Zakaria falsely claimed Clinton "won't say" she favors the U.S. "reduc[ing] its own nuclear arsenal"

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria wrote that Sen. Barack Obama "has spoken in favor of a proposal" made by former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Sen. Sam Nunn, for the United States to "begin to fulfill its end of the treaty [on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] and reduce its own nuclear arsenal," adding: "[F]or all I know, Hillary Clinton agrees with this approach. But she won't say so. Her long years of experience -- in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s -- warn her against such audacity." In fact, Clinton has stated her support for, in her words, the Shultz-Perry-Kissinger-Nunn " 'vision' ... of reducing reliance on nuclear weapons" and to "negotiate an accord that substantially and verifiably reduces the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals."

In his February 11 column (also published in the February 4 edition of The Washington Post), Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria wrote that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "has spoken in favor of a proposal" made by former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) "that in order to get the world more serious about nuclear nonproliferation, the United States should begin to fulfill its end of the treaty [on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] and reduce its own nuclear arsenal. Again, for all I know, [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] agrees with this approach. But she won't say so. Her long years of experience -- in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s -- warn her against such audacity." In fact, Clinton has stated her support for "reassert[ing] our nonproliferation leadership" and has specifically cited the work of Shultz, Perry, Kissinger, and Nunn and the measures she would pursue consistent with "substantially reducing nuclear arsenals in all states that possess them." She has also pledged to "seek to negotiate an accord that substantially and verifiably reduces the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals."

In their essay, published in the January 4, 2007, Wall Street Journal, Shultz, Perry, Kissinger, and Nunn wrote: "What should be done? Can the promise of the NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] and the possibilities envisioned at [the 1986 U.S.-Soviet summit in] Reykjavik be brought to fruition? We believe that a major effort should be launched by the United States to produce a positive answer through concrete stages. First and foremost is intensive work with leaders of the countries in possession of nuclear weapons to turn the goal of a world without nuclear weapons into a joint enterprise." In her November/December 2007 Foreign Affairs essay, Clinton wrote "Former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Senator Sam Nunn have called on the United States to 'rekindle the vision,' shared by every president from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, of reducing reliance on nuclear weapons. To reassert our nonproliferation leadership, I will seek to negotiate an accord that substantially and verifiably reduces the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals."

In addition, on August 16, 2007, the Council for a Livable World noted that Hillary Clinton had responded to its questionnaire with support for other steps discussed by Shultz, Perry, Kissinger, and Nunn:

As President, I will work to implement the sensible near-term steps Secretaries Schultz [sic], Kissinger, Perry and Senator Nunn described: increasing nuclear warning time, reducing the danger of accidental or unauthorized launch; substantially reducing nuclear arsenals in all states that possess them; working with the Senate to build bipartisan support for approving the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; providing the highest possible standards of security for nuclear stockpiles worldwide to keep them out of terrorist hands; controlling the spread of uranium enrichment, including by offering countries assured nuclear fuel supplies so they will not need their own enrichment plants; ending production of nuclear materials for weapons and removing potential bomb uranium from civil commerce and from vulnerable sites around the world; and redoubling our efforts to resolve the regional conflicts that fuel nuclear weapons ambitions.

Obama discussed nuclear weapons and the NPT on October 2, 2007, and January 17.

From Shultz, Perry, Kissinger, and Nunn's January 4, 2007, essay in The Wall Street Journal:

What will it take to rekindle the vision shared by Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev? Can a world-wide consensus be forged that defines a series of practical steps leading to major reductions in the nuclear danger? There is an urgent need to address the challenge posed by these two questions.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) envisioned the end of all nuclear weapons. It provides (a) that states that did not possess nuclear weapons as of 1967 agree not to obtain them, and (b) that states that do possess them agree to divest themselves of these weapons over time. Every president of both parties since Richard Nixon has reaffirmed these treaty obligations, but non-nuclear weapon states have grown increasingly skeptical of the sincerity of the nuclear powers.

Strong non-proliferation efforts are under way. The Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Additional Protocols are innovative approaches that provide powerful new tools for detecting activities that violate the NPT and endanger world security. They deserve full implementation. The negotiations on proliferation of nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iran, involving all the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and Japan, are crucially important. They must be energetically pursued.

But by themselves, none of these steps are adequate to the danger. Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev aspired to accomplish more at their meeting in Reykjavik 20 years ago -- the elimination of nuclear weapons altogether. Their vision shocked experts in the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, but galvanized the hopes of people around the world. The leaders of the two countries with the largest arsenals of nuclear weapons discussed the abolition of their most powerful weapons.


What should be done? Can the promise of the NPT and the possibilities envisioned at Reykjavik be brought to fruition? We believe that a major effort should be launched by the United States to produce a positive answer through concrete stages.

