Wednesday, June 19, 2013

President Obama in Berlin: "So long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.”

President Barack Obama at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate
Today, in front of the historic Brandenburg Gate, US President Barack Obama stood where Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy before him also stood.  He uttered the words now made famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” to a cheering crowd waving German and American flags together.  President Obama addressed the issue of nuclear weapons and proliferation in his speech.  Perhaps more importantly, Obama said, “We may no longer live in fear of global annihilation, but so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.”  While most likely rhetoric, Mr. Obama was correct when he said this; for as long as weapons exist that can take out entire cities and regions, no country or people are safe if war breaks out. 

President Obama championed the New START Treaty in his speech saying, “I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures.”  However, unless Mr. Obama has had some great change of heart, his actions during his Presidency regarding nuclear weapons have yet to meet the expectations laid out in his grandiose speeches.  The New START Treaty is made to sound ambitious and groundbreaking, it is however very conservative in its changes and unimaginative.  The new treaty sets the deployed weapon limit at 1550 warheads for each country.  The estimate of the US stockpile is estimated at 4,650 warheads, of which around 2,150 are deployed.  Russian nuclear stockpile is estimated at 4,500 weapons.  Only 1,800 of those warheads are deployed.  So the limit of 1550 really isn’t that drastic of a change.
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