• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: Obama is No Reagan on Nuclear Strategy

    Leaders from 46 nations, the most gathered together since the United Nations was formed in San Francisco in 1945, will meet over the next two days in Washington, DC. The stated goal of this Obama administration-hosted summit is laudable: keeping nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands. Who could argue with that? And this Nuclear Security Summit comes less than a week after President Barack Obama released a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and just days after he signed a New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. As many of the White House’s allies pointed out last week, President Ronald Reagan wanted a world without nuclear weapons, and he also signed an arms treaty with the Soviet Union. President Obama’s policy goals are just like President Reagan’s. So why is anyone criticizing the White House’s nuclear strategy? Because how we get to a nuke-free world matters.

    Reagan knew that to eliminate the need for large nuclear arsenals, you must first start to eliminate the dependence — both ours and others’ — on massive nuclear attack as the guarantor of security. That is why Reagan’s first priority was to build up U.S. conventional forces and introduce missile defense. That allowed his negotiators to approach arms control agreements from a position of strength.

    President Obama has done the exact opposite. He has cut our national defense, including acquisition of the F-22, removed missile defense installations in Eastern Europe, and cut missile defense development programs. His lawyer-like NPR weakens America’s deterrence credibility by broadcasting our intention not to respond in kind if we are hit by weapons of mass destruction. And his New START agreement not only clearly links our missile defense shield with Russian missile reduction, but it also limits our own conventional weapons capabilities as well.

    Reagan also understood how other nations viewed their own nuclear programs and recognized the limits of unilateral arms reductions. President Obama clearly does not. Russia’s nuclear and conventional weapons arsenals are declining faster than ours, due to age and funding, so of course they want to bring our levels down to theirs. New START plays right into the Kremlin’s needs by constraining our advantage in conventional (non-nuclear) “strategic” weapons, including missile defense, in order to accentuate the power of their nuclear arsenal. Meanwhile, the current Iranian regime views their nuclear program as essential to their domestic survival, so the increasingly worthless sanctions the Obama administration is trying to get out of the United Nations Security Council will do nothing to slow the Iranian bomb either. And Obama’s call for eliminating nuclear weapons even provides North Korea with some political cover for maintaining its stockpile. In September 2009, Pyongyang declared that “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula [will be] in the context of a global effort to build a world free of nuclear weapons.” North Korea now ties its denuclearization to worldwide U.S. disarmament.

    Heritage fellow James Carafano concludes:

    Reagan’s sound vision for “rendering nuclear weapons obsolete” started with first ensuring robust defenses, then reducing the nuclear stockpile appropriately. Obama has taken a “reduce first, beef up defense later (if ever)” approach.

    It’s a path that leads to even greater danger, not to “zero.” Doubtless President Obama is motivated by the very best of intentions. But in a world of proliferating nuclear power, we should remember where a road paved only with good intentions leads.

    Quick Hits:

    • Read President of The Heritage Foundation, Dr. Edwin J. Feulner statement on the tragic passing of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, the First Lady Maria Kaczynska and other Polish officials and ministers.
    • According to Rasmussen Reports, 66% of voters believe that America is overtaxed.
    • Congress is poised to miss its April 15 deadline for finishing the budget without even considering a draft in either chamber. If the House does not pass a first version of the budget resolution, it will be the first time since the implementation of the 1974 Budget Act, which governs the modern congressional budgeting process.
    • Congress still has not found a way to pay for $9 billion more in jobless benefits that expired April 5th.
    • Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Fox News Sunday that the Obama administration does not have the votes to ratify New START in the Senate.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    49 Responses to Morning Bell: Obama is No Reagan on Nuclear Strategy

    1. Turner, Massachusett says:

      REVIVAL in America: God's word says, 2 Chronicles. 7:14 – "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

    2. Christopher Popham S says:

      IMHO, this two day 'summit' is pure, unadulterated grandstanding; yet another diversion from the responsibilities of addressing the vital domestic issues of the

      United States. The whole process is so convoluted as to again insult the intelligence

      of the American people and the world at large. Because of left wing, liberal and

      misguided agendas, the Administration and Congress are failing to get America back on track. If this country fails fiscally, the so-called importance of nuclear summits

      will disappear. The world is laughing at our domestic and internatonal roles on the geo-political stage. It is indeed sad to watch a once great nation slowly, but surely

      slide down the slippery slope of economic, cultural, societal and political disaster.

      "A conference is a gathering of important people who singly can do nothing, but

      together can decide that nothing can be done". Fred Allen.

      Good luck, America.

    3. Ken Jarvis says:


      How can that be bad?

      WHY would the HF oppose it?


    4. raccman in Hunterdon says:

      Mr. Obama knew nothing about International Politics when he became president and still knows nothing about them ! He would rather jeopardize our Country and our futures than embark on a more sound and realistic approach a la Reagan ! I'm afraid we made a big mistake in electing this Socialist who has never managed anything more than his bank account as president of our once great Country !

    5. Normca says:

      Obama sat in Reverend Wright's church for 20 years and we heard just one piece of vitriol from one sermon about dropping bombs on Japan, well before the election. Why should this surprise anyone ? I cannot think of a worse comparison than Ronald Wilson Reagan and the current inhabitant of the White House. At the least one wants to be liked by our enemies so they do not attack us during his watch. Mr. Reagan did not care so much about being liked; he was respected and wouldn't think about giving up his main chip, also called Star Wars. Right now they need 67 votes to pass this, so they will change the rules again.

    6. Mary.... WI says:

      Keeping the USA safe from our enemies is the main job of the president. It seems BO has made this country a laughing stock and vulnerable to attacks from the many "evildoes" that would like to hear us cry "uncle". It's almost as if BO would like to see this happen too. The "stuff" that goes on in his mind can be staggering.

