“NO NUKES: EVEN IN SELF-DEFENSE!” – Drudge squealed.
Honestly, conservative cowardice is only outmatched by their inability to grasp national security reality. As if any United States president would not retaliate if seriously provoked with all means necessary. The conservative idiocy is simply astounding.
Pres. Obama has delivered a policy that matches his speech in 2009 on non-proliferation. In doing so, he also was specific to carve out a special place in U.S. policy for Iran and North Korea, two countries whose leaders have shown they cannot be trusted. From the New York Times:
[...] It eliminates much of the ambiguity that has deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the opening days of the cold war. For the first time, the United States is 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.
Those threats, Mr. Obama argued, could be deterred with “a series of graded options,” a combination of old and new conventional weapons. “I’m going to preserve all the tools that are necessary in order to make sure that the American people are safe and secure,” he said in the interview in the Oval Office.
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. [...]
Outside of this discussion, just to acknowledge a wider reality, we have Israel, a country which is waiting on sanctions against Iran, as well as a promise to be delivered that a country they perceive as a mortal enemy will not acquire nuclear weapons. No one will say it out loud, but there is nothing the U.S. is prepared to do or actually can do, beyond sanctions, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, unless the Iranian leadership chooses that course themselves. The rest is about what Israel will do in response.
How Israel fits into Obama’s U.S. policy on non-proliferation is interesting to ponder, because by all measures it seems clear that as Obama moves the U.S. into an important, even groundbreaking clarification on U.S. nuclear policy, which takes us into a 21st century stance that moves away from prior ambivalence as well as Bush-Cheney’s tactical nuke fetish, Israel remains moored in the 20th century unable to make the shift, either on peace or diplomacy.
On the political front, Republicans and conservatives are already delivering 20th century arguments in a 21st century moment. From Power Line:
On its face, that is unbelievably stupid. A country attacks us with biological weapons, and we stay our hand because they are “in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty”? That is too dumb even for Barack Obama. [...] The danger here is not that the Obama administration has really gone pacifist. On the contrary, the significance of today’s announcement appears to be entirely symbolic–just one more chance to preen. The problem is that our enemies understand symbolism and maybe take it too seriously. To them, today’s announcement is another sign that our government has gone soft, and one more inducement to undertake aggressive action against the United States.
From Jihad Watch, who channels Cheney:
Sadly, the path President Obama is taking to achieve his vision of a world without nuclear weapons fails to address the real nuclear threats from terrorist entities. Dithering on the part of the Democrat-led government in Washington offers a leadership opportunity for the Republicans.
Hot Air is disconcerted that the U.S. won’t respond with a nuclear attack if we’re hit with a biologic from a non-nuclear state.
Unless I’ve misunderstood, we reserve the right to nuke the following, whether in self-defense or otherwise: (1) nuclear states, (2) non-nuclear states that are in violation of the NPT (i.e. Iran), (3) non-nuclear states that attack the U.S. with bioweapons, but only if they possess a stockpile large enough to pose a risk of a “devastating strike.” I hope I’ve misunderstood that last one; the idea of Obama explaining to Americans that, yes, 50,000 people may be dead of smallpox but we can’t nuke country X because they don’t have a big enough stockpile of the virus yet is dark comedy gold.
After a century of U.S presidents having a national security policy of “all options on the table” it seems remarkable that even given Pres. Obama’s new nuclear policy parameters that people don’t understand that any president can and will change his or her mind if a situation presents itself and requires a response not previously outlined.
Pres. Obama wants countries to reduce their stockpile, while also sending a signal to Iran and Israel. But no one should assume this is a decision made out of weakness or that it limits U.S. options if provoked.