The United States Should Not Pursue a Foreign Policy of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Position Paper 1

The United States Should Not Pursue a Foreign Policy of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons


This paper represents the product of my own work and does not feature collaboration with any individuals or groups. The paper is submitted to fulfill a writing assignment for this class and this class only and it is in strict compliance with the University of Houston’s Academic Honesty Policy.

Karen Ben-Moyal, Spring 2017



Arms control has played a significant role in U.S. national security strategy. The primal objective of arms control must always be to meet U.S. deterrence and military requirements in real-world, post-Cold-War scenarios. “One of the underlying assumptions behind treating arms control as a normative good, including unilateral nuclear weapons reductions, is that if America leads by example, other countries will follow its lead and reduce their arsenals or forego developing their own nuclear capabilities. Such an assumption, however, is a flawed starting point for thinking about the role and purpose of arms control in U.S. national security strategy. There is no demonstrated link between the number of U.S. nuclear weapons and the number of nuclear-armed states.” [1] Countries have their own reasons for pursuing nuclear weapons, which might have very little to do with how many nuclear weapons the United States possesses. North Korea and Russia, for instance, are enclosing against U.S. conventional superiority, thus, American nuclear weapon reductions would do damage or very little, to change their calculus on nuclear weapons.


It is of critical importance for the survival of the umbrella of American allies that the United States seeks to advance a “protect-and-defend” strategic posture. At the core of today’s world is a fundamental asymmetry between the values of the U.S. and the values of its adversaries. While the U.S. values the lives of its citizens, economic prosperity, and institutions, U.S. adversaries value leadership survival above all. The U.S. should develop precise means to credibly threaten that which its adversaries value, and deploy both passive and active defenses to remove the benefits that adversaries might gain by attacking the U.S. or its allies. A comprehensive reassessment of U.S. nuclear weapon policy is required to restore national sovereignty and the capabilities needed to execute them will take months to complete. Done right, it will: guide the administration to strengthen U.S. nuclear deterrence, correct the Obama administration’s flawed nuclear weapon policies and assure more than thirty allies around the world that rely on extended deterrence from the U.S. for their national security. Leadership by example can be a great thing.  But when no one follows your example, however, when no one follows your example, it is time to come up with a new game plan. The principles that should guide development of a new nuclear playbook have absolutely nothing to do with pursuing a foreign policy of non-proliferations of nuclear weapons. In fact, the only path that will lead to a successful WMD game plan will require the exact opposite war tactics. It is vital the U.S. utilizes the “4 P’s, described in the text by Jentleson as the analytical method in which analytic terms of the four core goals that go into defining the U.S. national interest are described as the following: Power, Peace, Prosperity, and Principles. Jentleson elaborates on these terms, exploring various circumstances, scenarios, and historical framework, which in turn, “helps us to see this complexity, to analyze how priorities are set, and to locate the corresponding debates over what American foreign policy is and what it should be—what we earlier called “the essence of choice” in foreign policy strategy.”  [2]

President Trump has been put in a position where he must lead an increasingly uncertain and more dangerous environment. Along with a strong national defense, the best way to avoid war is through deterrence, or by the textbook definition, “the prevention of war by fear of retaliation.” [3] The new administration must carefully develop, implement, and reconstruct nuclear weapon and arms control policies. Reestablishing America’s place in the world will require a new nuclear playbook, far different from any other nuclear weapon strategy in history.  To restore international confidence in the United States as a reliable ally, the Trump Administration must reconstruct and adopt a viable nuclear deterrent. Possessing such a strategy must include abandoning arms control treaties put in place during the Obama Administration, as well as all other policies that aim to benefit American adversaries and weaken U.S. national security.

