April 7, 2010 | National Review Online

Nuclear Posturing

Let me see if I have this straight: Iran is developing nuclear weapons and threatening to use them and/or share them with terrorists. In response, President Obama has renounced the development of any new nuclear weapons by the U.S. and pledged that America will not deploy nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries — not even in retaliation for a biological or chemical attack, assuming, of course, that said attacker is, at the time of said attack, in compliance with its nonproliferation obligations under international treaties.

Well, if that’s not worth a second Nobel Peace Prize, what would be?

Seriously, the least one can say about Obama’s new Nuclear Posture Review is that it is — as advertised — posturing. As foreign/defense policy, it makes little sense.

Which past American president — other than Harry Truman — has spent any time sitting around the Oval Office contemplating nuking a foreign country, least of all one that possesses no nuclear weapons?

And who really believes that this document will persuade a future president to rule out deploying whatever weapons would be most effective to bring down a regime that had just used a disease bomb to exterminate the good citizens of Los Angeles?

Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Hu Jintao must be rolling their eyes. When they are done, they’ll think hard about how to gain a lead in the arms race Obama has decided not to run. They’ll note, too, that Obama is simultaneously slashing missile defense.

As for Iran’s jihadist rulers, we can confidently assume they view this development not as a virtuous act that ought to be emulated, but as one more sign of a weakening America. If the U.S. no longer wants to be seen as nuclear power to be reckoned with, that’s welcome news for those regimes that do.

– Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism and Islamism.

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Issues:

Iran