    7. bigdave, ocala fl says:

      The leaders of countries which would LOVE to see the DEMISE of the USA, must be in 7th HEAVEN, unbelieving of this inexperienced little boy who has come to "negotiate" with them. After having to deal with the likes of Reagan, or even GW, they have to be laughing tearfully all the way to their nuclear bank. We are a a SEVERE CROSSROADS, about to embark on a completely ALINSKY-TYPE government-controlled EVERYTHING, which is EXACTLY what we have been fighting AGAINST FOR OVER TWO HUNDRED YEARS!!! The MEDIA has kept secret EVERYTHING about OBAMA, the fact he HATES WHITES, HATES CAPITALISM, HATES CHRISTIANS and will side with MUSLIMS when the time comes…ALL RIGHT OUT OF HIS MOUTH, RIGHT FROM HIS PEN, RIGHT OUT OF HIS BOOKS, and by the way, have you noticed all the little commies/radicals who call the White House home now, all self appointed by the Dictator-in-chief. Hey, I just calls em as I sees em.

    8. Brian Rheault, Agawa says:

      When President Obama was elected I felt his election would be the wake up call this nation needed to get back on the right track. I still feel that way but now my only concern is if we can survive his four years in office?

      Even though I did not vote for him I am still surprised that I disagree with everything he does. The disdain I have for his agenda is worse than I even anticipated.

    9. MN J says:

      Obama understands exactly what he and his cronies, are doing – destroy his view of America and replace it with something he's been taught will work, "if only the right person were in charge….". Coupled with his arrogance and elitism, he simply refuses, as do his buddies, to grasp the fact that this is the best place on the planet. (They're better/smarter/etc. than we are and they can gorge themselves from the public trough.)

      The arguments that democracies die after 200 years or so, is moot. We have raised two generations of kids who do not understand true greatness. They get the sports view but not the American view that with greatness comes responsibility. In sports, athletes must practice incredible hours to succeed. For a Republic to withstand the attacks, internal and external, its people must be taught. The left has infiltrated the education institutions (along with the accompanying security and pensions at our expense) to the point where they make it difficult to teach real American values, history, and responsibility.

      I quit – too long as is.:)

    10. Dennis Social Circle says:

      The dems and obama are not going to defend thuis nation, they will give away the keys to the white house, if thety believe it will benefit them. Nuclear arms and the lilitary are nothjing but thorns in their sides, so what ever they have to do in order to remove the thorn they will do.

      I* guess the statement made by al sharpton is right, America wants to becom,e a socialist nation, after all a socialist was elected president. I do not believe the majority wants this, the majority was and has been duped on the national scale, and must wake up or this coountry is doomed. VOTE IN NOVEMEBER.

    11. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Comparing Obama to Reagan is beyond absurdity. Obama's ploicies, both foreign and domestic, are the antitheist of Reagan's. The author, Conn Carroll is completely off the mark when he writes "Obama is motivated by the very best intentions". Obama is "motivated" by one cause, Socialism! He is neither stupid nor naive. What he is doing to this country is deliberate. Linking Obama with Reagan, in any form or article, is a total disgrace to the memory of one of the greatest Presidents we have ever had.

    12. Ken Allison, Tyler says:

      Mr Carafano, there is a great deal of doubt as to whether the current resident of the White House operates with the "best of intentions" unless you agree with him that the US should be "fundamentally transformed" into a 3rd world style oligarchy.

    13. Jim Roumeliotis - Hu says:

      Weak and distructive domestic, foreign and military policies goes right along with Obamas nuclear mastermind. Another example of foolishness at the highest level……It is almost a comedy act at this point……..

    14. Doug Whaley, Lake Ha says:

      This isn't rocket science. Anyone with the brain the size of a pea can see that Obama's real goal is to weaken the US to a level where we aren't the threat to the world he has been running around apologizing for to the world. He is trying hard to not only apologize for the US being a super power, but to make us into a country like the European welfare states like France, Germany and the rest who can't take care of themselves. This is typical old school liberal think that if you aren't a threat to anyone everyone will leave you alone. History and reality tell us a different story. When you are weak you get picked on. Whether in the school yard or in the world community that is just the way it is and the liberal policy of "Can't we all just get along?" doesn't work even a little bit.

      These people are posing the biggest threat to his country has seen since the civil war.

    15. Darrell, Glenburn, M says:

      Again, the president is showing his inexperience. For sure, he is NO Reagan!

    16. Bill Lee, ArkLaTex a says:

      Don't any of our Treadies with Russia or others have to be approved by Congress?

      Just do not think it is wise to allow one person who may be way off in his thinking to make deals like this!

      I would think Russia would know Obama is likely to be a one term President anyway. Of course Russia has nothing to lose on the deal.

      My opinion this will go down as another major mistake Obama makes like: Health Care, Cap and Trade.

      His legacy will be almost laughable, but it is serious as he is destroying America.

    17. Berdena Borum says:

      So, with that policy that Obama has not to respond to attacks from weapons of mass destruction, we are just sitting ducks waiting to be blown to pieces.

    18. Blair, Franconia, NH says:

      WWRD?=WHAT WOULD REAGAN DO? Not what Obama's doing. The one redeeming thing about Jimmy Carter's administration is Camp David. Big Woop. Reagan ended the Cold War. Obama's more dangerous than Carter because he's

      MORE naive than Jimmy Carter. Is that even possible? He'll be the American version of Neville Chamberlain the British Prime Minister who returned from Munich with a

      worthless piece of paper and proclaiming: "We now have peace in our time." In

      March 1939, Hitler completed his annexation of Czechoslovakia, in August, he attacked Gliweitz, a German radio station in Silesia, to give him an excuse to invade

      Poland. In September 1939, what happened? That's right, World War II began.

    19. Alexander S. Milne says:

      This is incredible that President Obama is having a summit on Nuclear Weapons with Ms. Jarrett in the lead. The President believes that there is nobody other then people in his administration knows more about this subject. The only one I would trust would be Secretary Gates. Secretary Clinton isn't qualified either. He should go to the experts outside the administration for advice and negotiation on this important subject. Sam Nunn comes to mind.