Bruce Jentleson’s, “American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century,” asserts the belief that, “it is hard for the United States to uphold its most basic values if it ignores grievous violations of those values that take place outside its national borders. It is not necessary to take on the role of global missionary or world police. But it is also impossible to claim the country stands for democracy, freedom, and justice, yet say “not my problem” to genocide, repression, torture, and other horrors. Foreign policy thus continues to press on Americans, as individuals and as a nation. The choices it poses are at least as crucial for the twenty-first century as the Cold War and nuclear-age choices were for the second half of the twentieth century.”  [4]

An example of Trumps foreign policy turnaround is exemplified in the most recent formation of an “Arab NATO,” in which Trump rounded up middle eastern countries, from United Emirates to Syria, to Jordan, Israel, and even Palestine. These countries are so threatened by Iran’s nuclear threat that they’ve agreed to sign treaties with one another, for the first time in history, these nations will work together by collectively seeking efforts to revolt against terrorism, and to ultimately defeat the entire Iranian regime. Moreover, restoring and managing America’s lost network of alliances is destined to be one of the main tasks new U.S. Administration. It will be especially challenging because the Obama Administration’s grand strategy has systematically undermined America’s alliances. The source of such global chaos can be directly attributed to Obama’s implementation of nuclear policies which were said to be put in place for deterrence, but have instead led to the decline of U.S. influence and power by continuously engaging in shady deals that could only benefit American adversaries. The Obama Doctrine is a paradox of contradictions which have landed in America’s total cooperation in the signing of the Iran Nuclear Deal. This agreement was agreed upon the terms that America would supply nuclear weapons, to none other than a regime widely governed by terrorist organizations who leave space in their daily routine for a ritualistic chant. “Death to America, Death to Israel,” is their national anthem. How mind-boggling would it be to agree to give such a country weapons of mass destruction? Apparently, this issue and September 11th was not factored in making this monumental decision. Iran, Russia, and China have openly threatened to attack us, yet, Obama was not worried, as he managed to allow China, Russia, and North Korea to obtain and manufacture their own WMD’s. Forcing the U.S. to cease WMD technological advances, only to strengthen foes at the risk our own national security, is a dangerously slippery slope. One which has landed us in the difficult position the United States is in today. Every single one of Iran’s middle eastern neighbors have become so intimidated to the point they are willing to sign peace treaties one another. An unprecedented affair, the signing of peace treaties between any country in the middle east besides Israel, is eager to make deals with the U.S., and even Israel, despite their contrasting national interests, despite their history. Iran has no ally except Russia, who continues to fund them after America quit, and rightfully so. Thus, if the Arab NATO plan is successful in restoring security and balance of powers in the middle east, the rest of the world will benefit significantly, while damaging Russia economically. This would be considered a major win for our allies, and an even greater loss for our enemies. As Colin Dueck has argued in The Obama Doctrine, “the President has pursued a strategy of retrenchment and accommodation. He has sought to reduce American military structure and commitments, particularly in areas like the Middle East where he believes the United States is overinvested, and he has reached out to America’s adversaries—China, Russia, and Iran—in order to conciliate their grievances and make them responsible regional actors in the international system. He wants them to be, as people used to say in the 1960s, “part of the solution and not the problem.”[5]  Unfortunately, this prioritization of attending to adversary complaints over the needs of allies has subjected America’s closest traditional alliance relationships to enormous strain. That is so because the outreach to adversaries has not only been unsuccessful but also appears to have encouraged more aggressive policies by Russia, China, and Iran. The formation of the Arab NATO is just one example out of several Trump has already managed to complete his first few months in office. Imagine what we could accomplish throughout the world—perhaps the seemly long, lost global dream—to collectively strive towards the promotion of nuclear deterrence– nationally as well as globally—could possibly prevail. Perhaps the prospects which encompass the values of peace, prosperity, power, and protection of American allies is what it takes to truly lead. Words do not define a man, action do. Which is precisely why the president needs to begin resolutions by abandoning arms control treaties that benefit our adversaries without improving our national security. 

[1] Dodge, Michaela. “The Trump Nuclear Posture Review: Next Steps.” The Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation, 25 Mar. 2017. Web. 17 July 2017.

[2] Jentleson, Bruce W.. American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century (Fifth Edition). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

[3] Jentleson, Bruce W.. American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century (Fifth Edition). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

[4] Jentleson, Bruce W.. American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century (Fifth Edition). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

[5] Cohen, Eliot. Choosing to Lead: American Foreign Policy for a Disordered World (Kindle). The John Hay Initiative. Kindle Edition.

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