Thursday, July 17, 2008

Obama’s Nuclear Mission

On the same day that the Washington Post berated Barack Obama for his arbitrary deadline for getting out of Iraq, the Democratic presidential nominee again demonstrated why he’s unqualified to serve as commander-in-chief.

Participating in a round table discussion at Purdue University, Mr. Obama warned about the dangers of “fighting the last war,” and pledged to focus on emerging nuclear, biological and cyber threats, if he’s elected in November.

From Brietbart and the Associated Press:

Two goals of his administration would be to secure all loose nuclear material during his first term and to rid the world of nuclear weapons, Obama told an audience before the round table discussion at Purdue.

Obama said adhering to nonproliferation treaties would put pressure on nations such as North Korea and Iran. North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon and Iran has an energy program the Bush administration warns could be a precursor to nuclear weapon development.

"As long as nuclear weapons exist, we'll retain a strong deterrent. But we will make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy," Obama said.

He added, "The danger ... is that we are constantly fighting the last war, responding to the threats that have come to fruition, instead of staying one step ahead of the threats of the 21st century."

Like many of Obama’s ideas, this one certainly sounds reasonable. After all, how could any right-minded individual oppose the elimination of nuclear weapons, and efforts to secure material that could be used in an atomic bomb?

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama’s nuclear proposal is little more than pie-in-the-sky fantasy, for several reasons. First, there’s his reliance on nonproliferation treaties to “pressure” nations like North Korea and Iran into compliance on their nuclear programs. Perhaps Senator Obama hasn’t noticed, but that sort of “pressure tactic” hasn’t worked very well with Pyongyang and Tehran.

In fact, decades of compliance and direct diplomacy have resulted in…a nuclear-capable North Korea (emphasis mine), and an Iranian regime that is on track to get the bomb in as little as two years. Quite a victory for non-proliferation, wouldn’t you say?

Fact is, irrational players like the DPRK and Iran will follow non-proliferation agreements only its suits their needs. Consider the case of North Korea; in 1994, Pyongyang entered into the infamous “Agreed To” framework with the United States and South Korea, a move that was hailed as a triumph for non-proliferation and direct diplomacy. In exchange for fuel oil and other forms of economic aid, Kim Jong-il was supposed to give up his nuclear weapons program.

What happened? Food and fuel shipments began flowing to North Korea; cameras and U.N. inspectors were installed at the DPRK’s “declared” nuclear facility (Yongbyon), and the lack of activity was duly recorded. Meanwhile, work on Pyongyang’s nuclear program continued in secret, producing the technical breakthroughs that resulted in the detonation of a crude nuclear device in 2006.

Undeterred, the Bush Administration stuck with the diplomacy option, sponsoring “Six-Party” regional talks that yielded a new agreement last year. Never mind that North Korea’s record in such matters is abysmal; or that Pyongyang dragged its feet on issuing required declarations of its nuclear activities. Or, that Kim Jong-il provided nuclear technology to Syria while he was finalizing the Six Party accord. Or that the DPRK may yet retain a covert program, still capable of producing nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, Iran’s compliance record is no better than North Korea’s. Years of effort by the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have failed to produce a full accounting of Tehran’s nuclear program, or an agreement aimed at curbing those efforts.

But Mr. Obama believes that adhering to non-proliferation protocols will bring the Iranians and North Koreans in line; you can almost hear the laughter from Pyongyang and Tehran. So, why does the presumptive Democratic nominee believe that the failed policies of the past would be more successful under his administration? Obama has never explained, and (apparently) no one bothered to broach that subject during the Purdue forum.

There are other problems with Senator Obama’s proposal. He vows to retain a “strong” U.S. nuclear deterrent, while pursuing the elimination of those weapons. But what type of deterrent is Mr. Obama proposing? A flexible, robust arsenal, combining adequate numbers of strategic and tactical warheads, or a token nuclear force, along the lines of Great Britain and France?

Additionally, Mr. Obama has dodged another essential question related to the nuclear issue. Would he be willing to pursue unilateral cuts in our nuclear stockpile, as other Democrats have suggested in the past? If you follow that line of thinking, reductions in our inventory would (supposedly) prompt other nuclear powers to do the same. It’s a fool’s errand.

