The Nuclear Abolition Bandagon

Barack Obama's call today for the United States to recommit itself to the goal of global nuclear abolition is an excellent move. In my view, nuclear proliferation policy is the most important issue facing the country, and Obama has not only now moved to the correct position, but shown enough interest in the topic to make this the element of today's foreign policy speech that he wanted to "preview" for the press.

That said, on this issue as on several others, John Edwards can pretty fairly argue that he was here first. I praised him for his Pace University counterterrorism speech about a month ago where he said:

As president, I will create a Global Nuclear Compact to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would support peaceful nuclear programs, improve security for existing stocks of nuclear materials, and ensure more frequent verification that materials are not being diverted and facilities are not being misused. And I will lead an international effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Even earlier, during the Q&A to a CFR speech in May Edwards said:

Well, let me say first, I think I would want to associate myself with the concepts that are conveyed by Kissinger, Sam Nunn and others in the op-ed piece. I thought it was very thoughtful. And I think essentially what they said if I remember -- I don't remember the precise language -- was that we should aspire to a nuclear-free world. I agree with that. Now, there are a lot of steps that have to go between here and there. Some of them are pretty obvious, which is America should not be building new nuclear weapons. And then I think America should be doing things like leading an international effort to close the holes in the NPT. There are clearly serious flaws in the NPT. And I think America, leading an international effort to reduce the supplies nuclear sense in the world -- all aimed at the general goal that's described in that piece that you just spoke about.

The op-ed in question can be read here, and that's essentially the policy Barack Obama is now endorsing as well (although, to be fair to Obama, he's also said good things on non-proliferation in the past).

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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