Obama’s New Nuke Strategy Signals Bipartisanship
It’s been a busy and stressful week for President Obama’s defense team. After months of painstaking negotiations behind closed doors and after a year of crunching the numbers, the Obama administration has finally released its Nuclear Posture Review to the American public; a nice label to what a common person would call America’s official nuclear weapons policy.
For anyone interested in the full text of Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review, here it is, courtesy of Joshua Keating at FP.com
For those who want to get to the nuts-and-bolts of the review, and I don’t blame you if you do (whose going to sit through 72 pages?) these are the statements that jump out:
“The fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons, which will continue as long as nuclear weapons exist, is to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners.”
“With…improvements in U.S. missile defenses…the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks – conventional, biological, or chemical – has declined significantly. The United States will continue to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks.”
“The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.”
In laymen’s terms, the United States will no longer direct nuclear weapons against countries that are both nuke-free and following global nuclear protocol. As for those with nuclear weapons (like Russia and China) and those who continue to obstruct nuclear inspection (like Iran, Syria and North Korea) beware, because you aren’t covered.
Without getting too much into the details of the report, here’s the bottom line: President Obama had to strike a balance between his supporters on the left and his opponents on the right. Like every policy the President implements, he has to take domestic politics into consideration. By decreasing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense policy (“fundamentally” for deterrence purposes), Obama appeases Democrats who have longed questioned the validity and importance of nukes in the 21st century.
But just in case military hawks on the other side of the aisle were content on raising a stink, the President explicitly stated that “as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States will sustain safe, secure, and effective nuclear forces.” For Republicans who may have been worried that the Obama administration was somehow going to diminish U.S. nukes altogether (which would have been impossible anyway), this gives them at least some comfort in the years ahead.
Overall, it’s a pretty sound document. What was everyone expecting, a complete 180-degree turn?
-Daniel R. DePetris
**Comments courtesy of Stephen Walt at FP.com**