Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Barack Obama is trying to do something about the word George W. Bush couldn't pronounce, but his revision to the US stance on nuclear weapons only underscores the near-impossibility of a neat solution to a problem that presidents have wrestled with for more than half a century.

In one of his last interviews, John F. Kennedy pointed out that Eisenhower had tried to limit testing in 1959 and failed but that, soon after averting a nuclear exchange in the Cuban Missile Crisis, he himself had succeeded in getting a test-ban treaty with the Soviets four years later.

"We can't get quickly discouraged," JFK said. "We can't accept the idea of the inevitability of a nuclear exchange. That is the ultimate destruction of the human race. That is what we have to avoid."

Now, a new president in a new century is still inching toward that goal with a new policy "to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons."

The new Obama approach will not satisfy those who urge him to announce that the United States would never use nuclear weapons first or the other side sure to be dismayed by his making deterrence of a nuclear strike the "sole objective" of our use, leaving other threats to be dealt with by conventional weapons.

As he has shown time and again, this president favors rational and measured solutions in foreign policy, so this announcement should be no surprise.

Asked about what has been called "The Cuban Missile Crisis in Slow Motion," Obama's answer to dealing with Iran is typical.

"This isn't a football game," he said. "So I'm not interested in victory, I'm interested in solving the problem."

JFK would have approved.

Update: On Thursday, the President was in Prague, signing a new nuclear-arms control treaty with Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev, who signaled a harder line with Iran, "We cannot turn a blind eye to this," on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

1 comment:

Mac said...

"As he has shown time and again, this president favors rational and measured solutions in foreign policy, so this announcement should be no surprise."

The rational and measured approach works well, right up until the time you encounter someone irrational and chaotic. I'm sure this plays well to the intelligentsia but this poor dumb country boy will remind you that the reason the USSR tried to put those missiles in Cuba in the first place was because they were exploiting a perceived weakness in our President and assumed they could get away with it. The next group to 'try' us because of a perceived weakness might not back down. Teddy Roosevelt had the right idea, Speak softly and carry a big stick. As humans we are not quite ready yet for peace through good intentions.