Obama: No Nukes!

In a speech today, Senator Barack Obama will propose ridding the world of nuclear weapons, according to Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times:

Senator Barack Obama will propose on Tuesday setting a goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons in the world, saying the United States should greatly reduce its stockpiles to lower the threat of nuclear terrorism, aides say.

In a speech at DePaul University in Chicago, Mr. Obama will add his voice to a plan endorsed earlier this year by a bipartisan group of former government officials from the cold war era who say the United States must begin building a global consensus to reverse a reliance on nuclear weapons that have become “increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.”

Mr. Obama, according to details provided by his campaign Monday, also will call for pursuing vigorous diplomatic efforts aimed at a global ban on the development, production and deployment of intermediate-range missiles.

“In 2009, we will have a window of opportunity to renew our global leadership and bring our nation together,” Mr. Obama is planning to say, according to an excerpt of remarks provided by his aides. “If we don’t seize that moment, we may not get another.”

His speech was to come one day after an announcement by the Bush administration that it had tripled the rate of dismantling nuclear weapons over the last year, putting the United States on track to reducing its stockpile of weapons by half by 2012.

Read the entire article at the link above. Obama earns points for consistency: he seems determined to remind voters of his inexperience in foreign affairs and his naivety in approaching them, as when he promised to meet face-to-face with the leaders of rogue nations like North Korea and Iran without preconditions.

The problem with all disarmament schemes has always been compliance. The current reductions in nuclear arms by the US and Russia only became possible when the (then) Soviets finally agreed to on-site verification – to which they acquiesced after Reagan convinced them there would be no deal, and he would outspend them on both offensive and defensive weaponry, if they did not.

Today, the IAEA cannot even inspect facilities in nations suspected of attempting to build nuclear weapons without the permission of the nations involved. It’s entirely possible to acquire nuclear capability under the world’s radar, as the surprise entries to the “nuclear club” by China, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and Israel (which still doesn’t confirm they have nukes), or the voluntary revelation of the Libyan program.

Advancing technology has always been a double-edged sword, and nuclear research illustrates this well. It’s becoming easier, not harder, to research, develop, and build these weapons even as it becomes more difficult to inspect and restrain those nations who do not wish to be inspected or restrained.

Consider what Obama asks: First, all nuclear nations must be convinced to give up their own arsenals, a virtually impossible task in itself (except, of course, “in principle,” but not in fact). Next, we must all believe we can trust the likes of Putin, the Chinese, and the Pakistanis (who, for years, did not even know what their own nuclear program was doing in proliferating the technology) not to cheat on the agreement by hiding some weapons. Then, all the nations with secret programs must be persuaded to confess them and disarm. Finally, the rogue nations like Iran must be trusted to never develop them or stop ongoing programs. For this hope (and many prayers), we give up the weapons which averted another world war for half a century.

We’d stand a better chance of getting rid of nukes by forming the world’s largest hippies’ drum circle, with Obama in the center holding a crystal, hoping to catch the light just right . . .

The “audacity of hope,” indeed.

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