A Dreamer at the Helm
We all have hopes and dreams. And then there is reality, which demands our attention and our respect. America has been living in a dream world for almost twenty years, somehow managing to evade reality – social, economic and international. The process of economic unraveling is our pecuniary punishment for evading reality. Destructive war has been, and will be again, our national punishment.
On May 25th North Korea detonated a nuclear device. “I don’t believe that anybody in the administration thinks that there is a crisis,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. While the entire world sees a crisis, while North Korea threatens to re-ignite the Korean War, President Obama and Secretary Gates fall back on hopes and dreams. The President hopes that China will discipline its errant North Korean child. The situation will be contained. No need to worry. The Secretary of Defense talks of quarantine measures against North Korea. Everything will be handled quietly, through diplomacy – as before.
In response to this non-crisis on the Korean peninsula, South Korea has joined with the U.S. in something called the “Proliferation Security Initiative.” It involves an effort to intercept ships carrying weapons of mass destruction from North Korea to points unlisted. The North Korean government, in response, warned that any effort to search North Korean ships would lead directly to war. In fact, the North Koreans have placed a question-mark upon the 1953 armistices that ended the Korean War. “I don’t believe that anybody in the administration thinks that there is a crisis,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. This is the same Robert Gates who publicly warned that unless the United States repairs its nuclear weapons infrastructure the U.S. nuclear deterrent could become “unreliable” by the end of this year.
Gates’ real concerns have little to do with the proliferation of North Korean nukes. What troubles him is the deconstruction of America’s nukes. The nuclear genie left the bottle long ago. What else is new? The best security against other people’s nuclear weapons is to maintain a reliable nuclear arsenal of your own. President Obama, however, disagrees with this approach. His new budget provides no funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead program. His rhetoric is that of nuclear disarmament, starting with the American side. It is a visionary “zero nukes” policy. According to the President’s budget statement, “This vision is based on the reality that nuclear security is not just about warheads and the size of the stockpile. The vision emphasizes that we must increase our focus on … transforming the Cold War nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century national security enterprise.”
While nuclear weapons are proliferating, and potential enemies are acquiring nuclear weapons, the United States is retreating from the role of major nuclear power. The new administration prefers security without reliable warheads, and wishes to set a good example for other countries. As government revenue shrinks the administration borrows trillions to “stimulate” the economy. Interest rates have been lowered, loans are being encouraged. The cause of our economic ailment is supposed to be the cure. Meanwhile, the cheapest weapon of defense – our nuclear arsenal – is no longer worth funding. In fact, it is viewed as immoral and questionable (as something from our reactionary past).
Anyone who has studied the American Left, who has met political dreamers in person, cannot be surprised at the present administration’s policy. Obama’s policy is as predictable as sunrise. And the outcome of the policy is predictable too. Last October, with regard to America’s nuclear weapons, Defense Secretary Gates warned, “[T]o be blunt, there is absolutely no way we can maintain a credible deterrent and reduce the number of weapons in our stockpile without resorting to testing our stockpile or pursuing a modernization program.”
This modernization program is opposed by President Obama. “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,” Obama has said. The value of our nuclear deterrent has been called into question. What has protected the U.S. mainland for the last six decades is no longer in vogue. Our protection will be found in diplomacy, in promises set down on pieces of paper; promises made by foreign governments.
After President Obama laid out his “vision” of a nuclear-free world last April, he invited Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn and William Perry to the White House. According to former Secretary of State Shultz, the four “enthusiastically” support Obama’s new policy. “I don’t think anybody would accuse these four gentlemen of being dreamers,” said Obama. “They’re hard-headed, tough defenders of American interests and American security.”
Oh yes, of course. Kissinger’s diplomacy opened China, gave away Southeast Asia to the Communists, and provided a screen for Soviet nuclear superiority in the late 1970s. Shultz attempted to undermine President Reagan’s tough stand against the spread of Communism into Latin America. Sam Nunn was swindled by the post-Soviet promises of Russian nuclear disarmament. And William Perry was the architect of containing North Korea’s nuclear program in the 1990s.
The success or failure of statesmen cannot be judged amid the hype or fanfare of their declared intentions or self-proclaimed successes. What matters is the long-term outcome. Last April, speaking in Prague, President Obama said: “The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War.” But that is incorrect. Nuclear weapons cannot be un-invented. This has nothing to do with the Cold War. And besides, the Cold War never ended. It continues today, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Now the real danger begins. A dreamer is at the helm, and policy goes haywire.
About JR Nyquist
JR Nyquist Archive
|12/30/2013||A Financial Poem for the New Year||story|
|12/23/2013||The Free Market's Path to Peace||story|
|12/16/2013||Learning the Wrong Lessons From the Financial Crisis||story|
|12/09/2013||The Economy of the Future||story|
|12/02/2013||China Troubles and the Incapable Nitwits of 2014||story|
|11/25/2013||The Lost Context of the Economic Crisis||story|
|11/18/2013||Economic Science and the Underworld||story|
|11/12/2013||The Market Knows Best||story|
|11/04/2013||America, Saudi Arabia, and the Dollar||story|
|10/28/2013||The Economics of Disagreement||story|