December 5, 2010
By James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
It took a furious exchange of communiques to sort it out. The answer: Telek was not a code. Telek was Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's dog.
The cable had landed at the Pentagon by mistake. It was supposed to go London where Ike had left Telek. The supreme commander wanted to know if his puppy was housebroken yet.
Today as then, words matter -- especially where war and national security are concerned. Misunderstandings can mean disaster. Everyone on the same side should at least know what they are talking about. President Obama and his White House national security staff have yet to learn this lesson.
The Obama White House plays fast and loose with words where national security is concerned.
Consider the evidence. We've discovered that a "deadline" doesn't mean what most of us think it does.
Obama has repeatedly trumpeted foreign policy deadlines for closing Gitmo and leaving Afghanistan. Turns out that, for the White House, deadline means "something to tell the progressive base to make it happy."
Now the White House is blaring a new promise to "modernize" U.S. nuclear forces. Oddly enough, it's a limited-time offer only. If the Senate fails to approve the New START nuclear deal with Russia "fast, fast, fast" (i.e., before the lame duck session of Congress closes), the White House won't ask for modernization money. In the lexicon of this White House, then, "modernize" means "bribe" or "buy off."
In reality, the White House plans for modernizing our nuclear arsenal have little to do with modernization. Unless, of course, you feel that when you take your car in for an oil change, you've modernized the family's transportation fleet.
The president's nuclear "modernization" plan calls for spending $85 billion over the next decade -- barely enough to sustain our current nuclear infrastructure -- and that includes pensions for lab workers, as well as brick-and-mortar items like testing facilities. He proposes not one thin dime for new systems or new warheads.
Obama has, in fact, made nil commitments to modernization. His Nuclear Posture Review flat out states that the United States will not conduct underground nuclear testing, will not "develop new nuclear warheads" to meet new mission requirements, and will "only" study options for ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of nuclear warheads on a case-by-case basis.
Furthermore, presidential promises regarding future spending (or non-spending) ring hollow. The president can't guarantee long-term expenditures because, at the end of the day, it is the Congress, not the chief executive, that writes the final budget.
Nor can Obama just stop spending appropriated funds. Beyond the illegality of such action, it would be completely irresponsible to halt nuclear modernization. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated in his October 2008 speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:
"To be blunt, there is absolutely no way we can maintain a credible deterrent and reduce the number of weapons in our stockpile without either resorting to testing our stockpile or pursuing a modernization program."
The New START treaty and nuclear modernization are separate issues. They should be considered separately by the Senate. Heaven help us if our senators are such chumps as to vote for a bad treaty because of empty promises/threats concerning nuclear modernization.
James Jay Carafano is a senior research fellow for national security at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in The Examiner
Protect America Initiative of the Leadership for America Campaign
James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.
Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, E. W. Richardson Fellow, and Director
Read More >>
Request an interview >>
Please complete the following form to request an interview with a Heritage expert.
Please note that all fields must be completed.
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 200,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2013, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973