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Pro-con: Are nuclear-weapons rules good policy?

The Obama administration's proposed blueprint for U.S. nuclear policy is an incremental document. If anything, it reflects the inherent conservatism that the responsibilities of incumbency can bring, as well as extensive exposure to the views of seasoned strategic thinkers in the Pentagon. It's not a peacenik proposal. That said, the Nuclear Posture Review is clearly and intentionally designed to bring a different guiding approach to managing these ultimate weapons. It would commit this country to refrain from using nuclear weapons against nations that have signed and abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Meanwhile, it places North Korea and Iran squarely in U.S. crosshairs. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that "all options are on the table" in dealing with these two. The new Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty also would pledge that this country will not build "new" nuclear weapons and will refrain from further nuclear testing. No doubt some of the president's critics will land on this choice of approach almost reflexively with the time-honored scare rhetoric that it puts us on the road to unilateral disarmament. It does no such thing. With unquestioned conventional superiority and a powerful nuclear arsenal remaining, this country is secure from traditional nuclear threat. Indeed, the United States can afford to show such courageous leadership as President Obama is exerting precisely because of its unquestioned strength. — Houston Chronicle

President Obama apparently has decided to gamble our nation's security with what we think is a dangerous fundamental change to our nuclear-weapons policy. We appreciate the focus his plans have on diplomacy. The president's desire to reduce nuclear stockpiles that could be used with disastrous effect by the likes of al-Qaida also is reasonable. But we don't understand why the president has overruled his own defense secretary on the development of new nuclear weapons and seemingly weakened America's defense without gaining anything tangible in return. Obama has redirected America's so-called nuclear posture in ways that reduce the arsenal's effectiveness as a deterrent. Under the new posture, we've promised the world that our military will not use nuclear weapons even against a country that attacked us with chemical or biological weapons. Such a change is a big departure from the traditional fog-of-war ambiguity about what would trigger a nuclear response. The point of maintaining that ambiguity was to keep potential enemies off balance and peaceful. — Denver Post

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