Sunday, April 11, 2010

Reason Magazine On The Nuclear Posture Review

I generally agree with the "much ado about nothing" tone of this piece by Reason's Steve Chapman on the just completed Obama Administration Nuclear Posture Review. We covered the NPR on the radio show Wednesday night, but here is a review of my position:

What's To Like:
**It reduces warheads, but not by much
**It leaves our missile defense program untouched
**It is a place to "cooperate" with Russia on something constructive

What's To Dislike:
**Walking away from research and testing is a bigger deal than Chapman supposes; what incentive is there for top physicists to enter this research field anymore? So as the stockpile degrades and obsolesces, so will the brainpower.
**Reduction in warheads and the general administration view of a "nuclear free world" could send a message of weakness to nations who look to us for their nuclear umbrella (Japan, South Korea) that we're not such a reliable partner anymore. This could cause perverse incentives to build their own weapons.

What's Not To Get Too Excited About:
**Obama's repudiation of nucs against a non-nuclear nation, even if they use chem bio on us. First of all, this is like all political promises, breakable, and it would be if necessary. Secondly, more experienced wargamers can take me to task on this--but my sense in the wargaming I've done and read about is that it takes a BUTT TON of doing to get Americans to use Nucs in anything but retaliation for nuclear attacks on our soil. Obama basically has given away a use case we were highly unlikely ever to exercise--and he reaps from it (albeit from his already adoring international fan-base) the concomitant political praise of someone who has greatly compromised on something important.

Crossposted at Information Dissemination

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