    20. Normca says:

      No one opposes a nuclear free world, except for terrorists, who do not sign treaties or keep their word. And it is the media who took the country off track. Is beating up on the enemy or responding to an attack "off track"

    21. Len, Alexandria,KY says:

      NOT A REAGAN??? Not Even a Hamma Cawtah who shall hencefoerth be known as only the SEcond worst President in history…

    22. Richard Cancemi says:

      I Keep waiting for Obama and his Administration to do something right for America. I do not see him as ever showing "good intentions" in what he is doing to this Country.

      What i believe is that Obama is an avowed Marxist/Progressive who has cosied up to all leaders who are marxists and who do not have America's interests at heart. He turns his back on our friends, and other free democratic countries, just as he turns his back on the Constitution and those who want to live under that Constitution.

      I can't decide if he is a nitwit or a traitor or both. I do believe he is an '"America-hater" and seeks its termination as a Constitutional Republic.

    23. Jupiter, Florida says:

      A guy who wants, purportedly, a have nuke free world did nothing positive to make Chicago a gang free city; in fact just the opposite. One better learn to walk before they run. As Radical Community Organizers, in the mold of Alinsky, are better at destroying than building, one should take a long look at and verify Obama's resume where you will find that the "Senior Lecturer" (never a professor) who never lectured is hardly one for us to turn over National Security to.

      The electorate and NYC/DC media may be sucked in by this fraud but one would hope a few in Congress would try to protect their own families from this nonsense and irresponsibility.

    24. Karen Bonvile Oregon says:

      Obama is part of a greater plan,God's. If we as Americans would only turn back to God and read the Bible then we would understand why all of this is happening to us.It is all part of God's greater plan.He is in control not Obama or the politicians in Washington or any where else in the world. Israel will be protected by him. Obama doesn't have a clue.He is just serving a purpose for bigger things about to happen to our country..

    25. Karen Bonvile Oregon says:

      If we trust Russia then we are bigger fools than I thought ..We need to BUILD our defence and our military.Make it strong. We do not need to get rid of our nuclear weapons or our space program .We need fighter planes and a strong military arsenal.Now not later.We need to protect our borders all over the US not just Mexico.Our Navy needs to be stratigically placed all over the globe.But our first priority is here.On American soil. Russia just laughs at us.If we think for one second they have gotten rid of thier nuclear bombs and such then we are crazy.

    26. JIm M, Virginia says:

      This is only the largest gathering of heads of state in Washington DC, not the US. There are often more heads of state at the annual UN General Assembly in NY City…including 100+ HOS at the UNs 50th anniversary in 2005…even the publicity is askew.

    27. guest says:

      We the United states is in now shape or form to be trying to negotiate such things. The world now view us as weak. Iran and Korea has no respect for us. We are all talk and no action. So, this Summit yet again is another failure from the beginning and will only ensure or enemies we are even weaker than they thought. Escpecaially, the one sign already is they can bail out anytime they want. It's meaningless. Just like the HC summit. Meaningless, and this administration will continue to take this country down the weak and defenseless path.

    28. Lee White Tanks AZ says:

      The very idea that Barrack H Obama should be setting International and United States nuclear weapons strategy and usage would be ludicrous if it were not for the simple fact that it has become fact.

      The man is a "stage managed prop" without a thought of his own. In the instances when he has tried to go without, or is deprived of his TelePrompter, he is reduced to a stuttering incoherent fool.

      To expect anything better from a south Chicago Daley Machine minor politician and mouthpiece is to indulge in gross self delusion. This is what is at the root of what occurred during the 2008 campaign and now post election.

      Far too many believed in a silly "Hope and Change" mantra professed by a relatively unknown rinky-dink politician rather than facing up to the realities of the monumental corruption of our government at all levels.

      If in 2010 the American people fail to elect a congress that will effectively block the Obama socialist Freight Train we will enter a long and very bad new "Dark Age".

      Our Governments from WDC (Washington District of Corruption) to the local School Board and everything in between are fundamentally corrupt. The highest bidder wins at the expense of even our children.

      Our Churches have shown themselves to be incapable of standing firm against such ungodly practices as Abortion on Demand, or more to the point, public supported "Infanticide".

      Our Public Purse has been raided and borrowed against to the point of National Bankruptcy. Our children's children's children's lives and fortunes have been mortgaged for "political" purposes. For purposes designed to provide a continuing "underclass" of Public Dole recipients whose vote and political support is assured by the fact of the Dole and the very easy use of its discontinuance or reduction to maintain "discipline".

      Our entertainment media has become cesspool of depravity and sexual license.

      Our K-12 schools have become home to an atheistic, union driven, federally overseen educational disaster that reeks of tenure driven incompetence and collectivist influence from textbooks to "teaching aids".

      Our Universities and Colleges are little more than a processing mill for little Politically Correct marionettes in every area of matriculation. none are spared. Law schools lead the parade.

      Our print and television news and opinion media with few exceptions (Fox and some local broadcasters) are little more than Paid Shills of the leftist leaning part of the Democrat Party. How anyone can think of a Kieth Olbermann, or Chris Matthews as fair and balanced when compared to someone like Dr. Thomas Sowell or Greta Van Susteran completely escapes me.

      Last but not by any means least, Foreign Policy as a sane, reasoned approach first and foremost to the well being and safety of America has quite simply ceased to exist. God bless those Allies such as Israel who continue their support in spite of behavior by our leadership that borders on throwing them to the lions.

      We conservative have our work cut out for us. Half way measures are no longer appropriate. A case in point: tell your reps in WDC that the recently passed Obama Care must come out "root and branch". Piecemeal/Selective removals are unacceptable. We must start over with an absolutely clean slate.

      Frankly this should be the approach to every piece of BHO sponsored legislation that manges to get enacted.

      This Obama sponsered Nuclear Weapons agenda must also go the way of all poorly concieved "do good" proposals. The safety of America and Americans must come first.

