WSJ: Obama’s Nuclear Farewell - He is preparing to repudiate decades of U.S. deterrence policy.

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by yaxomoxay, Aug 5, 2016.

  1. yaxomoxay macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    Aug. 4, 2016 7:35 p.m. ET

    With his time in office winding down, President Obama plans to make a valedictory round of changes to U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The aim is to cement his cherished “Prague agenda,” named for the Czech city where in 2009 he set out his vision for a nuclear-free world. The moves would more likely cement his legacy for arms-control illusions that are producing a new era of nuclear proliferation.

    Mr. Obama’s Prague agenda has consisted mostly of shrinking and weakening the U.S. nuclear arsenal, as he did by signing the 2010 New Start Treaty with Russia and deferring modernization of aging nuclear platforms. This gives America’s friends reason to doubt its nuclear umbrella, while giving adversaries greater incentive to grow their arsenals.

    Our sources suggest the President won’t fight congressional support for modernization such as developing a new air-launched long-range cruise missile and a new ground-launched missile to replace the decaying Minuteman III. Both have bipartisan backing, as seen in a recent letter from 14 Senators including Hillary Clinton running mate Tim Kaine. Mr. Obama also isn’t likely to unilaterally extend the New Start Treaty past 2021, which would be especially reckless given Russia’s failure to meet its arms treaty obligations.

    Now the bad news: Mr. Obama may declare a policy of nuclear “no first use” (NFU), meaning the U.S. would commit never to use nuclear weapons unless an adversary does so first. This would abandon seven decades of strategic ambiguity concerning when the U.S. might use nukes—and in the process undermine U.S. deterrence against the likes of North Korea.




    “The fatal flaw of the warm and progressive-sounding NFU proposal is that it tells would-be aggressors that they do not have to fear U.S. nuclear retaliation even if they attack us or our allies with advanced conventional, chemical, and/or biological weapons,” warns former Pentagon official Keith Payne. Leaders from Pyongyang to Tehran, Moscow and Beijing would feel “greater license” to act as aggressively as possible short of nuclear war.

    Hence the grave concern of U.S. allies. An NFU declaration by the U.S. would be “unacceptable,” a senior Japanese official told Kyodo News last month, a sentiment echoed in South Korea. In a July 19 letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, reported here for the first time, Britain’s defense minister said the British and French governments fear the “serious ramifications” of a U.S. policy change and “would regret any decisions which could highlight a divergence of approach among the [three allies] to potential adversaries.”

    The Obama Administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review recommended against no first use. It also said Russia was no longer a U.S. adversary, an assessment that no longer holds. So with the world far more dangerous than it was six years ago, on what grounds could Mr. Obama justify junking that former recommendation?

    Our sources say the President has also decided to seek a United Nations Security Council resolution banning the testing of nuclear weapons. This means that two decades after the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Mr. Obama may usurp the Senate’s constitutional treaty powers with an end-run to the U.N.

    This would be bad nuclear policy and an even worse abuse of power. A ban would force the U.S., which hasn’t conducted a nuclear test since 1992, into permanent reliance on computer simulations to keep its weapons reliable and effective, even as technology and threats change unpredictably. A Security Council ban wouldn’t prevent proliferation or testing by dishonest parties like Russia, while honest states like the U.S. are left without verification or enforcement mechanisms.

    Asked about the idea last year by Congressman Trent Franks, senior State Department official Rose Gottemoeller said clearly, “We do not agree with this notion.” Mr. Franks followed up: “You are assuring me that this is not being pursued?” “Correct,” said Ms. Gottemoeller. In case that wasn’t clear enough, Pentagon official Robert Scher told Congress last month that Ms. Gottemoeller “stands by the statement” that going to the U.N. “would take away the prerogative of the Senate for ratifying treaties.” No kidding.

    Mr. Obama has already entered brave new worlds of executive overreach by ignoring Congress on immigration and sending the Iran deal to the U.N. before submitting it (as a non-treaty) to the Senate. This would be a new low, undermining America’s nuclear deterrent while showing contempt for constitutional bounds.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/obamas-nuclear-farewell-1470353727
     
  2. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    Is this the same Obama who is modernizing our nukes to the tune of $1 trillion? Come back to me when anything in this opinion piece is verified.
     
