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Emmons writes: "The Obama administration has historically insisted that its massive $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program does not represent a return to Cold War-era nuclear rivalry between Russia and the United States."

Are we entering a new arms race with Russia? (photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)
Are we entering a new arms race with Russia? (photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)


Obama's Russian Rationale for $1 Trillion Nuke Plan Signals New Arms Race

By Alex Emmons, The Intercept

23 February 16

 

he Obama administration has historically insisted that its massive $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program does not represent a return to Cold War-era nuclear rivalry between Russia and the United States.

The hugely expensive undertaking, which calls for a slew of new cruise missiles, ICBMs, nuclear submarines, and long-range bombers over the next three decades, has been widely panned by critics as “wasteful,” “unsustainable,” “unaffordable,” and “a fantasy.”

The administration has pointed to aging missile silos, 1950s-era bombers, and other outdated technology to justify the spending, describing the steps as intended to maintain present capabilities going forward — not bulking up to prepare for a future confrontation.

Last year, speaking to NATO allies, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter insisted that “the Cold War playbook … is not suitable for the 21st century.”

But President Obama’s defense budget request for 2017 includes language that makes it clear that nuclear “modernization” really is about Russia after all.

The budget request explicitly cites Russian aggression, saying, “We are countering Russia’s aggressive policies through investments in a broad range of capabilities … [including] our nuclear arsenal.”

In December, Brian McKeon, principle deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, testified before Congress: “We are investing in the technologies that are most relevant to Russia’s provocations … to both deter nuclear attacks and reassure our allies.”

The public acknowledgement that Russia is the impetus for U.S. modernization has critics concerned the Cold War-era superpowers are now engaged in a “modernization” arms race.

“Both Russia and the United States are now officially and publicly using the other side as a justification for nuclear weapons modernization programs,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project, in a statement emailed to The Intercept.

Early in his presidency, Obama was an outspoken advocate of nuclear disarmament. In April 2009, he pledged his commitment “to achieving a nuclear free world,” together with former Russian President Dimitri Medvedev. Later that month, Obama delivered a celebrated speech in Prague, saying he sought “the security of a world without nuclear weapons.” And he negotiated a 2011 nuclear treaty with Russia, which required both countries to reduce their arsenals to 1,550 operational warheads each.

But according to Obama’s advisers, Russia’s invasion of Crimea halted his disarmament efforts. In a 2014 interview with the New York Times, Gary Samore, one of Obama’s top first-term nuclear advisers, said, “The most fundamental game changer is Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. That has made any measure to reduce the stockpile unilaterally politically impossible.”

Former officials have proposed ways of trimming the trillion-dollar budget. In December, former Defense Secretary William Perry called for the Pentagon not to replace its aging ICBMS, arguing that submarines and bombers were enough to deter nuclear threats.

Retired Gen. Eugene Habiger, the former head of U.S. Strategic Command, which overseas the Pentagon’s nuclear weapons, has argued that U.S. nuclear forces have little to no deterrent effect on Russia and China, and that the U.S. can safely reduce its active arsenal to 200-300 weapons.

Last year, in an effort to cut the costs of nuclear modernization, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced a bill that would reduce the number of planned missile-bearing submarines from 14 to eight. The bill, which would save an estimated $4 billion per submarine, was co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Democrat who is now running for president.

When asked about nuclear modernization at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, Hillary Clinton responded, “Yeah, I’ve heard about that, I’m going to look into that, it doesn’t make sense to me.” Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, on the other hand, supported the expense, saying, “Deterrence is a friend to peace.”

Religious groups have also voiced opposition to nuclear modernization. “We were pleased with the president’s statement calling for a world without nuclear weapons,” said Mark Harrison, director of the Peace with Justice program at the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.

David Culp, a legislative representative at the Quaker-affiliated Friends Committee on National Legislation, said, “The increased spending on U.S. nuclear weapons is already provoking similar responses from Russia and China. We are slowly slipping back into another Cold War, but this time on two fronts.”

Contracts are already being signed. In October, the Pentagon awarded Northrop Grumman the contract for the new long-range bomber. The total cost is secret, but expected to exceed $100 billion.

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+10 # PaulK 2016-02-23 16:09
If we drop an atomic bomb on Moscow, and then if we drop a second atomic bomb on Moscow, what happens? We bounce the rubble. Will a third atomic bomb make any difference? No.

How many bombs do we have? Too many.

Will a faster A-bomb delivery system help? No. How about a gold-plated delivery system with platinum tail fins? I don't think so.

If we do nothing, will the Martians win? I don't think so.
 
 
+2 # Nominae 2016-02-24 13:17
Quoting PaulK:
If we drop an atomic bomb on Moscow, and then if we drop a second atomic bomb on Moscow, what happens? We bounce the rubble.


A bit behind on the technology, there.

"Rubble" a vestige of the old H bombs such as we dropped on Hiroshima.

If we hit Moscow even with our outdated ICBS, what you would find is a crater, and nuclear fires as far as we could see from the air in all four directions.

Then, all of that released radiation is carried back on the prevailing winds right around the Globe, and blows back right into our own faces.

If we drop a second or a third, pretty soon all of the crap and debris in the air blots out the sun, and things get seriously cold. Crops, animals and people die. It is called "Nuclear Winter".

Nuclear winter kills more people than do the bombs themselves.

A Nuclear Arsenal is exactly what scientists call it: "M.A.D." - Mutually Assured Destruction.

