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Why Not a World Without Nukes?

Are you kidding me? Do I hear the new administration's critics -- okay, one critic, Bill Kristol -- complaining about President Obama's call for moving toward a world without nuclear weapons? To quote the great philosopher John McEnroe: You. Can. Not. Be. Serious.

In 1968, the United States was one of the first nations to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- the landmark agreement that has been used, with great success, to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. When the NPT went into force, there were five nuclear powers -- the U.S., Britain, France, China and the Soviet Union (now Russia). In the four decades since, the world has added four more -- India, Pakistan, Israel (not officially, but that's the consensus) and North Korea, although the Hermit Kingdom's damp-squib test weapon and its wobbly ballistic missile make me think that Kim Jong-Il's nuclear program is more of a threat to Pyongyang than to Portland. One new nuclear power in the world is one too many, but that's an astoundingly good record of deterrence, especially given that basic nuclear weapons technology is pretty widely understood by now. Nations that could have had nukes -- Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Libya and others -- were persuaded that they would be safer and more prosperous without them.

The NPT requires signatory nations "to negotiate in good faith" toward total, worldwide nuclear disarmament. This has been official U.S. policy for 40 years: We seek a world with no nuclear weapons. Obama said nothing new.

Has any U.S. administration really been serious about the prospect of eliminating all nuclear weapons? Of course not -- and neither has any government of any of the other nuclear powers that belong to the NPT. To abandon the goal of disarmament, though, would weaken the treaty's ability to dissuade nuclear-capable nations from becoming nuclear-armed nations. And as for the argument that nuclear weapons keep the peace, such as it is, I would argue that in the vast majority of conflict scenarios the United States may face -- those short of Armageddon -- the U.S. nuclear arsenal is not a factor. We were never going to nuke Belgrade or Baghdad.

We give up nothing and gain a measure of good will by restating our 40-year commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons -- knowing full well that reaching that goal could only be possible if the kinds of threats that the world faced in 1939 were somehow beyond anyone's imagination.

By Eugene Robinson  | April 6, 2009; 4:41 PM ET
Categories:  Robinson  | Tags:  Eugene Robinson  
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Incredibly naive. I'm sure the South Koreans are sleeping well at night knowing that their neighbors nukes can't reach Portland, yet. Typical pooh pah attitude from a liberal.

Posted by: je121819 | April 6, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

"We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth."

Who said it? Ronald Reagan, during his second inaugural address. I guess good speakers who use teleprompters DO think alike ....

Posted by: oilhistorian | April 6, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately only naive persons in this or any country would take Obama or any president, except probably Reagan, seriously when he/she talks about seeking nuclear disarmament. There is no need for Obama or anyone else to even bring up the subject because almost everybody knows he/she is lacking credibility on this issue.

As for your statement the United States never was to nuke Belgade, this could have happened. Kennedy was horrified at the nuclear contingency plans developed by the Eisenhower administration. As has been reported by numerous journalists and historians these plans called for a massive nuclear attack, in case of war, on all communist countries in Europe, not merely the Soviet Union. Kennedy had the contingency plans eventually modified to be somewhat more rational and sane.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | April 6, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

We have been trying for years, during the Kennedy administration to get a total test ban treaty but people like Edward Teller and neoconservative, Richard Perle, have helped defeat such efforts.

Posted by: jdstephensmd | April 6, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Gene's pollyanna view of the treaty is that we are poised for a massive increase in nuclear nations. Particularly when Iran declares itself nuke capable (and it can be indepently verified), there are a number of other Middle Eastern nations who will want, and will develop --- if not simply buy --- a nuclear capability.

I don't think its realistic to think rogue nations are going to give up their nukes. Who would really make such a gamble? Think forward just ten years. Do you really believe North Korea will not have the ability to threaten the United States? Iran won't be capable of putting a nuke in Tel Aviv or Prague?

The logic of mutual deterrence is difficult for some to grasp, but it is real. MAD works, however, only with rational actors. North Korea and Iran currently don't fit into that category.

So while we are dreaming of a world where the nuclear genie has been stuffed back into his bottle, we darn sure better be preparing for a situation where he escapes the bottle with mischief on his mind.

That would be called Missile Defense. But we just cut that.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | April 6, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

If the North Koreans would risk the wrath of the international community by selling nuclear and missile technology to the Iranians, what restrains them from doing so with terrorist organizations, or perhaps private individuals in Middle Eastern countries with hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal who could then hand-off a weapon to terrorists? The North Koreans have now become emboldened to the point where they think they can act with impunity and the world will do nothing to stop them.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | April 6, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Eugene for a glimpse of light through the darkness of the cloud of ignorance that is Billy Kristols excuse for a column... We do well to reflect on that kind of "gut feeling" ... it was common knowledge that the earth was flat and anyone who dared... just because you can't see past that horizon of fear and hatred Billy doesn't mean that's all there is !! We finally have a real American President, a leader who has the chance to do something for the Worlds people... so if you can't follow then please get out of the way!

Go Obama!!

Posted by: doc61 | April 7, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

"Nations that could have had nukes -- Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Libya and others -- were persuaded that they would be safer and more prosperous without them."

South Africa didn't just want nuclear weapons, it built them. By 1989, it had secretly assembled six weapons fueled by highly enriched uranium and a seventh was partially finished. The apartheid regime then decided to dismantle them, a process that was completed by 1991. All this was publicly revealed by P.W. Botha on March 24, 1993.

