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Obama’s policies may spur nuclear proliferation

Obama's nuclear policies are on track to make the US the Johnny Appleseed of nuclear weapons.

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Third, as a result of Obama’s new policies, it won’t be just our worried allies who might move toward obtaining their own nuclear weapons, but our enemies as well. The US has gone from something like 8,000 deployed weapons a decade ago to around 2,000 now. We are at present engaged in reducing another few hundred beyond this approximately fourfold cut.

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I haven’t heard anybody applauding in Syria or Burma, saying, “Hey, that means we will never need nuclear weapons.” I don’t think so. There is one thing that Osama bin Laden has said that is right: When people look at a strong horse and a weak horse, they like the strong horse better.

From the standpoint of a Syria, Iran, or North Korea, the fact that the US is holding out the dream of zero nuclear weapons and forswearing modernization even as those states progress toward their own weapons makes the US look more like the weak horse. That encourages, rather than discourages these types of countries.

I don’t see how the advertised incentives work. These countries won’t stand down their nuclear program and say, “The Americans are renouncing weapons, so we will, too.” That is not looking at the situation as Holmes’s bad man would.

For these reasons, states that are enemies of the US, some of whom have relations with terrorist groups, will be more, not less, inclined to move toward obtaining nuclear weapons.

In my judgment, we are not being smart about proliferation by moving in the direction Obama has taken. Proliferation is going to be more, not less, of a problem.

R. James Woolsey is a former director of Central Intelligence. He was an adviser, delegate, and chief negotiator on four arms-control negotiations with the Soviet Union during the cold war.

© 2010 Global Viewpoint Network/ Tribune Media Services. Hosted online by The Christian Science Monitor.