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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Obama’s Nuclear Paradox

Obama’s Nuclear Paradox

by John Feffer
Of all the accomplishments and disappointments of the Obama presidency, his nuclear weapons policy is the greatest.
Yes, you read that correctly. Obama’s approach to nukes will be his most significant legacy as well as his most salient failure. Obama promised “hope and change” in 2007. The paradox of his nuclear weapons policy is that it falls somewhere between these aspirational poles of his presidency.
Consider, for instance, two highlights of Obama’s tenure: Prague and Hiroshima.
On April 5, 2009, only several months into his first term, President Obama gave a speech in Prague embracing the agenda of nuclear disarmament. His remarks were not particularly radical. But it was the first time that a sitting U.S. president had committed the country to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, albeit with no specific deadline attached.
The speech meandered across several topics — human rights, Europe, NATO. But halfway through, Obama pivoted to the dangers of nuclear weapons. “If we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable,” the president declared, and then went on to challenge that very inevitability. “Today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

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