And let's not forget that while India, Pakistan, and North Korea all tested nuclear weapons after the creation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (Israel is generally believed to have had a nuclear capability by 1968, though this has never been publicly acknowledged), the end of the Cold War saw Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan all surrender the nuclear weapons they inherited from the Soviet Union, something that was not a foregone conclusion.

Posted by: AtomAnalyst | April 7, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Nuclear weapons are a curse, and that's all. Nothing good will ever come from their development, and once they're built they remain a massive drain on resources.

What North Korea has been doing is just plain stupid and short sighted.

Non-proliferation isn't just some toy concept we trot out in honest negotiations with other countries. It's the real thing, and it ends up being the real thing when Russia and China talk to their allies as well, because the bottom line is that all the players who deal themselves into the nuclear weapons game find it sucks hard in the long run. While we might not want to admit it, a lot of it is those who stand without nuclear arms being told 'don't be as stupid as we have been'. Nuclear armed countries find it hard to admit, but non-nuclear ones end up find it hard to believe when they tie it to some have-have not fantasy.

Posted by: timscanlon | April 7, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

The whole world may agree to give up their nukes except Israel. They will never give up their nuclear arsenal no matter what, so , forget about it. America gave Israel the nuclear technology and they will not force them to give it up.

Posted by: kyprios9281 | April 7, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the achievement is greater than that portrayed. India, Israel and Pakistan did not sign the Non-Proliferation treaty, and were under no formal legal and treaty obligation not to develop nuclear weapons. Since the treaty simply did not apply to them, it can hardly be held to account for failing to halt these countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. Indeed, the non-signatory countries made clear that they would be on board for universal disarmament, but not disarmament by all but 5 countries, as is the structure of the NPT.

North Korea and South Africa are different.

Posted by: mscommerce | April 7, 2009 2:46 AM | Report abuse

You go! Eugene! He said he plans to talk to the Iranians! About what pray tell, our $100 billion+ plans to modernize our nuclear arsenal?! Beware the industrial/military complex! McArthur proposed to use 30 thermonuclear weapons against China in 1953. Do we Americans wish would would have??????? Thank God for Harry Truman!!

Posted by: bsumpter3 | April 7, 2009 3:20 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Robinson,

You (and Obama). Can. Not. Be. Serious.

First, the election is over. Stop schillin' and, in this case, covering for "the one."

Obama's call for a world without nukes is increbibly naive and simplistic. And, you know it or should know it.

Politically, it does play well to those voters who are equally naive and given to simplistic bumper sticker hype.

It's still a dangerous world out there.

Posted by: furtdw | April 7, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

I am astonished that "curmudgeon10" or anyone else is foolish enough to think that the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (aka--and aptly so-- "MAD") is even remotely applicable to a situation where regional powers develop nuclear capability.

MAD worked in a two player game for precisely as long as U.S. intelligence continued to believe that the consequence of a U.S. first strike against the U.S.S.R. was a potentially lethal retaliatory response.

Of course, the U.S.S.R's nuclear capability was far less than believed. Had the truth been known and people comparable to the Bush Administration been in power (or, for example curmudgeon10 or Billy Kristol), there's a reasonably good chance this conversation would not be taking place--although a few of us might be lucky enough to be squatting in front of a campfire someplace.

The inevitable consequence of proliferation is that someone--state or terrorist-- is going to set off a nuclear weapon, and possibly an extremely short WWIII in the process. President Obama's vision of a nuke-free world is the only sane alternative.

Posted by: earthwirehead | April 7, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

robinson, such an obama suck up, no objectivity whatsoever."whatever Obama do, then Obama gooood"

Posted by: snapplecat07 | April 7, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse


On the other hand, you can't un-invent the wheel, and although nobody has actually USED a nuke since WE did on the Japanese, one really ought to try harder to set a good example here.

Posted by: wardropper | April 7, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

schumann-bonn wrote:
I am sick and tired of hearing people comparing today's problems with 1939. None of our current adversaries are in the same category as Hitler's Germany."

Hitler did not have a nuclear weapon. Our enemies do. Hitler started out with nothing but threats, and they worked on the appeasers. He took the Rhine, Austria before the appeasers gave him the Sudentenland and its munition plants and slaves and then after lying to Neville the Appeaser Chamberlain, he moved against Prague and took the rest of Czechoslovakia. Next was Poland and the Brits and the French just whined and rung their hands but fired not one shot.
The analogy to the Hitler days is clear. Appeasing a Dictator fanatic is a stupid stupid mistake and brought us all into WWII.
Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them and those who cannot understand the analogies are the problem not the solution.
Obama is our Neville Chamberlain and worse.

Posted by: mharwick | April 7, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I do not rest easy knowing that we can incinerate North Korean men, women, and children. The United States is the only country which has used nuclear weapons against civilian populations. It is long past time - like 63 years - that we get rid of our nuclear weapons.

Posted by: LeszX | April 7, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Tell the idiots to "talk to the hand" Eugene! The destructive force of nuclear weapons should be a goal of any president to diminish (do away with..). It is absurd that any American (or for that matter anyone in the world) would not want a "world without nuclear weapons". I mean "they must pay these idiots Eugene (as before) to spew this nonsense on blogs".

I do believe that as long as Israel has nuclear weapons, we cannot force a country to not seek this technology. As "our allies" there is no reason Israel should have nuclear weapons. Believe me when I say, "until Israel has no WMD, we will not get anywhere with other countries in trying to persuade them to stop working to this capability.

"A world without the need for nuclear weapons"......each of us should do everything in our power to make sure this is a reality."