  3. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    Modernizing has nothing to do with policy. Considering that they still use DOS and floppy disks to manage nukes I would say that modernizing is required by the circumstances. The opinion piece is on a use policy.
    Nice try.
     
  4. samcraig macrumors P6

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    Conversely - Trump is already excited to start using those codes before he's even president!
     
  5. FieldingMellish Suspended

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    That last paragraph is based on truths:

    " Mr. Obama has already entered brave new worlds of executive overreach by ignoring Congress on immigration and sending the Iran deal to the U.N. before submitting it (as a non-treaty) to the Senate. This would be a new low, undermining America’s nuclear deterrent while showing contempt for constitutional bounds."

    This is one out of control President, that at best is incompetent and at worst is malicious.

    Trump will correct all of this.
     
  6. samcraig macrumors P6

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    How? He's a private citizen and will never be in office. I don't think he'll have any power over a rumor any more than you will.
     
  7. thermodynamic Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    Security via obscurity. For once not a bad thing, until the floppies start to degrade.

    But modernize it and put it on the grid. Use the same Windows code that Microsoft shared with China over the last decade. That way people can bitch about both "wasteful government spending" and "how government can't do anything right". Ironically.
     
  8. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    Since both of you can see the future, can you please give me the Powerball numbers?
     
  9. thermodynamic Suspended

    thermodynamic

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    No less than GWB or Reagan, who also made executive orders on immigration, bailing out interests that are not in America's interest via their actions, and so on...
     
  10. mudslag macrumors regular

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    Nuclear deterrence is based on the idea of mutually assured destruction, not "I will nuke you first". Nuclear weapons are essentially a last resort option. The idea that we would use them again and first is exactly what we DONT want to do.

    Even if this was an actual plan of Obamas, remember this premise is based on anonymous sources ATM, the next POTUS can reverse it. This seems to be more whaaa Obama then anything else.
     
  11. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    That's incorrect. Nuclear deterrence is based on the idea of willingness of the possibility of self-destruction in order to achieve a given objective.
    Walled Berlin is an example. The Russians believed that the US would never risk nuclear war over Berlin, but they weren't that sure. They mobilized several times but never acted due to conflicting information. They feared that the US would've lunched the nukes, first tactical (over Berlin), then strategical (all-out-war).
     
  12. mudslag macrumors regular

    mudslag

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    Does mutually assured destruction mean something different to you? That's essentially the same as saying, we know you can destroy us just as you know we can destroy you. On top of that, we still don't have a policy of we'll use nukes first.
     
  13. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    ... and it's based on who's willing to launch first. A "No First Strike" policy is a blank check to do all sort of things, as long as a nuke isn't launched. It would be a foolish policy.
     
  14. mudslag macrumors regular

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    There's a few ways this can play out. First is, if we are not attacked, then it's entirely a moot point. Secondly, if a foreign power launches an attack, either we'll see it coming which constitutes a first launch which means we are free to launch back, which again makes arguing about "NFU" meaningless. Or a foreign power launches a first strike and we don't see it coming which again means we can fire back, yet again making this argument meaningless. Now say someone sneaks in a bomb and blows up a city. Well again, we wouldn't just start launching nukes at random countries til we had the evidence needed to attack back another country, if even necessary, which again makes this whole argument meaningless.

    So unless we have a crazy POTUS in power with an itchy trigger finger then really, we have no need to launch first. If we ever do end up having a nuclear war that decimates the world and yes there will be survivors, history will not be kind to the country that started it first.
     
  15. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    Well, of course.

    It's not. Berlin, again, is an example. In Vietnam the US was ready to launch tactical nukes, although the administration didn't due to topographical issues.
    American interests, alliances, etc. make the situation very complex. Nuclear bombs are a deterrent for action. To put it to the extreme, be sure that if tomorrow Russia decides to invade Germany with a full force attack, the US will use nuclear force first.

    That's just one of the scenarios.

    Right now probably not. There are tensions, but not that high. In a "cold war" scenario with several peripheral wars, a capital divided in two etc. well it's a risk. Ukraine could be the next cold war.
     
