Saturday, October 02, 2004

Kerry's back on the nuclear freeze kick

Here's what the Senator said on Thursday. It was an interesting response and provides a deeper insight into Kerry's political soul.

LEHRER: New question, two minutes, Senator Kerry. If you are elected president, what will you take to that office thinking is the single most serious threat to the national security to the United States?

KERRY: Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. [seared-seared?] There's some 600-plus tons of unsecured material still in the former Soviet Union and Russia. At the rate that the president is currently securing it, it'll take 13 years to get it.

I did a lot of work on this. I wrote a book about it several years ago -- six, seven years ago -- called 'The New War,' which saw the difficulties of this international criminal network. And back then, we intercepted a suitcase in a Middle Eastern country with nuclear materials in it. And the black market sale price was about $250 million.

Now, there are terrorists trying to get their hands on that stuff today.

And this president, I regret to say, has secured less nuclear material in the last two years since 9/11 than we did in the two years preceding 9/11.

We have to do this job. And to do the job, you can't cut the money for it. The president actually cut the money for it. You have to put the money into it and the funding and the leadership.

And part of that leadership is sending the right message to places like North Korea.

Right now the president is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons. The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn't make sense.

You talk about mixed messages. We're telling other people, 'You can't have nuclear weapons,' but we're pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using.

Not this president. I'm going to shut that program down, and we're going to make it clear to the world we're serious about containing nuclear proliferation.

KERRY: And we're going to get the job of containing all of that nuclear material in Russia done in four years. And we're going to build the strongest international network to prevent nuclear proliferation.This is the scale of what President Kennedy set out to do with the nuclear test ban treaty. It's our generation's equivalent. And I intend to get it done.

ME: Clearly what Kerry is saying is that he thinks nuclear proliferation is a problem. Fair enough. Who can disagree with that. Equally clear is that Kerry seems to think that nuclear weapons in the hands of America is either the problem or the source of the problem. The world is bad off if we develop weapons and worse off if we intend to use them. Bush would likely argue that it is essential that the world know that we are not ruling out using nukes, or the like if we have to, and said so during the debate. That sends a powerful message. Kerry is arguing that we shouldn't send that message and that unilateral American disarmament will somehow deter other countries, like Iran or North Korea, from developing their own nukes because they no longer would have reason to fear us. Kerry was showing his true "blame America first" mentality that he hasn't been able to successfully hide during the campaign, and came shining through in Kerry's accidental moment of clarity.

Contrast Kerry's attitude to Bush's. While Bush wasn't at his articulate best on Thursday, he made clear that like Kerry he thinks WMDs are a threat, but "the biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network" rather than in OUR hands.