The Obama administration’s long-delayed Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was released today and, as expected, it’s a mixed bag. Outlining US nuclear weapons policy for the next 5-10 years, the NPR does reject some of the bad policies put forward by the Bush administration and helps to reduce the role nuclear weapons play in US security strategy.
On the other hand, the NPR definitely falls short of being a transformational document. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Obama’s speech from Prague, in which he stated “clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The NPR does not realign US nuclear weapons policy enough to achieve the ambitious agenda Obama laid out in that speech.
Hats off to CBS, which has produced “A Layman’s Guide to Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review.” It gives a nice, short summary of some of the big decisions and changes made to our nuclear weapons policy. Here’s an excerpt:
Should U.S. nuclear weapons be on hair trigger alert? Well, yes and no.
On the one hand, when the president decides to use a nuke, the nuke should respond instantly to his direct command. On the other hand, the Cold War posture was set up in such a way as to deprive human beings of reaction time — time to think through consequences.
The struggle to balance acuity and decision science is not new. Since the Cold War, the U.S. has taken one element of its nuclear triad — subs, missiles and airplanes — off of alert status. But bombers and their pilots remain ready at moment’s notice, and it’s very easy to re-target a missile within seconds….