The Obama Nuclear Manifesto
The Death of Clarity Neither Discourages Enemies Nor Comforts Allies
By Steve Schippert | April 6, 2010
In a real world proven model of peace through strength, there is certainly no room for taking the defensive nuclear option off the table. Not for Russia. Not for China. And no, not for "nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons." The clearly understood fear of being smote in a nuclear response is unmistakable and effective.
Yet that is precisely what President Obama is taking off the table in deference to muddled nuance in the form of "a series of graded options." Why a series when one formidable option deters quite well? Because "a new posture" is the primary goal goal, not absolute deterrence.
Technically, it's called the Nuclear Posture Review. In plain language, it's fraught with unicorns and the forceful projection of weakness. Sure, the phrase "forceful projection of weakness" is self-conflicting and makes no sense. Precisely the point.
Before picking apart President Obama's wholly unnecessary and reckless imposition of added security risk upon the American people, it is instructive to revisit what Candidate Obama said regarding Defense and nuclear weapons in the 2008 campaign. At National Review I called it at the time "52 Seconds Over Washington," and the president is fulfilling his promises and then some. His words are delivered sternly, but the positions are those of weakness.
Let's recap this 2008 video note of thanks to a group that was a major Obama campaign supporter.
I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. (Check.)
And I will institute an independent defense priorities board to ensure that the Quadrennial Defense Review is not used to justify unnecessary spending. (Ummmm, yeah.)
Third, I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. (Check.)
To seek that goal, I will not develop new nuclear weapons. (We're not.)
I will seek a ban on the production of fissile material. (A dancing unicorn non-starter.)
And after all of those check marks for a man of his word, at least when it comes to defense and security, we have what is being dubbed the "Obama nuclear weapons manifesto."
But while the Los Angeles Times has the catchy headline, the New York Times has the beef.
Mr. Obama's strategy is a sharp shift from those of his predecessors and seeks to revamp the nation's nuclear posture for a new age in which rogue states and terrorist organizations are greater threats than traditional powers like Russia and China.
This is false. Rogue states and terrorist organizations are not greater threats. They are simply more active. There principally are two reasons Russia and China are less active: 1.) Rational thinking leadership and 2.) deterrence through strength of arms, especially regarding nuclear arms.
The New York Times says that Obama's zany new strategy "eliminates much of the ambiguity that has deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the opening days of the cold war." That, the Times reports, is because the U. S. is finally "explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack."
Well, in the 'Eliminating Ambiguity' department, just two paragraphs later ambiguity is fully resurrected in a manner that would make Christ blush on the third day.
White House officials said the new strategy would include the option of reconsidering the use of nuclear retaliation against a biological attack, if the development of such weapons reached a level that made the United States vulnerable to a devastating strike.
Astonishing. Except for that "deliberate" little "option of reconsidering," one might suppose that indeed ambiguity has been slain.
Ambiguity is dead. Long live ambiguity.
The more 'hawkish' supporters of President Obama's Rainbow Unicorn Nuclear Strategy might astutely argue against the points made here. They may say to Conservative hawks that Obama's nuclear "manifesto" does not lower the guard against nuclear states, extends a hand to non-nuclear states, and leaves the door open for a nuclear response to a "crippling" attack of a non-nuclear state.
The Conservative response is, "Then what's the point?"
There is none, really. Not beyond rhetoric and "historic" moments and - dare the Los Angeles Times say it - a "manifesto."
No point at all - but for one critical aspect lost in all of the arguing back and forth. Clarity is dead. Nuance and the foolish self-assurance of perceived superior intellectual and/or moral capacity have rightly replaced clear understanding.
For, while the Cold War's M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) may well have been mad, it was undeniably clear. Both sides understood - with clarity - the consequences of certain actions.
When a nation projects weakness and obscures clarity it invites nothing good. President Obama is doing both in an aggressive world where peace is maintained through deterrence and conflict brewed in its perceived absence.
(Cross-posted at LibertyPundits.net.)