Certainly, Hillary’s recent statements suggest a conviction that we must have – at least for “the next ten years” – a deterrent that is credible in order to protect ourselves and our allies from the nuclear ambitions of terror-sponsoring states like Iran. Presumably, she would agree that any such deterrent has to be safe, reliable and effective if it is to be able to dissuade successfully.
Yet, Sen. Clinton has long espoused policies with respect to our nuclear arsenal that are undermining our deterrent and rendering ever-more-incredible threats such as those she is now making.
In fairness, Hillary is not alone in her incoherence on nuclear weapons. Her husband’s administration deliberately pursued what Bill Clinton called “denuclearization.” At the time, the House Armed Services Committee characterized the Clinton program as “erosion by design” of our deterrent and the infrastructure required to assure its reliability, safety and effectiveness.
Concerns about the Clinton policies prompted a majority of the U.S. Senate to reject their cornerstone: the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This unverifiable treaty would have made it impossible for the United States to perform the sorts of underground nuclear tests that assure its weapons work when they are supposed to, and don’t when they are not.
Not content with perpetuating a seventeen-year-long, unilateral U.S. moratorium on testing – which has given rise to growing uncertainty on both of these scores, Senator Clinton announced in Foreign Affairs last winter that she “will seek Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by 2009, the tenth anniversary of the Senate's initial rejection of the agreement.”
Mrs. Clinton has also staked out other positions dear to the denuclearizers. She told a March 2007 meeting of the National Education Association of New Hampshire: “I will certainly reduce our [nuclear] arsenal….I also am strongly against [the Bush administration’s] efforts to have a new generation of nuclear weapons….I voted against them several times, they want to create these new nuclear weapons, they want to modernize the existing weapons, they want to have a new nuclear weapons program in America, and I think that’s a terrible mistake.”
Sen. Clinton’s record in the Senate bears out these sentiments. For example, she has voted for a ban on low-yield nuclear weapons research and development and against R&D on a nuclear earth-penetrator (“bunker-buster”).
Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and John McCain – and, for that matter, every other candidate for federal office – must address forthrightly their views on the need for U.S. nuclear deterrence. It is no longer acceptable to simply talk the talk. They must walk the walk, by espousing policies and activities that assure the future of our nuclear arsenal and the infrastructure that makes possible its safety, reliability and effectiveness, and therefore its credibility.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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