Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Obama Refines Nuclear Attack Policy

In the movie "The Untouchables," the Chicago cop played by Sean Connery told Eliot Ness never go into battle armed with a knife when the opponent brandishes a gun.

Whereas Barack Obama earned his political bones in Chicago politics, his new policy called a "Nuclear Posture Review" contradicts the street-wise axiom by announcing the U.S. would not use nuclear weapons in retaliation against a non-nuclear rogue nation even though the attack on U.S. interests was achieved by chemical or biological bombs.

That doesn't set in concrete he wouldn't. He's simply using the review as a policy statement not worth the paper it is printed upon to negotiate a reduction in nuclear weapons scheduled to be signed Thursday with
Russia and a meeting next week with world leaders on the same issue.

The exception to his posture review policy is clearly Iran, North Korea and perhaps Syria.

Urban legend has it that Obama was a skilled negotiator for the poor against the slumlords in Chicago. His negotiating ploys violate accepted norms. As president, liberals accused him of giving away the store in the health reform legislation by immediately placing a public option and single-payer system off the table on Day One.

My uncle Ted Ellsworth was a labor negotiator for 50 years. His advise to me was never put all your cards on the table until you are certain you have a winning hand. "And by all means don't put your position paper on the table because the bastards can read it upside down."

I think Obama is playing poker on the nuclear arms reduction issue and he thinks he holds a royal straight flush.

He is dealing from a power position knowing full well nuclear-armed nations such as Israel, France, India, Pakistan, China and Russia will not be attacked first by U.S. atomic weapons..

No,  the card game is aimed at North Korea which has nukes, to comply to international demands to back down, and to Iran which is believed producing nuclear weapons to stop building them and Syria which tried with the help of the North Korean regime before the Israelis bombed their embryonic plant.

While some Republicans and conservatives were giving Obama credit for carrying out many of the George W. Bush foreign policies, this new nuclear position opens up a can of worms and an expected arsenal of criticism playing into the hands of being weak.

At first blush, I think Obama is on a realistic and transparent path to reduce nuclear weapon arsenals throughout the world. The U.S. loses no advantages it held during the Cold War. Rogue nations will think twice before attacking the U.S. with atomic warheads -- or even biological dirty bombs -- because the arsenal we still have is a frightful case of overkill.

Just checkout the chart below:

Reports The New York Times:

Obama described his policy as part of a broader effort to edge the world toward making nuclear weapons obsolete, and to create incentives for countries to give up any nuclear ambitions. To set an example, the new strategy renounces the development of any new nuclear weapons, overruling the initial position of his own defense secretary.
Obama’s strategy is a sharp shift from those adopted by 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. 

In an interview, Obama stated: “I’m going to preserve all the tools that are necessary in order to make sure that the American people are safe and secure.” 

Stephen Walt, a foreign policy expert writing an opinion article for the Washington Post, says:

I'll concede that this new statement may have some public relations value -- i.e, it lowers the priority given to nuclear weapons in U.S. strategic thinking, consistent with Obama's commitment to eventually reduce global nuclear arsenals. But from a purely strategic perspective, this new statement is largely meaningless. To the extent that it does matter, it may even be counter-productive.
Here's why. No matter what the U.S. government says about its nuclear strategy, no potential adversary can confidently assume that the U.S. would stick to its declared policy in the event of a crisis or war...To the extent that nuclear weapons deter -- and I happen to think they do -- it is the mere fact of their existence and not the specific words we use when we speak about them.  



There is no doubt in my mind that President Obama will protect our national security when faced with a genuine attack supported by indisputable intelligence. He has demonstrated a no nonsense credo as commander-in-chief by ordering the killing of three Somali pirates by SEAL sharpshooters. He has increased drones bombing terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan compared to the Bush administration. This new "Nuclear Posture Review" is mostly political. It domestically draws the ire of his progressive base which prefers the elimination of all nuclear weapons and the conservatives who have never met an ICBM atomic missile they wouldn't embrace.

Readers comments are welcome as long as they remain civil. We reserve the right to delete any comments that are vulgar, libelous and totally irrelevant to this posting. -- Jer

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