A year ago in Prague President Obama confirmed an American "commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." This statement was applauded by many in the U.S. and around the world. Since that time the administration has been working on a Nuclear Posture Review (now overdue and expected within weeks) which many hope will provide insight into the Obama plans for a pathway from the current nuclear posture, to deep reductions in nuclear armaments (through treaties and other means) and to the eventual elimination of this class of weapons.
Paul Ingram on February 15th said, "...when a President gets up and makes a speech that contains within it commitments to a world free of nuclear weapons, proposing a number of initiatives, and looking forward to concrete commitments in the near term, it pays to be hopeful, but not gullible. And we have the first test of this hope in the very near future when the President comes to publish a version of his long awaited Nuclear Posture Review."
Some evidence regarding nuclear posture planning appeared with the budget on February 1st. On February 10th Greg Mello pointed out in a commentary in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that the budget request includes some of the largest increases in the history of warhead spending and will create new capacities that will allow production of new weapons in some years from now.
Martin Senn immediately added the concern that moves by the U.S. to connect theater missile defense systems (TMD) to advanced remote sensor capabilities will create serious strategic vulnerabilities for Russia and China when considering future reductions in numbers of strategic delivery systems.
On February 18th Todd Fine wrote, "...if the President fails to inspire others to adopt his 'vision' and work toward elimination concretely, he may miss a singular opportunity. If CTBT... is not ratified by the [NPT] conference in May, these [weapons complex] budget requests alone may devastate U.S. credibility."
The above are from just four of the ten voices (to date) in an important new debate among disarmament advocates and nuclear policy experts collected on the Defense Strategy Review web page. You can find them all at:
If you think this exchange is a useful contribution to making progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons (or more simply, better national policy) please pass the link along to others who may be interested.
"Defense Budget Resources 2011: Critical Perspectives on the Pentagon Budget and US Military Spending"
A compilation of critical analysis and opinion from 30 analysts and policy centers.
"The Pentagon's Runaway Budget"
Carl Conetta. Foreign Policy in Focus, 03 March 2010.
Following the collapse of Soviet power, America's leaders set more ambitious goals for the U.S. military, despite its smaller size. This entailed requiring the armed services to sustain and extend their continuous global presence, improving their readiness and speed, increasing peacetime engagement activities, and preparing to conduct more types of missions quickly and in more areas. Recent U.S. strategy has looked beyond the traditional goals of defense and deterrence, seeking to use military power to actually prevent the emergence of threats and to "shape" the international environment. U.S. defense planners also elevated the importance of lesser and hypothetical threats, thus requiring the military to prepare for many more lower-probability contingencies.
This article from Time Magazine is substantially taken form PDA's budget work (it does mention the PDA study!):
"In Lean Times, Military Spending Still Gets a Pass"
Mark Thompson. Time Magazine, 24 February 2010.
Let's repeat that: even without a superpower rival like the Soviet Union with its arsenals of nuclear weapons, fleets of tanks and armadas of warships, all manned by 10-foot-tall Red Army troops the U.S. is now spending more preparing for war against, well, who knows, than we spent readying to fight Moscow. And the Obama Administration has made it clear that defense spending is going to continue to increase, even as fiscal pressures for bailouts, health care, infrastructure inexorably mount.
As far as the eye can see, U.S. taxpayers will be spending one-third more to maintain the U.S. military than their parents and grandparents paid for the nation's Cold War force.