hillary-obama raise profound questions

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton offered remarks the implications of which few people caught other than Campaign for America’s Future Robert Borsage.  Responding to Barak Obama’s comment that he would rule out the use of nuclear weapons against terrorists in Pakistan, Clinton countered by saying, “[P]residents since the Cold War have used nuclear deterrence to keep the peace, and I don’t believe any president should make blanket statements with the regard to use or non-use.”

Borsage argues that what Clinton said amounts to replacing the current doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” with a “doctrine of first use.”  In the former, the US in effect says, “If you go nuclear on us, then we will go nuclear on you, and all of us will be worse off because no one wins a nuclear war”; in the latter, the use of nuclear weapons is an arrow in our quiver that we could use whether or not an attacking opponent goes nuclear.

What concerns Borsage is that Clinton’s remarks break with tradition in that, up-to-now, while letting Russia, China and any nation with nuclear arms know we will respond in kind if attacked, the United States has never threatened to use the nuclear sledgehammer in dealing with pesky mosquitoes and gnats of the world.

“For this country to continue to threaten the first use of nuclear weapons — particularly against countries that have no such weapons — isn’t just immoral, it is profoundly stupid,” writes Borsage.

But . . . .  let us suppose that Hillary Clinton is a serious candidate (as she is) who has carefully measured her words, particularly as these words address the very issue Obama was addressing, namely what to do with Al-Quaeda in remote parts of Pakistan.

In this light, Clinton has managed to subtly pressure Pakistan to capture or kill Bin-Laden by letting leaders there know that the nuclear option is on the table if, in failing to take action, Al-Quaeda manages to blast a “dirty bomb” in the US.  In contrast, Obama would send US troops into Pakistan to deal with the Al-Quaeda.

Yet, in signaling a willingness to implement a policy shift of profound magnitude, Clinton needs to be mindful that she is opening a can of worms in addition to attempting to solve the immediate problems that such a policy shift is meant to address.   If nothing else, the Obama-Clinton debate forces Americans to debate and come to grips with the proper course of action and limits to a fact of life that will remain with us for generations to come, namely the “War on Terror.”

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One Response to “hillary-obama raise profound questions”

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