Yes, the comparison would probably make him cringe, but Freeman Dyson makes an interesting and accurate observation in an interview. Obama just signed an encouraging pact with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that would reduce the number of strategic nukes from 2200 to 1550. Yet Dyson reminds us that this is a tiny step compared to the past. He notes that the two presidents most responsible for dramatic arms reductions were both Republican; Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush.
HW especially reduced nuclear weapons stockpiles by a greater percentage than any other president. He was responsible for negotiating the START treaty with the Soviet Union which remains the largest and most complex arms control treaty in history; its final implementation in late 2001 resulted in the removal of about 80 percent of all strategic nuclear weapons then in existence.
As Dyson notes, for all the enthusiasm on the left, Obama is actually doing much less than both Reagan and Bush and needs to do much more to reduce nukes. Maybe, as Dyson wryly says, one needs to be a right wing Republican to get rid of nuclear weapons.
“Dyson: Well he should be doing much more. I mean this is… I like Obama and I like what he is doing, but this is not at all impressive. George Bush, Sr., did far more. I mean George Bush, Sr., got rid more than half of our nuclear weapons just like that. He was the one who really got rid of nuclear weapons on a big scale, but George Bush, Sr., was careful because he was a Republican. He did it very quietly. He didn’t want to have his name associated with that, but he got it done. Of course with Obama it’s sort of the opposite that he would like to get the credit for it, but he is not really doing it, and so it’s, I think he should be doing far more and I hope he will, but he is in a much more difficult position. It helps to be a right-wing Republican if you want to disarm…”