Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been arguably the most frank and vocal critic of President Barack Obama's proposal to vastly limit and ultimately eliminate the potential use and supply of nuclear weapons. In an interview with The National Review on Tuesday, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate called Obama's vision "inept," a liberal fantasia.
"A nuclear-free world has been a 60-year dream of the Left," he said, "just like socialized health-care. This new policy, like Obama's government-run health program, is a big step in that direction."
If only things were so black and white. Of course, one of Giuliani's political heroes, Ronald Reagan, once said that nuclear weapons were "totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization." Indeed, while he irked his detractors for years over a seemingly endless arms buildup, Reagan was, by his own telling, firmly committed to the abolition of nuclear weapons.
"[F]or the eight years I was president," he wrote in his memoirs, "I never let my dream of a nuclear-free world fade from my mind."
Reagan nearly came to an accord with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy all nuclear weapons within 10 years. Before then, he spoke at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, relaying the following vision:
We live in a troubled world, and the United States and China, as two great nations, share a special responsibility to help reduce the risks of war. We both agree that there can be only one sane policy to preserve our precious civilization in this modern age: A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. And no matter how great the obstacles may seem, we must never stop our efforts to reduce the weapons of war. We must never stop at all until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of this Earth.
If this isn't enough evidence to suggest that Reagan falls under Giuliani's definition of a liberal flower, there is an entire book on the subject matter titled: "Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons."
Of course, Reagan wasn't alone among Republican figures (or figures whom Republicans admire) who have pursued the notion of nuclear weapons reductions. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has written about the matter, alongside prominent Democratic foreign policy figures.
And then there is Harry Truman, a Democratic president who Republicans have more than occasionally idealized. Years after signing off on the deployment of the atomic bomb to end WWII, Truman had come to grips with the need to reign in the proliferation of such weapons.
"The hope of civilization lies in international arrangements looking, if possible, to the renunciation of the use and development of the atomic bomb," he told the U.S. Congress on October 3, 1945, "and directing and encouraging the use of atomic energy and all future scientific information toward peaceful and humanitarian ends."