George Shultz

Non-STARTer

Nuclear policy analysts are apoplectic about his "shabby, misleading and … thoroughly ignorant" reasoning, and his arguments have already been rebutted on the merits in a number of places (including here,  here, here, and here). But the question at hand isn't necessarily whether Romney's ghostwriter "has even the vaguest acquaintance with the subject matter." As with the "death panels," Romney's op-ed is an ideological statement, which does not require fealty to facts.

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The nuclear order seems to be falling apart. Gone is the uneasy balance between the cold war superpowers. We now face a slew of new nuclear actors. North Korea has reprocessed enough plutonium for perhaps ten bombs, in addition to the two it has already tested. Iran’s centrifuge program seems poised to produce weapons-grade uranium. And Syria was apparently constructing a clandestine nuclear facility, before it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes in 2007. It’s not just enemies that pose a problem.

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One afternoon in October, a blue and white jumbo jet flew high above the Pacific Ocean, approaching the international dateline. On board was the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who was on an around-the-world trip that would end with a summit of NATO defense ministers, where the topic of the day would be Afghanistan. Gates was flying on what is often called “the Doomsday Plane,” a specially outfitted 747 that looks like a bulkier Air Force One and was built to wage retaliatory nuclear war from the skies.

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For a while there, it was looking like we were going to spend the next four years arguing whether Barack Obama’s foreign policy was actually different than George W. Bush’s. As I noted the other day, Robert Kagan, the neoconservative foreign policy adviser to the McCain campaign, has been arguing that “the pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand.” A few former Bush officials have made similar points.

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Comes from Saturday's NYT: McCain's advisers were divided, for example, over a speech he gave on nuclear security policy in Denver in May. Two Republican pragmatists who advise McCain, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, supported a call in the speech for a nuclear-free world, an idea they endorse as part of a "Gang of Four" of national security statesmen. But other advisers to McCain were opposed to the idea because, in their view, nuclear weapons act as a deterrent against an attack on the United States and its allies.

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The Child Monarch

President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon (Simon and Schuster, 948 pp., $24.95) An American Life by Ronald Reagan (Simon and Schuster, 748 pp., $24.95) I. Maybe the local time just seems slower because the current occupant of the White House is a hyperactive gland case. Anyhow, it's hard to believe that only a couple of years have passed since the Reagans went away. It was a touching moment, we now learn.

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Drawing The Line

Reagan's bombing of Libya was effective precisely because it combined a show of superior force with prudent restraint.

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Opulent and sheltered, Bohemian Grove may be a fitting symbol for the culture of the present Administration. In private life, several of Ronald Reagan's closest aides—and the President himself—frequented this most exclusive of exclusive clubs, nestled in the redwoods of northern California, and in public life many of them continue to do so. Attorney General William French Smith is a long-time member. Just six days after taking office.

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Ford's Future

Gerald Ford continues to say publicly and in private that he expects to be Vice President and expects Richard Nixon to be President of the United States until January 20, 1977. The Vice President also continues to say that he has no intention of running and no plan to run for the presidency in 1976. But he concluded some weeks ago that it was foolish to go on pretending that there is no possibility that he, the first Vice President who was appointed to the office, may become President by succession before Mr. Nixon’s second term is finished and may be the Republican nominee in 1976.

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Détente and Dissent

East-West detente has had a chilling consequence in Moscow. The long war between repression and dissent has escalated as the Kremlin tried to show the Soviet people that rapprochement abroad does not mean ideological relaxation at home —and Westerners have begun to ask if detente has any meaning when it has such side effects.

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