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Excerpt: "Did House Republicans somehow miss the end of the cold war? The House has approved a defense authorization bill for 2013 that threatens to ... waste billions of dollars on unnecessary purchases and programs."

The US Capitol building in Washington. (photo: EPA)
The US Capitol building in Washington. (photo: EPA)

Nuclear Time Warp

By The New York Times | Editorial

11 June 12


id House Republicans somehow miss the end of the cold war? At a time when, for the sake of both security and fiscal responsibility, the country should be reducing its nuclear arsenal, the House has approved a defense authorization bill for 2013 that threatens to freeze the number of weapons at current levels and, over time, waste billions of dollars on unnecessary purchases and programs.

Thankfully, the bill isn't likely to become law. But it is worth taking a closer look, both for what it says about Republicans' misplaced strategic priorities - and about how far President Obama has already gone to appease them.

The United States and Russia each have more than 1,500 nuclear weapons deployed and many thousands more as backup or awaiting dismantlement. Gen. James Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of nuclear forces, recently said that deterrence could be guaranteed with 900 warheads, with only half deployed at any time.

If the United States fails to keep pushing for even deeper cuts - or raises any doubts about its current commitments - it will have an even harder time rallying global pressure to contain the nuclear ambitions of Iran, North Korea and others. Remember George W. Bush's contempt for treaties?

At $642 billion, the House Pentagon authorization is $4 billion above President Obama's request and $8 billion above the 2011 Budget Control Act agreement that the Republicans demanded and are now trying to overturn. More than $1 billion of that increase is nuclear-related. Here are some of the worst parts of the bill:

  • The 2010 New Start pact commits Washington and Moscow to cut their deployed strategic weapons from 2,200 to 1,550 by 2018. One provision in the bill would halt reductions if the president, or any successor, failed to meet Mr. Obama's promise to spend $88 billion to upgrade the nuclear labs and $125 billion over 10 years to replace aging bombers, submarines and land-based missiles. Mr. Obama made those overly generous commitments to win ratification of New Start. Most outrageously, the bill says the country can't keep reducing weapons if the defense cuts in the Budget Control Act are not overturned.

  • The bill would bar reduction, consolidation or withdrawal of tactical weapons in Europe - we can't imagine a more unnecessary weapon - unless several onerous conditions are met. It mandates a report on possibly reintroducing tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.

  • It contains $160 million to build a new plutonium plant in New Mexico to make new cores for weapons. The Energy Department has said its needs can be met for now with existing facilities. The projected cost has ballooned to nearly $6 billion. It adds nearly $500 million next year to develop a ballistic missile submarine that the administration wants to delay and we believe is unnecessary.

The White House has threatened to veto the authorization unless the worst provisions are deleted. The Senate bill has only made it through committee, but it has some troubling aspects, including keeping the plutonium plant project alive.

General Cartwright is only the latest heavyweight to endorse significant nuclear reductions. Former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Senator Chuck Hagel joined him in a report by Global Zero, a policy group urging major changes, including the 900 target. Separately, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, George Shultz and Sam Nunn have endorsed the eventual goal of a world without nuclear weapons. So has President Obama.

The president needs to leverage that support to argue the case for much deeper cuts and push back against members of Congress who - incredibly - still haven't gotten beyond their cold war obsessions. your social media marketing partner


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+30 # indian weaver 2012-06-11 17:18
Let's stop trying to deceive everyone, including ourselves. All this is your standard fascist government waging war for personal enrichment and pocketing my money. All of this is about funding (read: enriching) buddies, family, friends, co-workers, lobbyists etc. in the revolving doors of wars and the war machine's producers of weapons of mass destruction, comprised of laughable wars waged worldwide as the washing machines for billions laundered into private pockets. That is the only "legitimate" justification for gutting and despoiling the nation's real needs at home, while enriching the killers, torturers and mass murderers getting (not earning) their paychecks from the U.S. government. They earn their paychecks with death, maiming, burning off skin of innocent victims, dismemberment, defacement, horror unspeakable. Any other discussion is a waste of breath and self deception. Got it?
+20 # paulrevere 2012-06-11 21:52
`Whew! Spank 'em!!

got my attention...I could not have said it better...the inmates are running the asylum.
+3 # John Locke 2012-06-12 10:19
Yes, and don't think for one moment Obama will really veto this bill...This as you have succinctly stated is how the 1% get their wealth and the rest of us are reduced to serfs
+7 # angelfish 2012-06-11 23:00
We already have enough Fire-Power to DESTROY the World several times over! WHY do we need to waste ANY more money on Munitions and the Military? This is Madness! Washington, Get a GRIP! There are other, more NEEDFUL things that need to be addressed! HELP the PEOPLE!
+3 # John Locke 2012-06-12 10:22
angelfish: because war is very profitable for the 1%, it's the 99% that get hurt for fighting an illusionary enemy...The US Must have an enemy to unite us to fight their wars,,, when enough realize its a "Game of Thrones" it will stop, but not before...
-3 # MidwestTom 2012-06-12 06:14
So, what new?
+2 # MidwestTom 2012-06-12 06:19
The only reason our dollar has value is the strength of our military. We hardly make anything to sell to rest of the world. Take away the military and we are a basket case. I agree that there is a lot waste. Especially when the military does not want something, like the Osprey, but Congress keeps forcing it on them.
+3 # John Locke 2012-06-12 10:27
MidwestTom: If you were on the take as most of the members of congress are, you would also do what you were told...there are multiples of billions involved and hundreds of millions are used to pay back congress through campaign contributions.. .sounds like Rome and all democracies before they collapse...look s as if we are getting close! I would bet we as a democracy (the little that remains) have less then 50 years left!!!
+1 # Majikman 2012-06-12 21:56
Each state has a piece of the MIC pie...whether it be manufacturing, bases, research, etc. Congress cannot cut the budget to give up "his/her" state's piece of that pie.
It's like being handcuffed to your worst enemy and being thrown 's in your best interest to try to save your enemy.
+2 # Bodiotoo 2012-06-12 07:26
+3 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-06-12 07:45
Time Warp: yes. Brain Warp: severely & unmistakably.
+1 # John Escher 2012-06-12 10:04
But telling these people how dumb they are won't work. Whoops-- is that true? Have we told these people how dumb they are? Or are we just telling ourselves how dumb they are? Do we reach them with dispassionate messages containing inescapable logic? Do we laugh at them, publicly, and enough? Despite what many people think, laughter indeed was effective against the inflexible ones W. Bush, Rumsfeld, Chaney. Stocks e.g. at Halliburton, Inc. have been at an all-time low. How about a multi-faceted approach in bringing American warmongers down? How about some new protest songs?
+2 # jwb110 2012-06-12 11:59
This is what corporate/milit ary dictatorships look like. Why is this some sort of surprise.
This ia a reminder to VOTE in the next election!

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