The President, who once said the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would be a red-line, a “grave and tragic mistake” and a “game-changer,” has backed away from that statement by providing clarification without calling it such.
Now (and in a piece of totally on-target analysis) the red-line is the systematic use of chemical weapons. “Use ‘em a few times? Meh… But use ‘em 24/7 and lookout, Assad.”
Right. Whatever “lookout” then means.
Iran has already learned the lesson of Obama’s many warnings. Not only does Iran have China and Russia in its corner, it also has this President’s fear of starting another war in the Middle East. Leading from behind and all that.
And of course, Syria is an Iranian proxy.
Iran appears to be at the point where its nuclear weapons program and its nuclear weapons delivery program can only be destroyed and not deterred. The large lessons in this scenario? 1) When Iran is full-on nuclear, they will have Syria’s back. 2) American presidents need to know when to keep their mouths shut, be purposefully vague, or let others speak on their behalf or face being painted into a corner by their own words.
And in President Obama’s case, he’s waiting for the paint to dry so he can re-paint the floor something other than red. Will he have time? As it regards Syria, the Magic Eight-Ball of foreign policy says, “Signs point to yes.”
For another world leader, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and as it regards both Syria and Iran, signs point to “no.”
Domestically, the President expected Senate Democrats not to abandon him on gun control. They bailed.
Internationally, the President warned Iran not to make a nuclear weapon. Iran yawned. (Actually, they didn’t just yawn; they not only kept at it, but they’ve developed missiles to deliver those nuclear weapons as well.)
What’s next Mr. President, a demarche? A staring contest with Candy Crowley providing the binding arbitration? A few harshly worded letters?
Everywhere, those opposed to the will of Barack Obama tremble at his indignation and power.
Like a policy black hole and the infamous Russian Reset, President Obama’s dream of a world without nuclear weapons is collapsing on itself. From Graham Allison at the Boston Globe:
Four years ago today, President Obama gave his first speech abroad. In Prague, he announced a bold vision for a “world without nuclear weapons.” Four years on, it is fair to ask: How is that working out? Assessing all the positives, and all the negatives, are we closer to the president’s aspiration — or further from it?
The self-evident answer is we’re demonstrably further from a world without nuclear weapons than we were four years ago.
Nuclear proliferation goes far beyond Iran and the Norks… think not just of that axel of evil but consider others who have obvious nuclear interests: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt; Syria; small, capable nations facing oversize threats, such as Taiwan; finally, those who once felt they were under the U.S. nuclear umbrella like Japan and South Korea. And nuclear proliferation is only likely increase.
So what can be done to enhance U.S. national security?
Much. And a great first step would be to stop denying reality.
A fascinating tale from Elliott Abrams—with plenty of “inside baseball” backstory—largely focused on how U.S. policymakers handled the run-up leading to Israel’s military attack that destroyed the Syrian nuclear program.
There are compelling lessons embedded within, that is, 1) individuals have their own agendas to consider in making policy suggestions and in trying to charter courses of action, and 2) when people aren’t sure what to do on a critical topic, they tend to end up doing nothing (or if they must do something, they choose the easy thing).
Restated, these lessons are 1) where I stand depends on where I sit and 2) when in doubt, take no action.
However, these lessons go out the window when national survival is an issue, which it may have been for Israel. Then action is required and doing nothing is not an option.
So as it relates to the United States, when will we reach the point where the President, a sufficient number of other politicos, and the citizenry conclude that our national survival is being threatened by our deficit and debt?
Or as a wise man once observed, things that can’t continue forever won’t.
Remember the calculus from the 2010 QDR? When the Administration said our national security was safe in the arms (so to speak) of our overwhelming conventional superiority?
Now it seems the United States will no longer serve as the global cop. Too expensive, too much trouble, not enough gratitude.
What is the predictable consequence of the U.S. opting out, should this position hold? Nuclear proliferation from those who once fell under the U.S. “nuclear umbrella.”
And it seems the U.S. nuclear umbrella is being non-transparently negotiated away beneath our feet despite the promises of the President in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review:
[President Obama] pledged that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal, both to deter potential adversaries and to assure U.S. allies and other security partners that they can count on America’s security commitments.
One lesson of history is that peace ends in war.
A second lesson is that war ends in peace.
A third lesson is that countries with nuclear weapons have their security problems diminished and not enlarged. That’s why Pakistan, India, North Korea, and soon, Iran have them. It’s also why Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Japan, and others are re-examining the U.S. nuclear commitment.
China says it has a responsibility to try and dissuade its “blood ally,” North Korea, from launching a three-stage rocket in a few weeks but that they only hold so much sway over their belligerent neighbors.
First, it would be better said that China is North Korea’s “bloody ally.”
Second, the non-power of the UN is again on display. There are already at least two resolutions against North Korea with regard to pursuing ballistic missile technologies and testing such capabilities. It’s like the bumper sticker on gun laws: when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. And China could easily get North Korea to turn off any such test were they so inclined.
