We can now expect an innovative surge in global production of chemical and bioweapons–which have effectively just become a cheaper way to attack the U.S. (and its allies). ~Claudia Rosett

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother. Reasonably well-informed people already know that Rosett’s “preemptive disarmament” argument is silly, and everyone else will react to it along partisan and ideological lines regardless of what anyone else says, but there’s something about the irrationality and alarmism in the reactions to Obama’s foreign policy and national security decisions that demands a more thorough response. The number of states exempted from nuclear retaliation and both willing and able to launch biological or chemical weapons attacks on the United States and our allies is zero. If there are any states capable of doing this, the massive conventional retaliation they would inevitably face would be more than enough to prevent them from making the attempt. All that the review does is commit the U.S. to not nuking non-nuclear states we are most likely never going to fight in the highly unlikely event that one of them launches an unconventional attack on us.

Daniel McGroarty points out something important:

As for disarmament, leave it to one of the scientists to note: “Ironically, it’s possible that the retirement of 4,000 or more U.S. warheads under the Moscow Treaty [of 2002] and other retirements ordered by George W. Bush may exceed anything Obama does in terms of disarmament.”

An important point to emphasize is that if Bush or a President McCain or any Republican President had issued the same nuclear review, most Republican hawks would point to it proudly and cite it as evidence that America was a wise, benevolent world power that would only unleash nuclear devastation in the most extreme circumstances. They would laud it as another example of the fine Reaganite tradition of “peace through strength,” and so on. For that matter, the utterly unremarkable, status quo nature of the review and the Prague START signed today is just what most Republicans would normally applaud if the President were not a member of the other party. Indeed, as McGroarty writes:

If the version being backgrounded now reflects a shift left from a Bush Era orientation, the first draft must have been written by Donald Rumsfeld.

As usual, Obama governs in a rather dull, “centrist” fashion where continuity with the Bush years is far more noticeable than any change and he is accused of the worst perfidies of left-wing extremism. Obama’s “centrism” often isn’t a good thing, and with respect to extraordinary executive power grabs, state secrets, indefinite detention, illegal surveillance and the unconstitutional treatment of U.S. citizens (including assassination orders!) Obama has matched or even outdone Bush in illegal excesses, but it doesn’t really make much sense to oppose an administration for doing things one doesn’t actually oppose and attacking it for things that it will never do.

Let’s remember that Rosett belongs to the crowd of hawks that believes deterrence is impossible against certain regimes, but now she leans very heavily on the importance of deterrence when she thinks she can get away with claiming that Obama has undermined it. According to the standard hawkish line on Iran, Iran cannot be deterred or contained because it is ruled by fanatics and lunatics, but a nuclear review that does not exempt Iran from potential targets of nuclear retaliation (even though Iran is far from becoming a nuclear-weapons state itself) has somehow badly undermined American deterrence vis-a-vis Iran.

One wonders where Republican hawks can possibly go from here. They have almost three more years of an Obama Presidency to endure, and already they have gone mad with alarmism, hysterics and overreaction to fairly ho-hum policy decisions. Obama needs a credible, sane opposition to keep him in check and challenge him when he is actually wrong. Right now, he doesn’t have that, and all of us will suffer for it. His own party will not hold him accountable, because a President’s party never does, but in any contest between an erring Obama and a mad GOP the latter will keep losing.