  16. samcraig macrumors P6

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    The ultimate result is the same. While the message is we won't strike first - be the aggressor, the end result is mutual destruction.
     
  17. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    The problem is that it opens up for all kinds of aggression as long as a nuke is not launched. A total "no strike first" policy means that technically Russia can invade the US without fearing nuclear retaliation. Of course that would be crazy (and unlikely). A NSF policy also removes a lot of diplomatic power in time of crisis.
     
  18. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    Syria, you're thinking Syria.

    A no fly zone will be set up. The USA will continue to antagonize Russia economically, through NATO, and in the press. A single Russian soldier will do something stupid, which we will seize upon and take retaliatory action against. Voila.

    History repeats....yet again.
     
  19. yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    You are correct. That's another possibility for disaster.
     
  20. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    Given Clinton's neocon advisors (the Kagans, and Victoria Nulan, basically her incoming cabinet) have been pushing for a no-fly for months in congressional hearings you can count on it. My guess is 2017 when NATO is finished placing their new "anti-air defenses" in place in Ukraine.
     
  21. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    Why do people look back at that time we killed 150,000 innocent people and injured close to 200,000 innocent people in two cities with two bombs so fondly?

    You can debate that it was necessary, that it may have saved a substantial number of U.S. soldiers' lives later on, that it was an import turning point in the war. However, it's nonhuman to look back at that event and think, yea, let's make sure we can do that again.
     
  22. samcraig macrumors P6

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    But unless I misread - this isn't about first strike - it's about first nuke. It's not a NSF policy, its NFU.
     
  23. yaxomoxay, Aug 5, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016

    yaxomoxay thread starter macrumors 68000

    yaxomoxay

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    Actually we look back at that event, and the millions that died in WWI and WWII and try to avoid that. We have seen the power of nuclear weapons, and the balance that they cause. Not that war in general is prevented, but I don't think we'll see anything like Hiroshima and/or WWI+WWII for a long time, if ever.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 5, 2016 ---
    The threat of a first nuke prevents the fist "conventional" strike in an all-out-war and/or causes containment in a "conventional" war.
    Vietnam and Korea would've expanded to the whole East if nukes weren't ready to go on both sides. Instead the US and USSR worked together - somehow - to prevent that because they knew that one of them would have to resource to a nuclear weapon sooner or later if the conflicts extended.

    I am trying to remember in which memory I've read it, but the US was a few hours from launching the first nuclear strike over Germany when they received news that the USSR was mobilizing to get to the other side of the wall. They reached the point that the National Security Adviser walked out of the White House crying to watch "the last dawn."
    If I remember correctly, it was Lyndon Johnson trying to push for the first nuclear strike over Berlin, and even used the fact that JFK was sedated due to an illness/surgery to give the order to prepare to strike. Gosh I hate my freaking memory!!!!
     
  24. MadeTheSwitch macrumors 6502a

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    Oh the irony. Obama is 100 times more competent than that train wreck Trump will ever be.

    Trump couldn't run a casino for a year without bankruptcy. He can't run a campaign without opening his mouth (or Twitter feed) and damaging his chances in the process. He has managed to alienate members of his own party, the majority of African Americans and Latinos, and now many in the military and CIA even. That is not competent. You don't run against your own party in a general election! Well, not unless you want to lose.
     
  25. Jess13, Aug 5, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2016

    Jess13 Suspended

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    If Hillary is elected POTUS and does what recently was attributed to her about “first key task” being Syria (and thus orders full military attack against the Syrian government and Assad), hopefully the U.S. military leadership resists and overthrows her in military coup.

    Obama already has the U.S. military leadership fighting his administration over Syria. In the January 2016 piece Military to Military, Seymour Hersh details how Obama’s own Joint Chiefs conspired behind his back to help Assad to counter Obama and CIA helping terrorists.


    Military to Military
    Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war


    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/seymour-m-hersh/military-to-military

    [...]

    Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’

    ‘Our policy of arming the opposition to Assad was unsuccessful and actually having a negative impact,’ the former JCS adviser said. The Joint Chiefs believed that Assad should not be replaced by fundamentalists. The administration’s policy was contradictory. They wanted Assad to go but the opposition was dominated by extremists. So who was going to replace him? To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing US intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State.
     

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