Leading national security expert Frank Gaffney has a few choice words for President Barack Obama’s policies on the production and use of nuclear weapons: “reckless,” “dangerous,” “irresponsible,” “ill-advised,” “very risky,” and “catastrophic.”
Gaffney, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy, also tells Newsmax that Obama is taking “considerable risks” with Americans’ security, and his policies could ultimately lead to the disarmament of the United States.
Editor's Note: See the full interview with defense expert Frank Gaffney below
And he says the policies raise questions about the president’s judgment “and his faithful execution of his constitutional responsibilities for the common defense.”
Gaffney was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in April 1987 to become assistant secretary of defense for International Security Policy, the senior position in the Defense Department with responsibility for policies involving nuclear forces, arms control and U.S.-European defense relations.
He also served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy.
The Obama administration is altering the country’s decades-old nuclear weapons policy to reduce the role and number of such weapons, with the target of a nuclear-free world, according to a newly released document called a nuclear posture review.
Obama would renounce the development of any new nuclear weapons, and commit the United States not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty — even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons.
He is also about to sign a "New START" [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] with Russia reducing long-range nuclear weapons.
In his exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Gaffney says: “Both the new nuclear posture review and the START treaty reflect the president’s overarching ambition, something that’s been a fixation of his going back to 1983 when he was a young radical at Columbia University, and that is with the idea of disarming the world.
“But as a practical matter, the only country he can disarm is the United States, and I think both of these are steps in that direction.
“He is foreclosing any modernization of our nuclear deterrent. He is saying we’re not going to modernize our forces. The practical effect of the president’s decision not to modernize our nuclear deterrent is to condemn it to obsolescence, and [to lead] ultimately to the disarmament of the United States.”
Congress could reject the decisions Obama has made on the use of nuclear weapons and the modernization of our arsenal, and could opt not to ratify START, Gaffney says.
But “whether under a Democrat-controlled Congress dominated by leftists, who probably see more or less along the same lines as the president on the virtues of nuclear disarmament, it’s not clear that is going to happen,” he adds.
“But I hope there is going to be a response from the American people to some of these very risky ideas that I think most people are going to find defy common sense, and certainly are not prudent in a world in which countries like North Korea, Iran, China, Russia are [developing] nuclear threats, and perhaps other capabilities as well, in a way that will be very dangerous to us in the future . . .
“The American people are being confronted with a president who believes that he can take considerable risks with their safety and security. I think they probably won’t see it that way, and they’ll let their elected representatives know they don’t.”
Asked whether Secretary of Defense Robert Gates opposed the new policies, Gaffney responds: “We know for sure that during the last administration, when he was also the secretary of defense, he spoke very vociferously about the necessity of modernizing our nuclear forces . . .
“Anybody in a position of real responsibility who appreciates that it is and will remain vital to the security of the United States to have a credible, safe, reliable nuclear deterrent, will tell you you need to modernize the ones we have — because they’re increasingly not safe, increasingly not reliable, and certainly ever less effective.”
Obama has said he is now convinced the course Iran is on will provide them with nuclear weapons capabilities. Gaffney was asked whether he is alarmed that the administration is not taking a more aggressive approach with Iran.
“It alarms me that at the very moment the president is acknowledging that he is, essentially, just going to get used to [a nuclear-armed Iran] — that one of the most dangerous countries on the planet, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is getting nuclear weapons — he is saying we’re going to permit the increasing devaluation, in fact disarmament, of this country.
“I just think that the juxtaposition of these two realities further raises questions about President Obama’s judgment and his faithful execution of his constitutional responsibilities for the common defense.”
The START pact Obama has agreed to sign limits the U.S. and Russia to 1,550 operationally deployed nuclear warheads. Asked if that will be enough to preserve our defense, Gaffney says:
“I don’t know what the right number is and I’m very leery of people who tell you they do know.
“The Russians are busily modernizing their forces. They have fewer numbers but they are going to have very modern nuclear weapons. Communist China is busily expanding both the number and the quality of the nuclear weapons in its inventory.
“At the same time every other nuclear power is modernizing its nuclear arsenal. Some of them are friends of ours, some of them are not necessarily. Then there’s the rogue states North Korea and Iran.
“When you put all this together, I’m not sure whether it is advisable for the United States to have fewer nuclear weapons than it has had. But it is catastrophic not to have whatever number we wind up with be as modern, as safe, and as reliable as we know how to make them. And President Obama has foreclosed that option explicitly.
“The only nuclear power in the world, actual or incipient, that will not be able to produce any nuclear weapons will be the United States of America. I think that is wrong. I think it is irresponsible. And I’m fearful it will prove reckless.
“Then there’s a whole class of weapons of which [the Russians] have thousands, unmatched by us, called tactical nuclear weapons, that aren’t counted in this treaty at all. Some of them are off the coast of the United States today, weapons the size of the weapon that devastated Hiroshima pointed at our cities. And they don’t count at all.”
Ronald Reagan had stated that his ultimate goal was the elimination of nuclear weapons. Newsmax asked Gaffney what he thinks Reagan would say about Obama’s policies.
“Having worked for him in the nuclear weapons policy business, I can tell you that President Reagan was committed to assuring the effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent. Most of the nuclear weapons that we have still in the inventory today were deployed during his time in office.
“So while he had an aspiration, I think he was very clear that in the interval he was determined to maintain effective deterrent forces . . .
“I think he would be appalled by what is going on today, and probably most appalled by those who are using his sentiments about nuclear weapons to justify this reckless and ill-advised denuclearization of the United States that is going on under the Obama administration today.”
Asked whether Obama would use nuclear weapons if he faced a crisis, Gaffney responds: “I think any president would be very, very reluctant to use nuclear weapons. This president, by virtue of everything he has said and done to date, I think would be exceedingly unlikely to do it.
“Here’s the rub: Most of our enemies — and we do have enemies in the world — probably have figured that out as well and may be emboldened by it.
“Even if he is persuaded that the circumstances require the use of nuclear weapons for the safety and security of the American people, and even if he were willing to use them, if this present practice persists of allowing our nuclear deterrent to atrophy, it’s not clear they’ll work when they should. And that I’m afraid would be a very, very dark day for America.”
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