Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Tough Talk

Barack Obama made headlines yesterday with tough talk about terrorism. Andrew Sullivan called his speech a “JFK Strategy,” alluding to the 1960 charge—the infamous “missile gap”—by the Kennedy campaign that Richard Nixon was not sufficiently hawkish. (The “gap” turned out to be complete fiction.) Sullivan, who thought Obama’s speech was “the speech of a potential president,” concluded that Obama “will not be Dukakized.” As it turns out, he won’t need to be—today he did it himself.

Obama told the Associated Press earlier today: “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance.” This statement should immediately disqualify Barack Obama as a serious candidate for President of the United States. It displays, in addition to a frightening naiveté, a complete lack of knowledge of our history and our defense posture. Nuclear deterrence has been for six decades (and is to this day) a key component of the Western alliance’s security doctrine. This includes, importantly, the first-use option (we do not rule out using nuclear weapons even if we are not attacked by nuclear weapons). Obama’s tough talk yesterday was just that, it seems—talk.

This post was written with the help of research assistant Daniel Halper.