Obama’s Disarmament Policy: Games Instead of Vision

Obama’s vision of a nuclear weapons-free world was probably unrealistic right from the start. If he had hoped to at least carry on with his foreign policies despite the Republican electoral victories in the midterms, he should have learned a lesson. The announcement by an influential Republican Senator that ratification of the START treaty with Russia would have to be put off until next year is a good indication of what little maneuvering room Obama has on this issue.

Republicans have no objections to the substance of the treaty that will continue the mutual weapons inspections beyond its current 2009 limit. But they intend to put Obama under pressure to approve more funding to upgrade America’s nuclear arsenal, and their main purpose is to deny their hated enemy Obama any semblance of success. A key part of his security policy — relations with a nuclear Russia — will become a football in a partisan political game. That hurts America’s image even if the treaty is in fact ratified.

Above all, under these circumstances Obama will be unable to successfully pursue the disarmament agenda for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year. His vision of a nuclear weapons-free world was probably unrealistic from the start. But now even the hope of gradual steps toward reducing the danger of nuclear proliferation has noticeably dropped.

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