About That Nuclear Security Test …

The US Air Force gave its 341st Missile Wing an “unsatisfactory” rating on its most recent round of testing and evaluation. For obvious reasons the details are sketchy, but it’s not the kind of thing you want to hear about an organization that maintains 150 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Here’s an idea: Why not get rid of them? Or if not all of them, most of them?

In 2005, the General Accounting Office reported that even the US Department of Defense doesn’t know how much money it spends maintaining “America’s nuclear deterrent,” but the number is somewhere north of $18 billion per year (source: Nuclear Threat Institute).

If deficit hawks are looking for a place to cut spending, that’s a promising number … and given that the Cold War ended decades ago, it seems like even “defense” hawks should be willing to concede that maintaining such a large nuclear arsenal is financially silly, strategically unnecessary and politically more trouble than it’s worth.

Mutual Assured Destruction is passe for any number of reasons (including the non-state, not easily geographically targeted configuration of most of today’s boogie-men), and how many megatons could it take to destroy the geographically fixed strategic targets of any likely enemies? And on the foreign policy end, it seems just possible that drawing down the US nuclear force might result in a corresponding drawdown of anti-US edginess on the part of other governments.

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2 Responses to About That Nuclear Security Test …

  1. Brian Cantin says:

    Spending on nuclear weapons through the DOD is only part of the issue. The research and development budget for nuclear weapons is buried in the Department of Energy. The current plan is to spend 85 billion dollars via the DOE to upgrade the nuclear weapons stockpile during the next decade. As Robert Higgs has ably demonstrated, the problem with analyzing defense spending is that so much of it is hidden in odd corners of the federal government’s budget.

  2. Brian Cantin has it nailed. It’s corporate America. Government of, by, and FOR corporate interests. That’s FOR especially. They’re willing to outsource the actual hand on the levers – 546 positions – to nominally-non employees. As long as they retain absolute control. As long as those hands know who … what actually, corporations are not ‘who’ … the government is run FOR.

    The ‘nominally-non’ ends with government employ, when – if the hands on the levers have really delivered – the revolving door spins and the formerly non-corporate employees become thoroughly vested.

    The nuclear realm is not as transparent to most of us as is say … the spy business.

    Have a look at who Michael Hayden works for … now. Or to whom Mike Rogers is married.

    You can run down the list of captive ‘regulators’. But, yeah, when we have an American Fukushima … on top of the acquifers destroyed the mother-earth-frackers … yeah, that’ll be ‘serious’.

    For the usual fiteen minutes. It’s all downhill from here.

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