Americans following this year’s presidential campaign would never know it from mainstream media coverage, but the commander in chief we hired nearly four years ago has set the United States on a course for unilateral disarmament. The following people hope you won’t notice until after Nov. 6: Vladimir Putin, Liang Guanglie, Kim Jong-un, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, A.Q. Khan and, of course, Barack Obama.
The 10 persons above share a common fascination: nuclear weapons. Mr. Putin, Russia’s modern czar; Gen. Liang, minister of national defense for the People’s Republic of China; Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s “Great Successor”; and Pakistan’s chief of army staff, Gen. Kayani, already have such weapons of mass destruction in their hands and the means of delivering them and are racing to build more. Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader; Gen. al-Sisi, Egypt’s new defense minister; Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan; Saudi Crown Prince Salman and Pakistan’s “nuclear physicist for hire,” Mr. Khan are all aspirants to the exclusive nuclear weapons club and are in various stages of building many more such devices. As for President Obama, he just wants to get rid of all nuclear weapons — starting with ours.
To many Americans, that sounds a lot like an invitation to disaster. To Global Zero, an international movement dedicated to the elimination of all nuclear weapons, it sounds like a great idea. Mr. Obama says, “Global Zero will always have a partner in me and my administration.” He’s not just talking the talk, he’s walking the walk.
This is the president who showed us how to “lead from behind” on the “responsibility to protect” Libyan civilians from the depredations of a tinhorn despot such as Moammar Gadhafi. But when it comes to exposing American citizens to the horrific threat of incineration by incoming nuclear weapons, he’s out in front.
It all started with a Nobel Peace Prize and the infamous Russian “reset button.” In September 2009, in a blatant effort to show how committed he is to nuclear nonproliferation, Mr. Obama abruptly canceled plans to deploy ballistic-missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. A month later, the Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway, voted to give him the 2009 Peace Prize. It all went downhill from there.
To show the world that he was worthy of the honor, our Nobel laureate rushed into negotiations with Russia on a new strategic arms reduction treaty. Mr. Obama and Russia’s then-president, Dmitry Medvedev, closed the deal on April 8, 2010, cutting the U.S. nuclear arsenal in half, from roughly 3,000 to less than 1,700 warheads. Then, on Dec. 22, in haste to adjourn for Christmas recess, and despite warnings from patriots such as South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, the Senate recklessly ratified the treaty. By Feb. 2, 2011, when the president inked the New START treaty — that’s what he calls it — the treaty’s pro-Moscow bias was evident. To avoid embarrassing questions about damage to our national security, Mr. Obama banned the press from the Oval Office signing ceremony.
Unfortunately, the one-sided U.S.-Russia START agreement is just the tip of the iceberg. In arguing for Senate ratification of START, Mr. Obama promised to begin immediately modernizing the remaining inventory of U.S. nuclear weapons and taking steps to preserve our nuclear triad: land-based ICBMs, strategic bombers and ballistic-missile submarines. He lied.
The warhead modernization program is all but defunct. Most of our geriatric ICBMs are more than 40 years old. Our submarine-launched ballistic missiles are a quarter-century old, and some of the aircraft designated to respond to a nuclear attack on the U.S. with weapons in kind are twice as old as the 30-year-old pilots flying them. The rest of the world — Russia included — is rushing to design and build modern equivalents for all these systems. The O Team isn’t.
Degrading the U.S. offensive nuclear capability and its deterrent factor is bad enough, but the Obama administration’s unilateral disarmament plan goes even further by eliminating defensive systems to protect our homeland and the American people. The administration already has killed three promising airborne and space-based missile-defense programs and drastically reduced the number of U.S.-based interceptors.
When I was at the Naval Academy, I was a boxer. What Mr. Obama has done is tantamount to sending a boxer into the ring against seven opponents, with his hands shackled around his waist. He can’t throw a punch. He can’t even put up his hands to defend himself.
Worse, we don’t know what else is secretly “on the table” in this effort to gut America’s defenses. Reporters covering the presidential campaign ask about every conceivable issue but pose no questions about what Mr. Obama meant last March when he was overheard begging Mr. Medvedev to ask Mr. Putin for more “space” until after the election, when he would have “more flexibility.” Since then, the O Team has shrugged off Russian bombers inadvertently penetrating U.S. airspace and a Russian sub trolling around in the Gulf of Mexico.
Arizona’s Republican Rep. Trent Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, described Obama administration plans to make further cuts in our nuclear deterrence as “reckless lunacy.” So, too, is rehiring a commander in chief hellbent on unilateral disarmament.
Oliver North is host of “War Stories” on Fox News Channel, founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance and author of “American Heroes in Special Operations” (Fidelis, 2010).