Archive for the ‘Arms Control’ Category


The article Taking disarmament seriously, as with many arms control advocacy pieces, presumes what it sets out to prove.

That doesn’t work for me.  I can’t take disarmament arguments seriously without serious arguments.  Arms controllers tend to be full of “we gotta” while ignoring the “and here’s how we’re gonna” part.

So in the “we gotta” regard, the article attempts to build a sense of crisis regarding nuclear war while attributing the lack of nuclear war to luck, which, sans evidence, is a hard thing to do.  The “we gotta” also always assumes the efficacy of arms control treaties. (more…)


New Nuclear Cuts Must Be Multilateral, Ergo There Will Be No More Cuts

Russia appears to be happy with their place in the nuclear world.

Why is that?  Because they are satisfied with where they think new START will leave them on the strategic side vis-a-vis the U.S. and the rest of the world, and they will also be keeping their massive inventory of tactical nuclear weapons.

At least that’s the conclusion you can draw from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

This first means that Russia can modernize their strategic forces as they see fit.

Next, strategically speaking , it also means they don’t plan to go much lower than new START unless such efforts are done multilaterally (pretty unlikely).

Finally, it also signals that Russia is unwilling to cut their tactical nuclear weapons unless such an effort is done multilaterally, again, pretty unlikely.

I’m always amazed at the appeal to authority thrown down by those advocating the new START.

It’s as predictable as the day is long: appeal to authority.  Then the use of the word “modest” to describe the treaty.  Next, ad hominem attacks on those who would question the wisdom of arms control.  Finally, the attempt to build a false sense of crisis.

How about an appeal to logic?  How about full and robust debate on the strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities of the treaty and same regarding the non-ratification/entry into force of the treaty?

According to the LA Times, if new START is not ratified by the Senate, it will be for three reasons:

  1. Missile defense concerns
  2. Nuclear modernization concerns
  3. Verification concerns

Not mentioned are a few other areas critics bring forward:

  1. Lack of an integrated security effect–Russia’s ten-to-one tactical nuclear weapons are ignored
  2. Lack of effect on nuclear proliferation
  3. Weak or non-effect of a bilateral treaty in a multilateral nuclear world

The second group tends to be glossed over by the arms-control industry.

Foreign Policy has an interesting article that spans much of the spectrum regarding the current nuclear state-of-play.  New START, Nuclear Policy Review, and Proliferation?  Check, check, and check.

The article kicks things off with a short critique of the flick Nuclear Tipping Point which James Traub describes as “an old-fashioned eye-glazer” and features the fab four of arms control (Sam Nunn, William Perry, George Shultz, and Henry Kissinger) “speaking against a black background while portentous kettledrums thump offstage.”

These four are the face of the Nuclear Security Project, “an effort to galvanize global action to reduce urgent nuclear dangers and build support for reducing reliance on nuclear weapons, ultimately ending them as a threat to the world.”

Their web pages asks ‘what if Al Qaeda gets a nuclear weapon?’

The answer: all of our time and efforts on new START have been grossly and pathetically misplaced.

Ah but back to the article.  In time, the issue of bilateral nuclear disarmament as a precondition to the endstate of achieving a world without nuclear weapons is addressed.  The answer, coming from an administration arms-controller: These (that is, unilateral or bilateral disarmament) are propositions that have to be demonstrated.”

Well said.

Non-kudos for the implication that the U.S. has nuclear bombers still on alert. We haven’t had that condition for almost 20 years.

Defense News relays the obvious, which is news because expectation management is being exercised.  The administration doesn’t expect new START to be ratified quickly.

I’d expect U.S. nuclear modernization and perhaps missile defense will become more closely linked to new START ratification. Months ago the administration attempted to sweeten the deal with a proposed plus-up of $5 billion (across five years) largely for the nuclear labs.

The labs are of course essential but it is useful to address the fact they are only a part of the nation’s overall nuclear enterprise.

BTW, just how new START adds to global stability is unclear because the two participating nations, the U.S. and Russia, are…well, pretty stable, at least as far as our nuclear capabilities go.

New START is instead a bilateral team-building exercise and serves as a confirmation of directions that both Russia and the U.S. are intending to take regardless of the actions of the other.  As such, it is perhaps a convenient exercise.

We’re really much less concerned with Russia’s nuclear intentions than those of China and Pakistan (let alone Iran), but those fall into the ‘wicked problem’ category.

If the Senate thought new START would clearly and demonstrably enhance U.S.national security (versus ‘global stability’ per se) wouldn’t they already have taken action on it?

In the olden days, back when Dick Nixon was President, an arms control treaty like START might have been big news.

We’re not in the olden days anymore.

Will PM Putin throw in some eleventh-hour show-stopper designed to make the U.S. look like Elmer Fudd?