The Corner

Re: Nuclear Posturing

In NRO’s symposium today, Clifford May notes that Iran’s leaders will view the Nuclear Posture Review “as one more sign of a weakening America,” and Jamie Fly argues that our self-imposed nuclear limitations will not convince Iran or North Korea to change their behavior.

As if on cue, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused U.S. leaders of resorting to weapons “like cowboys” when “beaten by logic.”

The NPR is full of problems. For example, while the strategy outlines many current threats accurately, its solutions are based on the misguided belief that the right message is enough to scare Iran and North Korea into submission.

Another problem is the assumption that if the U.S. leads by example, others will follow. While this works well for Army infantrymen, it does not work well in the international arena. U.S. leaders must view the world as it is, and not as they wish it to be. This means acknowledging the reality that in the past decade alone, the number of global nuclear powers has grown from six to nine. The expanding nuclear club belies the presumption that reducing our own nuclear-weapons numbers will in itself lead to a safer world.

The NPR unnecessarily takes options off the table for responding to chemical or biological attacks. The nation should not tie one hand behind its back when deciding how to defend American citizens.

An irony lies in the fact that by limiting the use of nuclear weapons, Obama’s vision increases the value of conventional military forces — which Obama is busy cutting. His defense budgets may compromise U.S. military superiority, including its air dominance, maritime control, space control, and ability to project power to distant regions.

The most dangerous problem of all is that cuts to strategic and conventional forces increase the likelihood that U.S. military capabilities will fall short of the nation’s wide-ranging security commitments — including our nuclear umbrella.

Mackenzie Eaglen is research fellow for national security at the Heritage Foundation.


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