Obama’s Nuke-free Vision Drawing Fire

December 26, 2009

President Barack Obama’s vision of a nuclear free world is running into problems day by day. Eight months after he outlined a key principle of his foreign policy initiatives in a speech in Prague, Obama is still trying hard to enact the phase out of nuclear weapons.

The biggest obstacle is surprisingly not the GOP, but U.S. agencies like the Pentagon. This is the latest in a list of obstacles that the Obama administration has encountered when dealing with National Security establishments. Troop levels in Afghanistan and missile defenses in Eastern Europe have been other sticking points. “This is the first test of Obama’s nuclear commitments,” said former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nancy Soderberg, “They can’t afford to fall short at the outset.”

The Pentagon, however, is pushing back at the White House and insisting that reducing the number of nuclear weapons is not in the interests in national security. This fear could be well founded in light of recent events where nuclear technologies have spread to countries like North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.
However, in Obama’s defense, his vision is important to the U.S. because in the eyes of non-nuclear countries, the U.S. is hypocritical as it preaches nuclear arms control to others but does nothing to fulfill its promises to disarm. How this tug of war between the White House and the agencies will end is anybody’s guess. Nevertheless, a clue could be gained from a comment by a Senior Department of Defense official, who said “We are not looking at whether to reduce the roles of nuclear weapons and whether to reduce (their numbers); we’re looking at how”.