Here is what is wrong with the Nuclear Security Summit. It reminds me of the old joke about the drunk looking for his keys under a lamppost when he actually lost them around the corner, but he looked under the lamppost because “the light was better.”
Who after all could object to a conference on combating nuclear terrorism? Pretty much nobody. But nuclear terrorism…smuggling a bomb in a suitcase or shipping container is among the least likely scenarios, except in Tom Clancy novels.
If a terrorist has only one nuclear weapon, it is highly unlikely that they would mail it to their target. Plus, a nuclear weapon delivered as a low air burst is many times more destructive than one detonated on the ground. So, if you had a bomb with the intent to commit terrorism, wouldn’t you want to get the best bang for your buck and kill as many as you could?
That’s not to say the threat of nuclear terrorism should be dismissed. But it is not clear why you have to assemble the world’s leaders to deal with the obvious or manufacture some agreements to create the illusion of getting something done. Bush managed to put together the Proliferation Security Initiative with a hand-holding session.
If it seems like I am arguing the whole thing was for show…to suggest that the President’s road to zero is going somewhere rather than no where…well yes, that is where I think it is going.
In fact, I would argue the president’s nuclear strategy is going to lead to more nuclear confrontation and proliferation. Cutting missile defense, solidifying Russia’s position as a prominent nuclear power, refusing to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal and issuing a befuddling new nuclear declaratory policy are all steps that will invite more nuclear aggression.