WASHINGTON -- In his major foreign policy address in Prague committing the United States to a world without nuclear weapons, President Obama took note of North Korea's missile launch just hours earlier and then grandiloquently proclaimed:
"Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response."
A more fatuous presidential call to arms is hard to conceive. What "strong international response" did Obama muster to North Korea's brazen defiance of a Chapter 7 --"binding," as it were -- U.N. resolution prohibiting such a launch?
The obligatory emergency Security Council session produced nothing. No sanctions. No resolution. Not even a statement. China and Russia professed to find no violation whatsoever. They would not even permit a U.N. statement that dared express "concern," let alone condemnation.
Having thus bravely rallied the international community and summoned the U.N. -- a fiction and a farce, respectively -- what was Obama's further response? The very next day, his defense secretary announced drastic cuts in missile defense, including halting further deployment of Alaska-based interceptors designed precisely to shoot down North Korean ICBMs. Such is the "realism" Obama promised to restore to U.S. foreign policy.
He certainly has a vision. Rather than relying on America's unique technological edge in missile defenses to provide a measure of nuclear safety, Obama will instead boldly deploy the force of example. How? By committing his country to disarmament gestures -- such as, he promised his cheering acolytes in Prague, ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Really, now. How does U.S. ratification of that treaty -- which America has, in any case, voluntarily abided by for 17 years -- cause North Korea to cease and desist, and cause Iran to turn nukes into plowshares?
Obama's other great enthusiasm is renewing disarmament talks with Russia. Good grief. Of all the useless sideshows. Cut each of our arsenals in half and both countries could still, in Churchill's immortal phrase, "make the rubble bounce."
There's little harm in engaging in talks about redundant nukes because there is nothing of consequence at stake. But Obama seems not even to understand that these talks are a gift to the Russians for whom a return to anachronistic Reagan-era START talks is a return to the glory of U.S.-Soviet summitry.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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