    29. Don, NC says:

      "Doubtless President Obama is motivated by the very best of intentions." Really??

    30. RennyG Maryland says:

      Can a "community organizer" just do that????????????? I just keep "praying!"

    31. Leith Wood Richmond, says:

      I do not believe that Obama is motivated by the best of intentions .

    32. Ann Blackburn says:

      Ken Jarvis needs to reread the article, if he, indeed, read it at all! Graciouslady1

    33. SR, Utah says:

      With nothing but sorta-like-a-real-job, community-activist experience equipping him to wrestle with harsh chief-executive realities, President Obama appears to believe that his kindred-heart Marxist counterparts in Russia and elsewhere will behave as benevolently as they speak. Prudent, non-malfeasant leadership in a world now occupied by more nuclear nations than ever calls not for suicidal “we’ll give up ours and hope you’ll give up yours” patty cake with the Kremlin and others, but for character, discernment, competence, and warranted trust. While there’s little doubt where Mssrs. Putin and Medvedev stand in these matters, the more pertinent question is where is our executive leader?

      It is ironic, but not in the edifying sense, and perilous that Mr. Obama persists in espousing foreign and nuclear policies consistent with the perpetual adolescence of those who elected and continue to support him, at a time that calls more than ever for the “peace through strength” and “trust but verify” parental/adult wisdom of Washington, Eisenhower, and Reagan. This is not a virtual-reality game where, if our leader is wrong, we just try again. New START is not a new beginning; it is appeasement. The White House’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, it is naked folly.

    34. Thor H. Asgardson says:

      "Obama is no Reagan?" How about Obama is NO PRESIDENT?

      Get a clue! Either address the core of the issue, or get off the stage.

    35. Mike, Chicago says:

      With half of the deficit funding two illegal wars this is a great time to remember the damage caused by the Regan regime and the true costs of the trickle down economics they favored.

    36. toledofan says:

      I think it is or should be considered blasphemy to us Obama in any comparison to Reagan other than to say that Reagan, on a scale of 10, as a President, was a strong 10 and Obama is, maybe, at best a 2 or 3. It easy to throw up a couple of smoke screens and prioritize things like nuclear weapons reductions and trying to control nuclear dirty bombs and ignoring the real problems, like, unemployment at 10%, a deficeit out of control, entitlement spending through the roof, and the dismantling of the Constitution. I guess if you can't accept the fact that America is that shining star and beacon of hope, then, no matter what you do, it really won't matter much in the long run.

    37. Howard, Tampa says:

      My first visit to HF. I’ve heard it talked about so thought I’d take a look. To say I’m shocked at the strange views here would be a huge understatement.

      Do you really believe Obama doesn’t want the best defense for the USA? That he made the defense decisions all by himself without talking with the Joint Chiefs of Staff about what would be best for the USA? Do you really think the Joint Chiefs would support a weak military plan for the USA? Perhaps you think the Joint Chiefs are just lapdogs that they will do and support anything the President says.

      Do you recall that it was on Bush’s watch that 9/11 happened? How “safe” were we then? And don’t try to say it was caused by Clinton. It was a year after Bush won the election.

      It’s always more dramatic to fight back after losing a battle. Obama took actions that helped us avoid a complete economic collapse. That it was avoided is, of course, hard to prove. It’s also kind of boring. If the markets had collapsed and the world fell into depression, then it would have been much more exciting. I can do without that kind of excitement.

      When Clinton proposed his economic plan, almost no one (including top economists) thought it would work (in case you don’t recall, it worked great). Only a few people saw the current mortgage collapse. It’s not the majority that counts all the time – it’s getting it right.

      We still have enough nukes for MADD. We’re making progress economically, the stock market has rebounded, a number of banks have repaid the TARP money with interest, Republicans in Congress are enjoying photo ops showing how many jobs are being provided in their area while at the same time saying TARP has provided no jobs, and now we have a health care plan which will help to save 45,000 lives each year. Health care will change over time and there will be great debates about how it will get paid for. Where were the debates about paying for our two wars?

      Perhaps if the Republicans and HF stopped saying that EVERYTHING the administration does is wrong and tried working together a bit, we might move forward as a nation. Heck, maybe the Republicans might even get some respect again.

    38. Pingback: Must Know Headlines 4.13.2010 — ExposeTheMedia.com

    39. Joe Arsenault says:

      How anyone can believe that the the Gonvernment can do anything but spend money they don't have, certainly dosen't know much about recent history. Deficit spending is a great way of doing the country's business, as long as final payback dosen't happen during your lifetime.

      Sorry Chief,,, because of your position you may be obligated to give him the benefit of doubt, but not I. OB's intentions are geared to to living high off the hog on our tax dollars & to H— with the rest of us & the Country !!!!

    40. Pingback: Morning Bell: Obama is No Reagan on Nuclear Strategy | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. « Opinion Letter

    41. Kevin, Sandusky says:

      This article makes a major error in saying that we need missile defense and increased conventional warfare capabilities before nuclear stockpile reduction, these are actually counter productive by threatening Russia only making them more likely to hold onto nuclear weapons as a deterrent against the US's military might. The only reason Reagan was able to do this is that Russia was falling apart and easily bullied at that time which simply isn't the case anymore with Putin at the wheel. there's also several smaller errors like the cut in defense spending despite it going up from last year with the proposed future reductions coming from the wind down of the iraq war though i'm sure you forgot about that and the elimation of programs like the f-22 which have no place being a focus since they are only marginally better than what we currently have and much more expensive and are almost entirely useless against irregular threats which is what we are fighting now and in the foreseeable future

    42. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      "Obama is No Reagan on Nuclear Strategy" You're right! He's the new century's Nevil Chamberlain. Foreign affairs is only going to get uglier for the U.S. and it's only reliable Middle Eastern ally Israel. Might as well begin preparing for WW III.