Posted by: rayven-t | April 7, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Why not a world without nuclear weapons indeed? They have formed the corner stone of geo-politics for 60 years, but now that Obama is on the job we can count on them disappearing in a puff of smoke.If he were not actually occupying the Oval Office, he would be funny.While you are dreaming, please dream that the beltway will henceforth be made of chocolate mousse.Its a particular favorite of mine

Posted by: diana11777 | April 7, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Until we and the other nuclear armed nations make serious efforts to disarm, anything we say about other nations developing their own capability rings hollow. Why can we have them and other nations can't? Is it because the Western nations are so morally superior? Ask that question of the hundreds of thousands killed in WWII terror bombings, such as the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo, and those killed by our two nuclear blasts in Japan; all of these attacks had the purpose of killing and terrorizing civilians. Just recently there was consideration given to using tactical nuclear weapons against the Taliban and Al-Queida in Afghanistan. We were at the brink of nuclear war over Cuba in the 50s. Does anyone seriously doubt that Israel would engulf the Middle East in a nuclear holocaust if the Arab nations' forces were successfully advancing on its heartland? Having a huge, obscene stockpile of nuclear weapons and sanctimoniously decrying the development of such bombs by nations of color is only jingoistic, racist hogwash. It is comic to hear an American commentator implying that North Korea is not only irresponsible for trying to develop nuclear weapons and a delivery system but also greedy as its main purpose is to sell this technology, this coming from the press of the nation that is one of the most unabashed merchants of death. Yes, nuclear weapons are dangerous and should be eradicated, but from the arsenals of all nations. Until this is done, attempts to stop their spread will be to no avail.

Posted by: csintala79 | April 7, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"Why Not a World Without Nukes?"

Well, we once had a world without nukes. World War I occurred then, killing 30 million people. Then World War II, with 50 million dead. Do we really want to go back to that?

Posted by: BeyondKen | April 7, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The idea of a world without nuclear weapons is silly. Why? It is called game theory. I recommend studying this topic in mathematics and economics before commenting.

Posted by: str04 | April 7, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Mr Robinson: Great point. Let's get rid of our nukes; let us set the example. And Hey, while we are at it, let's get rid of our military-they're always in a war someplace.

Whatever we do, we should terminate our missle defense system: we don't want any more of that blowing-up bad-guy missles on the launch pads as we had in Desert Storm. Don't want to stiffle the initiative of the idiots who want to kill us because we let our daughters go to school.

And you know, the police...well everytime I see them on TV they are shooting somebody, or restricting traffic, not to mention those destructive green house gases from all those cruisers...

And let's get rid of baseball: Europe doesn't play the game, so there must be something wrong with us for enjoying it (our bad, eh Mr. President?); there are all those dangerous bats (say isn't that why we are destroying the Rain Forest for wood to make those dangerous bats?) that can be used to hurt people-and of course those evil greenhouse gases from all those rabid fans driving to ballparks all around the country...

I can't see any reason, as nuclear weapons are prolifigating to the point where terrorists are getting their hands on them that the US shouldn't unilaterally get rid of theirs. Great idea!

Oh wait, I hadn't considered the UN: yeah, they'll protect us from despots. Those dynamic EU leaders will step up and support sanctions against the bad guys... Hey, they'll probably end the slaughter in Africa too. Great solution!

You might want to have a grown-up go to '' and look-up the meaning of the word "deterrent" and explain it to you.

The president is doing a great job of protecting us by brain-sucking all those vicious un-born babies. If we could only direct some of that violence to protecting us from people who want to kill us because we think people should be able to think for themselves and follow their own dreams, we might be better off.

Pandora's box is already open. It can't be restored. The best we can hope for is to prevent any additional damage, and we need to do that by all available means. Unilateral elimination of our nuclear capability is not one of them.

Posted by: fbanta | April 7, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Is Genie writing one of those stupid Walgreens commercials now? I guess the Sainted One speaks and then his boy Genie comes out and writes an article in support of anything the Sainted One says. Come one Genie, you think you could try an original thought here buddy?

Posted by: KABOOKEY | April 7, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I think this clown here is Saint O's military adviser. Hey, why don't we just disarm ourselves and see what happens. Also, lets do away with our army and police as well. Let's see how that group hug works with Kim Jong Nutty Ill and the other midget in Iran. Give them a hug and all will be right with the world. I guess the rest of the world is just waiting for the big bad evil America to put down its nukes and everything will be fine.

Until we and the other nuclear armed nations make serious efforts to disarm, anything we say about other nations developing their own capability rings hollow. Why can we have them and other nations can't? Is it because the Western nations are so morally superior? Ask that question of the hundreds of thousands killed in WWII terror bombings, such as the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo, and those killed by our two nuclear blasts in Japan; all of these attacks had the purpose of killing and terrorizing civilians. Just recently there was consideration given to using tactical nuclear weapons against the Taliban and Al-Queida in Afghanistan. We were at the brink of nuclear war over Cuba in the 50s. Does anyone seriously doubt that Israel would engulf the Middle East in a nuclear holocaust if the Arab nations' forces were successfully advancing on its heartland? Having a huge, obscene stockpile of nuclear weapons and sanctimoniously decrying the development of such bombs by nations of color is only jingoistic, racist hogwash. It is comic to hear an American commentator implying that North Korea is not only irresponsible for trying to develop nuclear weapons and a delivery system but also greedy as its main purpose is to sell this technology, this coming from the press of the nation that is one of the most unabashed merchants of death. Yes, nuclear weapons are dangerous and should be eradicated, but from the arsenals of all nations. Until this is done, attempts to stop their spread will be to no avail.

