Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenArizona Democratic Party executive board censures Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service MORE (D-Mass.) and Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockDark money group spent 0M on voter turnout in 2020 In Montana, a knock-down redistricting fight over a single line 65 former governors, mayors back bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (D) sparred Tuesday night over her proposed “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons during the Democratic debate.
In defending the proposed policy, Warren argued for diplomatic and economic solutions to conflict, saying “we should not be asking our military to take on jobs that do not have a military solution.”
But Bullock opposed that proposal, saying, “I don’t want to turn around and say, ‘Well, Detroit has to be gone before we would ever use that.’”
Warren is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of a bill that would make it U.S. policy not to use nuclear weapons first.
It has long been the policy of the United States that the country reserves the right to launch a preemptive nuclear strike.
Former President Obama reportedly weighed changing the policy before leaving office, but ultimately did not after advisers argued doing so could embolden adversaries.
Backers of a no first use policy argue it would improve U.S. national security by reducing the risk of miscalculation while still allowing the United States to launch a nuclear strike in response to an attack.
During the debate, Warren argued such a policy would “make the world safer.”
“The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively, and we need to say so to the entire world,” she said. “It reduces the likelihood that someone miscalculates, someone misunderstands.”
Bullock argued he wouldn’t want to take the option off the table, but that there should be negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons.
“Never, I hope, certainly in my term or anyone else would we really even get close to pulling that trigger,” he said. “Going from a position of strength, we should be negotiating down so there aren’t nuclear weapons. But drawing those lines in the sand at this point, I wouldn’t do.”
Warren shot back that the world is closer to nuclear warfare after Trump’s presidency, which is seeing the end of a landmark arms control agreement with Russia, the development of a low-yield submarine-launched warhead and the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.
“We don’t expand trust around the world by saying, ‘you know, we might be the first one to use a nuclear weapon,'” she said. “We have to have an announced policy that is one the entire world can live with.”
Bullock said he agreed on the need to return to nonproliferation standards but that unpredictable enemies such as North Korea require keeping first use as an option.
“When so many crazy folks are getting closer to having a nuclear weapon, I don’t want them to think, 'I could strike this country,'” he said. “Part of the strength really is to deter.”