A Tale of Two Mitts
For a sense of what's at stake for nuclear policy in this year's election, consider this: The U.S. government is on track to spend $640 billion over the next 10 years on nuclear weapons and related programs -- more than the military's budget for an entire year. The next president will make key policy decisions early in his term that will have an impact on these budgets and global security more broadly. Four years ago, Barack Obama and John McCain largely agreed on the need to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, but this year the candidates are poles apart.
Obama has a well-established agenda on this issue. But Mitt Romney's policies will depend on whether he brings into the Oval Office the hawkish positions that he staked out for most of the campaign or the moderate posture that he's assumed in the past month.
The president, for his part, has implemented only part of the comprehensive nuclear policies that he detailed early in his term. Having been frustrated by an entrenched bureaucracy, reluctant global partners, and political opponents for four years, he will likely pick up where he left off if he wins reelection. Senior aides insist Obama is personally committed to breaking with Cold War strategies and weapons. If so, we could expect early action on several fronts.
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