Posted by: csintala79 | April 7, 2009 9:28 AM

Posted by: KABOOKEY | April 7, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Washington DC had "no guns"...and a gun based murder rate that was huge.....

Prohibition saw "no liquor"...and gallons flowed.......

"No nukes" is a leftist pipe dream (crack pipe in this case....) that if enacted, would leave the USA as the only one without them.

Only a mindless cheerleader for the this bozo or his ilk (EJ) would treat such a naive concept as a good idea.

The mid-term elections gutted Billy Clinton and the next mid-term will end Obama's rush to surrender.

Oppose President Obama because dissent is patriotic!!

Posted by: georgedixon1 | April 7, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Liberal rump lickers NEVER cease to amaze!!!

Now they want to take the Nukes away from those who have them for "self protection" so the criminals can have them for terrorism...sort of like, taking guns away from those who have them self protection so criminals can have them for murdering, robbing, etc.

America's biggest enemy are no longer Islam-Facists, they're Liberal Democrats who are really just Communists in drag.

Get educated & involved:

Posted by: mrunpc | April 7, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I only clicked on this link because I had to see what new justification Robinson was coming up with to defend and explain Obama's latest gaffe. You lack any credibility whatsoever at this point, Mr. Robinson. You all like to compare Obama to JFK. Well, JFK learned the hard way, and expressed that 95% of foreign policy is appearance, and signaling to the rest of the world that we are pushovers, especially after 9/11, IS incredibly naive and dangerous. His European apology tour and utter lack of foreign policy experience doesn't help either. Just ask his VP, Joe Biden, who stated that O will be tested because he is a neophyte. I won't be clicking on your links anymore--not even for laughs. His incompetence (see economy--and NO, it's not ALL Bush's fault), and the danger it puts us all in is not funny.

Posted by: franf1 | April 7, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Robinson,

Get your nose out of the illegal Kenyan Muslim Chimposter's rear end for once and write about something that is MUCH more dangerous...the fact that your mulatto hero is a usurper occupying OUR White House ILLEGALLY!

I CHALLENGE you and your ilk in Big Commie Media to do some REAL reporting and produce absolute PROOF of the illegal Kenyan's UNITED STATES birth certificate (not the phony COLB on the internet) AND his sealed COLLEGE RECORDS that show his nationality as FOREIGN STUDENT!

You can start here:

Let us know how you make out.

Posted by: mrunpc | April 7, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The only reason we're the only country to have used nuclear weapons on another country in the last 63 years is the fact that we do, in fact, have them and not some sense of nobility on the part of the rest of the world.

I love it. "We need to send a strong message" to North Korea about nukes. And that strong message is that we will disarm ourselves? Brilliant!

Posted by: philmon | April 7, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The only reason we're the only country to have used nuclear weapons on another country in the last 63 years is the fact that we do, in fact, have them and not some sense of nobility on the part of the rest of the world.

I love it. "We need to send a strong message" to North Korea about nukes. And that strong message is that we will disarm ourselves? Brilliant!

Posted by: philmon | April 7, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Go for a world without poverty, hunger, sickness, or obesity while you're at it. You're as likely to get one as another. The precise probability is zero-point-zero.

Posted by: newshound11 | April 7, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

It would be foolish to the extreme for the United States to give up all nuclear weapons. As long as we have them, and have the capability to place them wherever we need, whenever we need to, they will act as a deterrent against other countries taking an all or nothing shot at us using WMD, whether nuclear, biological, or chemical.

Do we need thousands? No. A hundred or so do just fine; as long as we have them spread out and on diverse, harder to target, launch platforms.

And it is terribly naive to say that we would never use them. I, and I presume every president to date, would have no compunctions about using a nuke to blow up the capital city of any nation in the world (preferrably with the ones who instigated it) who were dumb enough to use poison gas, a bio-plague, radiologicals, or nukes themselves against one of our cities.

Nukes don't work worth spit against non-governmental terrorists or multi-national criminal corporations.

Posted by: mhoust | April 7, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

From time to time, Eugene Robinson writes some fluff that proves he is not a serious thinker. Usually it's on the subject of racism where he pimps the victim angle. Sometimes it's on another issue like the current one - nuclear disarmament. Eugene is worth reading only to pass the time - somewhat like doing a crossword puzzle. You should however never begin one of his articles thinking that you will learn something new.

Posted by: dheller11 | April 7, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The title of this article is rhetorical, correct? Otherwise Mr. Robinson is the most naive ignorant person on the planet (well maybe Obama is). Idealism is so dangerous. Nukes are mutually assured deterrants. Period.

Posted by: willko | April 7, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm,no nukes. I wonder who is going to go first?

I can hear them now, Russia to the US, "you go first, we're right behind you." Then, Israel to Iran, "No, let us go first, afterall we have had them longer."

The no nuke speech is always a good "inspirational" filler, when it comes to speech topics. Right up there with "no more genocide," or no more war.

Posted by: rannrann | April 7, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

In a world where respondents on sites like this cannot even find the room to respect the views of others, where ad hominem attack is the coin of the realm, what earthly reason does Mr. Robinson have to believe that we can disarm a world where the respondent's feelings go far beyond simple disrespect and into the depths of utter hatred.

The first thing we ought to do in this country is to demonstrate our bona fides by learning to respect each other.

Posted by: mrdon | April 7, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Gee this sounds wonderful. We'll just get rid of our nukes and all the bad guys will follow right along and we'll live in a nuke free world. Just like we're having such success keeping Iran and North Korea from obtaining them in the first place.

