Obama Bids to Rein in Nukes

By Caitlin Millat
|  Tuesday, Apr 13, 2010  |  Updated 6:15 AM CDT
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Obama's much-hyped nuke gathering, which began Monday in Washington, D.C., has been simultaneously hailed by progressives who call it a landmark step toward peace and bashed by critics who say the meet-up is little more than lip-service.

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President Obama will sit down this week with the leaders of 46 countries to discuss the rising nuclear threat, convening world powers in a global summit intended to start talks about reducing nuclear power and keeping weapons out of terrorists' hands.

Obama's much-hyped nuke gathering, which began Monday in Washington, D.C., has been simultaneously hailed by progressives who call it a landmark step toward peace and bashed by critics who say the meet-up is little more than lip-service.

Here's how commentators are seeing the summit:

  • Talking the talk about eliminating nukes means nothing unless Obama & Co. can walk the walk at the summit, the editorial staff at the New York Times writes. The U.S. can't spend the entire summit rubbing elbows and stroking egos, the Times writers argue, but must work toward a realistic, tangible timeline to both establish universal security standards and to ban international nuke production. "Feel-good communiques will not be enough," the staff writes.
     
  • Obama's lofty arms-reduction plan shouldn't be the ultimate goal of the summit -- officials this week should work instead toward first corraling loose nukes despite the high cost of doing so, John Barry writes for Newsweek. Weapons-grade materials not documented in government databases across the world pose the most serious threat to international safety, Barry writes, and Obama's primary task will be to convince world leaders to ante up to avert potential disaster. "Ultimately the only safe recourse is to gather up all stocks of nuclear materials. That's costly," Barry writes.
     
  • The U.S. also must seize an opportunity at the summit to clarify its "muddled" stance on nuke possession, Michael R. Turner writes for USA Today. The White House's stance -- that the U.S. can threaten nuclear proliferators but no one else with nuclear weapons  -- comes with a confusing clause that says the president can change his mind on the policy, sending a mixed message to the world about Obama's position on nukes. "When it comes to defending the United States against a devastating attack, our message should be clear and simple: If our nation is attacked, we will use all means necessary to defend ourselves. Period," Turner writes.
     
  • No matter what Obama brings to the table, the summit is more pomp than policy and won't produce immediate results, Massimo Calabresi writes for Time magazine. Although the conference will produce "more paper than progress," Calabresi writes, it is admittedly part of a "larger strategy" on the part of the Obama administration, one that hopes to combat a global rising desire for nuke possession that will likely see more nuclear-armed states emerge over the coming years. "A more accurate definition of the summit's purpose may be that it is, at best, a small step toward slowing the decline of international cooperation on nuclear issues," Calabresi writes.
     
  • All the anti-nuke pow-wows in the world are DOA unless Iran is in attendance, KT McFarland blogs for FOXNews.com. Dealing with Russia while ignoring powers like Iran and North Korea is like "putting deadbolts on the front door, while leaving the back door wide open" and won't make our country -- or world -- any safer, McFarland writes. "As long as his actions are more hype than hope, [Obama is] lulling us into a false sense of security when the world is on the verge of becoming a much more dangerous place," he writes.

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