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On the heels of a two-day summit meeting of the Group of Eight industrial nations, President Obama stood at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Wednesday and called for reductions in the strategic nuclear weapons of Russia and the United States beyond what is called for in the New START treaty ratified by the Senate in 2010. He set forth no timeline for completion of the reductions of the two arsenals to about 1,000 warheads each.

While various aspects of the administration's foreign policy leave much to be desired, President Obama's continuing push to cut nukes is a bright spot.

The reduction would leave the United States with the highest of three reduced levels of nuclear armament the Pentagon has been reviewing as part of the 2010 Defense Authorization Act. The lowest level considered would have reduced the U.S. arsenal to 300-400 strategic nukes, much closer to the "Global Zero" that Obama has previously endorsed. At the peak, 57 years ago, the United States had 32,000 nuclear warheads. In Berlin, Obama said:

Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons—no matter how distant that dream may be.  And so, as President, I've strengthened our efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and reduced the number and role of America’s nuclear weapons.  Because of the New START Treaty, we’re on track to cut American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s.

But we have more work to do.  So today, I’m announcing additional steps forward.  After a comprehensive review, I’ve determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third.  And I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures.

At the same time, we’ll work with our NATO allies to seek bold reductions in U.S. and Russian tactical weapons in Europe.  And we can forge a new international framework for peaceful nuclear power, and reject the nuclear weaponization that North Korea and Iran may be seeking.

America will host a summit in 2016 to continue our efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world, and we will work to build support in the United States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and call on all nations to begin negotiations on a treaty that ends the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.  These are steps we can take to create a world of peace with justice.

Bringing tactical nukes into the negotiation picture is an important move. Previously, these have been "off the table." By covering non-strategic nuclear weapons, Europeans and Asians who feel threatened by Russian tactical nukes can be brought into the arsenal-reducing process. Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and, presumably, Israel all have many tactical nukes in their comparatively small arsenals.

Expect the usual hyperventilation from the right wing. Another round of depicting the Democrats as weak on defense. Not just weak, but selling us out to the Soviets ... er ... Rooskies and now, of course, the "yellow peril."

Please continue reading below the fold for more analysis of deep cuts in strategic nuclear weapons dating back to Ronald Reagan's presidency.

Anybody who has followed disarmament negotiations since the 1980s when noted peacenik Ronald Reagan first proposed a vast mutual reduction in the U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenal knows that there's a whole bunch of talking to be done before this latest proposed cut will be signed off on if it is.

It's worth remembering that 22 years ago, when START I was finally signed by George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, the United States and the Soviet Union together had about 38,400 strategic warheads loaded or ready-to-be loaded onto 4,700 missiles and bombers. Enough megatonnage to vaporize billions of people, irradiate billions more and freeze the remainder in years of nuclear winter.

The reduction written into the first START treaty that Reagan initiated was, by the way, 80 percent. START II cut that further.

SORT, the Moscow Treaty, signed by George W. Bush and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin in 2003, reduced total warheads by another 50 percent before the end of 2007. In February 2011, SORT was superseded by New START, the treaty signed by Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in 2010. That treaty does the following:

                                                                                             
2010: operationally deployed launchers
(total launchers)
2020: est. operationally deployed launchers
(total launchers)
2020: est. total warheads
UNITED STATES 798 (897) 686 (797) 1,550
RUSSIA 571 (603) 396 (396) 1,258

Last year, when it was announced that the Pentagon was actually looking at three reduction proposals, the lowest one of 300 to 400 warheads, the right went into OMG-we're-all-gonna-die mode.

Critics argued that having only 300 strategic nukes would demolish the U.S. deterrent and encourage other nations to seek to build warheads of their own or expand their existing arsenals so they could be America's equal in that department. As if the thought of having 300 nukes delivered to one's homeland is no deterrent to launching an attack of one's own.

But the 300 figure is a perfectly reasonable placeholder until a means to get to Global Zero can be achieved. In May 2010, Gary Schaub Jr., an assistant professor of strategy at the Air War College, and James Forsyth Jr., a professor of strategy at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times, An Arsenal We Can All Live With:

The Pentagon has now told the public, for the first time, precisely how many nuclear weapons the United States has in its arsenal: 5,113. That is exactly 4,802 more than we need. [...]

This may seem a trifling number compared with the arsenals built up in the cold war, but 311 warheads would provide the equivalent of 1,900 megatons of explosive power, or nine-and-a-half times the amount that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara argued in 1965 could incapacitate the Soviet Union by destroying “one-quarter to one-third of its population and about two-thirds of its industrial capacity.” [...]

The two did not argue for "Global Zero," instead concluding that the United States will always need a nuclear deterrent. That puts all of them in disagreement with Ronald Reagan, who said in Shanghai on April 30, 1984:
"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. And no matter how great the obstacles may seem, we must never stop our efforts to reduce the weapons of war. We must never stop until all—we must never stop at all until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the Earth."
That can't be done overnight, obviously. But it can be done. Nuclear arsenals have been reduced repeatedly over the past several decades. On the watch of two right-wing Republican presidents, they were cut by 80 percent and 50 percent respectively. Any screaming about a 30 percent cut now will make it clear once again just how phony the right's views of national security really are.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It would be a good time to do this... (8+ / 0-)

    and we urgently need to bring other countries into this, including China, as it is not just about the U.S. and Russia anymore.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:19:16 AM PDT

  •  Bravo for working for true reductions (5+ / 0-)

    in nuclear stockpiles.

