Calvin Freiburger

The Weapons-Grade Stupidity of Obama’s Nuclear Policy

Posted on April 7 2010 4:39 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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On Hannity last night, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich excoriated the Obama Administration’s announcement that nuclear retaliation is off the table against rogue states that attack us, as long as those states aren’t themselves nuclear, and that the United States will not develop any new nuclear weapons:

I think this is the most unrealistic diplomacy since the late 1920s. You have to go back to the Kellogg-Briand Pact to end war, the whole series of disarmament conferences.

In the 1920s the democracies, desperate to avoid dealing with reality, kept designing all sorts of paper documents that were going to end war. And they were going to disarm countries.

And the problem they had was that the Japanese, the Italians and Germans, and the Russians, didn’t go along with them. So here you have these diplomats getting together.

And if you notice today, by the way, the Iranians were laughing, literally laughing at the idea of sanctions as they build nuclear weapons.

So you have the president over here in a fantasy. And it’s a fantasy. It sounds good. It would be wonderful. It just doesn’t fit this particular planet.

And over here you have North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, Al Qaeda, and a whole host of other potential enemies who are just methodically doing their thing. And I think the greatest danger is that we will end up confusing words with reality in a way that some day could get a lot of people killed.

This new policy is manifestly absurd, for the simple fact that you cannot expect those inclined to commit genocide against you to be operating under even remotely similar values or conceptions of decency.  Rest assured, the reaction to this news among our enemies will not be “what a principled, kind man; we should do the same”—it will be, “what a tool; he’s making this too easy…”

I suspect the main motivator behind this is the Left’s basic inclination toward appeasement and fundamental inability to comprehend the real world, but Gingrich floats another frightening possibility:

But the other thing that Obama does on a scale that Carter never dreamed of is he — he believes, maybe because he believes in his own rhetoric — he believes that words are a substitute for reality.

The foolishness of the Left coupled with the ego of The One.  Great.

Meanwhile, at the Daily Beast, Yale Law Professor Stephen Carter thinks Obama’s decision not to build any more nukes is the greater cause for concern:

Where does the United States stand in this arms race? At the moment, we lead the pack in developing UAVs, but (unless there is classified research going on) not in developing nuclear warheads to fit them. Instead, we would rely, even in a limited nuclear exchange, on submarine-launched ballistic missiles or, possibly, cruise missiles. These weapons are designed to seek fixed targets over long distances. Their disadvantage is that they cannot remain quietly aloft, searching for targets. That is what drones are for.


The president’s announcement that he will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear nations has been controversial, but is unlikely to do the nation any harm. Falling behind in the race to develop the next generation of nuclear weapons could be infinitely more dangerous. How dangerous? One need only wait for the moment when a drone drops a nuclear warhead somewhere on American soil, and we lack the necessary precision munitions with which to retaliate. Here one is reminded of the dictum of Thomas Schelling, in explaining how the strategy of deterrence works: “There is a difference,” he wrote in his classic work Arms and Influence, “between fending off assault and making someone afraid to assault you.”

Nuclear weapons are scary, but the capacity to instill fear is not inherently evil.  Indeed, the very knowledge that America could utterly destroy whatever country gives her a reason is a powerful deterrent that can prevent war and save millions of lives.  We cannot allow there to be any doubt that, whatever our enemies are capable of dishing out at any given time, we can match it pound for pound.  If our president cannot grasp this elementary concept, then he is manifestly unfit for command.


Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also blogs at the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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