My Turn: ‘No first use’ policy increases likelihood of war

  • U.S. President Harry Truman sits before a microphone at the White House in Washington, where he broadcast a message on the formal surrender of Japan on Sept. 1, 1945. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 2/11/2019 12:15:06 AM

Mindi Messmer’s recent Monitorop-ed (Opinion, Feb. 6) calling for a “no first use nuclear weapon policy” creates opportunities for history and civics lessons.

First, the history.

President Harry Truman’s decision to deploy two nuclear weapons in 1945 ended World War II. Were he to have been hamstrung by some version of Messmer’s proposed first-use policy, the war would have gone on much longer with millions more casualties.

In retrospect, any policy where we would not go nuclear unless the Nazis or the Japanese first deployed nukes against us would have been ludicrous and horrifying.

Or consider the Reagan administration’s policies in the 1980s, which wisely retained the first-use option. We also deployed medium range missiles in Europe. And we developed the Strategic Defense Initiative to utilize space technology to counter missile attacks.

The first-use option kept Western Europe free during the Cold War. Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces had overwhelming conventional force advantages, to include 50,000 tanks. Knowing that a Communist invasion would not be countered by nuclear weapons would have made a conventional attack much more probable, with the subsequent conflict likely to escalate to tactical and then full-blown nuclear exchanges anyway.

Messmer’s ideological comrades-in-arms pulled out all the stops in the 1980s to counter Reagan’s policies, in both Europe and America. Review the history of the time and the overblown leftist rhetoric about Reagan leading us “straight into Armageddon.”

We now know that the KGB heavily infiltrated and influenced these “peace” movements, as the Soviets knew that Reagan’s policies would lead to the end of their totalitarian system.

History clearly proved Reagan to be correct. The Soviet empire imploded and we won the Cold War. The leftists could not have been more wrong. And Reagan’s policies had bipartisan support – that being a time before the Democratic Party was radicalized.

Now, the civics.

Elections have consequences. Millions of out-of-state dollars and thousands of out-of-state voters (not just in college towns) gave New Hampshire a Democrat-controlled Legislature that’s pursuing an extremist agenda that most Granite Staters – outside of the usual blue pockets – find increasingly troubling.

Many of us prefer to leave defense policy to longtime national security and military experts, as opposed to yielding to local leftist activists seeking to make trouble for the current administration. Why didn’t they show this energy earlier, during the last administration, which had similar policies regarding first use? Even the Obama people understood the importance of our adversaries knowing we retain all options.

The hearing in the State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee regarding HCR 7 (promoting the no first-use policy) was but one of countless examples of far left initiatives now being pushed at the State House.

Yes, elections have consequences. Citizens should pay attention.

Thankfully, the last election also gave us Gov. Chris Sununu – and a mighty veto pen that he’ll hopefully deploy in the best traditions of Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan.

(Mike Moffett of Loudon is a retired professor and Marine Corps officer who also served as a N.H. state representative.)

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