What’s at stake

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As he proposes further, dramatic cuts in and otherwise weakens the United States’ nuclear arsenal, it’s your deterrent that is being compromised.

That’s right. You and those you love are the ultimate beneficiaries of a nuclear deterrent that helps keep us safe in a dangerous world. The arsenal we have fielded for the past 64 years has not only prevented nuclear attacks against this country and our allies. It has kept you, or someone you love, from having to fight and possibly die in the kind of global cataclysm using non-nuclear (or “conventional”) weapons that engulfed our countrymen and untold millions of others twice in the last century, before the dawn of the nuclear age.

Despite this centrality of nuclear deterrence to our individual security and the common defense, few of us feel any sense of ownership of the systems and required capabilities that make our deterrent credible, safe and effective. Indeed, for far too long, scarcely any Americans have addressed the contribution nuclear weapons make to their well-being, except perhaps to indulge in thoughtless — albeit, politically correct — nostrums about the desirability of abolishing such arms.

We can no longer engage in such irresponsible behavior. For now, we have a president who is committed to pursuing that goal.

In fact, as the New York Times fawningly reported on Page One on Sunday, for Mr. Obama the ambition to achieve a “nuclear free world” has been an idee fixe ever since he was a young radical at Columbia University.

In the next few days, he is determined to advance that goal by reducing your strategic nuclear forces by fully one-third in an unverifiable treaty with Russians who have a record of cheating on such accords.

To help each of us understand the implications of the Obama denuclearization agenda, an owner’s manual for your nuclear arsenal has just been published by the New Deterrent Working Group, a team of renowned experts sponsored by the Center for Security Policy. Between them, they have hundreds of years of experience with nuclear weapons programs, policies and arms control.

Titled “U.S. Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century: Getting it Right,” this book, which will be distributed to members of Congress during the Moscow summit, is an invaluable resource for every American who wants to ensure, if not his own safety at least that of his children and grandchildren. It draws upon a variety of official assessments, congressional testimony and the analyses of successive blue-ribbon commissions to examine critically the underpinnings and predictable consequences of Team Obama’s ominous plans for your deterrent.

Even a casual examination of the list of do’s and don’t’s enumerated in “Getting it Right” underscores one central reality: We are much farther down the road toward unilateral denuclearization than you probably can imagine, or should think desirable.

For example, since 1992, we have chosen not to conduct any underground detonations, the only sort of test of our nuclear weapons certain to confirm that they work, and that any defects detected are successfully corrected. Now, Mr. Obama wants us to make this arrangement permanent by ratifying the unverifiable Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Never mind that a majority of the Senate rejected this accord a decade ago on the grounds it is not consistent with maintaining an effective deterrent on behalf of the American people. Disregard, too, that the Russians routinely conduct underground “hydrodynamic” tests Mr. Obama considers impermissible under the CTBT - and therefore eschews.

Moreover, we alone among the world’s nuclear powers have not modernized your arsenal in nearly two decades. The Russians, by contrast, are estimated to be on track to upgrading 80 percent of their strategic forces. Yet, Mr. Obama wants to foreclose even the replacement of your obsolescing weapons with one that promises to provide a safe and reliable deterrent in the absence of nuclear testing.

Not least, “Getting it Right” warns that - in the sustained absence of testing and modernization, the industrial complex (both the technical experts and the physical plant) required to maintain your deterrent is atrophying at an alarming rate. Now only a handful of physicists are still working for the government who have had firsthand experience with the design and realistic testing of nuclear weapons, and they soon will retire from government service.

Even if advanced computers and other sophisticated gizmos could offset the knowledge and infrastructure your deterrent must have — and they cannot — there is no reason to believe they will be acquired by a president who is determined to lead by example to a nuclear-free world.

That determination was on full display as the New York Times reported Sunday that Mr. Obama “insisted” in an interview on the eve of his trip to Moscow that “reducing arsenals … would be the first step toward giving the United States and a growing body of allies the power to remake the nuclear world.”

Let’s be honest: The only remaking of the nuclear world this president can assuredly accomplish is by unilaterally taking us out of it. If that is not something you want done with your deterrent, now would be a good time to say so.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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