    43. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      PS: To all you socially progressive leftist thinkers, Obama sees himself as today's FDR. Hope he has the same backbone to lead our nation in a world war. After all, that's were the dumb fool is headed with his foreign policy of appeasement toward hate filled tyrannical ideologues and regimes.

    44. bigdave, ocala fl says:

      Guess what Ken Jarvis, EVERYONE wants a NUKE-FREE world, but INTELLIGENT PEOPLE know that is NOT POSSIBLE! Why? Because the BAD PEOPLE(yes there ARE bad people in this world…DUH!!) either HAVE nukes NOW or are furiously working to get them so they can DESTROY ISRAEL and THE USA which is THEIR SPOKEN OBJECTIVE YOU FOOLS!!! Go ahead and PRETEND DESTRUCTION is not the STATED GOAL OF AHMADINAJAD, PRETEND he did not mean what he has promised over and over to do. And in a NUTSHELL: Obama has not done ONE THING TO MAKE THIS COUNTRY STRONGER!!! EVERYTHING he does or proposes is designed to make US WEAKER AND POORER!!! Are you people SLEEPWALKING THROUGH THIS OBAMANATION??!!

    45. roman says:

      Thanks Big Dave, I really didn't have the time to read your ranting post, but putting the most important things in CAPS really helped me get the point. Your point is wrong but the CAPS are much appreciated

    46. Doug B., Robins AFB says:

      Quoted in the article above: "Obama has taken a “reduce first, beef up defense later (if ever)” approach."

      I'm sorry, but this statement is inaccurate. When has President Obama ever given anybody the impression he ever intends to 'beef up' our defenses? This is giving undue credit to a president dismantling our nation's defenses.

    47. SammyB, Sacramento says:

      From the Heritage.org website:

      President Reagan's Legacy and U.S. Nuclear Weapons PolicyPublished on July 20, 2006 by Paul Lettow

      (Delivered February 6, 2006)

      I have been asked to speak about President Ronald Reagan's efforts to eliminate the possibility of nuclear war. That topic is long overdue for serious study.

      A substantial amount of primary material is now available to those who wish to study the Reagan pres­idency. National Security Directives, memos between Reagan and his national security advisers, talking points for meetings, speech drafts, and transcripts of the Reagan-Gorbachev summits, among other docu­ments, have been declassified and released. There is also much to be gained by examining public docu­ments relating to Reagan, including his speeches and writings over the years-especially from before he entered the White House-which scholars have not often explored in detail. This material, together with evidence such as interviews, makes clear that Reagan was not, in Clark Clifford's memorable words, an "amiable dunce." Nor was he a cipher through which his advisers enacted their own agendas.

      Reagan as Strategist

      Reagan had a specific and unique strategic vision, and worked assiduously as President to see that vision realized. He was an original and often wildly unortho­dox thinker, with little regard for the conventional wisdom of either the left or the right. He thought and read and wrote and spoke about nuclear weapons, and about Cold War policy, long before he ran even for the governorship of California.

      Reagan was also a skillful wielder of power. As Pres­ident he constantly pursued his own goals, whether his advisers approved or not, and even when they could not see what he was doing. He combined an idealism that bordered on utopianism with mental acuity and hardheadedness. He was much more complex than is generally known, and his personal influence on his administration was direct and extensive. Reagan's ideas served as the foundation for his administration's approach to the Cold War and to nuclear weapons. It is crucial for us to explore not just what Reagan did, but why.

      Reagan as Visionary

      Reagan, contrary to his image as a champion of the bomb, was a nuclear abolitionist. This is not a mere historical curiosity. Abolishing nuclear weapons was one of Reagan's fundamental goals for his presidency. His desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons under­pinned much of what he did as President in terms of his Cold War policy. In many ways it is difficult to understand Reagan's presidency without taking into account his anti-nuclearism. But thus far that aspect of Reagan has been largely overlooked.

      Reagan's anti-nuclearism was part and parcel of his larger vision for U.S. Cold War policy, one that he developed years before taking office as President and that differed from past U.S. policy. Reagan believed that the Soviet Union's economy and technological base represented key weaknesses in its Cold War competition with the United States, because of both the intrinsic flaws of the Soviet system and the exor­bitant devotion of Soviet resources to the military. He thought that the United States should lead an expan­sive competition with the Soviets-politically, eco­nomically, and militarily-and that the Soviets could be compelled to change not just their behavior but even the nature of their system. He also believed that in the face of such a competition, the Soviets would be forced to negotiate deep cuts in nuclear weapons. Reagan sought not to manage the Cold War, but to prosecute and win it.

      Reagan as Nuclear Abolitionist

      Reagan was born 95 years ago today in Tampico, a small town in Illinois. He absorbed from his mother's religious faith the belief that God has a plan for every­one; he thought that he had a mission to fulfill in life. During his teenage years, Reagan spent five years as a lifeguard on the Rock River in Dixon, Illinois. Life­saving left an indelible sense of purpose and satisfac­tion in the young man. Beginning with his adolescent experience as a lifeguard, Reagan harbored a funda­mental impulse to intervene in the course of events in order to rescue others from peril. In time, that impulse would fuse both with his belief that he had a mission to fulfill in life and with his abhorrence of nuclear weapons. From this confluence came Reagan the determined nuclear abolitionist and Reagan the father of the Strategic Defense Initiative.

      Interestingly, Reagan's awakening interest in becoming an actor coincided with his seeing, and performing in, antiwar plays. While in Hollywood, Reagan was known to read and expound on current events. A liberal in terms of domestic politics, Reagan's views on foreign affairs were largely unformed-although by 1945 there was one aspect of world affairs on which his views had formed instantly and permanently: He loathed nuclear weapons. Immediately after the United States dropped two atomic bombs over Japan in 1945 to end World War II, Reagan became involved in anti-nuclear politics. He was an ardent proponent of the abolition of nuclear weapons and the international­ization of atomic energy. In December 1945, Reagan intended to help lead an anti-nuclear rally in Holly­wood. He planned to read an anti-nuclear poem at the rally, but Warner Brothers, the studio to which Reagan was contracted as a film actor, informed him that he could not participate, ostensibly because it would violate his performance contract, but almost certainly because the studio did not want that kind of political attention. So we were denied our first chance to see Reagan's anti-nuclearism in public.

