Democracy Arsenal

« Sec Clinton: Don't "Cling" to Outmoded Weapons | Main | A Tale of Two Afghanistans »

October 21, 2009

Sec Clinton: You Can Have Too Many Nuclear Weapons
Posted by David Shorr

For former speechwriter reasons, no doubt, Heather really liked the way Secretary Clinton used the verb cling, as in "Clinging to nuclear weapons in excess of our security needs does not make the United States safer." Heather and I agree that this was a key passage in Clinton's excellent major address on nonproliferation today at US Institute of Peace, but I actually think the adjective excess is more important and links to other favorite points in the speech.

The perennial question of whether you can be too rich or too thin is a subject for another blog, but I'm glad Clinton has clarified the matter of having too many nuclear weapons. I'm glad because the question of how many you need leads to the question of why you have them. And then of course the issue of the consequences of having too many.

Not only is this where the debate needs to go, it represents a significant shift. Because most arguments you hear for keeping (or adding new) high levels of nuclear weapons treat them as symbols of (a very strange notion of) strength. It's high time we talked about why our country has history's most destructive weapons in our arsenal. Only when we've clarified the role and purpose of nuclear forces 20 years after the end of the Cold War can we make sound decisions about how many we need -- and how many are excessive.

Oh, Secretary Clinton's speech. Sorry. Here's how she talked about it:

But we must do more than reduce the numbers of our nuclear weapons. We must also reduce the role they play in our security. In this regard, the ongoing Nuclear Posture Review will be a key milestone. It will more accurately calibrate the role, size, and composition of our nuclear stockpile to the current and future international threat environments. And it will provide a fundamental reassessment of U.S. nuclear force posture, levels, and doctrine. Carried out in consultation with our allies, it will examine the role of nuclear weapons in deterring today’s threats and review our declaratory policies with respect to the circumstances in which the United States would consider using nuclear weapons.

There is another important dimension, though:

As part of the NPR, the Nuclear Posture Review, we are grappling with key questions: What is the fundamental purpose of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal? Will our deterrence posture help the United States encourage others to reduce their arsenals and advance our nonproliferation agenda? How can we provide reassurance to our allies in a manner that reinforces our nonproliferation objectives? [Emphasis added.]

Right, our nonproliferation agenda. This is another essential difference of perspectives with hard-liners. The way they look at it, moral authority and holding up our own end of the bargain make no difference. It should be so obvious that the other guys are worse that we're morally superior regardless of our own actions. Back to Secretary Clinton:

We are under no illusions that the START agreement will persuade Iran and North Korea to end their illicit nuclear activities. But it will demonstrate that the United States is living up to its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligation to work toward nuclear disarmament. In doing so, it will help convince the rest of the international community to strengthen nonproliferation controls and tighten the screws on states that flout that their nonproliferation commitments.

I couldn't have said it better.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sec Clinton: You Can Have Too Many Nuclear Weapons:


I couldn't have said it better.

From my point of view neclear Weapons are very harmful to the any country and citizens. I think UNO must do something to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

cartucho r4i

Thank you for your sharing.! seslichat seslisohbet

Thank you for your sharing! I like i very much!

Great comments! You are so nice, man! You never know how much i like'em!

Yes, that's cool. The device is amazing! Waiting for your next one!

I like the post, and I agree somewhat with, To be very truthful.

There is no black and white colors, such as gray and red like a timeless classic, and eventually replica handbagsbecome worse, Homme Dior, black A06 wake up call, the foreigners rouge, further improve the design of the initial sales to noble pure deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA) Homme Dior, Dior men will bring clean ao in front of us the overall structure, surrounded by a black dial, simplereplica handbags and stylish design style spirit of Dior Homme.

I wish every developed country could stop developing nuclear weapons. We are not doing anymore war. Indeed, we need to cooperate to build a better world for better living. poker bonus

Türkiyenin ilk Hiphop Sitesi Hiphop, Gekko G Fan Sitesi Gekko G, Mask animasyon thank you very good site

The comments to this entry are closed.

Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.
Powered by TypePad


The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use