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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why Not a World Without Nukes?

That's the title of a piece by Eugene Robinson and it's also a relevant question now that President Obama has made nuclear disarmament a central foreign policy platform. While War Games is a favorite movie of mine, it's despite not because of its theme. That theme is essentially "Why Not a World Without Nukes". In the end, after playing a computerized version of a nuclear war in which the whole entire world blows up, the computer, Joshua, says

strange game, the only way to win is not to play. How about a nice game of

Now, this simplistic theme is what both War Games, President Obama and Eugene Robinson see the world through. Nuclear proliferation is a bad thing and we must do all we can to stop it. Don't get me wrong, I would love to live in a world with no nuclear weapons. However, I live in reality and in reality, such a world doesn't exist.

The real key to nuclear disarmament is how we get there. In this case, the devil is in the details. For instance, President Obama has decided to meet with Premiere Medvedev about about bi lateral talks for nuclear disarmament between Russia and the U.S. So, what if President Obama is successful? That will mean that Russia's dwindling nuclear stock pile is destroyed along with our own flourishing nuclear arsenal. At the same time, North Korea is expanding its program, Iran is trying to get one, and Pakistan and India both have significant programs as well.

Israel doesn't even officially acknowledge to have a nuclear program. Frankly, there is no way any president would ever get them to dismantle theirs. If they did, it would also spell the death of the nation. If Israel doesn't dismantle theirs, how will we get their enemies to dismantle their programs?

Finally, several rogue nations want to work in concert with rogue terrorist groups like Al Qaeda to develop a nuclear weapon that the terrorist group will use. Does anyone really believe either of those entities would be part of any non proliferation agreement?

So, where could we be? In months, President Obama could agree to dismantle our robust program at the same time the Russians dismantle their program. Given that ours is much more powerful than theirs, all that would really do is weaken the U.S. Furthermore, this would all be done while rogue nations and terrorist groups are seeking even more to acquire their own weapon. So, the reality is that a world without nukes would actually mean a world without U.S. nukes while most of our enemies would be increasing their arsenal.

Furthermore, the best way to end nuclear proliferation is to create defenses that would make nuclear weapons impotent. We have long been working on such defenses, and it is exactly these defenses that President Obama wants to reduce funding for. We can get to a world without nukes by creating a missile defense that would shoot or destroy any nuclear weapon and render it useless. That is still a long way off, but it requires much more research. It is this research that President Obama is now giving serious consideration to significantly reducing all while he is also seriously considering reducing our own arsenal of nuclear weapons.

That's just the beginning. Policy making is about prioritizing. We live in a world in which Al Qaeda would like to kill as many Americans as possible, where much of the Middle East wants Israel destroyed, Iran wants nukes, North Korea is provoking, and Russia invades its neighbors. Yet, it appears that President Obama's priorities lie in nuclear disarmament. Those priorities ignore other matters that have significantly more immediate risk. Pursuing our own nuclear disarmament will only encourage more armament from both Iran and North Korea. It will do nothing to subside the threat from Al Qaeda. Making nuclear disarmament a major priority means that President Obama doesn't seem to understand the priorities of the world going on.

"Why Not a World Without Nukes" is a fantasy dreamed up by people that occupy a scope near President Obama's own ideology in which they believe that the rest of the world will follow if the U.S. will only reduce its own nuclear weapons' commitment. Such fantasy is not only naive but dangerous.

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