Posts Tagged ‘nuclear weapons’

President Obama’s decision today to tie America’s hands when it is attacked is so bizarre on so many levels.

It’s of a piece with many other pronouncements of this White House — they look good to their liberal buddies, everyone feels good about themselves, but they don’t really mean anything worth talking about.  Does anyone actually think that, if China gassed Manhattan, the Obama Administration would leave the nuclear option off the table?  If it would, the President should be impeached immediately.  And if Syria sponsored an anthrax attack in Mobile, we should feel just fine about lobbing a tactical nuke into Assad’s compound.  Making grandiose statements about what we would or wouldn’t do after incurring an attack from a foreign power involving weapons of mass destruction is just as ineffectual as President Bush’s announcement that Russia was no longer targeting the United States with its nuclear weapons.  The weapons were still there, and they could be re-targeted, but right now, at this moment…they aren’t aimed at us.  Comforting, eh?

The larger point, however, is that basic international — or interpersonal — relations require that when someone is threatening you with serious harm, you give them no comfort that greater harm might not come to them if they tried it.  You don’t issue quid pro quos, and you don’t make your own threats.  Those tactics reduce you to their level.

But to each and every scenario they might posit about ways to inflict pain and suffering on your people, as for the consequences, you want them to imagine the worst.  Thus is the way of deterrence.

When they ask the question Obama answered today — “If I launch a chemical warhead into your largest city, will you send five ICBMs into my population centers?” — you always want them to hear you say, “You never know.”

“If I send a horde of infected monkeys to infect all of Florida with a brain-wasting disease, will you explode a hydrogen bomb in my palace?”

“You never know.”

“When I lace your frozen blueberry supply with toxins so potent that hundreds of smoothie-consumers will keel over upon their first sip of the straw?  Would you really make my countryside radioactive for that?”

“You never know.”

“Could I just set off a terrible stink bomb,  coat a few dozen buildings with a really smelly substance, rendering the city uninhabitable for a couple of months?  Still nuke me then?”

“You never know.”

Why would you ever want to answer these questions with anything but “You never know?”  Why, as our President stated without irony today, would you want to do anything but “preserve all the tools that are necessary in order to make sure that the American people are safe and secure,” when no one was asking you to do anything different?  If Putin blew up a daisy cutter in Oakland, would Obama take his phone call so he can insist that, “Hey, Barack, buddy, keep your hands off that football.  You promised!”

In the end, I’m glad that our President thinks the process doesn’t matter in life — just the ends.  Because if he actually thought this silly process of setting the rules of Global Thermonuclear War actually mattered, I’d be much more worried.

"Would you like to play a game?"

Michelle B. Mathews/AMPAC/ECCI

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