Then we can ban guns and criminals won't be able to shoot each other.

What Robinson doesn't acknowledge is we only have control over creating a nuclear free U.S. (perhaps he's now a fan of acting unilaterally). Unfortunately the President doesn't acknowledge that either, and he's much more dangerous.

Posted by: purplebari1 | April 7, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Why not a world without fire, or airplanes or the wheel. We cannot unlearn technology. The truth is that the discovery of nuclear weapons was difficult..the process of building them is the wheel. There are thousands of college students in America and abroad who, given the materials, could make a wheel or a nuke. We can say we dream of a world where there are no nukes. I will say you have lovely and lofty dreams but you may as well dream of a world where we all live in caves and kill our dinner with a club. We dont get to turn back the clock of time and discovery.

Posted by: PSOG | April 7, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Watching liberals take on world hunger in Ethiopia in the 80s and the national health care "crisis" in the 90s fills me with hope that nuclear proliferation will be a thing of the past with Obama and Hillary on the scene.

Seriously. I feel good now. Aren't we due for a big concert or something?

Posted by: IUT12 | April 7, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Sorry guys, but nuclear weapons are here to stay. No other military technology has ever been abandoned because it was too destructive. There's others that like nukes aren't typically used in battles or have treaties against their use, but the technologies are still out there and countermeasures are developed for them.

Also, there's no reason for us to think that us giving up our nukes would cause rogue nations to give up theirs. Countries don't develop weapons because the US has them, they develop them for defense. Its an international arms race and its been going on for centuries. Nukes are just one more item (albeit a big one) to add to the arsenal. They can make up for deficiencies in other military capabilities largely through deterance. Though they're not used in a typical war, you'd better believe anybody considering a war with a nuclear power has accounted for the potential use of nukes.

And countries (like most people) don't respond to "moral superiority"; they respond to incentives and disincentives. If the US wants to stop North Korea (or any nation) from building nukes it can either give them aide if they stop and sanctions if they don't, or we can go over there and bomb whatever lab is developing the things.

Posted by: bill3 | April 7, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

My My, the Aclu must have forced RCP to publish these NAIVE,CHILDISH (but Bamas my brutha and my god) comments. This article really is not worthy of any more of my time

Posted by: RANDERSON4 | April 7, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes it would be so nice to be without nuclear weapons in the land of OZ. Lions will lie down with lambs Islamic terrorists will love Jews and Obama will actually communicate without a prompter. A nice fantasy. Hey we will never be able to give up nukes bub. Say China decides to expand and sends 600 million troops through North Korea towards South Korea and sends another 700 million troops toward Europe. How else can we stop them? What deters them now? Nukes. And even though President Zero thinks he is the second coming of Christ and a miracle worker even his aura will not deter the Chinese.

Posted by: harley2002 | April 7, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

that's the trouble with obammy and his brother's from other mothers. Robinson is just one of obammy's plantation mimics. Remember, 95% of 'em voted for obammy and they ain't going to stray far from the plantation. Let's face it, you can't polish a turd.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | April 7, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

There is no such thing as a world without nuclear weapons. There will never be such a thing, not in any of our lifetimes, or the lifetimes of our grandchildren.

You can dream of lollipop fields and rainbow meadows all you want. When you are ready to come back to reality, you will recognize that this will never happen.

So what does it hurt Obama to say it? Well, nothing really, except that he should bew focusing his attention on ACHIEVEABLE goals, not fantasies.

Posted by: etpietro | April 7, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

TimScanlon. Take your skirt off, and take a history class. A LOT of good has come from our developing nuclear weapons. They are deterrents, and they deter bad actors from bullying people around. If we did not have nuclear weapons, then the Soviets would never have left Cuba, and their missiles would still sitting 150 miles off the coast of Florida (or worse). If we did not have nuclear weapons, then once Obama fails in his pathetic attempt to keep Iran from going nuclear (you know... by asking them really nicely), Isreal would be destroyed. MAD is a great policy which protects our homeland, and it has protected our homeland for 40 years+. If you don't see that, then thank goodness you are in charge of nothing. Obama is living in a fantasy world. His foreign policy, his domestic agenda, all fantasy, all the time. He should pay attention to the briefings he reads every morning instead of just blowing them off, saying the threats have nothing to do with religion, and concluding that the threats we face are really just from some misunderstood teenagers who would be really nice to us if they just had a good job. Because hey, terroritsts, oh, excuse me.. I mean "Man made disaster" causers are really just community organizers waiting to be understood.

Overseas contigency operation? What a f-ing joke. Napolitano is a joke too.

I would also like to remind people that the job of the American President is to protect the homeland and our citizenry. His job IS NOT "to do something for the world". (Got it Doc61?) His job is to do something for AMERICA. (Besides making a speech praising the vaste and benevolent contributions that Iran has made to the cultural fabric of our world society, and going around telling anyone who will listen that America sucks and we really are sorry for that). Damn jerk.

Obama needs to shut the hell up, come home, and learn that complaining about a $1.3 trillion dollar deficit while proposing to balloon the deficit to $9.3 trillion is a logical fallicy and the height of HYPOCRISY. His globe trotting around eastern europe talking about total nuclear disarmament is a complete waste of time. But hey, we all know how much Bam loves to hear himself talk. Even the British newspapers are telling him to shut up and go home. He should listen.

P.S. hey Eugene, they said drink the Kool-Aid, not bathe in it. If the Washington Post wants to save some money, just cut and paste Obama's speeches and print them in the space where Robinson's columns are. There is no difference whatsoever.

