North Korea’s third nuclear test and inflammatory YouTube threats against President Obama and American troops have placed the nuclear debate front and center in the nomination fight over former Senator Chuck Hagel (R–NE) as Secretary of Defense. Hagel’s radical views on nuclear disarmament are in line with those of President Obama, and they are deeply dangerous for this country.
During his floundering confirmation hearing on February 7, Hagel argued repeatedly that the “Global Zero: U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission Report,” published in 2012, does not advocate unilateral disarmament. His five fellow commissioners have come out in support of these statements—as they see it, bilateral disarmament with Russia would come first, followed by multilateral disarmament talks with other countries.
Those other countries include North Korea and Iran, two rogue states who have been merrily collaborating on building nuclear-armed missiles, which would destabilize their respective regions. They make exceedingly unlikely negotiating partners for nuclear disarmament.
Talking to Al Jazerra, Hagel explained the concept of “Nuclear Zero.” “How can we preach to other countries that you can’t have nuclear weapons but we can and our allies can? There is no credibility, there’s no logic to that argument.” Problem is: Nuclear weapons are not a question of logic or fairness, but of power. In the hands of certain governments, nuclear weapons are simply too dangerous. In the hands of others—like that of the United States—they produce stability and security.
The Global Zero commission’s line of reasoning was adopted by President Obama as he famously convened his nuclear summit in 2009, urged on by a letter from Hagel himself. Needless to say, the deep cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, negotiated bilaterally with the Russian government in New START during the first Obama term, have done nothing to slow the advance toward nuclear weapons by rogue states.
The devastating cuts to the U.S. arsenal proposed by Hagel and the other Nuclear Zero commissioners—an 80 percent reduction in U.S. nuclear weapons and the eventual phasing out of all short-range nuclear weapons, and the elimination of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and B-52 bombers—would be a disastrous global game-changer.
These positions alone would be enough to oppose the former Nebraska Senator for the key cabinet position of Secretary of Defense were there no other compelling reasons.