Nuclear Deterrence in a Fallen World

Give President Obama credit. One promise he made during the campaign that he intends to keep was to work for a world free of nuclear weapons.
And last week, his administration took a small step in that direction. On Thursday in Prague, he and President Medvedev of Russia signed a new START treaty to reduce the number of nuclear weapons on both sides. The treaty also extends previous agreements about inspecting nuclear weapons and verifying compliance.
If you are a long-time listener to BreakPoint, you know that I have praised a plan by former secretaries of state George Shultz and Henry Kissinger and former senator Sam Nunn to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. Although I must say, because we can’t roll back technology, and because we live in a world where terrorists are bound and determined to obtain nuclear weapons, I have doubts whether we ever could—or even should—totally eliminate them.

Nonetheless, in principle, I support the President’s efforts to negotiate with the Russians. I was part of the original efforts by President Nixon to do exactly that. Prudent steps to reduce tensions between the nuclear powers are always welcome and important.

But there was other news last week about the President’s stance on nuclear weapons that has me concerned—deeply concerned.

The administration’s new Nuclear Posture Review states that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have nuclear weapons and that comply with the UN treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Now, that may sound good on paper, but what would happen if a country, or terrorist organization based in a certain country, launched a massive attack on the United States with biological or chemical weapons? Or even a cyber attack that could paralyze America for weeks or months, leading to massive starvation?

Well, astonishingly enough, the Nuclear Posture Review specifically renounces a U.S. nuclear response to a mass biological or chemical attack.

The administration took this position as a “carrot” approach to convince non-nuclear nations to give up their dreams of obtaining nukes.

But folks, you can offer a rat a carrot, and he’ll eat it. The problem is, he remains a rat.

As you’ve heard me say before, the role of government is to preserve order, do justice, and restrain evil. Well, this of course presupposes that there is such a thing as evil, and that humans do evil things. Obviously, we Christians know the root of this evil is original sin; it’s part of our fallen human nature. And we see it displayed on our TV screens every single night.

Any nuclear policy that fails to recognize the human propensity for evil endangers the country and flies in the face of a biblical worldview—not to mention common sense.

It is, plain and simple, utopian thinking. And Christianity, recognizing man’s fallenness, always rejects utopianism—the idea that mankind can build a paradise on earth. It inevitably leads to tyranny.

Reducing the number of nuclear weapons? Yes. Fighting the spread of nuclear weapons? Yes.

But taking a credible deterrent off the table in a fallen world? Definitely, no.

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  • tomdundee

    The fewer the nuclear, biological, chemical weapons the better. But until they become a thing of the past, we need them.

    Wars begin when the price of aggression is minimal. The stronger the response and the greater the likelihood that you will respond makes aggression less likely. And we need offensive weapons for our security. A defensive war is another way of saying defeat.

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