Obama Promises to Cut Nuclear Stockpiles if Russia Follows Suit

The president returned to Berlin to revisit a first term foreign policy.

By: Konstantine Roccas, Staff Writer


Photography by Sean Naber

Photography by Sean Naber

Following fierce but failed negotiations over the fate of Syria’s government at the G8 and plagued by a surveillance scandal back home, US President Barack Obama headed to Berlin on Wednesday to reignite one of his first term foreign policy initiatives, nuclear arms reduction between the United States and Russia.

The president spoke at the Brandenberg Gate, the site of his notable speech in 2008, on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s famous ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech. Berlin is “a place where U.S. presidents have gone to talk about the role of the free world,” said Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. “He is seeking to summon the energy and legacy of what’s been done in the past and apply it to the issues that we face today.”

[pullquote]He is seeking to summon the energy and legacy of what’s been done in the past and apply it to the issues that we face today.[/pullquote]

Though he promised to cut nuclear stockpiles by one-third if Russia does so as well, Obama failed to mention any specific steps in disarming potentially ‘hot’ countries such as India and Pakistan. Yuri Ushakov, foreign policy aide to President Vladimir Putin, said that “any further arms reduction would have to involve countries besides just Russia and the United States.” Russian foreign affairs official Alexei Pushkov also noted that, “the proposals need serious revision so that they can be seen by the Russian side as serious and not as propaganda proposals.”

As he pushed his foreign policy ideas to an international audience, Obama also defended the surveillance controversy brewing in the United States, claiming that, “[We] know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information, not just in the United States but in in Germany [as well].” He described surveillance as a “targeted effort,” insinuating that it is only used on people suspected of terrorism. Of course, in today’s American and Canadian lexicon the definition of terrorist can include environmental protestors and people wearing masks.

Though he said the right things in typical Obama fashion, there was little proof to indicate how serious the United States is about the issues at hand. If anything, the speech seemed to indicate an attempt to recapture much of the goodwill that has been lost amongst the international community since 2008. Only time will tell if a serious push for nuclear disarmament is in the works or if Obama was merely paying lip service to a ‘simpler time’.

Konstantine Roccas is an observer of local and international affairs and governance, but also writes about anything else that piques his ire. He enjoys a half kilo of Greek yogurt daily. He writes for the Arbitrage Magazine. More of his work can be found at myriadtruths.blogspot.ca and he can be followed on Twitter @KosteeRoccas.



CBC News – World
CBC News – Canada
Desche Welle

Photo Courtesy of Sean Naber

Show more