The Obama administration is considering a ‘no first use’ policy, which is not sitting well with longtime American allies, said Professor Matthew Kroenig, an associate professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University, at the Heritage Foundation.
The ‘no first use’ policy means that the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons as a first resort when attacked by an aggressor, as a Stanford article noted. Kroenig cited the old Groucho Marx line, “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” To think that “our allies don’t have security concerns…that is completely false,” Kroenig said, referring to an argument from the no-first-use advocates. He added, that if people were “watching [Russian President Vladimir] Putin since 2008, you’ve watched the rebuilding of the Russian army and massive nuclear forces…[along with] political statements from senior Russian officials reminiscent of Khrushchev.” Russia is “using nuclear weapons as intimidation and blackmail today,” he added.
No-first-use advocates often say that the American allies “don’t really care” or “don’t really worry” about Russia or any aggressor against them or the United States. But, Kroenig noted, “If you actually see what the allies have been saying, the major allies… [say] we’re concerned about this.” He said that American allies “aren’t concerned about no-first-use [but] they are concerned about the administration considering it.”
He continued and repeated a mantra, “Ideology trumps outcomes and leads to undesirable outcomes,” and warned that the U.S. could suffer from this mantra. Kroenig highlighted that the no-first-use advocates are parroting similar tenets of the nuclear disarmament community, which is nonproliferation. He said, “I can think of no better way of kicking off a new nuclear arms cycle in northeast Asia if the United States adopted a no-first-use policy.” Kroenig added, “We’re giving our [Asian] allies” a free pass to go nuclear if a no-first-use policy is adopted, and said that no-first-use advocates who are pressuring Obama “completely miss the point.” In his words, “They would turn [Obama] into somebody who would be the greatest causes of a nuclear proliferation race.” He reiterated that “allies have complained directly to the United States” about considering a no-first-use policy, that “it would be a major spur to proliferation” and he concluded, “It’s bad on both of those counts.”
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