Anyone looking for a veritable picture-window into President Obama’s non-defense policy would do well to peruse John Bolton’s A Treaty for Utopia posted on National Review Online a few days ago.
The subject, as the title suggests, is the recently concluded “New START” bilateral arms-control treaty between the United States and Russia, a topic – typically devoted to convoluted and highly technical bean-counts (albeit with Biblically dangerous beans) – that would normally inspire narcolepsy in all but the most committed policy wonks. However, we don’t live in normal times and, with our President roaming the world looking for new constituencies to apologize to, no one who understands the implications is getting much sleep
Unlike the patter-chorus of Obama apologists whose mantra appears be to some variation of “nothing to see here, move along, move along,” Bolton actually knows what he’s talking about, and he makes a compelling case that this agreement is not only deeply flawed but also reflects Obama’s larger world-view.
Substantively, the most appalling aspect of the Obama-Medvedev treaty is not its specific provisions, but what it reveals about President Obama’s national-security psychology. He has repeatedly said he believes lowering U.S. nuclear-warhead levels will encourage support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s weapons prohibitions on non-nuclear-weapons states. This is the purest form of theology, since the empirical evidence is entirely to the contrary. As the Cold War ended, Moscow and Washington made dramatic reductions in warhead levels, huge in percentage and absolute terms. Nonetheless, nuclear proliferation continued, and the pace is quickening. After START I and II, India, Pakistan, and North Korea tested nuclear weapons, and Iran rapidly approaches that point. Syria had a clandestine nuclear reactor until Israel destroyed it in September 2007. And if current and aspiring nuclear proliferators keep or develop weapons, this will encourage still more proliferation activity.
Approval of American disarmament in European capitals and American academic salons is not proof that disarmament strengthens international nonproliferation norms. In fact, Tehran and Pyongyang will conclude the opposite, namely that America is getting weaker, and react accordingly. Faced with the Obama mindset, Iran and North Korea are now more likely to fall all over themselves getting to the bargaining table. There seems to be no limit to what they would be able to extract from Obama’s negotiators, to our serious and perhaps permanent detriment.
The analysis that follows, especially as concerns US self-imposed constraints on missile defense, beggars belief in an era when Iran, for one, is projected to have a deliverable nuclear weapon within the next five years. Given the administration’s current scrambling to find a policy – any policy – that will constrain Iran, this is remarkable double-think.
There is arguably no area of American life that isn’t being negatively impacted by the ideologically-driven amateur night that is this administration, and it can be difficult to remember foreign policy issues behind the flood-lights of Health Care Reform, Cap and Tax etc. especially since a lot of it is about what isn’t happening. We owe Ambassador Bolton a debt of thanks for a timely reminder.