The question “Should more of our European or Pacific democratic allies possess nuclear weapons?” harbors two unspoken ones. First, why do nations go nuclear? Second, will America’s allies do so if U.S. security guarantees wane in this era of retraction and disarmament? A quick history of the nuclear age reveals many mixed motives and only a tenuous relationship between great-power assurances and client-power abstinence.
Given the diplomatic and strategic weaknesses that the United States and its leaders have exhibited over the past six years, it is almost inevitable that America’s allies, which exist in substantially more dangerous neighborhoods than does the United States, will seek to develop their own nuclear capabilities.
Vladimir Putin’s indifference to the bleating admonitions of Western leaders will persist. These, and the President’s pathetic warnings that have followed, have all the credibility of promising a Red Line in Damascus.