At one point or another, everybody tries to justify their participation in behavior that defies common sense and good judgment by claiming that someone else, usually older and putatively smarter, told them to do it. Often someone genuinely smarter and typically older – a teacher, a parent, a coach – responds with something to the effect that, “If Johnny told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?”
Generally, the answer is the commonsensical “No.” Yet now, a gaggle of Johnnys – notably former Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry and other worthies who should know better – are telling the American people that it is safe and responsible to do the national equivalent of jumping off a bridge. They contend that the United States can prudently get rid of most of our nuclear arsenal, enroute to what they say is a desirable end-state: a “nuclear-free” world.
For a sense of how surreal this recommendation is, consider the prospect that Pakistan’s virulent Taliban may be within weeks of joining the nuclear “club” by taking over the country and its arsenal. Does anyone really think that these Shariah-espousing Islamists, to say nothing of the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians, will actually go “nuclear free”?
Worse yet, the “smart people” who espouse denuclearization either explicitly embrace another radical idea – or implicitly give political cover to those who do: the notion that we can allow the continuing, and inexorable, deterioration of what is left of our nuclear stockpile and the human and physical infrastructure required to maintain it.
To be sure, many of those, including President Obama, who favor “Global Zero” assure us that it will take many years to achieve. Until then, Dr. Perry and others blithely aver that our nuclear arsenal must be kept safe and reliable. The logic of the denuclearizers’ bridge-jump proposal, and certainly its practical effect, however, is the opposite: to discourage the investment needed to maintain the U.S. arsenal, to say nothing of any development, testing or deployment of new weapons.
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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