Global Zero’

Obama’s plans for U.S. nu­clear-weapons re­duc­tion will be uni­lat­eral

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.

In Seoul, South Korea, on Mon­day, Pres­i­dent Obama en­thused once again about his vi­sion of a world with­out nu­clear weapons. It’s a dream he has had since he was a rad­i­cal leftist study­ing at Columbia Univer­sity in the early 1980s. In the hope of ad­vanc­ing it now as com­man­der in chief of the United States of Amer­ica, he de­clared that — since he is con­vinced we have more of these weapons than we need — he is go­ing to re­duce our arse­nal. Ac­cord­ing to some ac­counts, he has in mind cut­ting it to one roughly the size of Pak­istan’s. In his ad­dress at Hankuk Univer­sity, Mr. Obama sug­gested that he would get the Rus­sians to do the same. That surely will come as a sur­prise to their once-and-fu­ture pres­i­dent, Vladimir Putin, since he has been quite ag­gres­sively beef­ing up the Krem­lin’s nu­clear forces. In fact, Mr. Putin re­cently un­veiled a $770 bil­lion de­fense mod­ern­iza­tion plan which would, among other things, buy 400 new long-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles. It is a safe bet that they will be out­fit­ted with mod­ern nu­clear weapons, prob­a­bly mul­ti­ple, in­de­pen­dently tar­getable ones at that.

It seems no more likely that the Rus­sians will agree to re­duce their vast mo­nop­oly on tac­ti­cal nu­clear weapons or their undis­closed and “non­de­ployed” stocks of strate­gic nu­clear weapons — two other ini­tia­tives Mr. Obama de­clared he wanted to take. Even if they would, any such agree­ment would be wholly un­ver­i­fi­able.

If the Rus­sians won’t play ball, it’s a safe bet no one else will, ei­ther. Mr. Obama’s sub­or­di­nates are sig­nal­ing, how­ever, that he is pre­pared to dis­arm us uni­lat­er­ally through what one of them, As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State Rose Got­te­moeller, re­cently called “ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion.”

In short, the pres­i­dent seems to be re­plac­ing his no­to­ri­ous “lead from be­hind” strat­egy in Libya with a “lead with no one be­hind” ap­proach.

Mr. Obama has sparked dis­be­lief and outrage on Capi­tol Hill with the rev­e­la­tion that he has tasked the Pen­tagon with de­vel­op­ing op­tions that would elim­i­nate as much as 80 per­cent of the de­ployed weapon lev­els set just two years ago by his se­ri­ously de­fec­tive “New Start” Treaty. On March 7, Rep. Michael R. Turner, who chairs the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee’s Strate­gic Forces Sub­com­mit­tee, wrote in Politico: “Tra­di­tion­ally, a pres­i­dent has di­rected his mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers to de­ter­mine, chiefly, what level of our nu­clear force is needed to de­ter a po­ten­tial ad­ver­sary from at­tack­ing us or our al­lies. The an­swer to that ques­tion should be what drives the strat­egy — not a pres­i­dent’s po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy.”

In ad­di­tion, on Feb. 17, Mr. Turner and 33 other mem­bers of Congress threw down the gaunt­let in a let­ter to Mr. Obama. It said, in part: “We seek your as­sur­ance that in view of the am­bi­tious nu­clear weapons mod­ern­iza­tion pro­grams of Rus­sia, com­mu­nist China, Pak­istan and oth­ers, the deep cuts to U.S. con­ven­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties per the Bud­get Con­trol Act, and your fail­ure to fol­low through on your pledged [mod­ern­iza­tion of the de­ter­rent], that you will cease to pur­sue such un­prece­dented re­duc­tions in the U.S. de­ter­rent and ex­tended de­ter­rent.”

The leg­is­la­tors’ point about the pres­i­dent’s fail­ure to honor the com­mit­ment made to se­cure Se­nate ap­proval of New Start in a cyn­i­cal and heavy-handed power play dur­ing the 2010 lame-duck ses­sion is par­tic­u­larly apt. Even if Mr. Obama can’t get away with the sweep­ing re­duc­tions he has in mind, all he has to do to ac­com­plish Amer­ica’s uni­lat­eral dis­ar­ma­ment is per­pet­u­ate the at­ro­phy­ing of our in­creas­ingly ob­so­les­cent nu­clear forces — most of which are more than 25 years old and have not been re­al­is­ti­cally tested through un­der­ground det­o­na­tions for two decades.

Later this week, a new push will be made for a treaty that would lock our de­ter­rent per­ma­nently into just such a death spi­ral. The Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences will re­lease a study that is ex­pected to deem the Com­pre­hen­sive Test Ban Treaty ver­i­fi­able and fur­ther un­der­ground test­ing un­nec­es­sary. Much ev­i­dence to the con­trary not­with­stand­ing, pro­po­nents of the treaty and ad­vo­cates of “Global Zero” — the mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar cam­paign to elim­i­nate all nu­clear weapons that would, at most, rid the world of ours (and per­haps those of other, Free World na­tions that honor their in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments) — hope to use the academy’s anal­y­sis to pre­vail upon the U.S. Se­nate to re­verse its pre­vi­ous re­jec­tion of this ac­cord.

At the same time as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is wreak­ing havoc on our nu­clear de­ter­rent, it is un­der­min­ing the other in­sur­ance pol­icy we need against catas­trophic, po­ten­tially coun­try-cra­ter­ing at­tacks such as those in­volv­ing bal­lis­tic-mis­sile-de­liv­ered elec­tro­mag­netic pulse strikes: ef­fec­tive na­tional, or bet­ter yet global, mis­sile de­fenses. Pol­icy de­ci­sions and bud­get cuts are tak­ing their toll on our anti-mis­sile pro­grams. So is the pres­i­dent’s will­ing­ness to cede tech­nol­ogy or ve­toes to the Rus­sians.

In the lat­ter con­nec­tion, Mr. Obama was overheard telling out­go­ing Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Dmitri Medvedev in Seoul on Mon­day: “On all these is­sues, but par­tic­u­larly mis­sile de­fense, this, this can be solved but it’s im­por­tant for [Putin] to give me space. . . . This is my last elec­tion. Af­ter my elec­tion, I have more flex­i­bil­ity.”

Trans­la­tion: If Pres­i­dent Obama is re-elected, we should ex­pect even more U.S. dis­ar­ma­ment — whether or not any­body is fol­low­ing our lead. Shouldn’t that grim prospect be a cen­ter­piece of the cam­paign this year and the Amer­i­can peo­ple of­fered a ro­bust al­ter­na­tive come Novem­ber?


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