      Many views that Reagan held in the mid-1940s changed as he evolved from liberal Democrat to conservative Republican. But he never abandoned his hatred of nuclear weapons and his desire to eliminate them. Reagan's "dream," as he himself described it, was "a world free of nuclear weapons." He pursued that dream as a personal mission.

      Reagan as Anti-Communist

      Reagan's experiences in Hollywood in the after­math of World War II catalyzed his anti-Commu­nism. He joined liberal political groups through which he believed he could help shape domestic and international politics. What he found was that Communists and Communist sympathizers began to exercise increasing control over these groups. He was stung and appalled, and quickly became an anti-Communist.

      Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild during the late 1940s and early 1950s. He enjoyed the negotiations involved, and developed considerable self-confidence in his negotiating prowess. From then on, Reagan maintained that negotiations, when skillfully conducted and when backed by sufficient leverage, could produce signif­icant, positive results. It should be noted that Reagan never feared negotiating with the Soviets, as long as he was the one doing the negotiating.

      From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, Reagan traveled throughout the United States, speaking before countless civic and business associations on behalf of General Electric. Reagan's talks evolved into a single speech, which he wrote on his own and which set forth his political approach. His speech was premised upon the notion that the Soviet Union intended to expand Communism around the world. As a result of that expansionism, the United States found itself in a world struggle in which the Soviet Union sought the destruction of capitalism and freedom. Reagan chafed at the U.S. Cold War policy of containment. He thought it insufficient to protect American security and also immoral, as he believed it relegated individuals behind the Iron Curtain to what he called "slavery." Reagan called for a policy that would roll back Soviet control both from the Soviet sphere of influ­ence and within the Soviet Union itself.

      As early as 1963, Reagan criticized what he described as "the liberal establishment of both par­ties" for asserting that a policy of accommodation was the only way to prevent a nuclear war. Reagan instead focused on what he saw as the economic and technological weakness of the USSR. He argued that the United States should pursue a vig­orous competition with the Soviet Union, includ­ing an arms race. If it did so, Reagan said, the Soviet Union would realize that it would be able neither to afford economically nor to keep up technologically with the United States. As a result, the Soviets would be willing to agree to deep reductions in nuclear weapons-ultimately to zero, Reagan intended-but also would be compelled to "modify their stand" in a broader sense. He implied that this would include a realization that the USSR could not win the Cold War, that the Soviets would see aspects of the Western "way of life" as attractive, and that they would begin to change the funda­mental nature of their system. (It should be noted, however, that Reagan did not claim that if subject­ed to an arms race, the Soviet Union would bank­rupt itself and fall apart. His own views were much more nuanced.) In Reagan's mind, destroying nuclear weapons and winning the Cold War were closely tied together.

      It is essential to understand these views in order to understand Reagan's motives and goals as Presi­dent. Reagan's arguments that the Soviet economy represented an important area of vulnerability in the Cold War and that the United States could exploit that vulnerability via an arms race and political and economic competition ran contrary to the prevail­ing wisdom among American politicians and opin­ion shapers. They appear to have been his own ideas, developed over years of thinking and speak­ing about U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union before he ever ran for office. Reagan never dropped those ideas. Indeed, he would constantly repeat and refine them in later years, particularly during his presidential campaigns in 1976 and 1980 and throughout his presidency. Those beliefs shaped both his administration's formal written Cold War policy and the implementation of that policy during his time in office.

      Reagan as SDI Champion

      Reagan was introduced to missile defense tech­nologies and concepts in 1967 during a visit to the Livermore Laboratory in California. He immediate­ly took to the notion of a defense against missiles. In missile defense, Reagan saw a means of using technology to transcend what he viewed as a dis­juncture between the destructive potential of nuclear energy and humans' apparent inability to avoid threatening one another with it. He sought to outflank the danger posed by nuclear weapons by drawing upon high technology to produce a defense against missiles. He made this point explic­itly when he announced the Strategic Defense Ini­tiative (SDI) in 1983.

      Revealingly, Reagan did not endorse the missile defense technologies about which he was briefed at Livermore in 1967 because they utilized nuclear warheads to destroy incoming enemy missiles. Reagan disfavored the use of nuclear detonations for any purpose, offensive or defensive.

      Throughout his two terms as governor of Cali­fornia, Reagan frequently discussed with his aides, many of whom later joined his presidential admin­istration, his hatred of nuclear weapons, his convic­tion that they ought to be eliminated, and his desire to seek a missile defense. We also see evidence that during this period Reagan came to believe that the biblical story of Armageddon foretold a nuclear war. He thought both that a nuclear war that would end civilization was imminent and that it could be avoided. Reagan's belief in a future nuclear war as Armageddon further contributed to his nuclear abolitionism, and to his desire to pursue a missile defense system.

      Reagan intensely disliked the theory of mutual assured destruction, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which was signed in 1972. That the United States should indefinitely base its security from nuclear attack on vulnerability to nuclear attack struck Reagan as morally backward; that it should maintain such a balance of terror with the Soviet Union seemed to him "particularly dangerous."

      Reagan also rejected détente. He maintained that the Soviets were using détente as a cover to lull the United States into passivity and self-restraint while they themselves prosecuted the Cold War. He argued that only when the Soviets changed their internal system would the USSR's threat to the United States be neutralized. Reagan continually emphasized his beliefs that if the United States engaged in and led a strenuous military, economic, and political competition with the USSR, it could exacerbate the weaknesses of the Soviet system, particularly its economic and technological base, and help compel the Soviets both to agree to reduc­tions in nuclear arms and perhaps to begin to change their own system toward greater openness. He made those points publicly time and again as he challenged President Gerald R. Ford for the Repub­lican nomination in 1976 and then as he ran against, and defeated, President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election. Reagan's advisers during these two presidential campaigns have emphasized that those ideas originated with Reagan.

