President Bush’s proposals on curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction are welcome and well-intentioned. But the president’s credibility on this issue is as strong as the rusting chain-link fences that guard nuclear and chemical facilities throughout the world.
The big question is clear: why has it taken the administration three years to wake up and smell the plutonium?
It is gratifying that the president has finally taken up the suggestions of leaders across the political spectrum but his speech today is vintage Bush administration in three ways.
First, the president failed to back up his pledge with real dollars. While he said nice things about Senator Lugar and the Nunn-Lugar program the administration’s current budget would cut the program by almost 10 percent – when we and others have suggested a five-fold increase.
Second, the president’s proposal is the kind of ad hoc, coalition-of-the-willing approach that we have come to expect from the Pentagon. The U.S. badly needs a comprehensive strategy based on the need for global allies to help control the most deadly weapons we face.
Finally, the president sets two standards: one for us and one for everyone else. Missing from his speech was one word about the administration’s ongoing development of new nuclear weapons like "bunker busters." The message to the rest of the world: "Give up your ambitions to get these weapons. Meanwhile, we’ll make better ones."
Bob Boorstin is the senior vice president for national security at the Center for American Progress.