- - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Last week, President Obama feted communist China’s Xi Jinping, the man who hopes to lead his country as it emerges as the world’s next superpower. Mr. Xi must have been delighted to see press reports that his host is poised to end America’s claim to such status - at least with respect to the traditional means of measuring it: nuclear weaponry.

According to a story first reported by the Associated Press, Mr. Obama has directed the Defense Department to come up with plans for reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal by as much as 80 percent. He evidently is prepared to take such a step unilaterally in order to encourage by our example other nations to join in his long-standing ambition to “rid the world of nuclear weapons.”

It is unclear whether the topic came up during the various meetings the People's Republic of China’s vice president had with his White House and other interlocutors. Even if it did, Mr. Xi presumably would not have disclosed a closely held Chinese secret: How many missiles and warheads have been squirreled away in 3,000 miles of hardened tunnels that make up what has been called the “Underground Great Wall of China.”

The Obama administration continues to assume that the People’s Liberation Army has only a few hundred nuclear weapons - approximately the level to which our commander in chief would like to reduce the American arsenal. A radically different estimate was recently provided, however, in a Georgetown University study led by a former Pentagon strategic forces analyst, professor Phillip Karber. To the fury of arms controllers in and out of the U.S. government, Mr. Karber’s team concluded that, based on the vast infrastructure China has created to conceal its missiles, it may have as many as 3,000 nuclear weapons.

China is not the only nuclear state or wannabe that is engaged in a feverish buildup. Last week, Russia’s autocratic Vladimir Putin unveiled a $770 billion military modernization plan that he says would introduce 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles presumably equipped with state-of-the-art nuclear warheads.

Pakistan, North Korea and Iran are also among those who may wish us ill and are spurning Mr. Obama’s exemplary, unilateral efforts at nuclear disarmament. With the help of such regimes or in response to their threats, others in the Far and Middle East are likely to see the need for their own deterrents. That is especially true as confidence in the reliability of America’s security guarantees collapses along with its once-mighty “nuclear umbrella.”

So outlandish, so reckless is Mr. Obama’s ambition to disarm the United States that 34 members of the House of Representatives last week forcefully urged him to reverse course. In a letter dated Feb. 17 and headlined by the chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee and its strategic forces subcommittee, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, California Republican, and Rep. Michael R. Turner, Ohio Republican, these legislators described it as motivated by nothing less than “blind ideology.” They insisted that such blindness not be allowed to “drive a matter as important as U.S. nuclear forces over reality.”

What is particularly vexing to these legislators is that this marks the first time “a President has directed specific force levels as part of a review of the Nation’s nuclear employment strategy.” They observed that, instead, “Such a review should begin and end with one question: What levels of U.S. nuclear forces are necessary to convince our enemies and adversaries that they cannot succeed in an attack on this country or its allies?”

It is not just that Mr. Obama is blindly driving for ideological reasons the numerical evisceration of U.S. nuclear forces. As Mr. Turner pointed out this month in introducing legislation aimed at holding the administration to commitments made during the consideration of the New START treaty in 2010, the administration also is walking away from its promises to modernize what remains of our deterrent. Over time, the practical effect of combining the draconian nuclear cuts Mr. Obama seeks and his failure to arrest and reverse the atrophying of the obsolescing arsenal will leave us functionally disarmed.

Mr. Obama’s true colors are showing. His blind ideology is gutting America’s deterrent. That impulse, not newfound budget discipline, is the driving force behind his hollowing-out of the rest of the U.S. military, too.

These data points vividly underscore, even as they advance, the true Obama doctrine: “Embolden our enemies. Undermine our allies. Diminish our country.” Unless reversed, the world will be an infinitely more dangerous place for this nation and other friends of freedom.

It is an astonishing insight into the president’s commitment to “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” - in the worst sense of the phrase - that he is willing to take such steps in the midst of his re-election campaign. Imagine what he would do if the last vestiges of restraining accountability are removed in a second term.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9 p.m. on 1260 AM.