Posted by: cmr2323 | April 7, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Are we supposed to ignore the fact that on the day Obama made his appeal to the world to abolish nuclear weapons (while on foreign soil, no less) the N. Koreans launched a missle AND Sec. Gates announced a reduction in defense spending? What else can this rookie give away before returning to the country he is rapidly betraying with his policies? Does he really expect the nations in different to our needs will fall headlong under his spell as did the weak-minded voters who propelled him to victory over a true patriot? Please show me where in history a country achieved its goals and maintained its security by displaying the kind of weakness he took with him on this latest Obamaramapalooza Tour '09. He certainly is talking softly...but left the big stick iat home in the closet. He takes it out only to cudgel C.E.O.s and Republicans. What a guy! We fortunate to have strong men in place to get his Nancy Pelosi, who at least appears to have the pair Obama checked at the White House door, even though she's wrecking the country too.

Posted by: ddnfla | April 7, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Because you can't unring the bell, Eugene, that's why. Because no matter how pollyannish Obama is, enemies of the United States will stop at nothing to get hold of fissible material.

Posted by: enaughton27 | April 7, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

While we're at it, why do we have to live in a world with crime? I mean, can't we do away with crime altogether? Since we're dreaming and all ... but I just know Obama can make it a reality.

Posted by: enaughton27 | April 7, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Eugene...I was going to leave a common sense comment..but, I see 99% have already called you an idiot...I don't need to add my own !!

I hope the nuclear armed terrorist's go to your house first.....!!! Tell them you have no weapons to oppose them....just before they dispose of you and yours..!!!

I'm for MORE Nuke's in America's arsenal !!

Posted by: dadling | April 7, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

We give up nothing and gain a measure of good will by restating our 40-year commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons -- knowing full well that reaching that goal could only be possible if the kinds of threats that the world faced in 1939 were somehow beyond anyone's imagination.

---how about what we've been trying to do with Iran ? Just more of Obama's grand words which mean zip. Focus on NK and Iran
Thats what we are worried about, not more car salesman words on nonsense " a world without poverty, hunger.." yeah heard that line a billion times. But Flunkies like Robinson keep thinking its something "new" ad "bold", but thats par when yr a Obama kool aid drinker.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | April 7, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Eugene, Bill is a lot smarter than you.

Posted by: fiorot | April 7, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

haha. Robinson is delusional like Obama.

Maybe it is a racial thing.

How about we get rid of nukes when there are no more murders in the ghetto?

Posted by: bug45 | April 7, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Your naivete is astonishing. Iran and North Korea now have nukes. Let's ask them really, really nicely, not to use them.

Let's dismantle our own, and China's and the Soviet Union's. Yeah. North Korea and Iran will follow our peaceful, happy example.

Right. That's how it works.

The fawning media may ooh and ahh as Obama may be runs around the world, bowing down low to tyrants and apologizing for America... but most people are not buying it.

Wake up.

Posted by: dana6 | April 7, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Obama, there really is a Santa Claus! And, everybody loves everybody else and will never, ever again try to do harm to anyone. All murderers, rapists, child molesters and such will abandon their evil ways for universal love. Terrorists will lay down their weapons and grievances against the west. Yes, nuclear powers will destroy their nuclear weapons -- honest (wink, wink) -- and everyone will live happily ever after in the utopian Obamaworld! How, in God's name, did this fatuous, naive man-child pull the wool over enough people's eyes to get elected president??????

Posted by: royalsan1 | April 7, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Why Not a World Without Nukes?

Why not is preferably a suggestion concluding around the fact should a nation abuse or misuse their ability to have nukes. I see no problem with the nukes should one abide by the rules and regulations within and not deviate away from protocol. So yes, repercussions should be expected should the latter occur , but to just outright cry no nukes is not proper especially with Nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty’s protocol.

Posted by: Nisey01 | April 7, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse must have missed the briefing...why would Iran and North Korea need to have a they can threaten everone else with's the only military leverage they have...they know that they can't beat anyone in a conventional they decided they need a nuke or 2 to get their's pretty simple stuff...either you have a missle defense that eliminates their missle based ability to deliver a nuke or you invade before they have an opportunity to launch...right now we're eliminating the missle dfense save a few bucks and putting ourselves in a defensive first stike mode if these nuts decide to deploy their nukes...The Presidents idea of getting everyone around the table, holding hands and clicking our heels together won't get us back to Kansas.

Posted by: jermck | April 7, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

So, in the 40 yeas since the start of the actitivities of the NPT, the number of nuclear states has more than doubled. And that is a success?

And Obama is talking about doing away with nuclear weapons at a point in time when a a nation on the brink of collapse (Pakistan) has them, a crazy state (North Korea) is on the brink of having them, and a country whose leaders believe suicidal acts of murder grant the keys to heaven (Iran) is about to get them?

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Posted by: FranciscoJamison | April 7, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Why not a world without cancer, or child abuse, or human trafficking? How naive...

"If the United States were to consent, in reliance upon any paper agreement, to destroy the stocks of atomic bombs which they have accumulated, they would be guilty of murdering human freedom, and of committing suicide themselves."
-- Sir Winston Churchill

The world is a dangerous place full of bad people. Study your history and look around you, Eugene.

--Nietzsche is Dead

Posted by: foutsc | April 7, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Why not a world without Eugene Robinson's prattle?

