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. 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.For the past half-century, much of the world lived under the shadow of a nuclear threat -- the idea that we were a button-press away from global annihilation. The goal of many was to try and put the nuclear genie back in the bottle -- to forestall what to many seemed like an inevitable trek to self-imposed extinction. Basically, this new policy restricts (to the extent that a positivist statement of policy by an actor empowered to reverse that decision literally whenever he so choices can be a "restriction") the use of our nuclear arsenal to either (a) cases of nuclear attack or (b) states not a part of the NPT. But apparently, a substantial chunk of the population prefers a world where it is entirely unknown whether and when the US will unleash apocalyptic waves of destruction. The person who sent this to me said it made it wonder if Obama should be tried for "treason". Roger Simon inquires "Does he hate us? Does he hate this country?" Meanwhile, actual military policy expert Robert Farley notes that we are perfectly capable of projecting conventional deterrence through our massive conventional arms advantage. The threat to bring nukes to a chemical or biological weapons fight was never credible in the first place, both because of the difference in scale of destruction and because we can sufficiently deter through conventional means. Finally, as Whiskey Fire points out, the whole problem with the new form of threats we face (from terrorist organizations and other NGOs) is that we're skeptical of whether conventional deterrence postures work against them at all, dissipating the defensive force of nuclear weaponry.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Mushrooms Are Pretty
President Obama has issued a revision of when the US will use nuclear weaponry: