Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 7, 2010

WHAT USED TO BE A BIPARTISAN GOAL.... Every time President Obama's goal of reducing -- and eventually, eliminating -- nuclear weapons comes to the fore, some on the right see grounds for mockery.

A year ago, for example, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, with a child-like tone, equated eliminating nuclear arsenals with missiles that "can shoot dandelions," and altering the one-dollar bill to encourage Americans to "turn their frowns upside down." Yesterday, Rudy Giuliani followed suit, trying to once again pretend he knows what he's talking about.

"A nuclear-free world has been a 60-year dream of the Left, just like socialized health-care. This new policy, like Obama's government-run health program, is a big step in that direction. President Obama thinks we can all hold hands, sing songs, and have peace symbols."

Let's set the record straight here. JFK spoke often of eventually ridding the world of nuclear weapons. So did Truman. Ronald Reagan -- someone Giuliani may have heard of -- called for the abolishment of "all nuclear weapons," which he considered to be "totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization."

"[F]or the eight years I was president," Reagan wrote in his memoirs, "I never let my dream of a nuclear-free world fade from my mind."

President Obama's approach is very much in line with the bipartisan approach outlined three years ago by George Shultz, secretary of state in the Reagan administration; Henry Kissinger, secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations; William Perry, secretary of defense in the Clinton administration; and Sam Nunn, a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

It's easier for clowns like Giuliani to mock than think, but there's really nothing naive or fanciful about the president's vision. Obama has conceded that eliminating nuclear arsenals is not likely to happen in his lifetime, but he's said we can begin the work with a variety of short- and long-term tasks, including U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a new arms treaty with Russia, a new initiative to secure all vulnerable nuclear material, the creation of an international fuel bank as part of a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, and the approach outlined this week in the Nuclear Posture Review.

To dismiss this as an effort to have us "all hold hands, sing songs, and have peace symbols," is a reminder that Giuliani considers national security issues with all the seriousness of a child with crayons.

Greg Sargent reminds us today that Giuliani's resume "boasts no meaningful national security experience of any kind." Greg added, "Someone needs to tell the bookers at the networks that the fact that Rudy Giuliani happened to get photographed walking through the smoke and dust on 9/11 does not give him any authority or credibility on foreign policy and national security issues."

Steve Benen 2:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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In the spirit of the NCAA Basketball tournament just concluded here in Indianapolis, I offer the following comparision. Mocking 9/11 Rudy is in the same category as mocking the Maverick McCain. You are shooting uncontested layups against an opponent taking his shots from mid-court. Way too easy!

Regarding bipartisanship on this issue, my senator Dick Lugar would be out front in support of this - if he had not sold his soul to the belief that the republican party is more important than our country.

Posted by: SadOldVet on April 7, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Someone needs to tell the bookers at the networks that the fact that Rudy Giuliani happened to get photographed walking through the smoke and dust on 9/11 does not give him any authority or credibility on foreign policy and national security issues."

Sorry, they are too busy deleting "maverick" from their John McCain macros.

Posted by: martin on April 7, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

What's most funny here is that none of this discussion really seems to bear any resemblance to the actual White House policy change ("We will not consider nuclear weapons first against an NPT compliant nation". Is this a promise of nuclear peace, or a threat against NPT noncompliant nations?)

Posted by: mcc on April 7, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

More proof positive that Republicans have absolutely no intention of ever governing again. Oh, they'll take the office and title, thank you very much. But their only interest in holding public office is keeping progressives out of them.

The biggest irony is this: Republicans insist that government doesn't work. Then when elected, they spend all their time proving it.

Posted by: chrenson on April 7, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention that Giuliani thought that an upper floor in World Trade Center Tower #7 was a perfectly safe place to put an emergency command/ control center. This was a convenient place for him to make romantic liaisons, but responsible people in the national security field had known for a long time that the WTC was a terrorist target.

Posted by: Rich2506 on April 7, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's easier for clowns like Giuliani to mock than think

Exactly.

Posted by: beep52 on April 7, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

A nuclear-free world has been a 60-year dream of the Left

Well, it certainly is my dream - then again, I'm not a slave to the military-industrial complex. After all, the past 60 years of US war, aggression, belligerence, and rightwing neocon hegemony has worked out just super-duper.

Posted by: ckelly on April 7, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Oh...and check out the New Republican Strategy of equating every progressive initiative with "government-run healthcare." Never mind the fact that the ACA is a few light years short of being "government-run."

What's next? "The White House Easter Egg roll is the same failed policy that government-run healthcare is!" "The president's March Madness brackets didn't work for the same reason government-run healthcare doesn't!"

Posted by: chrenson on April 7, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

... a reminder that Giuliani considers national security issues with all the seriousness of a child with crayons.

Steve, I take exception to that statement! My 2-year-old can be quite serious when she's drawing with crayons.

Posted by: Astrogeek on April 7, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

"The biggest irony is this: Republicans insist that government doesn't work. Then when elected, they spend all their time proving it."

Brilliant. If you made that up, copyright it.

You can't call Rudi Giuliani a clown often enough, because he's surrounded by a forcefield of suckups who laugh at his anti-Obama jabs and ooh and ahh at his foreign-policy/defense ripostes. Rudi doesn't know he's a clown to millions, because a cast of dozens prevents him from finding out. A natural predisposition to big-headedness completes the shield against the truth.

History will reveal Rudi Giuliani as an American fool of epic proportions - hopefully while he's still alive, so the self-realization will crush him like a worm.

Posted by: Mark on April 7, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Someone needs to tell the bookers at the networks that the fact that Rudy Giuliani happened to get photographed walking through the smoke and dust on 9/11 does not give him any authority or credibility on foreign policy and national security issues."

Sargent nails it; that quote ought to be printed on posters and mailed to every one of those bookers. I've had the same thought since Ghouliani's laughable Presidential run. To be fair, he at least showed more courage and seriousness on 9/11 than the faux-"president" at the time did, but that still doesn't mean he knows what the hell he's blathering on about at any given moment.

Posted by: electrolite on April 7, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

wikipedia.org on the 2nd pillar of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which the US is a long time signatory: "The NPT's preamble contains language affirming the desire of treaty signatories to ease international tension and strengthen international trust so as to create someday the conditions for a halt to the production of nuclear weapons, and treaty on general and complete disarmament that liquidates, in particular, nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles from national arsenals. The wording of the NPT's Article VI arguably imposes only a vague obligation on all NPT signatories to move in the general direction of nuclear and total disarmament, saying, "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament."[8] Under this interpretation, Article VI does not strictly require all signatories to actually conclude a disarmament treaty. Rather, it only requires them "to negotiate in good faith."[9] On the other hand, some governments, especially non-nuclear-weapon states belonging to the Non-Aligned Movement, have interpreted Article VI's language as being anything but vague. In their view, Article VI constitutes a formal and specific obligation on the NPT-recognized nuclear-weapon states to disarm themselves of nuclear weapons, and argue that these states have failed to meet their obligation."

Posted by: Joe on April 7, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"President Obama thinks we can all hold hands, sing songs, and have peace symbols."

O-o-o-o, take that, Barack Obama.

Posted by: Bob M on April 7, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I just finished The Dead Hand, by David Hoffman, which I strongly recommend.

Say what you want, it does appear Reagan -- deeply disturbed by ABC's The Day After -- really wanted to end the arms race, and worked hard with Gorby to do just that.

Unfortunately, when Bush Sr. came in, his team -- including Cheney -- were deeply distrustful of Gorbachev and sought to undermine him at every turn, and the efforts made by Reagan and Gorbachev died a quick death.

Posted by: SouthFlorida Lawyers on April 7, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Nuclear Weapons is that none of the current leaders have first hand experience with one or with total war for that matter. They think in terms of winning a nuclear war. It can't be done. Every American president from Truman on has known that a nuclear exchange will be unbearable for the winners, losers and innocent bystanders.

In addition, Rudy is nutenfuks if he thinks wanting to eliminate nuclear weapons is something of interest only to people on the left. America, with it's smart bombs and advanced technology, is probably capable of winning a conventional war with any opponent in the world. Conservative military thinkers understand that the only fear of nuclear war stands in the way of total US hegimony.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 7, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, when Bush Sr. came in, his team -- including Cheney -- were deeply distrustful of Gorbachev and sought to undermine him at every turn, and the efforts made by Reagan and Gorbachev died a quick death.

Posted by: SouthFlorida Lawyers on April 7, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Does any level of evil exist which Cheney hasn't sunk to? We should all hope that history records him accurately: as one of the most morally corrupt, destructive and thoroughly vile individuals ever to disgrace public life.

Posted by: electrolite on April 7, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK
Regarding bipartisanship on this issue, my senator Dick Lugar would be out front in support of this - if he had not sold his soul to the belief that the republican party is more important than our country.

I used to have a lot of respect for Lugar, but he's entirely lost that simply by not speaking up loudly or often enough (or ever?) against the insanity.

Posted by: noncarborundum on April 7, 2010 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

someone also needs to remind rudy!911 that at his considerable prodding and encouragement, bush nominated bernard kerik -- one of the sleaziest assholes evah -- to head the department of homeland security.

and i don't even give a shit about the bribes/corruption -- what he and judith regan earned their eternity in hell for was turning a volunteered apartment for wtc workers into their own private fuckapt. to conduct their trysts while the wtc still burned.

Posted by: bkny on April 7, 2010 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK
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