Obama Takes the Middle Road on Proliferation

The federal government’s Nuclear Posture Review, which the Department of Defense revealed this morning, outlines the government’s nuclear plan for the next five to 10 years. Its arrival kicks off a heavy season of nuclear summits and discussions, including a key one hosted at the White House next week. Since taking office, President Obama’s goal has been a nonnuclear world in which America’s foes who already have nukes promise not to use them against each other, and those who don’t have nukes promise not to acquire them in exchange for security (the latter of which speaks directly to Iran).

Obama has clearly staked the middle ground with the decision, announcing his intent to spend $5 billion over five years to care for and maintain the U.S. arsenal of about 9,400 nukes. Some say that’s too much. Just as many say it’s not enough. Obama likes to say that if people are angry with him on both sides, he must be doing something right.

As NEWSWEEK’s Evan Thomas and John Barry write in a feature this week about the nuclear dilemma, “Obama the idealist has had to become Obama realist: working for a nuclear-free world tomorrow, but at the same time, and at great cost, keeping up America’s nuclear forces today.”