President Barack Obama's call Friday for a "world without nuclear weapons" was met with the usual response from the Republican Party, the party of "NO". The usual suspects attacked Obama including old retread, Newt Gingrich. The only thing he ever said that inspired me was when he was asked if he had smoked marijuana. His response, "Bales of it".
Yesterday he attacked President Obama's call for a nuclear-free world as "fantasy". This brings to mind a similar call for a nuclear-free world from the idol of all Republicans, Ronald Reagan. His idealistic, unfulfilled dream of eliminating the threat of nuclear annihilation. Reagan made this proposal at a 1986 summit with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and the two leaders agreed to pursue that goal. But before their meeting ended, the idea died when Gorbachev insisted on limits on Reagan's "Star Wars" program, known formally as the Strategic Defense Initiative, intended to develop a defense against nuclear attack.
Reagan's proposal caught the Pentagon and Congress by surprise. U.S. allies in Europe were aghast to learn that Reagan and Gorbachev had come close to a deal to abolish nuclear weapons, which NATO regarded as vital to deter Soviet attack. Where was our boy Newt then???
Obama's version of "global zero," as the goal of a nuclear-free future is now called, will build on a promising agreement this week to renew arms control discussions with Russia. And, based on Obama's previous comments on arms control and those of his advisers, it is likely to follow several basic premises:
_ Nuclear weapons have become more trouble than they are worth, an expensive luxury for superpowers and a threat for the rest of the world.
_ The size of the U.S. and Russian arsenals inspires nuclear starter-states such as China to add to their stockpiles and give non-nuclear states a reason to join the club.
_ Getting serious about eliminating nuclear weapons makes the United States more credible when it argues that states such as Iran should not be able to build their own arsenals.
During the presidential campaign, Obama talked repeatedly about securing all nuclear weapons material within four years. He promised to "make the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide a central element of U.S. nuclear policy" and said he would not authorize development of new nuclear weapons.
He said he would not drop U.S. weapons unless other nations agreed to do the same, a tenet of old-school arms control, and promised to "maintain a nuclear deterrent that is strong, safe, secure and reliable."
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