How does reducing the number of nuclear weapons in America’s arsenal make our nation stronger or safer? How does it help to deter potential chemical or biological attacks if we rule out nuclear retaliation in advance? The newly-announced Obama defense strategy is so profoundly illogical that it’s more likely to inspire confusion than indignation.
On the one hand, the administration suggests that the push toward disarmament will inspire better behavior from Iran and North Korea—ignoring the fact that whenever a nation reduces or limits its own power, it only encourages more aggressiveness from its adversaries. The ill-fated disarmament agreements of the 1920’s, along with the Kellogg-Briand treaty that formerly outlawed war (and won its architects Nobel Peace Prizes), only made the world safe for Japanese Imperialism and Nazism—not for democracy or self-determination. The president and the secretary of state seem to have altered the entire purpose of American security policy: rather than focusing on a stronger nation, we now aim for a “safer” world.
In an article that appeared in Britain’s leftwing journal The Guardian, Secretary of State Clinton gushed over “our giant step towards a world free from nuclear danger.” According to her logic, we took that step by reducing our own stockpile of operational weapons and renouncing technological advances that would upgrade or even update our nuclear capacity. If this makes the world less dangerous, then it reflects the core leftist belief that American power is a threat to world peace, rather than the chief guarantor of international order. This belief helps to define the crucial distinction in our politics between liberals and conservatives, and between Democrats and Republicans.
The right believes that it will serve our country and all of humanity if the United States influences the rest of the world in the direction of American norms and values. The left maintains that both the U.S. and the world will benefit if the “community of nations” pushes our country toward a more internationalist posture, with less insistence on American distinctiveness and exceptionalism. If you believe that the United States would be better off as one more member of the world community rather than the dominant global power, then the Obama nuclear policy almost makes sense. <[>The same left-leaning ideologues who want to implement an economic leveling among all Americans also long to see a power-leveling among all nations of the earth. In the upcoming elections, most Americans may not comprehend the arcane details of nuclear policy, but they will certainly understand that a president who seeks to limit our military power and retaliatory options in no way contributes to our national security.
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