Secretary Clinton’s oped “Our giant step towards a world free from nuclear danger” defends the Administration’s move to reduce our nuclear arsenal and to limit the circumstances in which the U.S. would consider employing nuclear retaliation. Somehow this treaty and new protocol are supposed to enhance U.S. security. The complete impotence of her arguments are exposed in one line:

And along with our international partners, the United States is pursuing diplomatic efforts that create real consequences for states such as Iran and North Korea that defy the global non-proliferation regime.

What, exactly, is she talking about? And how many times have we heard during the last year, that Iran has to quit it, or else?

Parents quickly learn the problem with empty threats. If I consistently tell my daughter that she’s going to be punished for pushing her sister, and then when she does it simply say “well don’t do it again or you’ll really get it next time!” she quickly figures out that its just talk. She’s just four.

Iran and North Korea have long since figured out that we have no really intention or even effective plan for levying real sanctions-which is why they are pretty much pursuing nuclear weapons without pretense. And as this Administration pledge that the U.S. wouldn’t retaliate with nuclear weapons even under massive chemical or biological weapon attack, it reveals that it is complete uncomfortable with the concept of retaliation at all. What does this mean for the crazy dictators who want to do harm to the U.S. and our allies? It obviously emboldens them.

As Charles Krauthammer explains:

This administration seems to believe that by restricting retaliatory threats and by downplaying our reliance on nuclear weapons, it is discouraging proliferation.

But the opposite is true. Since World War II, smaller countries have agreed to forgo the acquisition of deterrent forces — nuclear, biological and chemical — precisely because they placed their trust in the firmness, power and reliability of the American deterrent.

Seeing America retreat, they will rethink. And some will arm. There is no greater spur to hyper-proliferation than the furling of the American nuclear umbrella.

To continue with the clichéd parent analogy, I sometimes threaten to throw away an expensive, beloved toy if my daughter uses it to torment her sister. Would I actually do it? Probably not, but she doesn’t know that and the potential worries her enough to make her cut it out. If I pledged never to dispose of one of her toys as punishment, it would make it a little bit easier for her to behave badly. (My kids are really better behaved than I’ve implied in this post….)

Wouldn’t it work the same way for hostile states? I’m sure I’m being simplistic, but there seems to be no logic in thinking that reducing our ability to respond does anything but invite worse behavior from those who want do us harm.