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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bloated Nuclear Arsenal

So asserts The New York Times in an editorial in yesterday's edition, updated today.

The problem with reducing the number of nuclear weapons is that as one slides down the scale of nuclear weapons it soon gets to the point where someone might say to them self, the other side doesn't have enough weapons to destroy us and a first strike will cripple part of what they do have, so lets have at them.  When we attacked Japan with nuclear weapons we had three and they had none. Thus, they were impressive.

Today 2,600 is an impressive number because it is large.  Bigger than the Hiroshima bomb, but smaller than some other bombs we have had in our inventory in the past.

Here is where I wonder about the thinking of the author of the Editorial:
A war with Russia is now unthinkable, conventional weapons are increasingly capable, and the main nuclear threat comes from Iran and North Korea.
While a war with Russia might now be unthinkable, I can remember when the phrase meant something different, at least when Professor Herman Kahn (no, not the Pizza guy, running for the Republican Nomination) published On Thermonuclear War—thinking about the unthinkable was confronting what could go wrong.

Here is a recommendation:
Don’t modernize the B61 tactical nuclear bombs in Europe.  No one can imagine that the United States would ever use a nuclear weapon on a European battlefield, and Washington is in discussions with NATO to bring them home to be dismantled.  If the Europeans want to keep them for political reasons, let them pick up the tab.  Savings:  $1.6 billion.
OK, but can we project forward twenty years, say like a period from 1919 to 1939.  If Turkey and Iran team up and decide to make Israel go away, might not Europe think it is a bad thing and offer a nuclear deterrent?  Is this beyond imagination?

What are they thinking in the NYT editorial offices?  They have put a dot on the left side of their blackboard and then drawn a horizontal line to the right edge and said, "Look, no change."  This shows a certain lack of inquisitiveness about the possible futures out there.  This is the kind of thinking they accused President George W Bushing of.

I am sure there is money to be saved, but let us not be penny wise and pound foolish.

Regards  —  Cliff

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