Today in Washington, representatives from 46 nations will join with the Obama administration on a two day nuclear summit, the largest gathering of international leaders in the U.S. in 60 years.
It comes at the same time that the President has just signed a New Start treaty with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, and the U.S. announced their new Nuclear Posture Review, measures that were greeted warmly by the establishment foreign policy culture in the U.S., but denounced by some conservatives, because, well, that's what they do when Obama offers virtually anything.
Think otherwise? Well, George Schultz, the former Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, penned an op-ed(with former Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry) in Sunday's New York Times where the treaty with the Russians - with would entail of reduction of 30% from both nation's thousands of nuclear warheads - is called a "modest step,"comments far more measured than some of the shrill statements by Sarah Palin, Liz Cheney and other conservative leaders.
Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on CBS, ABC and NBC to address what the administration is doing regarding nuclear weapons, as well as discussing other international issues. Specifically, on the criticisms made by Palin and others that the new NPR makes the U.S. weaker, as Gates told Meet The Press Host David Gregory:
Well, first of all, we have still a very powerful nuclear arsenal. The Nuclear Posture Review sets forth a process by which we will be able to modernize our nuclear stockpile to make it more reliable, safer, more secure and effective. We have, in addition to the nuclear deterrent today, a couple of things we didn't have in the Soviet days. We have missile defense now, and that's growing by leaps and bounds every year; significant budget increase for that this year both regional and the ground-based interceptors. And we have prompt global strike affording us some conventional alternatives on long-range missiles that we didn't have before. So, believe me, the chiefs and I wouldn't—the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I would not have wholeheartedly embraced not only the nuclear posture review but also the START agreement if we didn't think, at the end of the day, it made the United States stronger, not weaker.
When Gregory challenged the pair on whether they had done anything to bring the world closer to pushing serious sanctions against Iran and North Korea, who for years have been moving towards developing nuclear weapons, Clinton said results don't happen overnight:
SEC'Y CLINTON: Well, but, you know, David, I have—I'm a big believer in strategic patience. I mean, you know, if we, if we could wave the magic wand and get everybody to move like we could. But that's never been the case in the world. You, you work through persuasion. You present evidence. We have been consistently doing so. And, as Secretary Gates just said, the Security Council resolution will not in any way forestall us or the E.U. or other concerned countries from taking additional steps. But it will send a really powerful message. The Iranians have been beating down the doors of every country in the world to try to avoid a Security Council resolution. And what we have found over the last months, because of our strategic patience and our willingness to keep on this issue, is that countries are finally saying, "You know, I kind of get it. I get that they didn't, they didn't cooperate. They're the ones who shut the door, and now we have to do something."
Clinton said the real threat wasn't from countries with nukes, but groups like Al Qaeda getting their hands on such "loose nukes."
On Afghanistan, and specifically their leader, Hamid Karzai, who in recent weeks has been blasting the U.S., leading former Ambassador Peter Galbraith to suggest the Afghan leader was on drugs, the two now espoused the administration's happy face that they've decided to paint with regards to the man who the U.S. has committed a surge in troops to this summer.
On CBS's Face the Nation, Gates said the drug rumor was simply "stupid," while Clinton called it unfortunate, and said that Hamid is welcome to visit the White House next month, a visit that allegedly was in question after some of his erratic remarks were published last week.
Some of these outlandish claims that are being made and accusations that are being hurled are really unfortunate, she said. We know how difficult it is sometimes for foreign leaders not only in Afghanistan but elsewhere in the world to separate our free press and everything that it says and everything that it claims from what our government policy is. And it is difficult when you go in to see a leader on a regular basis, as our military and civilian representatives do in Kabul, and theres some article making some outlandish claim and a leader often thinks well it wouldnt be printed if the government werent behind it and so we do have some explaining to do, if you will.