The Obama policy also ignores another, salient fact. Any reduction (or elimination) of nuclear weapons must be accompanied by significant increases in conventional forces, to provide the same deterrent value. One reason the U.S. invested so heavily in nuclear weapons during the 1950s was to offset the Soviet Union’s overwhelming advantage in conventional forces. As he reduces the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, how would Mr. Obama compensate for the decrease in our defensive posture?

Oh, that’s right. Since everyone would be part of that expanded non-proliferation regimen, there would be no need for an increase in our military forces, beyond those already outlined by the candidate. The naiveté of that “logic” is simply astounding.

That’s why we can’t resist taking a shot at Senator Obama’s thoughts on “fighting the last war.” Given the overwhelming success of the troop surge in Iraq, it would appear that our military has made the necessary adjustments for fighting a new type of enemy.

Beyond that, Pentagon planners have been working on future threats for generations—that’s why new weapons systems are developed, and strategy and tactics are continuously refined. Mr. Obama might be interested to know that the Air Force already has a cyber command, and its first, dedicated information warfare unit (which had an extensive cyber warfare mission) was established in 1992. Despite the military's legendary resistance to change, there are a few visionaries left in uniform and they were thinking about the "next war" long before Barack Obama.

To his credit, Senator Obama has worked on the nuclear non-proliferation issue in the past. Shortly after arriving in Washington, he signed on with the Senate expert in those matters—Indiana’s Richard Lugar—in sponsoring new legislation, aimed at dismantling a wider range of “leftover” weapons. The measure was based on the successful Nunn-Lugar bill of 1991, which provided money and expertise to help former Soviet republics dismantle their nuclear arsenals.

Along with role in authoring the bill, Obama also traveled with Mr. Lugar to Russia in 2005, inspecting “junkyards” of weapons that could be easily stolen or sold to terrorists. Mr. Lugar has been making these visits for more than a decade, but we can’t find any evidence that Senator Obama has been back to Russia since 2005. As with other Obama efforts, the initial flurry of activity suggests that the senator’s interest was aimed at filling a “foreign policy” square on his resume; once the bill became law (with his name prominently attached), Mr. Obama was ready to move on.


RPB said...

Agreement with most of the artilce with slight dissent.

1. Calling Iran or NK irrational players is ludicrous. There is no basis for calling them irrational, especially in pursuing a nuclear weapon. Firing off said weapon at Israel or the US without serious provocation would be irrational. But the weapon serves as an excellent defensive screen against any further extension of regime change policy.

2. I sincerely doubt reducing a token amount of our strategic (non-sea based) assets would have much a negative security affect.

thinking dove said...

The Iranians are working towards nuclear weapons. Can you blame them?

It is a defensive move. and a wise one at that.

Notice that the only two nations that stand up to U.S. Imperialism are North Korea, and Pakistan. What do they have in common?
They have nukes.

Nuclear Proliferation will restore justice and peace to our world. It will make our nation stop bullying the world. We should support Nuclear Proliferation!

Nuclear weapons make war obsolete because they make victory impossible. It was mutually assured destruction that kept the peace between the Soviet Union and the United States. The peace lasted for decades.

It is bigotry to think that a hereditary Islamic theocracy couldn’t grasp the concept of mutually assured destruction. When both parties have nuclear weapons it is suicide to attack. Governments want to stay in power,, they don’t want to be incinerated.
What government would ever order a suicide attack?

The United States needs to step aside and allow the natural spread of nuclear technology. Technology throughout history has always spread. Gunpowder started in China, which was the most powerful, most advanced, and wealthiest nation on earth at the time. Now,, everyone has gunpowder. The most isolated illiterate tribesman carrys an automatic rifle when they go to war.

In the future, every Mullah, Generalismo, and War Lord will have access to nuclear weapons. All of them will be able to unleash an atomic fireball, but all of them will know that the same thing will come back at them. As rational beings that will realize this is unthinkable.

Once everyone who wants an atomic bomb has one,, Peace will prevail!

Support Iran’s nuclear program. Support Nuclear Proliferation. Help bring forth the new age of Atomic Peace