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October 03, 2008

Palin on Nuclear Weapons
Posted by James Lamond

One of the most challenging and dangerous foreign policy issues today is that of nuclear weapons.  On this issue there is an incredible amount of responsibility that rests in the hands of the president.  As Jon Wolfsthal, nonproliferation expert and senior fellow at CSIS, told Democracy Arsenal, “The next VP must know how to handle the most awesome responsibility at the White House’s command – the American nuclear arsenal.  Unfortunately, Governor Palin has no experience on global security issues and showed no expertise on the content or purpose of American nuclear weapons.” In last night’s vice presidential debate Sarah Palin demonstrated this lack of expertise.

When Gwen Ifill asked:

What should be the trigger, or should there be a trigger, when nuclear weapons use is ever put into play?

Palin responded first with an incoherent answer not on the level of a vice presidential debate:

Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be all, end all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet…

Then, she continued with an answer about preventing proliferation- the question was about America’s “trigger” mechanism- that leaves us wondering what she would do to prevent the spread of these weapons:

…so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.

The question was about when she would use nuclear weapons, and she answers that dangerous regimes cannot get hold of these weapons- “period”.  Is she saying that she would use nuclear weapons to prevent their spread?

Finally rather than address this critical subject in depth Palin tries to change it in an attempt to get back to her talking points:

Can we talk about Afghanistan real quick, also, though?

This is just scary.  Nuclear weapons are about as serious an issue as they get.  Wolfsthal says, “It is one thing to talk generally about an issue and repeat recently digested talking points, and it is another to know the ins and outs of nuclear strategy.  As chairman of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden lived and breathed nuclear issues for a generation.  While nuclear expertise is not the only requirement people should look for in a VP, understanding the most complex aspects of the world’s most destructive weapons is relevant, and Governor Palin did not rise to the challenge during the debate.”


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"NEW-Q-LER" ???
If that's not a serious red flag then I'M a soccer mom!!!

It is not just Palin but the McCain campaign in general that has not taken the issue of nuclear weapon proliferation seriously. McCain says he wants to decrease the stockpiles of weapons in the American and Russian arsenal, but his hostile rhetoric towards Russia prenvents any kind of agreement in the near future. Moreover ,McCain has left out any attempt at diplomacy with Iran and thus has left only two options available which is the use of military force or to let Iran aquire nuclear weapons. I firmly believe that McCain has intends to use the former option even with bunker busting tactical nuclear weapons. This would be a disasterous precedent not only with America's reputation but also with any further attempts to control the spread of nuclear weapons.

The hair stood up on the back of my neck when she uttered this unscripted glimpse into her world view. As I decipher her answer, she is linking the problem of over population to what she knows is the inevitable and ultimate resolution to the problem -- nu-queue-ler annihilation of the crowded parts of the world. Maybe I'm reading too much into her ramblings, but that sort of inevitable Armageddon view is consistent with her fundamentalist religious beliefs.

Too many fundamentalist Christians subscribe to the belief that the prophesied end is coming, and they alone will be saved. It's a dangerous belief system, especially if you're a heartbeat away from the person whose finger is on "the button."

I've noticed the number of times DA contributors refer to one aspect or another of the Republican ticket this year as "scary," "frightening," "terrifying" and so forth. Are they aware of this, or is it a subconscious thing?

Gov. Palin has made it very plain that she is an ignorant woman who should not be allowed any closer to the Oval Office than the public tour. Her nomination as the Republican Party's Vice Presidential candidate is profoundly unworthy. There are ways to communicate this without presenting oneself as cowering in mortal fear -- and since Palin in public, whatever else she may be, is not frightening at all, there may be some advantages to using those ways, and sticking to them.

Sen. McCain presents a similar case in less exaggerated form. He has chosen to run this year as a Bush Republican, adopting nearly all of President Bush's policy directions on major issues and staffing his campaign operation largely with people who used to work for Bush. Bush, as it happens, has had approval ratings under 40% for over two years. His disapproval ratings now approach 70%. The way to make the case that he should not be President appears reasonably clear, which is why I suspect strenuous efforts to communicate how scary and frightening McCain is end up, consciously or not, saying more about the people making them than they do about McCain.

In case this is not obvious, let me add directly that I only make this point because DA is a foreign policy blog, and because I expect that at least some DA contributors may end up in an Obama administration, working on one aspect or other of American foreign policy. People in that line of work should not be so easily frightened.

Are you suggesting she may not be fit for the office of Vice President?

Well, heard it here first!

also, she actually said that Iran would not be permitted to have nuclear POWER!

"Now a leader like [Iranian leader Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad who is not sane or stable when he says things like that is not one whom we can allow to acquire nuclear energy, nuclear weapons."

now those are some big balls writing big checks. Its their right under the NPT to have power plants.

and the campaign confirmed it

"But Randy Scheunemann, foreign policy director for the McCain-Palin campaign, said in an e-mail that Palin "stated Sen. McCain's and her position accurately" when she said Iran should also not have access to nuclear energy."


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