Not just bouncing rubble.
 
 
0 # lfeuille 2016-02-24 17:38
"If we drop a second or a third, pretty soon all of the crap and debris in the air blots out the sun, and things get seriously cold. Crops, animals and people die. It is called "Nuclear Winter".

Maybe they see it as the solution to global warming.
 
 
+14 # polfrosch 2016-02-23 16:23
After the end of the cold war the USA failed miserably in the face of a unique historical opportunity.

With this failure it proved it was unfit to rule more than it´s own territory. It never left "old thinking"
(a term coined by Gorbachev)

Instead of rising to the occasion and taking bold steps towards the goal of a truly new -democratic- world order - under the rule of law - without nuclear weapons, following the ideals of it´s beginning, the USA made a sinister choice: to become the superwulf among wolves and doves: Hobbes Leviathan.

The miserable neocons even declared this their philosophy. No greatness. Just greed and the lust for power.

Sadly the USA became just another empire - sporting a 19th century brain with nuclear muscles.

And now this. A return to the nuclear arms race. How low...

The US military industrial intelligence complex uses it´s military superiority to invent and point out an enemy at it´s convenience. The US military always fights theatrical wars, turkey shoots.

It´s the leviathan against a racoon, or a dog or a rat. And by deception the Leviathan disguises it´s aggression as self defence.

The USA lost it´s soul. There will be no friends in the future. Only opportunists and bootlickers. Vassals hoping for Brutus.

The emperor has no clothes.

Continue to dance a slow waltz on the Titanic. You are on the biggest ship the earth has seen. But it is sinking.

That´s a long way from the idealistic start of 1776.
 
 
+7 # anarchaos 2016-02-23 18:21
I could not AGREE more, Polfrosch !! Vote for Bernie.
 
 
+3 # tedrey 2016-02-24 03:48
Beautifully stated. And too true.
 
 
+8 # RMDC 2016-02-23 19:24
What a waste of money, waste of life, waste of a nation. Oh well. The US will go bankrupt building and upgrading all of its weapons. Meanwhile, the Russians, Chinese, Indians, Brazillians, and others will go on developing their economies and societies. The US is already a failed state; it is just that no one is saying it yet. The emperor has no clothes.
 
 
+5 # jimallyn 2016-02-24 00:55
I have a better idea: how about dismantling our entire nuclear arsenal?
 
 
+6 # tomtom 2016-02-24 02:47
We all know who gains from the production of weapons. They mount advertising campaigns (fear and loathing) and the world becomes more divided, dailey. We anticipate the obvious, a Trump/Mussolini type threatening others and just as recklessly, pushing the button.
jimallyn: There is only one way to strategically dismantle our nuclear arsenal, and it would have to be coordinated with the other nations with nukes; forget trust, all parties need assurances that their foes don't have them. We need to all be monitored, with representatives from every nation having inspection rights. I see no other workable solution.
 
 
+6 # tedrey 2016-02-24 03:54
And their excuses are so shoddy, so jury-rigged. Obama's "nuclear adviser" claims "The most fundamental game changer is Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. That has made any measure to reduce the stockpile unilaterally politically impossible."

If a coup in Japan had toppled a pro-American government in favor of a Russian oriented one, would the US have politely withdrawn all its troops from Okinawa?

There is no game-changer. The US insists that the deadly game go on and has never considered stopping it. Russia is scared stiff and doesn't want it.
 
 
+5 # indian weaver 2016-02-24 06:56
The reasons are contrived, made up, fake, just like dubya's invasion of Iraq: make up an enemy, keep the war machine paid and profitable. The bigger the war / enemy, the better money for those who produce / service / supply weapons of mass destruction. The entire Ukraine fiasco was created by Obama and blamed on Russia. Disgusting War Criminal is Obama, and really that entire administration - lies, cowardice and evil.
 
 
+1 # reiverpacific 2016-02-24 11:47
This dovetails nicely into the subject matter of the preceding article about Millions of impoverished Americans losing their food Stamps.
Both, abundantly and jointly, show the true priorities of the United States of Armaments and anger, where millions of middle class families are one paycheck or less away from losing their jobs, home and possessions and joining them but refuse to look at the possibility -nor at those already there.
Imaging how many houseless and hungry could be helped by what this stupid, almost suicidal death program will cost the taxpayers?
Probably all, I'd venture to guess.
VERY disappointing from a bloody (in more ways than one) recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize!!!!!
 
 
+2 # Radscal 2016-02-24 15:05
And Obama's latest NeoCon Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter announced he would quadruple US military forces along Russia's border. This after having already built a half dozen new "quick response" military bases in those border countries and deploying tanks, artillery pieces, etc. to them.

HRC is anxious to conquer Russia, finally achieving the NeoCon goal laid out by Jimmy Carter's and Obama's advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski back in the 1990s.
 
 
+1 # lfeuille 2016-02-24 17:43
What the hell was Obama thinking setting us on this course? He has to know that the "Russian Threat" is bullshit. There is no good outcome and it is going to very hard to get people to calm down enough after all the fear mongering so that a future sane president can change course.
 
 
+1 # PABLO DIABLO 2016-02-24 18:54
Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is right down there with Henry Kissinger's. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.
Enormous military buildup = an empire in decline.
Gotta keep the war machine well fed so it can fund politicians who vote for war. I.E. Hillary Clinton.
 

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