Obama's Nuclear Reduction Plan Is Brilliantly Pragmatic


There’s a compelling case for the dramatic nuclear arms reductions laid out by President Barack Obama in Berlin last month,

according to an opinion piece in Reuters.

Michael O’Hanlon and Steven Pifer, both senior fellows with the Brookings Institute, wrote that the current nuclear armament is unrealistic even for the most  “Strangelovian war fighting scenario.”

The two experts wrote that it’s mutually beneficial for Moscow and Washington to commit to reducing nuclear arsenals that number in the thousands.

Current strategy, a relic of the Cold War, is predicated on the notion that large stockpiles of nukes are necessary because in the event of a nuclear war, you would need to nuke your opponent’s nuclear arsenals.

“These plans are entirely unrealistic — since neither side could disarm the other,” O’Hanlon and Pifer wrote. “They also have a circular logic: The more weapons each side possesses, the greater the case for the other to retain excess capacity. This is exactly the dynamic in which negotiated mutual cuts make sense.”

Pifer and O’Hanlon said that further nuclear arms reductions make sense not just for U.S.-Russian relations, but for the worldover.

“… the Bush and Obama administrations’ success in convincing the world community to apply stronger sanctions against Iran and North Korea in response to their nuclear shenanigans was aided by the fact that both presidents could credibly argue they were trying to contain nuclear dangers by curbing the U.S. arsenal,” O’Hanlon and Pifer said.

We spoke with Pifer, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine and a nuclear armament expert, last month about a range of topics from Edward Snowden to nuclear arms reduction.

“The Russians for example, have not shown great public enthusiasm about further nuclear reductions,” Pifer told Business Insider. “My own sense is that they still may have some incentives to explore the idea, so I haven’t totally written it off.”

Pifer told us last month that while there’s potential for converging interests on nuclear arms reduction, it largely hinges on a meeting scheduled between presidents Obama and Putin slated in September.

“I think in September when the two presidents meet will be an opportunity to see whether they can define a way forward that introduces greater areas of cooperation on the U.S.-Russian agenda,” he said. 

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