President Barack Obama with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Carlos Barria / Reuters
Dominic Tierney, The Atlantic: Refusing to Nuke First
Why rejecting nuclear preemption reflects strength, not weakness.
On September 5, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration is weighing whether to adopt a so-called “no-first-use” nuclear doctrine. This would allow the United States to launch nuclear weapons only if the enemy deployed them first. Such a change would be a dramatic policy shift: Washington has always kept the option of a preemptive strike on the table.
Under President Obama, a no-first-use doctrine has been widely regarded as an idealistic policy for the United States—a noble, if controversial, step toward achieving his goal of “a world without nuclear weapons.” Through self-restraint, and the disavowal of a first strike, America could “escape the logic of fear,” as Obama said at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial last May. Indeed, conservatives have condemned the no-first-use pledge as another instance of typical liberal naiveté on defense matters, or of “ticking the boxes the far-Left long wanted ticked.” By removing the first-strike option, the argument goes, Washington will weaken America’s nuclear deterrent, embolden its enemies, and undermine allies like Japan that rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Even many of Obama’s top foreign-policy advisors are concerned by the potential security implications of this idea. Under a storm of pressure, the president may very well decide that no-first-use is a bridge too far.
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WNU Editor: This is just an academic discussion .... President Obama is near the end of his term, and any pronouncements or implementation of a "no-first strike" policy by President Obama will probably be ignored and discounted by either Trump or Clinton. But even in the event of a "no-first" nuclear strike policy being accepted by the next President .... I am willing to bet that in the event of major war breaking out against Russia .... such a "no-fist use" policy will be quickly discounted and ignored.