Edwards Speaks of Nuclear Weapons

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

On this day when a debate goes on about who will or will not use or discuss use of nuclear weapons in Pakistan or against Al Queda, I decided to write a diary touching on a different aspect of the nuclear question, and John Edwards's approach to it, past and present.

Not very long ago, I wrote a diary here about a front page story in the Washington Post on July 9, 2004, entitled, Edwards Sets Self Apart on Foreign Policy; Terrorism Was Top Focus Before Sept. 11 Attacks

The Post article referred to an Op-ed entitled Targeting Terrorism that appeared in the Littleton Observer on August 16, 2001, where Edwards said:

As a member of the Senate Intelligence committee, I've become convinced that terrorism is the most important national security challenge our country will face over the next decade. That is why I am working on new ways to address the threat of terrorism.

Without a doubt, at a time when Bush's head was in the sand, and others were focused on missile defense, Edwards was prescient.

More below the fold.

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Obama and Nuclear Deterrence

It's kind of becoming clear that Drudge pounced too quickly before it was clear what Obama had actually said, Obama was wildly mis-characterized, and the AP article has been amended to correct the error:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday he would not use nuclear weapons "in any circumstance" to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance," Obama said, with a pause, "involving civilians." Then he quickly added, "Let me scratch that. There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table."

Obama was responding to a question by the Associated Press about whether there was any circumstance where he would be prepared or willing to use nuclear weapons to defeat terrorism and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

"There's been no discussion of using nuclear weapons and that's not a hypothetical that I'm going to discuss," Obama said after a Capitol Hill breakfast with constituents.
When asked whether his answer also applied to the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons, he said it did.


Maybe we could learn a lesson about pouncing too quickly?  

But I thought I might try to actually respond to the substance of the question raised.

Where does Obama stand on the use of nuclear weapons?  It seems odd to suggest that he has never taken a position on the matter.  Here are a few from Obama's April 2007 speech on nuclear proliferation:

Finally, if we want the world to deemphasize the role of nuclear weapons, the United States and Russia must lead by example. President Bush once said, "The United States should remove as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status - another unnecessary vestige of Cold War confrontation." Six years later, President Bush has not acted on this promise. I will. We cannot and should not accept the threat of accidental or unauthorized nuclear launch. We can maintain a strong nuclear deterrent to protect our security without rushing to produce a new generation of warheads.

The danger of nuclear proliferation reminds us of how critical global cooperation will be in the 21st century. That's why the fourth way America must lead is to rebuild and construct the alliances and partnerships necessary to meet common challenges and confront common threats.

Obama clearly supports the idea of a nuclear deterrent but recognizes that the number of weapons on active status is unnecessary, dangerous, and sends the wrong message to the world.
The speech also lays out his program for addressing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

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Edwards for abolition of nuclear weapons

Edwards recently spoke before the Council on Foreign Relations last week.  From what Katrina Vanden Huevel wrote, the speech wasn't nearly as interesting as an answer Edwards gave on nuclear policy in the Q&A. This was on "The Nation" online today:

link - http://www.thenation.com/blogs/edcut?bid =7&pid=200721

Cora Weiss: in keeping with your expression used today that there should be no excuse to abandon international law, and in keeping with the international court's unanimous opinion that all countries should eliminate their nuclear weapons, and in keeping with Mr. Kissinger, Sam Nunn and Schultz' op-ed in The Wall Street Journal calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons, when you are president, what will you do about nuclear weapons given that Mr. Bush has just announced the complex 2030 plan to redesign and develop a new generation of nuclear weapons?

I suspect that most of us would expect an answer about "maintaining our nuclear deterrent" and "protecting our national security." However, Edwards didn't back off:

John Edwards: Well, let me say first, I think I would want to associate myself with the concepts that are conveyed by Kissinger, Sam Nunn and others in the op-ed piece. I thought it was very thoughtful. And I think essentially what they said if I remember -- I don't remember the precise language -- was that we should aspire to a nuclear-free world. I agree with that. Now, there are a lot of steps that have to go between here and there. Some of them are pretty obvious, which is America should not be building new nuclear weapons. And then I think America should be doing things like leading an international effort to close the holes in the NPT. There are clearly serious flaws in the NPT. And I think America, leading an international effort to reduce the supplies nuclear sense in the world -- all aimed at the general goal that's described in that piece that you just spoke about.

This is genuine progress in the battle to draw back the National Security State that Stoller has blogged about.  I haven't heard anything from the other candidates on U.S. nuclear policy, but Edwards has articulated a strong vision.  The more I hear from Edwards on foreign policy, the more I like.

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Obama leads Senate Push to Divest from Iran's Oil

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Democratic presidential hope Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) polished his national security credentials on Wednesday, introducing a Senate bill encouraging investors to cash out of projects which benefit
Iran.

Obama, who most national polls have in second place in the Democratic field behind
Hillary Clinton, targeted Iran's lucrative oil and gas industry in a bill spurred by the US belief the Islamic Republic is building nuclear arms.

....

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070516/pl_ afp/usvote2008congress_070516203751;_ylt =Ao1MgLpqPM8p5nXkY084NRUKO7gF

Prevention is better than Cure and here's why

International weapons inspectors on Tuesday confirmed Iran appeared to be making steady progress toward its goal of building 3,000 centrifuges, which could allow it to process enough nuclear material to build one atomic bomb per year.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in March imposing sanctions against Iran's missile and nuclear programs after it repeatedly ignored ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment.

The world body gave Iran 60 days to suspend enrichment or face further punitive measures, meaning that the latest deadline will expire next week.

Ask thy senator to support this bill. Real Security begins with prevention.

Eom.

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stupid intellectuals

The campaign against intellectualism isn't being waged solely by the right.  Its seems that it is in fashion to declare yourself to be doer and not a thinker or even well educated.  While it might not be sufficient to merely be a thinker, it certainly is necessary.  And as the Bush administration as shown, doing without thinking can be a nightmare.

to whit, Kos writes:

"Here's my take on the whole matter -- "intellectuals" who'd rather read books and measure purity are next-to-useless. I prefer people of action, not of elitist academics. And I say that as someone who collected degrees as a hobby. What did all those Marx readers deliver the country? Nixon. Reagan. Bush. Bush II. Not to mention the DeLays, the Scalias, and the long national nightmare that is just now being stemmed."

Its not hard to think of few things things that earlier generations of intellectuals contributed to society (on both the left and the right).  Here is something that pointy-headed intellectuals are discussing at the moment (besides global warming, the deficit, disease, etc.):

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