President Obama's first turn as chairman of the United Nations Security Council has borne fruit in a unanimous resolution to clamp down on the spread of nuclear weapons. Was it a breakthrough? The measure is non-binding, but the symbolism led many pundits to treat the news as a welcome advance.
- Fulfills the Purpose of the UN, writes James Carroll in the Daily Beast. "Obama becomes the first U.S. president to chair an extraordinary session of the UN Security Council, with its nations represented by heads of state, not diplomats...It tips Obama's hand that, because of him, the word disarmament is back. It is not too much to say that the United Nations was founded to deal with the atomic bomb."
- Long, Boring but Symbolically Important, writes The New Republic's Michael Crowley. Reporting from inside the Security Council, Crowley describes a dreadfully dull scene where leaders from Uganda, Vietnam and Burkina Faso pontificate past their allotted five minutes. "Clearly, that's not how Rahm Emanuel, who's looking a little antsy, would like to schedule the president's time. But that's exactly why today's session is so important, if only in a symbolic sense...The hard work of nonproliferation involves a lot of dull meetings and treaties."
- A Tremendous Step Forward, hails Matthew Bunn of Harvard, in an interview by Michael Crowley in the New Republic: "Obama has taken a terrific step...The resolution puts the Security Council squarely behind an agenda that includes tougher responses to violations of nonproliferation treaties, stronger inspections, a ban on nuclear testing, an end to all production of nuclear materials for nuclear weapons worldwide, and steps toward the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons."
- Overly Ambitious, warns The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Rademaker. Obama could use a history lesson:
The principal reason that recent Democratic presidents have failed with Russia has been their excessive enthusiasm and ambition, which perversely encourages the Russians to overreach, dooming prospects for agreement. This was a problem for Messrs. Carter and Clinton. And it promises to be an even bigger problem for Mr. Obama, who comes to office with an arms-control agenda—the abolition of nuclear weapons—far more ambitious that of any previous administration.
- A Momentous Opportunity, writes the Financial Times editorial board. The editors describe a "grand bargain" that could ensure global nuclear security:
On the one hand, the existing nuclear weapon states must permanently reduce their stockpiles, persuading those outside the club that they are genuinely committed to disarmament... On the other hand, the non-nuclear weapon states must give assurances that they will stay out of the club. They must accept tough new rules that ensure nuclear material is not diverted for weapons production.
- Obama Should've Named Names, writes Brett Schaefer at National Review. The Obama administration decided not to directly call out North Korea and Iran for their nuclear transgressions—a huge mistake, writes Schaefer:
The central organizing principle of the United Nations today is the assertion of moral equivalency among its participating nations—in other words, the U.N. sees Iran and North Korea as having the same moral standing as the United States. In truth, Iran and North Korea are the most worrisome proliferators in the world today and are pursuing nuclear-weapons capabilities. Iran and North Korea have earned their reputations as aggressive powers with no claim to moral legitimacy.