April 13, 2010
"Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history," said President Obama today in a major foreign policy address. "The risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up.
The President was speaking to the assembled leaders of 47 countries, gathered in Washington, DC to discuss ways of averting nuclear terrorism. His point is a good one: There's a lot of nuclear material floating around, and it's imperative that for the security of the United States and our allies America take the lead in preventing it from falling into the hands of terrorists and evildoers generally.
Yet the President, who said last year in Prague and reaffirmed today that he wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons, seems unmindful of two salient facts:
(1) We cannot dis-invent nuclear weapons. The technology exists. It is fairly simple to obtain. Thus, we will never rid the world of nuclear weapons any more than we will rid the world of sin. We must therefore remain vigilant, never - ever - relaxing the exhausting, expensive and intensive efforts of our intelligence agencies and armed forces to prevent the spread and use of nuclear devices.
(2) By cutting too deeply into our nuclear arsenal, we invite the very thing we wish to avoid: Nuclear confrontation. As former UN Ambassador and distinguished security policy expert John Bolton has noted, "President Obama has to date failed to articulate any coherent strategic rationale for the substantial cuts in nuclear weapons and delivery systems he agreed to ... with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Instead, Mr. Obama has eliminated the leading-edge F-22 aircraft, limited funds to test our existing nuclear weapons and eliminated the missile defenses both Poland and Czechoslovakia had agreed to host on their soil.
Wishful thinking is no substitute for sound policy. Although Mr. Obamas efforts at this weeks conference might be noble, the extent to which they are uninformed by wisdom makes them all the more dangerous for the security and vital interests of the United States.