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Barnett, the Bomb and Obama

Friday, May 15th, 2009

In line with the vigorous discussion in the comment section of the previous post, Tom Barnett weighs in on Obama’s nuclear utopianism in Esquire Magazine:

3. An America with fewer nukes breeds a new class of military powers.

By reducing “barriers to entry” to the marketplace called great-power war, I believe we would actually encourage the proliferation of nuclear weaponry. If Obama and his successors were to withdraw America’s virtually global nuclear umbrella, numerous middle powers would become highly incentivized to fill that security gap.

Of course, the dream would be to include all such states in a global rejection of nuclear weaponry, but that’s not likely if the system’s clear Leviathan (the United States) demotes itself to the status of a de-nuclearized great power. That scenario (Obama’s scenario) instantly elevates a slew of suddenly “near-peer” military powers in a manner that smaller states will likely find strategically unpalatable. As in, they could be blown into oblivion — strategic or literal — at any moment.

4. A new class of military powers breeds a new round of local wars.

The fallout from the collapse of our nuclear umbrella would be as frightening as it would be immediate: the resumption of great-power rivalries and proxy wars in regions once again subject to profound spheres of influence. That would further complicate the strategic landscape and undo so much of the Obama administration’s diplomatic success between now and then.

Read the rest here.

I think that Tom belted it out of the park here. Good policy seldom emerges from bad premises.

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