A Lot To Do
Marc Ambinder points out that while Bush has accelerated the dismantling of nuclear weapons, he has also proposed a new generation of nuclear warheads. The issue of nuclear proliferation gets little attention, but Obama and McCain both have addressed it. The corporate media are, of course, downplaying their differences. This will be a continuing theme, but just as the media blurred the differences between Bush and Gore, they will do the same about McCain and Obama. Today's newspapers are already front-paging McCain's supposedly moderate views on stopping nuclear proliferation. But as Ambinder writes:
Rhetorically, McCain and Barack Obama strike much the same pose, but they differ, often profoundly, in the details. Indeed, Obama offers more details than McCain; McCain, citing the sensitivity of the subject and the broad, open debate about the way forward, seems open to a wide range of possibilities. Both would continue to unilaterally reduce our nation's nuclear weapon stockpiles, but Obama opposes the development of next-generation warheads -- RRWs, while McCain is silent -- saying only that he would consult with the Joint Chiefs of Staff about ways to "reduce the size of our nuclear arsenal to the lowest number possible consistent with our security requirements and global commitments."
That last quoted segment being as wide open to interpretation as is possible.
Obama would pursue a global ban on intermediate range nuclear missiles; he pledges to complete a global effort to secure unguarded or lightly guarded stockpiles of nuclear weapons within four years; he supports a global ban on the production of new nuclear material; he wants the US to ratify Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. McCain, in 1999, voted against the CTBT, but he is open to ways to "see what can be done to overcome the shortcomings that prevented it from entering into force." Like Obama, McCain would reward verified nonproliferators will a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel, but he would not pursue a global pause in the production of weapons-grade nuclear material.
Ambinder says Obama and McCain are similar on diplomacy with China and Russia, as far as weapons proliferation issues go. Obama would continue Bush's process with North Korea (which was, of course, facilitated by Bill Richardson), while McCain wouldn't. And, of course, Obama and McCain are poles apart on Iran. And Ambinder highlights this, from a recent McCain speech:
"Many believe all we need to do to end the nuclear programs of hostile governments is to have our president talk with leaders in Pyongyang and Tehran, as if we haven't tried talking to these governments repeatedly over the past two decades," McCain said.
Which raises the obvious question: if he doesn't want to talk with North Korea and Iran, how exactly does he plan to deal with them?