First and foremost is intensive work with leaders of the countries in possession of nuclear weapons to turn the goal of a world without nuclear weapons into a joint enterprise. Such a joint enterprise, by involving changes in the disposition of the states possessing nuclear weapons, would lend additional weight to efforts already under way to avoid the emergence of a nuclear-armed North Korea and Iran.

The program on which agreements should be sought would constitute a series of agreed and urgent steps that would lay the groundwork for a world free of the nuclear threat. Steps would include:

-- Changing the Cold War posture of deployed nuclear weapons to increase warning time and thereby reduce the danger of an accidental or unauthorized use of a nuclear weapon.

-- Continuing to reduce substantially the size of nuclear forces in all states that possess them.

-- Eliminating short-range nuclear weapons designed to be forward-deployed.

-- Initiating a bipartisan process with the Senate, including understandings to increase confidence and provide for periodic review, to achieve ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, taking advantage of recent technical advances, and working to secure ratification by other key states.

-- Providing the highest possible standards of security for all stocks of weapons, weapons-usable plutonium, and highly enriched uranium everywhere in the world.

-- Getting control of the uranium enrichment process, combined with the guarantee that uranium for nuclear power reactors could be obtained at a reasonable price, first from the Nuclear Suppliers Group and then from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or other controlled international reserves. It will also be necessary to deal with proliferation issues presented by spent fuel from reactors producing electricity.

-- Halting the production of fissile material for weapons globally; phasing out the use of highly enriched uranium in civil commerce and removing weapons-usable uranium from research facilities around the world and rendering the materials safe.

-- Redoubling our efforts to resolve regional confrontations and conflicts that give rise to new nuclear powers.

Achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons will also require effective measures to impede or counter any nuclear-related conduct that is potentially threatening to the security of any state or peoples.

From Clinton's November/December 2007 Foreign Affairs essay:

Like Iran, North Korea responded to the Bush administration's effort to isolate it by accelerating its nuclear program, conducting a nuclear test, and building more nuclear weapons. Only since the State Department returned to diplomacy have we been able, belatedly, to make progress.

Neither North Korea nor Iran will change course as a result of what we do with our own nuclear weapons, but taking dramatic steps to reduce our nuclear arsenal would build support for the coalitions we need to address the threat of nuclear proliferation and help the United States regain the moral high ground. Former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Senator Sam Nunn have called on the United States to "rekindle the vision," shared by every president from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, of reducing reliance on nuclear weapons.

To reassert our nonproliferation leadership, I will seek to negotiate an accord that substantially and verifiably reduces the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. This dramatic initiative would send a strong message of nuclear restraint to the world, while we retain enough strength to deter others from trying to match our arsenal. I will also seek Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by 2009, the tenth anniversary of the Senate's initial rejection of the agreement. This would enhance the United States' credibility when demanding that other nations refrain from testing. As president, I will support efforts to supplement the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Establishing an international fuel bank that guaranteed secure access to nuclear fuel at reasonable prices would help limit the number of countries that pose proliferation risks.

In the Senate, I have introduced legislation to accelerate and reinvigorate U.S. efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism. As president, I will do everything in my power to ensure that nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and the materials needed to make them are kept out of terrorists' hands. My first goal would be to remove all nuclear material from the world's most vulnerable nuclear sites and effectively secure the remainder during my first term in office.

Statesmanship is also necessary to engage countries that are not adversaries but that are challenging the United States on many fronts. Russian President Vladimir Putin has thwarted a carefully crafted UN plan that would have put Kosovo on a belated path to independence, attempted to use energy as a political weapon against Russia's neighbors and beyond, and tested the United States and Europe on a range of nonproliferation and arms reduction issues. Putin has also suppressed many of the freedoms won after the fall of communism, created a new class of oligarchs, and interfered deeply in the internal affairs of former Soviet republics.

From Zakaria's February 11 column:

This is not naiveté. Obama's position on Cuba is not all hope. Most of the older generation of Cuban-Americans are hard-line Republicans anyway, so it's probably pointless courting them. And the younger ones-under 45 or so-are far less wedded to the punitive approach and symbolic battles of the past. So Obama is taking a calculated risk that the time is right.

Cuba policy is a microcosm for this difference in attitudes. Obama has spoken in favor of a proposal -- made by Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn -- that in order to get the world more serious about nuclear nonproliferation, the United States should begin to fulfill its end of the treaty and reduce its own nuclear arsenal. Again, for all I know, Hillary Clinton agrees with this approach. But she won't say so. Her long years of experience -- in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s -- warn her against such audacity. But the world has changed so much -- the cold war is a distant memory, capitalism has spread across the world, new threats come not from states but small bands of people, unilateralism is discredited -- that perhaps it is time for America to change as well.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy
Person
Fareed Zakaria
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.