Posted by: newzaroo | April 7, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Our intelligence community estimates that we have about a 30% chance of a terrorist nuclear explosion in an American city in the next 10 years. We have a nuclear stockpile for which there is no realistic military use. We can only gain traction on nuclear non-proliferation through cooperation with the other nuclear countries: Russia with Iran, and China with North Korea for example. Right now, our actions of the last eight years speak so loudly that those nations cannot hear what we say about the spread of nuclear weapons and the dangers of nuclear terrorism. Given those facts, how is it possible for the Washington Post to have given Kristol and Applebaum space to carp about Obama's call, echoing Reagan's call by the way, for nuclear arms reduction and eventual elimination?

Posted by: eroot | April 7, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Any individual with a 3rd grade education knows that Israel with its over 200 nuclear warheads (at last count by Scientific American magazine)will NEVER acquiesce to abandoning its atomic arsenal!! Although Robinson's argument would be well received by those nations that have often been mere pawns in the Superpowers' cold war era, demanding Iran to cease and desist from developing its nuclear technology with potential military applications, while the rogue jewish state threatens the entire region with its ever-expanding bio and nuclear weapons capability (as evidenced by its leadership's threats to Egypt and Syria in the 1973 war),is plumbing the lowest depths of hypocrisy. With Israel's continued threats to expand its borders after eliminating the Palestinians, its arab and Persian neighbors would be well advised to hasten their own development of nuclear weapons programs!!!

Posted by: SMMajid_1 | April 7, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Well, of course. This has been in the works since the end of WWII.

The Baruch Plan
Presented to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, June 14, 1946

My Fellow Members of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, and My Fellow Citizens of the World:

We are here to make a choice between the quick and the dead.

That is our business.

Behind the black portent of the new atomic age lies a hope which, seized upon with faith, can work our salvation. If we fail, then we have damned every man to be the slave of Fear. Let us not deceive ourselves: We must elect World Peace or World Destruction.

Science has torn from nature a secret so vast in its potentialities that our minds cower from the terror it creates. Yet terror is not enough to inhibit the use of the atomic bomb. The terror created by weapons has never stopped man from employing them. For each new weapon a defense has been produced, in time. But now we face a condition in which adequate defense does not exist.

Science, which gave us this dread power, shows that it can be made a giant help to humanity, but science does not show us how to prevent its baleful use. So we have been appointed to obviate that peril by finding a meeting of the minds and the hearts of our peoples. Only in the will of mankind lies the answer.

Posted by: WilliamBlake | April 7, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: WilliamBlake | April 7, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I could not agree more - TOTAL nuclear disarmament - just as soon as you figure out how to eliminate fissionable or fusionable elements with which nuclear weapons are made.

The mere fact that there ARE four more nuclear countries, two of which are less than stable and a third threatened from all sides, is testament to the fact that overwhelmingly superior force is not a dead theory.

Posted by: prsmithsr | April 7, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Just how do you plan to convince the Koreans, Red Chinese, Iranians, and Israelis, among others, to give up their nuclear weapons? Something tells me we have nothing that's a worthwhile incentive. In fact, I'm pretty sure they'll laugh in our faces. They're probably laughing right now at the idea, just waiting for the chance to bomb to oblivion. Thanks for playing.

Posted by: gloriagarza | April 7, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Robinson,

What's more important safety of United States and it's allies or the Obama presidency?

Posted by: nomoreprogressives | April 7, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

It's pathetic for the neocon critics of Obama, and now Robinson, as "naifs" to claim the "high" ground of "realism" after the neocon fools made the most disastrous mistake in the history of American foreign policy disasters by invading Iraq to "protect" Israel by "democratizing" (ie, putting under American-Israeli control) as much of the Arab world as possible. This incredibly stupid, and NAIVE, plan distracted us from our, and Israel's, most dangerous enemy on earth: Osama bin Laden (NOT Iran, the latest neocon exercise in magical thinking). Because of the fool neocons' endless bad judgment, lack of realism, and naivete, America now faces the very real possiblity that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, even by Petraeus, and, thus, that the de facto result of the neocons' folly may be the safety of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in perpetuity, even after they nuke NYC from their haven in Pakistan, made safe for them by neocon distraction and folly. Most Americans have made the obvious judgment that it is the neocons who are the dangerous fools in our politics, and that Obama is doing all he can to save this nation from their fanatical, wrong-headed folly.

Posted by: jeanrenoir | April 7, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

President Obama is living in a fantasy world if he thinks he can eradicate nuclear weapons from the world, and Mr. Robinson has apparently joined him there.

Would it be desireable to live in a world without nuclear weapons? Perhaps, but that noble if naive sentiment is beside the point. Hope is not a strategy, and wishing for something does not make it reality. Nuclear weapons and the scientific discoveries that underlie them are a matter of historical and scientific fact. The "Pandora's Box" of nuclear weapons design has been opened, and cannot now be closed, its secrets safe from irresponsible hands. Even if President Obama was able, by some amazing feat of leadership and persuasion, to convince every nation that has nukes to surrender them, that wouldn't matter. The knowledge of how to make these weapons is out there, and it isn't going away.

America remains the inventor of nuclear weapons, and their sole user. Before condemning that fact, consider that if we did not invent them, the Nazis would have, and they'd have had the V-2 ballistic missile upon which to mount it. Japan also had an atomic weapons program before and during WWII, albeit one less advanced than our own, as did the USSR. It was just a matter of time before one of the industrially-advanced nations harnessed the power of the atom.

The Pollyannas who want a world free of nuclear weapons apparently do not realize that major wars between nation-states are now largely a thing of the past thanks primarily due to the threat of conventional wars then going nuclear, a prospect sane nations and leaders do not relish. In short, deterence worked in the Cold War, though it was a near-run thing in the Cuban Missile Crisis and on one or two other occasions.

