Barack Obama’s broken nuclear promise

Jared Keller writes: In the early days of his presidency, during a visit to Prague’s Hradčany Square, Barack Obama launched what observers saw as a centerpiece of his foreign policy: a doctrine for a nuclear free world. “The Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not,” President Obama announced, pointing out the paradoxical twist of the modern nuclear dilemma — as the threat of global nuclear war has subsided, the risk of a singular nuclear attack has only intensified.

“More nations have acquired these weapons. Testing has continued. Black market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound. The technology to build a bomb has spread. Terrorists are determined to buy, build, or steal one,” Obama continued. “Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered on a global non-proliferation regime, but as more people and nations break the rules, we could reach the point where the center cannot hold.”

Taken in the context of his other campaign promises — the closure of Guantanamo, (which has only truly blossomed in the twilight hours of his presidency) and the end of the two costly wars he inherited — Obama’s nuclear promise seemed both heroic and unimpeachable, especially given its tacit support by past foreign policy luminaries. Mere months after his Prague address, Obama was awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize — a symbolic endorsement of his nascent doctrine — with the Nobel Committee specifically citing the “special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.” Obama used the moment to make the case for “just war” in the modern geopolitical stage: “We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.” [Continue reading…]

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