      Reagan as Cold War Leader

      After an initial period of disorganization, the Reagan Administration, over the course of 1982 and early 1983, established in a series of highly classified national security directives its fundamental Cold War policy, which formally ensconced Reagan's own beliefs and served as the single, unifying framework for the administration's approach throughout the rest of Reagan's presidency. Those directives set out a few basic objectives. The first was to "contain and reverse the expansion of Soviet control and military presence throughout the world." The second was "[t]o foster, if possible in concert with our allies, restraint in Soviet military spending, discourage Soviet adventurism, and weaken the Soviet alliance system by forcing the USSR to bear the brunt of its economic shortcomings, and to encourage long-term liberalizing and nationalist tendencies within the Soviet Union and allied countries." The adminis­tration would aim to promote "the process of change in the Soviet Union toward a more pluralistic politi­cal and economic system in which the power of the privileged ruling elite is gradually reduced." The third objective was to negotiate with the Soviets.

      The Reagan Administration believed itself to be embarking on a new and ambitious Cold War pol­icy, one guided by the President's own aims and ideas. The policy papers evidenced a special atten­tion to the political, economic, and technological weaknesses of the Soviet Union, and to how the United States could shape the decision-making environment in which Soviet leaders acted. The papers also show that the administration looked to a new, younger generation of Soviet leaders for the kind of interlocutor who might be willing to intro­duce more flexibility in Soviet policy. While the administration set out the general means by which it would pursue its policy-for example, a vigorous military competition, efforts to destabilize the Sovi­et economy, covert action, and public diplomacy- it did so more as a means of providing options rath­er than dictating specific measures, and thus gave itself strategic flexibility in carrying out its policy objectives.

      The Reagan Administration also set forth pro­posals for arms negotiations with the Soviet Union that called for deep reductions in each side's nucle­ar arsenal. As its plan for intermediate-range nucle­ar forces, or INF, talks, the administration proposed that if the Soviet Union eliminated its intermediate-range missiles, the United States would not deploy its own missiles, which it had planned to do in Western Europe in 1983. On strategic weapons, Reagan insisted that the name of the talks be changed from SALT, or Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, to START, or Strategic Arms Reduction Talks. He set out a START plan that called for dramatic cuts in strategic weapons, particularly on the Soviet side. Critics within and outside the administration claimed that Reagan's arms proposals were so radi­cal that he must have put them forward because he did not want to negotiate with the Soviets. In fact, they grew out of Reagan's sincere desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

      Many of Reagan's advisers who had not previous­ly known him well were astonished and bemused by his anti-nuclearism. Secretary of State George Shultz was the only figure within the Reagan Administration who sympathized with Reagan's nuclear abolitionism. The others thought it unfea­sible and unwise.

      Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initia­tive-his long-term plan to research a defense against ballistic missiles-in March 1983. The evi­dence shows that SDI was Reagan's idea. It was a "top-down" initiative. Reagan carefully manipulat­ed the bureaucratic system, acquiring support for the general idea of a missile defense effort from ele­ments of the bureaucracy, particularly the National Security Council staff and Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose backing and technological assessment he thought was needed in order to proceed. He excluded from the process other elements of the bureaucracy, such as the State and Defense Depart­ments, whose support he did not think was needed and whom he correctly thought would try to impede the initiative. Reagan ensured that he would be able to announce the initiative at the time and on the terms of his choosing by having the announcement prepared by a very small group under his supervision and with his own extensive involvement in the drafting of the speech. SDI, as it was announced, corresponded to his own priorities and instincts.

      Reagan saw SDI as a means of accomplishing his objective of a nuclear-free world. An effective mis­sile defense, he believed, could render ballistic mis­siles "impotent and obsolete." In his eyes, such a defense would make not just ballistic missiles but all nuclear weapons negotiable, and would spur talks, first with the Soviet Union and then with the other nuclear powers, that would result in the elim­ination of all nuclear arms. He thought that the United States could then share a defense system, and that an "internationalized" defense would serve to guarantee security in a nuclear-free world. None of Reagan's advisers adhered to his vision of SDI as the catalyst for and guarantor of a world without nuclear weapons. But from the inception of the ini­tiative through the rest of his presidency, Reagan held unwaveringly to that vision of SDI.

      Few of Reagan's advisers knew what to make of SDI. Largely because of the vehement and sus­tained negative Soviet reaction to the initiative, it soon came to occupy a central role in U.S.-Soviet relations. All of Reagan's principal advisers, and Reagan himself, came to see it as a source of lever­age over the Soviets in arms control negotiations. It appeared that Soviet fears of the economic and technological ramifications of SDI led the Soviet Union to engage seriously in arms reduction nego­tiations in order to constrain the initiative.

      Some of Reagan's advisers, especially Shultz and arms control adviser Paul Nitze, who were skepti­cal regarding the feasibility of SDI, sought to use it as an actual bargaining chip in arms control talks, to be traded away for reductions in Soviet offensive strategic forces. Others, particularly in the Defense Department, resisted any moves to trade away SDI and intended to develop it steadily so that if the ini­tiative proved feasible it could be deployed and improve deterrence. Reagan adhered to pursuing his unique vision of SDI, which constrained what his advisers could do by way of shaping and using the initiative to achieve their own goals. In serving as an arbiter of the various views within the admin­istration, Reagan adopted those that seemed to him to advance his own objectives and rejected those that did not. Most of Reagan's advisers flatly opposed his nuclear abolitionism and his desire to share a missile defense, and many of them tried to dissuade him or "finesse" his objectives by render­ing them unattainable. But Reagan worked steadily to realize his concept. At important junctures, enough of Reagan's advisers supported various ele­ments of it for him to proceed as he wanted; and when they did not, he kept to his view but sought to bring it about at a different time.

