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Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans
for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be
limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI
all over again?
(1830 previous messages)
- 01:14pm Mar 31, 2001 EST (#1831
ARMED TO EXCESS By Bob Kerrey ... NYT ,
OpEd, March 2
President Bush's announcement in his first address to Congress
that it is time to "discard cold war relics and reduce our own
nuclear forces to reflect today's needs" is an important step in the
The risk of a nuclear attack still poses the greatest single
threat to our survival. Implementing steep cuts in global nuclear
arms is essential to our national interest. But since 1991, when the
treaty known as Start I was signed, reductions in Washington's and
Moscow's arsenals of nuclear weapons have been stalled by a
Democratic president who was afraid of the political consequences of
"unilateral" reductions and a Republican Congress that changed
federal law to prevent the president from going below Start I
The result is that our arsenal is well beyond levels needed to
destroy any nation that threatens the United States. We currently
have 7,200 strategic warheads that could be launched against any
potential enemy. Consider this: Just one of our Ohio class Trident
submarines can deliver 192 separate warheads to individual targets
in Russia, each of which is roughly 6 to 30 times as powerful as the
atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima at the end of World War II.
Maintaining excessively high numbers of strategic weapons is not
only costly to American taxpayers, but it forces the Russians to
maintain a strategic and tactical arsenal far beyond what they can
afford to maintain. Russian military leaders have been urging their
political leaders to reduce their arsenal to a thousand warheads or
less for this very reason.
Part of the reason that Congress has not been pressing for steep
reductions is that members of Congress have never seen the actual
missile targeting plans developed by the military in response to
presidential directives. For twelve years in the Senate — eight of
which I served on the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence — I
tried without success to get this briefing. In fact, I was unable to
find a single member of the Senate who had been briefed. Mr. Bush
should order his military commanders to brief members of Congress on
the targeting plans.
I have no doubt that President Bush would gain Republican and
Democratic support if more were known about the details. A map of
Russia that contained thousands of red circles each indicating a
nuclear detonation would convincingly show the extent of the excess
nuclear capability we have.
In addition to reducing the arsenal, Congress must also expand
the Nunn- Lugar cooperative threat reduction program. This program
has provided Russia with roughly $450 million a year to reduce
unneeded nuclear materials in a safe and swift fashion. But the
program has had only wavering support in Congress. That must end.
We should provide substantially more money to help Russia
dismantle nuclear weapons and safely dispose of bomb-grade fissile
materials. President Bush expressed support for this concept during
the campaign. Now it's time to back up that commitment. If he
delivers on an immediate and substantial reduction in the American
nuclear arsenal and pushes to expand the Nunn-Lugar program, he will
have done the nation and the world a great service.
Bob Kerrey, a former United States senator, is president of
New School University.
- 01:18pm Mar 31, 2001 EST (#1832
Lunarchick's right about peace keeping.
And for peace in a stable world that is not too dangerous,
or paralyzed, you need balanced, calibrated, sufficient but not
excessive levels of threat, and defense with respect to threat.
At the animal level, here's a fact.
. People are dangerous animals, but also
capable of helping each other in important ways by complex
Therefore, it pays to be careful, but polite.
Exterimination threats - and nuclear weapons in first strike mode
are just that -- don't make sense for human animals.
Especially because of a biological fact. Quite often, people who
are threatened too much, or injured to much, will fight to the
- 01:22pm Mar 31, 2001 EST (#1833
I think we should outlaw nukes, and that we can do so
effectively, in combination with other states, in ways that increase
the real security of all concerned.
That could only happen, and should only happen, when the people
involved are comfortable with the decision.
That will take a lot of talking, and staff work, and the ability
to check facts in a field where there's been a lot of
deception, misunderstanding, and terror for half a century.
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