April 2, 2014
Nobel Peace Prize winner and apostle of disarmament and America “leading from behind” President Barack Obama has driven a stake into the heart of an already ailing Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the nuclear disarmament movement.
The NPT recognizes the US. Russia, China, France and U.K. as nuclear-weapons states. Since it entered into force in 1970 Israel, North Korea, India, Pakistan and South Africa have gone nuclear. When the Soviet Union broke up, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine inherited nuclear arsenals, all of which under pressure from the West by the end of 1996 were turned over to Russia. South Africa destroyed its atomic stockpile.
Atomic arms are neither good nor bad. They are used every day for good: deterrence. Their use ended WW2. But depending upon who wields them, like a machete, nuclear weapons can also be an instrument of evil. The implications of Australia, Canada and Switzerland joining the nuclear club are rather different than Cuba, Hamas and Iran joining it.
The world’s bad actors have reason to want nuclear weapons.
In 1981 the Israelis bombed and destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor where Iraq intended to develop, and arguably was within several years of obtaining nuclear weapons. If Iraq had had nuclear weapons it’s not likely US and coalition forces would have freed Kuwait in 1991. A US-led alliance certainly would not have toppled despot Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Libya had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons development programs. Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi however worried he would be next on President Bush’s and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s “Shock and Awe” hit parade. In December, 2003 shortly after Iraq’s liberation, Libya renounced its WMD programs.
Starting with airlifting 55 thousand tons of documents and components of its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs to the US, during 2004 Libya’s WMD infrastructure was dismantled and destroyed.
Diplomacy coupled with military action or its credible threat is more effective than diplomacy alone.
In 2011 with American, British and French air strikes and military assistance, Gaddafi was overthrown and killed. If he’d had nuclear weapons, he’d be alive and in power today.
Japan, South Korea and the US are all more likely to turn the other cheek to North Korea’s military provocations, assassinations, arms dealing and counterfeiting currency because it possesses atomic arms.
American voters elected Obama and Euro-elites got the pantywaist progressive US president they wanted. With Obama in the White House, for at least the next three years friends cannot rely on and enemies have no reason to fear America.
Worryingly longer term, casual and profligate use of America’s military when no vital national interests were at stake or advanced, and Europe’s increasingly obvious unwillingness to share the burden to defend itself, has stoked isolationist sentiment in the US.
The Iraq war as executed resulted in an Iranian client state, and the cleansing of Christians and Al Qaeda resurgent in Iraq. After the first year NATO troops in Afghanistan did not advance vital US or Western interests. There was no conceivable critical US interest justifying deploying troops however few, in Africa supporting fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army. The Libyan war hurt US interests.
German finance minister and “Mr. Euro” Wolfgang Schäuble illustrated Euro-cognitive dissonance comparing Putin’s seizing Crimea to Hitler’s annexing the Sudenteland, acknowledging Eastern Europe’s fear of the Russian bear and going on to say spending more on defense “would be of no use.” Germany’s boosting defense expenditures would be of far more use than the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton’s, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s and Obama’s bleating.
Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal vividly captured the current situation observing “The wolf is attacking a pack of sheep. It is gobbling up one of them and going about its business eating and the rest of the sheep are bleating. Baaaaaa baaaaaaaa!”
Within reach of an increasingly assertive China can Japan and Taiwan afford to rely on America honoring its treaty-defense commitments? A nuclear Japan and Taiwan however would give Beijing cause for pause.
When Iran’s mullahs obtain nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia and perhaps Turkey and Egypt will probably go nuclear.
In 1991 Ukraine had 1272 strategic nuclear weapons and 2500 tactical nuclear weapons. If it still had even a fraction of that arsenal, Russian capo Vladimir Putin would not have seized Crimea and be menacing the rest of Ukraine and Eastern Europe.
When America is weak and leads from behind, the liberal world order and freedom are at risk, and nuclear proliferation inevitable.