Saturday, December 24, 2016

Outmatch them at every pass: Postscript

By the way, I'd like to make just one protest against the meme going around according to which President Obama himself is actively working to beef up the US nuclear deterrent force even as he keeps talking about bringing it down:
Contrary to Mr. Obama’s own conciliatory nuclear posture, and concrete steps in that direction, his administration has also embarked on a sweeping modernization of the American nuclear arsenal that may cost up to $1 trillion over three decades. It features new factories, refurbished nuclear arms and a new generation of weapon carriers, including bombers, missiles and submarines. The bombers are to carry a new super-stealthy cruise missile meant to slip through enemy air defenses.
It's not a great idea, but it doesn't really affect the MAD balance of power (the way George W. Bush's dreadful decision to abrogate the ABM treaty in 2001 did, maybe the single most damaging US action in US-Russia relations since the end of the Cold War).

More importantly, this story skips a really important step. It wasn't the administration that did the embarking, in 2010, but Congress, and specifically 13 Republican Senators, who forced the modernization on Obama as their bribe for providing the necessary two thirds majority for ratifying the New START Treaty, the most significant step in US nuclear weapons policy in 30 years:

the US Senate's approval of New START in 2010 was conditioned on accelerated funding for modernizing the US nuclear weapons complex and ensuring the modernization of delivery systems. The logic in such a calculation is quite clear: Arsenal reductions must not create an appearance of weakened security.
Well, more like what my professors used to refer to as the "logic set forth" as opposed to "logic in use—the Senators also being very interested in the boondoggle plans for spending what then looked like $355 billion (now it's over a trillion) in their states and to the benefit of their military-industrial complex donors. In any case, it wasn't Obama's idea; he just got stuck with it, and, as politicians with some dignity always do, doesn't bitch about it. Though when Hillary Clinton was reported criticizing the modernization program, in some hacked video made available by the let's-call-them-Russians to the wingnut Washington Free Beacon, the White House didn't rush out to defend it—

Hey, did you know about how Clinton criticized the nuclear modernization program?

 Hillary Clinton expressed doubts about whether the United States should go forward with a trillion-dollar modernization of its nuclear forces at a fund-raiser in February, questioning an Obama administration plan that she has remained largely silent on in public.
Mrs. Clinton also suggested she would be far tougher against foreign nations that hack into American computer networks and would kill one of the Pentagon’s pet projects, a nuclear-tipped cruise missile.
“The last thing we need,” she told the audience, “are sophisticated cruise missiles that are nuclear armed.”
Her comments were contained in an audio recording of the fund-raiser that appeared on the website of The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication, which said it was gleaned from the hack of a campaign staff member. But it said nothing about who did the hacking.
I didn't either. I mean golly, it was the week when she had pneumonia, after all, we had important things on our minds.

No comments:

Post a Comment