Peace through strength - that was former President Ronald Reagan's method of achieving sound foreign policy as leader of the free world. Reagan was able to win the Cold War by showing the Soviet Union the United States could have both guns and butter.
However, President Barack Obama has recently declared he would take a different approach to foreign policy, particularly in the area of nuclear proliferation. The President announced earlier this week he has worked out a deal to significantly reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles in an agreement with Russia. This has drawn the ire of many conservatives, but that has MSNBC's Chris Matthews perplexed.
Matthews, the host of "Hardball," complained on his April 7 program about Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., being outspoken on Obama's decision to give into potential adversaries on the nuclear issue and claimed that contrary to what history would suggest about former President Ronald Reagan, Bachmann was going against the ideas of Reagan.
"Here's Michele Bachmann critiquing President Obama on his nuclear policy," Matthews said. "I am confounded by why she's upset by his nuclear policy, since Ronald Reagan was one the great idealist about someday getting rid of nuclear weapons in this world. But here she is, let's listen to Michele Bachmann on this new conservatism."
Matthews played Bachmann speaking at a rally in Minnesota on April 7, which she explained peace is accomplished through strength in her estimation and not by backing down, especially with so many threats in the world.
"And then earlier this week, we found out that the President said that he was going to change the United States' strategy on dealing with nuclear weaponry," Bachmann said. "Did this shock everyone? So if in fact there is a nation who is compliant with all the rules ahead of time and then complied with the United Nations on nuclear proliferation, if they fire against the United States, a biological weapon, a chemical weapon, or maybe a cyberattack - well, then we weren't going to be firing back with nuclear weapons."
Matthews, obviously hung up on Bachmann declaring a cyber-attack a threat, dismissed her approach to national security. However, many qualified experts would argue a cyberattack from abroad is potentially a bigger threat to the nation's infrastructure than chemical or biological weapon. Still, Matthews diminished this threat to score cheap political points against Bachmann.
"I don't get that," Matthews declared. "I guess I'm waiting for the applause line there. But I guess I never thought of using nuclear weapons against somebody hacking into our system here, our computer system. Nuclear weapons are basically used in the context of the Cold War or at its worst, as counter to other nuclear weapons except in Europe."
MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan suggested there was some merit to having nuclear arsenals, but wasn't sold on the cyber threat either.
"James Baker told the foreign minister of Iraq if they use chemical or biological weapons on our troops in Desert Storm we would retaliate with nuclear weapons," Buchanan said.
And Ron Reagan, the liberal-leaning son of former President Ronald Reagan completely dismissed any reason to have nuclear weapons, including the cyberattack threat.
"Nuclear weapons have been used twice in all of history and we're not eager to use them again," Reagan said. "And no, we're not going to nuke somebody just because they hacked into our computers. That's not going to happen."