Like pundits in search of an apocryphal Barack Obama skeet-shooting photograph, Capitol Hill conservatives have been scampering for a reason to oppose former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination as defense secretary. Last week, they deemed Hagel too conservative for Obama supporters: He's an anti-Semite! He's not cool with the gays! But now that those ad hominems have failed to inspire much chattering beyond the Beltway, Republicans are attacking Hagel from the right: He's a dirty hippie peacenik who wants to steal our atomic security!
"Hagel has also been an outspoken supporter of nuclear disarmament and the Global Zero Movement, which seeks a world free of nuclear weapons," Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) wrote this week in a Washington Post op-ed titled "The wrong man to be defense secretary," before rapping off a laundry list of global conflict hotspots that supposedly require deterrence from the United States' 5,113 nuclear warheads. The Weekly Standardargued breathlessly that Hagel "co-authored a controversial report for Global Zero that urges deep cuts to America's nuclear forces—by unilateral means, if necessary—on the path to global nuclear disarmament." A nuclear missile lobbyist-turned-"senior fellow in National Security Affairs" warned in US News of "the detrimental effects that Global Zero would have on America's strategic capabilities."
Sounds menacing! Indeed, the right has made haste to turn Global Zero into the next Agenda 21, painting the organization as a conspiratorial cadre of globalizing socialist radicals. But as Joe Cirincione, director of the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund, points out today at The Atlantic, the conservatives' "basic premise—that reducing and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons is a wild, left-wing position—is unquestionably false." In fact, total disarmament is the ultimate goal of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty—which was ratified by the Senate and President Nixon in 1969.
But what of Inhofe's alleged global conspiracy to weaken American security and sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids? Who are the wacko extremists supporting Global Zero's anti-US, no-nukes mission? Here's a partial list of signatories...conservative signatories:
George Shultz, former secretary of state: You'd think that no one could love nukes more than Ronald Reagan's top diplomat. You'd think wrong. All these nuclear weapons are a threat to humanity," he says in a Global Zero video. "The world would be much better off without them."
Frank Carlucci, onetime national security advisor and former defense secretary under George H.W. Bush. This hawkish former CIA spook has signed on to Global Zero's movement.
Robert MacFarlane, former Reagan national security advisor. That awkward moment when a major missile-defense advocate and convicted Iran-Contra conspirator signs a no-nukes pledge.
Merrill McPeak, former Air Force chief of staff. Once the lead solo pilot for the Thunderbirds, he became the Air Force's top general under George H.W. Bush and later supported Bush's son for president in 2000 (as well as Bob Dole in 1996). A Global Zero signatory.
Jack Sheehan, former NATO commander. This retired Marine general opposed gay service in the military, once blaming homosexual troops for the massacre of Srebenica. "[I]t is now time for the global community to work toward a regime that eliminates the existence and possible use of these weapons," he says. (Nukes, not gays.)
Philip Zelikow, former G.W. Bush security advisor. This former confidant of Condoleezza Rice, who served both Bush presidencies, signed on to GZ.
Anthony Zinni, former Marine Corps general. As commander of CENTCOM in the late '90s, Zinni worked on a plan to invade Iraq. This Vietnam and Iraq vet is a GZ supporter.
Cirincione also notes that such "radical extremists" as Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and James Baker have expressed support for ending nukes. Then there's the no-good beatnik who said this:
We're not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons; we seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.
His name? Ronald Reagan. You can practically smell the patchouli!