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Foreign Affairs

Slouching Toward Obfuscation

Michael Anton writes an extensive review of the Obama Administration's 2010 Nuclear Posture and Review and concludes that while it is much less bad than it might have been (thanks, in very large part, to Bush holdover and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates) it still moves in the direction of obfuscation as defense policy.  Lest we begin to wonder at what may be Obama's purposeful "strategic ambiguity," Anton takes up the task of considering those purposes.  Mostly, it appears, there are none . . . or, rather, that there are too many and contradictory purposes at work.  Nearly all of them suffer from the problem of stemming from defective assumptions or from not adequately considering or understanding past policies that have, whatever else may be said, resulted in an amazing run of deterrence.  Anton illustrates his argument with a multitude of examples that resonate with a chill.  Consider, foremost, that Iraq's failure to use chemical or biological warheads in the 1991 Gulf War has been tied directly to their fear that the United States might retaliate with a nuclear response. 

Those who note that the US already has enough nuclear weapons or who argue that appearing less willing to use those weapons would result in goodwill and peace and a similar disarmament on the part of other nations may be right (or, of course, they may be whacked) . . . but even granting that, do they ever consider what a more supine posture toward nuclear armament might mean with respect to the use of other means of hideous and insidious weaponry--the kinds that are, of course, much easier to obtain?

Read the whole thing. 
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