      Reagan as Diplomat

      Before Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, Reagan and his advisers, in a series of speeches and exchang­es with the Soviets, reached out to the USSR in an effort to broaden the dialogue between the two countries. Reagan did not expect to make much progress with the existing Soviet leadership, but thought the United States should lay out for the future a program that extended beyond arms negoti­ations. The purpose was to help encourage the Sovi­ets to come to the conclusion that making changes within the USSR was in their own best interest.

      After Gorbachev took power in March 1985, most in the Reagan Administration did not know what to expect from the new Soviet leader, although a number were cautiously optimistic. Reagan saw it as a particularly promising develop­ment. He had always been interested in and attuned to the vulnerabilities of the Soviet Union. In 1985 and 1986 Reagan grew increasingly confi­dent that the Soviet internal system was in terrible shape and that the U.S. arms buildup would soon help compel the Soviets to agree to reduce nuclear weapons and perhaps to begin changing their sys­tem. In Gorbachev he saw the potential for the kind of interlocutor who might move in those direc­tions. Reagan was encouraged in that regard by his first meeting with Gorbachev in Geneva in Novem­ber 1985, during which the two men spent a signif­icant amount of time in one-on-one sessions. The issue of SDI dominated the summit. Gorbachev made clear that blocking SDI was a principal aim of the Soviet Union and that it was the sole condition on which he would agree to arms reductions or even an improvement in relations overall. Underly­ing Gorbachev's insistence on limiting SDI was a persistent defensiveness concerning the USSR's economic and technological circumstances.

      Throughout 1986, Reagan and his advisers paid increasing attention to the economic difficulties of the USSR. Reagan was particularly optimistic that Gorbachev might be compelled to introduce broad changes in Soviet policy and the Soviet regime itself.

      Reagan as Negotiator

      The outcome of Reagan's meeting with Gor­bachev at Reykjavík in October 1986 has long puz­zled journalists and scholars. The transcripts from Reykjavík make clear that the course of the meet­ings was largely shaped by Reagan's nuclear aboli­tionism and his conviction that that goal was close at hand. At the meeting, Gorbachev set out a num­ber of important concessions that suddenly made the U.S. delegation believe that agreements on deep reductions in strategic and intermediate-range nuclear weapons were possible. After a day and a half of haggling between Reagan and Gorbachev, Reagan proposed that they abolish all nuclear weapons. Gorbachev agreed, and so did Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. They planned to turn over the details of abolition to a team that could prepare a treaty to be signed in Washington. But Gorbachev insisted that SDI must be restricted to the laboratory. Reagan tried to con­vince Gorbachev of his vision of SDI as the guaran­tor of a nuclear-free world, but Gorbachev replied that if he agreed to a deal without killing SDI, he "could not go back to Moscow"; he "would be called a dummy and not a leader." Neither would budge, and there the meeting ended.

      Reagan was furious that he had come so close to achieving his goal but that Gorbachev had held nuclear abolition hostage to doing away with SDI. Yet Reagan and his advisers believed that Reykjavik had been a success, because Gorbachev had made a number of concessions that they thought would be difficult for him to retract, and because they felt that Gorbachev, having failed to secure economic relief by curtailing the arms race in offensive and defensive technologies, might look to more system­ic changes.

      During Reagan's last two years in office, he and Gorbachev deepened their relationship as the num­ber of issues on the U.S.-Soviet agenda broadened and as Gorbachev undertook a series of steps that began to change Soviet foreign and domestic policy. Reagan, more so than most of his advisers, saw those changes as transformational.

      He continued to pursue his goal of nuclear abo­lition. Reagan's dream of a nuclear-free world pro­tected by an internationalized missile defense is, of course, unrealized. Yet he and Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty in 1987, which eliminated an entire category of nuclear weapons for the first time, and he laid the foundation for President George H.W. Bush to complete the first Strategic Arms Reduc­tion Treaty. The United States and Russia, no longer enemies, have concluded several agreements to make vast cuts in their respective nuclear arsenals. The Soviet Union is no more, the direct threat from Russia to the United States is small, and Russian and U.S. nuclear forces are greatly reduced. Addi­tionally, plans to build an extensive missile defense continue in the United States. The current effort derives from Reagan's initiative, although the stra­tegic rationale for it has evolved as the strategic environment has changed.

      Reagan's approach to nuclear weapons was spe­cific and singular, and its impact on U.S. policy was substantial.

      Paul Lettow is the author of Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (New York: Random House, 2005).

    48. Rich,Phila.Pa. says:

      This President is dismantling the USA,his idea's are not new.This was tried in the 1920's.He is disarming America,while our enemies are arming themselves.Kudo's to Isreal for not attending Obama's Suicide Nuclear Summit.This world is far more dangerous than it was after WW one,when this was tried before.History will repeat itself,to the surprise of Obama & Company.

    49. Kevin, Sandusky says:

      Lets look very seriously at the claims made by bigdave who seems to have totally misunderstood the nuclear talks and agreements. What they have done is increase the international security requirement on the weapons we all worry about. It has if anything strengthened the cause of real pressure against nations you mentioned like iran and north korea since they finally got china to the table for sanctions. Unfortunately to claim that ahmadinajad's opinion is important is really misunderstanding the political structure within iran since he wouldn't have his hand on the button, khomeni would, who has repeatedly said that he feels that the use of nukes is against the islamic faith which means a lot since religiously he's basically iran's pope. Also to claim that no smart people see zero nukes as impossible is a little silly coming from a man who uses all caps and multiple exclamation marks. Finally you said that Obama has done nothing to make america safer, which makes no sense since you seem to dislike bad people and obama seems to be pretty good at blowing them up with drones that save american lives, I think makes mr.robins point just as silly seeing as obama has only dismantled two things, the use of torture which increased antiamerican sentiment and with it terrorism and a useless cold war era weapons programs like the f-22 like i stated before.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.