Hillary Clinton signaled the potential for a major national security policy reversal this week after she told an activist in Iowa that the planned $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program “doesn’t make sense.”
Despite a momentous speech embracing nuclear disarmament in Prague in April 2009, President Barack Obama has stunned critics by embarking on an aggressive effort to upgrade the military’s nuclear weapons program, including requests to buy 12 new missile submarines, up to 100 new bombers, and 400 land-based missiles, along with upgraded storage and development sites.
The decision has been called the greatest expansion of nuclear weapons since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Clinton’s comments came in response to a question after a Des Moines campaign event from Kevin Rutledge, a coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee’s “Governing Under the Influence” project. Staff and volunteers with the project in Iowa and New Hampshire have been peppering presidential candidates with questions about corporate influence over military policy, immigrant detention, and other issues.
Rutledge asked the former secretary of state as she left the event on Monday: “Would you oppose plans to spend a trillion dollars on an entire new generation of nuclear weapons systems that will enrich military contractors and set off a new global arms race?”
“Yeah, I’ve heard about that,” she responded. “I’m going to look into that. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that works to promote social justice, has asked other presidential candidates about the nuclear weapons build-up.
Republican candidate Marco Rubio dismissed concerns, telling activist Kathleen McQuillen that “no country in the world faces the threats America faces.” He added, “The bottom line is that deterrence is a friend of peace.”
Democratic contender Martin O’Malley replied that he favors a shift from nuclear weapons into cybersecurity.