High gas prices, American retreat abroad, urban crime, drug addiction and talk of an Olympic boycott are all contributing to a sense that America is experiencing a kind of re-run of the late-1970s.
As if those factors weren’t enough, add arms control.
American representatives are back in Vienna this week for another round of indirect talks on reviving the Obama-era deal with Iran that granted the Islamic republic $700 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for promises to freeze its nuclear weapons program. "We are looking to reenter," U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters in Paris on Nov. 12.
But the Iran piece is just the beginning.
Across the administration and its allies, signs are pointing toward a much broader, sweeping nuclear disarmament drive that could eventually include not only Axis-of-Evil pariah states like Iran but also the United States, whose nuclear weapons have historically played an important role in deterring enemy aggression and in defeating fascism and Soviet Communism.
A front-page New York Times article reports that "Mr. Biden’s aides are deep into an examination of American nuclear strategy that will be published in coming months" and also refers to "Biden’s hopes of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in American defenses."
Nikole Hannah-Jones, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times "1619 Project" writer backed by $5 million in Ford Foundation funding, tweeted about her "shame" visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, describing the U.S. decision to use the atom bomb as "craven and barbaric."
President Biden has named Kingston Reif as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Threat Reduction and Arms Control. Reif, who started work at the Pentagon recently, spent the past seven years working at the Arms Control Association, an advocacy group partially funded by the governments of Germany and Canada.
Neither Canada nor Germany are known to have their own nuclear weapons.
A Japanese government-issued readout of an Oct. 5 telephone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Kishida of Japan reported that "the two leaders shared the view to coordinate closely in responses to COVID-19 and climate change and in efforts toward ‘a world free of nuclear weapons.'"
A Vatican statement after Biden’s 75-minute meeting with Pope Francis reported that "the talks enabled an exchange of views on some matters regarding the current international situation … and on the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation."
After the meeting, Biden reportedly said "that the pope prayed for him and blessed his rosary beads. He said the prayer was about 'peace.'" Biden described Francis as "the most significant warrior for peace I’ve ever met," the Associated Press reported.
The nuclear disarmament movement often seems from afar like an extreme fringe phenomenon. The Cambridge (Mass.) City Council, a bastion of far-left fantasies, in September 2021 passed a unanimous resolution urging Congress to take steps in favor of "actively pursuing a verifiable and multilateral agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate nuclear arsenals" and "renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first."
But that resolution was part of an international lobbying push by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which is funded by both anonymous donors and by the governments of Ireland and New Zealand.
Neither Ireland nor New Zealand is known to have nuclear weapons.
"Expand the problem" is often good strategic advice in both business and foreign policy.
Biden or his aides may be tempted to try to solve the Iran nuclear deal issue by attempting to wrap Iran into some much broader regional or global nuclear disarmament pact.
Already The New York Times editorial board is asserting that "Ideally, the result would be a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East."
In this case, though, it’s a trap, aimed at stripping Israel of its nuclear arsenal and at converting America from the global superpower to just another of the many signatory countries to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The real problem isn’t the weapons but the thuggish nature of the regimes in Iran and North Korea. A better Biden policy would focus less on getting rid of the weapons and more on rolling back the dictatorships.
It was Reagan who eventually wound up putting freedom ahead of arms control. If Biden isn’t careful, his pursuit of arms control will be just one more way that historians will eventually look back at his one-term presidency and find it Carter-esque, and not in a good way.
Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of "JFK, Conservative." Read Ira Stoll's Reports — More Here.