Secretary Clinton indicated in a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Wednesday that the Administration’s efforts have been increasingly directed toward an arms control and non-proliferation agenda.

The Administration is hastily pursuing the ratification of a START follow-on treaty with Russia and, in addition, Secretary Clinton announced on Wednesday that the U.S. will reaffirm the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and commit to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

Clinton criticized the view held by some “pessimistic” experts that proliferation is inevitable and that the Administration’s proposals are futile. She admitted that their achievements may at times “seem incomplete and unsatisfying,” and that they may not be realized “in our lifetime or successive lifetimes,” but she proceeded nevertheless to articulate the hope that the world might possibly one day be persuaded to slouch towards disarmament if America takes the lead.

Clinton appears not to have heeded the warning of Russian dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn against giving ground to dictators in the vain hope “that perhaps at some point the wolf will have eaten enough.”

That vain hope is the cornerstone of the Administration’s policy. The Administration has failed to articulate any back-up plan to be employed in case non-proliferation measures fail.

News flash: they are already failing.

The United Nations has repeatedly called on North Korea and Iran to end their nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Both nations have bitten their thumbs at the IAEA and numerous UN resolutions, and proceeded to expand their programs and stage numerous missile tests.

Disarmament and non-proliferation treaties are important, but they are a one-sided approach.

They have no meaning divorced from a greater strategy that can also deal with failure. They need to be part of a plan to ensure the security of America and our allies even in a proliferated world, regardless of our enemies’ choices.

The U.S. must convincingly posture itself to say to the world: “if you attack us, you will fail.” President Ronald Reagan did so during the Cold War when he effectively told the Soviet Union: If you want a race, we’ll give you a race and we’ll beat you. We’ll be prepared for whatever you give us. Reagan’s approach resulted in a stunning victory and the Soviet Union’s capitulation with scarcely a shot.

If we cannot show the world that we are able to respond effectively in the event that our Panglossian non-proliferation efforts fail, then we will be sending Iran and North Korea the message that nuclear weapons are the trump card they always thought they would be.