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Neocons Tell Obama: Keep the Nukes

At first I missed it because it was on the “Sunday Opinion Page” instead of opposite the Editorial page, but yesterday a quartet of self-described “professionals with extensive experience in national security and defense policy” got together to write an essay in the Washington Post entitled “Obama’s ‘nuclear zero’ rhetoric is dangerous” (on-line version) or “Obama’s harmful nuclear illusions” (print edition).

Nuke Silo

Republican pundits gathered to encourage Obama to invest more in nuclear weapons.

Who are these worthies, you might ask? They are, namely (are you sitting down?): Douglas J. Feith, famous as one of the architects of the disastrous Iraq War, and whom the first commanding general of that war Tommy Franks once called “the f*cking stupidest guy on the face of the earth”; Frank J. Gaffney, columnist for the arch-conservative Washington Times, original signatory of the Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century, and anti-Muslim activist; James A. Lyons, retired Navy admiral and prominent critic of the Obama administration’s relation to last year’s attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya; and R. James Woolsey, former director of that delightful organization the CIA. And they say they are only part of a group of 20 people.

Their piece begins with the claim that the Obama administration has not done enough to counter “recent threats from North Korea.” It is not enough merely to adjust missile defenses, they say; rather, Obama should “rethink his basic approach to nuclear weapons policy” in response. This èxtraordinary assertion that an entire foreign policy is to be determined by the perceived hostility of a single small country of course relies on a certain common perception. This is that Pyongyang’s actions or posture have been the cause of tension in the Korean peninsula, rather than a symptom thereof, extending back to 1950 when it allegedly started the Korean War. The perception is certainly shared by the Obama administration at least in its public posture, by the establishment media, and even by some in FDL (see the comments thread to this post).

BTW this perception views as responses rather than provocations the continuous garrisoning of U.S. troops south of the DMZ for the past 60 years (numbering 28,500 as of 2011), numerous joint U.S.-ROK military “exercises” over the years, and the flying of nuclear-capable bombers from Missouri to the Korean peninsula last week; and it ignores the fact that there is disagreement on who started the Korean War. But that’s another story.

Having offered that point the quartet give a list of seven actions in the direction of nuclear disarmament they credit to O, whether or not accurately, from “opposition to developing a reliable, new nuclear warhead” to “endorsement of ‘nuclear zero.’” They then say:

But these policies have not yielded the hoped-for diplomatic benefits regarding North Korea and Iran. Their nuclear weapons programs progress, as do their programs to develop long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Thus is brought in that other current bogey man, Iran. What is ignored, of course, is that according to the best intelligence, at best Iran has not made any decision to convert the peaceful use of nuclear energy that it says is its goal into a weapons program.

From there the authors raise the dread specter of nuclear proliferation to still other countries if there is any weakening in the perception that the U.S. nuclear deterrent is weakening. That is, the logic is that any reduction in the arsenal that could destroy the solar system many times over (if delivery systems to the outer planets were developed) will somehow cause more nuclear weapons to be built in other countries.

I couldn’t take reading any more at that point, but the link is in the first paragraph above if you wish to do so. I think I do see why the paper did not put the piece on the more prestigious Op-Ed page.

Photo by Steve Jurvetson released under a Creative Commons license.

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E. F. Beall

E. F. Beall