Obama's quest to rid the world of nukes will only assure that we and other nations do not have them, while the enemies of civilization do have them, a scenario wise people fear for good reason.

Posted by: GaBoy61 | April 8, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Robinson and Obama live in fantasy land.
Nukes are the least of our worries with the Obamination of America underway.

Posted by: ekim53 | April 8, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

A world without nukes would be nice, but not possible. None the countries would trust each other on such a matter. You also have the problem of who goes first. If anything nations of nuclear threat will increase. North Korea and Iran plus who knows who else. History has taught us arms treaties are made to be broken. Hitler built the Battleship Bismark, and Tojo the Yamato. These ships broke treaty by being twice the size they were allowed. They were the most feared warships at the time. If there ever is a world without nukes, it would be because they are made obsolete. Replaced by an even deadlier weapon. Obama talks about eliminating nukes but I'm sure it's idle double talk.

Posted by: rrdn96 | April 8, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I'll try not to make this complicated. A few years ago Man learned that if he hit another man in the head with a stick it was an effective weapon. Man loved his new weapon but soon found he didn't want others to carry these dangerous sticks around. So Man agreed to ban sticks. Man did. Man threw their sticks away. All was wonderful. Right? NO! It was learned that Evil Man went out and got new sticks. With his new sticks Evil Man subdued Man and enslaved him for ever and a day. Once you know how to use a stick you can always find a new one. Hope I didn't confuse you with the technical stuff.

Posted by: old1 | April 8, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

When, if not now?

Who, if not us?

It is time to be sane.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | April 8, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

As muchas I would love a world without nukes, and a neighborhood without crime, I am not niave enough to agree to either. Thousands of years of human history have demonstrated that those societies that discard or ignore the most current weapons technology end up utterly destroyed or subjegated to other societies that embrace current weapon technology. While I am an Idealist myself, I expect my president to do his utmost to PROTECT our society, not risk the life of the nation with idealism.

Posted by: hdc77494 | April 8, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, it is hypocritical of the United States to suggest a world without nuclear weapons unless we disarm ours first. I say this is unfortunate, because I know that it will not be done, at least not any time soon.

World peace cannot be achieved unless their is communication and cooperation. Without this, we will constantly be sleeping with one eye open, with our defenses up.

I hope that one day we can live in a world where the existence of nuclear arms is not necessary, and I furthermore commend President Obama for his words. I do not think that those who criticize Obama disagree that we should work toward peaceful coexistence. I think that they shudder to think that we may do away with our most powerful suggested defense. I can guarantee, however, that no president will get rid of our nukes anytime soon.

To do so would be the most powerful statement made in recent history, but also put us in the most vulnerable situation as well. I don't think the U.S. is ready to be vulnerable again, and I'm not sure we ever will be. :(

Posted by: ndgilbert | April 8, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps this discussion should be a quantitative one. HOW MANY nuclear weapons do we need? How many are wise for each of the other nuclear nations? Finally what should the world offer non-nuclear nations to stay that way?

Posted by: LHO39 | April 9, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Kristol and his fellow extreme right wingers were pretty much in favor of tossing out the Magna Carta, when they voiced support for getting rid of habeas corpus, so I wouldn't be surprised that he's in favor of trashing the non-proliferation treaty.

Kristol would like to go back to the middle ages, let alone the 1950s.

Posted by: BillEPilgrim | April 9, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

"[Mutually Assured Destruction] only works with rational players, which N. Korea and Iran are not."

First of all, Iran is a very rational nation, painted as irrational by those who know nothing of how it functions. For what its worth, Iran/Persia has not instigated a war in HUNDREDS of years. Why it would start to do so now is unclear. In contrast, Israel and the United states have been at war for much of their existences, and have often been the instigators of war. I would say that, objectively speaking, we are the irrational powers, not Iran. Iran is run by survivalist mullahs, who have no desire or intention of putting Iran's existence at risk via nuclear provocation. However, using the principle of MAD, it can defend itself from both the US and Israel. Gaining Nukes is a highly rational and strategically viable position for them to take. The only thing threatened by a nuclear Iran is Israeli supremacy in the region. And besides, Pakistan is already a nuclear power and far less stable than Iran.

Secondly, MAD only breaks down when one side is facing imminent destruction in which it seeks to bring its opponent down with it. It is unlikely in the foreseeable future that we will invade either N.K. or Iran, so why would either one start a nuclear war that would only result in its destruction? Kim Jong Il is many things, but he is not so foolish as to willingly destroy his little kingdom. His missile tests are more for domestic propaganda purposes than for foreign provocation.

Naive is a word that should be linked to those who think Iran is going to Nuke us or Israel preemptively, and to those who see a legitimate threat from N.K. These people do not understand geopolitics, history, or the politics of these regions. I urge them to read more before commenting.

Posted by: rgodwin | April 9, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Hi Folks!

Communism is a Failed Ideology. Democracy is a Successful Ideology. If democracy can be successful for a country, why can't be it successful for Security Council. I think World's biggest democracy - India should be admitted to Security Council and World's Democracies should come together and take decisions for the guardianship of nukes. The opinion of Majority should be considered worldwide also. Nukes should be seized from rogue nations like North Korea, Iran, Libya. We can't just make nuke-free world, but Nukes to be made under control of Responsible Nation like US, which everyone knows safeguard the existence of Humanity. Humanity needs nukes, not for conflicting with itself, but to safeguard its existence from Extraterrestrials.

Posted by: Chris_Paturi | April 9, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

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