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12:24AM

WPR's The New Rules: Nuclear Posture Review Fixes What Ain't Broke

nuclear_test.png

For those wondering how President Barack Obama planned to justify his Nobel Peace Prize, two developments last week strongly suggest that it will be by way of his dream of a "world without nuclear weapons." The first was his successful conclusion of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, which takes almost a third off the top of both sides' massive nuclear arsenals. The second was Obama's new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which declared that "preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism" was the nation's No. 1 strategic priority. At the same time, the review offers a striking new pledge not to use nuclear weapons to retaliate against states in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- even if they attack America with chemical or biological weapons.

Read the rest here at World Politics Review.

Reader Comments (4)

Got into a discussion about this on Friday.

I think Obama's NPR greatly increases the risk of CW/BW proliferation by decoupling our equivalence of those weapons to nukes. And while there are few plausible scenarios of NPT-abiding-but-hostile regimes right now, Latin America is starting to get very frisky. I could conceive of a Chavez threatening Guyana and/or Colombia with CW, calculating that our involvement would only be conventional in response.

The biggest threat of this NPR is it introduces "hope" into an aggressor's equation. The last, most memorable time we gave an aggressor "hope" of a limited response, he invaded Kuwait. While we eventually corrected Hussein's mistake, the Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Israeli and American lives lost would have been spared but for a poorly worded policy.
April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew in DC
Agree. That's what drove my original sense of anger. With everything else going on right now, and especially while we migrate through this long tipping point of globalization, I just see no reason to mess with this rule set. To me, the arrogance here is just stunning.
April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom Barnett
“But, if anything, Russia's shriveled conventional forces leave its security strategy more dependent than ever on nuclear weapons, meaning that for Moscow, shrinking numbers equate to a larger role.”

I can easily see an increased strategic or tactical role for a reduced nuclear force as a consequence of a reduction in its conventional force. I can see that a reduction of the nuclear force making it more likely that it will be used-- but only if these reductions also make it more likely that Russia will thereby be required to make its strongest threat or response, which would mean to make the best strategic or tactical use of both force types together-- as deterrent or actual strike option. It seems more likely that reductions in both forces might be a strong enough limitation on Russia’s ambitions and options that it would be trying to be smart about what it says and what it does and perhaps re-evaluate and invigorate non-military ways of increasing its security while and with the procuring of gains and advantages in everything else.

April 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGilbert Garza
It seems possible that smaller nuclear numbers and a dwindling conventional force could move Russia toward more realistic regional and global ambitions. It could provide incentives to be smart about what it says and what it does regionally and globally. It could give Russia reasons to re-evaluate and invigorate non-military ways of providing for its national security within the evolving rule sets of a prospering cooperative globalization. (On the other hand less could be more for any number of reasons increasing Russia’s ability to aggressively and forcefully seek its own security by seeing and resisting real or imagined external threats, with a resurgence of Cold-War era thinking and capabilities.)
April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGilbert Garza

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