Finally, maybe this would be a good chance for a more useful UN resolution, one that would endorse the US using its anti-missile systems to shoot down any North Korean launch. Yes, Russia and China would be opposed, but the US, along with South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, could form a formidable political block of shared interests on the subject, and as with North Korea, could just ignore the lack of authorization and act if they wanted.
Still, don’t hold your breath on a real world missile defense demonstration. Much bureaucratic wrangling and consensus building would be required (the State Department is good at making speeches and traveling; not so good at building consensus) and for the rest of the Obama Administration, were a shoot-down to occur, it would only refocus their de-funding decisions on missile defense as well as the pending cuts to defense spending (and the country’s associated security vulnerabilities) via sequestration.
Joe Biden, AKA GaffeMaster Flash, is at it again. The guy never ceases to amaze: he’s less ethical than Spiro Agnew, less truthful than Al Gore, less benevolent than Dick Cheney, and less graceful than Gerald Ford.
I suppose a tumor might explain much of Biden’s behavior, except he’s been this way for decades.
And in this man-bites-dog world, Joe Biden epitomizes the very Administration and President he serves.
So when Joe attempts to assign blame to the George W. Bush administration—gee, that’s an original position to take, and for Biden, clever—as it regards Iran’s nuclear weapons program, he once again has the facts upside down, sideways, and backwards.
From Marc Theissen:
●Before Obama took office, Iran had zero known centrifuges producing uranium enriched to 20 percent (which can be converted to nuclear weapons fuel in a short amount of time). Today, they have more than 1,000 centrifugeschurning out this dangerous, near-bomb-grade material.
●Before Obama took office, Iran had no stockpiles of this higher enriched uranium. Today, Iran has 73.1 kilograms. (It needs just 85 kilograms for a bomb.)
●Before Obama took office, Iran needed months to make a dash to a bomb. Today, it could make that dash in a matter of weeks.
That’s not all. In December 2011, Iran’s deeply buried Fordow facility went operational and Iran is now producing near-bomb-grade uranium at this hardened facility. Iran has also more than doubled the number of centrifuges operating at its infamous Natanz facility — from 3,936 when Obama took office to 8,808 today. Moreover, in the past several years, Iran has expanded the development and testing of advanced solid-fueled ballistic missiles — so that when it does make the decision to make a dash for the bomb, it also can make a dash to deliver it as well.
The bottom line is this: The Iranian regime has developed a rapid nuclear weapons breakout capability on President Obama’s watch.
And the worst part? Compared to the Administration’s domestic policy, their failures regarding Iran’s nuclear program look fairly modest.
Joe’s brain long-ago achieved room temperature which makes him an excellent fit with the rest of the Administration. But the problem is not so much their intelligence; it’s their initiative.
While there is some amount of gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands, the simple purpose of the upcoming North Korean rocket launch is this: to be able and deliver a nuclear weapon to a target.
If North Korea wanted space services, they could simply buy them from the Chinese, sanction-free, at a significant savings, and with little loss of face should the event fail.
But if North Korea wants an organic nuclear weapon deliver capability—which they do; that’s also why they have a nuclear weapons program—they have to do it themselves.
Where’s my Global Zero when I need it?
VDH writes on Nuclear Realities.
One of the realities is that given Iran, the Administration has whiffed on its number one goal from the Nuclear Posture Review, to prevent nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.
To quote myself on the topic of nuclear deterrence (and Iran), here are some relevant articles written when I was supporting the Air War College:
The above articles don’t fall into the “Yes, but…” with regard to Dr. Hanson’s Nuclear Realities piece, but rather fall into the “Yes, and…”
White House Press Release
For Immediate Release
As a part of his Peace Through Weakness (PTW) initiative, the President has moved to strengthen national security by reducing the U.S. nuclear weapons count from the treaty-limited “new START” ceiling of 1550. Under PTW, the number of U.S. nuclear weapons will be 300. Consistent with PTW, this move will enhance the United States’ moral standing with non-declared nuclear nations like North Korea, Pakistan, and soon, Iran, as well as with other states pondering nuclear weapons to include Myanmar, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
The PTW reductions will move the world towards the President’s goal of global zero, reduce our nuclear infrastructure costs, and increase the confidence of those nations who are protected by the U.S. nuclear “umbrella.” Additionally, China has promised to purchase $6.4 trillion of U.S Treasury Notes should the PTW reductions be achieved, a benefit of significant economic entanglement for all Americans.
Although the full national security enhancements resulting from such a move may not be known for some time, the President, by himself, has decided in a true multilateral fashion that America and its allies will be best served by this peaceful move. Hyperpartisan critics of the President who describe PTW as a counterintuitive gamble that isn’t required are ignoring the President’s myriad foreign policy accomplishments including (but not limited to) winning the Nobel Peace Prize, killing bin Laden from the White House video-teleconference center, and correctly identifying Canada as being in the Northern Hemisphere.
Press Contact: Ben Dover, PTW Research Director, 201-613-3440