Sen. Elizabeth Warren has doubled down on her mocked and criticized proposal for a “no strike first” nuclear weapons policy. And in doing so, she’s unwittingly declared herself against former President Barack Hussein Obama.
“[‘No strike first’] makes America safer and makes the world safer,” she said Friday when asked at a campaign stop in Nevada about the criticism over her unconventional policy proposal.
“America is not going to use nuclear weapons,” she continued. “Our whole notion of mutually assured destruction was to say, if you come at us, then we will respond — and that’s how we behaved throughout the Cold War.”
“By changing that and saying, ‘Gee, The United States might be willing to use nuclear weapons first,’ we increase the odds that there will be a miscalculation and that someone will believe that we could use nuclear weapons or send them in their direction when that is not the case. This is about trying to keep America safe. We’re not about playing politics.”
Listen below, via the Washington Examiner:
What’s odd about her rhetoric is the way in which she acted as if her proposal is the tradition that’s being violated.
“By changing that,” she’d said, suggesting that America has always maintained a “no strike first” policy. But in reality, every president who’s been in office since the emergence of nuclear weapons has refused to adopt a “no strike first” policy, including Obama.
While Obama admittedly mulled the idea during the first few years of his presidency, he ultimately ruled against it.
“President Obama, who has weighed ruling out a first use of a nuclear weapon in a conflict, appears likely to abandon the proposal after top national security advisers argued that it could undermine allies and embolden Russia and China, according to several senior administration officials,” The New York Times reported in late 2016.
Why would such a policy undermine America’s allies? Because many of them boast their own “no strike first” policy on the basis that a nuclear-armed America will rush to their rescue in case a conflict breaks out.
“Allies could also see NFU as a sign of weakening U.S. commitment and, consequently, pursue their own nuclear weapons. Allies might also demand more military aid or even resort to appeasing adversaries,” The Washington Post adds.
Conversely, the implementation of a “no strike first” policy would embolden America’s enemies — including Russia, whom Democrats like Warren have repeatedly accused President Donald Trump of trying to cater to — because many of them have either a “strike first” or “strike first” equivalent policy in place.
Take Russia. The so-called “Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation” says that the transcontintental country reserves the right to use nuclear weapons pretty much whenever it feels as if it’s under threat.
“The Russian Federation shall reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy,” the text reads.
The policy is vague enough that Russia could fire off a nuclear weapon justifiably — according to its own rules, that is — if another country accidentally fired a ballistic missile into a field somewhere.
While it’s unclear when exactly Warren first unveiled her proposal, it went viral this week and provoked a whirlwind of criticism (some of which may be seen below) after CNN moderator Jake Tapper broached it during the first round of the second Democrat presidential primary debates.
Literally only the warlords of the planet (like in Tehran, Moscow, Pyongyang, or Beijing) sit up at night worried about the US ever using a nuclear weapon first.
So are @SenWarren and Co arguing on their behalf? It’s propaganda to be concerned over US ever using preemptively.
— M. Zuhdi Jasser زهدي جاسر (@DrZuhdiJasser) July 31, 2019
We have to have all options on the table. Completely eliminating any chance we would first strike neuters us strategically. Your hypotheticals and analogies are worthless.
You don’t have the spine OR the brain for this. Please sit down and don’t raise your hand again.
— Gary “Beto” H in SoCal (@GaryH_inSoCal) August 3, 2019
@ewarren @SenWarren First strike capability is a necessary evil in the uncertain world we live in! This plan of yours is naive at best and dangerous for the security of the nation! ??@foxandfriends @MSNBC @CNN @ABCPolitics
— tim ahearn (@AhearnTim) July 31, 2019
When I was NBC Warfare NCOIC in my Army unit, our policy was never to use chemical or biological weapons, but to reserve the first strike nuclear option.
I think that is still a good policy.
It was a deterent to chem and bio attacks.
— Charles Brown (@socrabbi) July 31, 2019
“Senator Warren, you want to make it US policy that the US will never use a nuclear weapon unless another country uses one first,” Tapper asked during the debate Tuesday. “Now, President Obama reportedly considered that policy, but ultimately decided against it. Why should the US tie its own hands with that policy?”
“Because it makes the world safer. The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively, and we need to say so to the entire world. It reduces the likelihood that someone miscalculates, someone misunderstands,” she said, echoing what she’d later repeat to the Washington Examiner.
The following morning, House Republican Conference chair Liz Cheney went straight for the jugular by asking how in the world Warren can defend such a proposal:
Key question for Elizabeth Warren @ewarren today – which American cities and how many American citizens are you willing to sacrifice with your policy of forcing the US to absorb a nuclear attack before we can strike back?
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) July 31, 2019
While it appears the senator never replied to Cheney (though fellow Sen. Bernie Sanders seemingly did reply on her behalf), she did post a tweet hours later showcasing her official policy proposal:
Threatening to use nuclear weapons first makes America less safe because it increases the chances of a miscalculation or an accident. There are no winners in a nuclear war, and the US should never start one. I have a bill for that. https://t.co/8NwS5g65YT pic.twitter.com/bXokMGzL7N
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 31, 2019
And then two days later, she issued the statement to the Examiner seen up top.
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