    I hope that the effort to be made for CTBT ratification will be more than simply "building support".  We need an all out push.  Of course, that will still leave 7 Annex 2 countries necessary to ratify until it comes into force, but, it will move the ball forward.

    With the Decision Points Theater, the George W. Bush Presidential Library becomes the very first Presidential Library to feature a Fiction Section.

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:21:28 AM PDT

  •  A-men! (13+ / 0-)

    As someone who lived in Germany back when Reagan dialed up the rhetoric and the arsenals, I say, it's about damn time.

    Nice to see this particular speech being made in Berlin, the place that gave rise to the Cold War.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:22:30 AM PDT

  •  Caught spying (0+ / 0-)

    So hey libruls, I'll stop fighting PlanB for those who are desperate and need it most.

    So hey PO'd spied on Germans, let's get some of these nukes out of here.

    I know, it would be a good thing, and I am a bad person for saying it like this BUT.......

    I'm going to my room now where I belong, to think about what I used to think about when I was sent to my room, how much I hate popcorn ceilings :)

  •  ... you are such a good reporter/journalist, MB (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marsanges, Matt Z, gramofsam1, willyr

    to write this piece out that fast ... I never fail to admire it.

  •  but is he calling for an end (0+ / 0-)

    of massive spying on all our friends and allies?   That nice speech he gave about freedom.  He might as well have said unless I don't think you deserve it.  

  •  I hope the world takes this seriously (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MyMy

    so that spying is less necessary.

    My belief is that the need for spying in any society by a government is going to be pretty much directly proportional to the level of damage a society's citizens demand of its weapons, from guns to nukes.

    If America wants less spying, then American citizens need to become less dangerous. They need to make themselves less of a threat to their fellow man.

    Otherwise, I want the government spying on Americans, because I already know Americans can't be trusted with their dangerous toys.

    I don't think Americans have anyone to blame but themselves for the necessity of spying on their crazy violent asses.

  •  thanks for the diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:48:52 AM PDT

  •  Just another example of why I love this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    president.  N/t

    Best. President. Ever.

    by Little Lulu on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:50:31 AM PDT

  •  They Serve Little Purpose (0+ / 0-)

    Anyone using a nuke at this point is not going to survive.

    "Look here," he was yelling. "Look here, the bunglers—"

    by The Lone Apple on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:59:17 AM PDT

  •  This is one of the president's pet causes. (5+ / 0-)

    He worked on nuclear nonproliferation as a senator, and it's good to see him continue along this road.

  •  good news (4+ / 0-)

    best hopes for getting it down to zero, domestically and globally.

    •  You can't really go to zero. (0+ / 0-)

      The whole framework is based on mutually assured destruction, and then maximizing safety given that constraint. It would take a major shift in thinking to disassemble all bombs.

      •  yes, yes it would (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades

        that is what i am hoping for. major shifts in thinking happen rather frequently, historically. in many ways, we have already moved a long, long way from the strategic paradigm of the cold war, in both military tech and broader geopolitical terms. dropping nuclear MAD from the mix would be part of an ongoing shift, not the first departure from an unchallenged strategic paradigm.

        if anything, there are good strategic reasons for great geopolitical powers to push total nuclear disarmament, since nuclear capability allows weak states disproportionately greater deterrent power than if things were limited to conventional military power. great powers have huge conventional military, infowar, economic and cultural (ie. "soft") power advantages, without the ability to vaporize the world many times over.

      •  Nah, the US wanted "Assured Destruction,"... (0+ / 0-)

        which is why people thought that US policies in the late 20th century were bad because they were destabilizing MAD.

        -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

        by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:37:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know if it's feasible (0+ / 0-)

        Since we don't live in a perfect world.

        Country A always be afraid that Country B or Country C had squirreled a few away and would want to hang on to few of their own as an insurance policy.

        If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

        by Major Kong on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 07:20:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Mutually Assured Destruction is MAD. (0+ / 0-)
        The whole framework is based on mutually assured destruction, and then maximizing safety given that constraint. It would take a major shift in thinking to disassemble all bombs.
        And yes, a major shift in thinking in indeed necessary, and has been necessary for a long time.

        For swords into plowshares, the hammer has to fall.

        Stop the NRA and the NSA
        Repeal the Patriot Act and the 2nd Amendment

        by dream weaver on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 04:24:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  it's long past the time to simply ban nukes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, dream weaver

    They are nothing but weapons of mass terror. They have no military utility whatever. And no one has any legitimate need for them.

    •  Agreed. But "simply" banning them will... (5+ / 0-)

      ...never happen. This whittling down is happening and will, I am certain, get us to zero, perhaps even in what's left of my lifetime.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:00:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the sticking point to a total ban, I think, will (0+ / 0-)

        come over the question of banning the technology used to make them. If we don't do that, then too many nations will want to keep "some" nukes "just in case" X Y or Z builds a few illegally.

        Me, I got no problem with banning nuclear technology completely--"peaceful" nuclear power has been nothing but a big expensive fraud anyway.

        Some will have heart attacks over it, though.

        •  nuclear power is problematic for many reasons (0+ / 0-)

          but not because it doesn't work. The whole energy industry is messed up with direct and indirect subsidies and ignored externalities. Burning coal in a normally operating power plant puts out more radiation than nuclear plants, and current and future nuclear plant designs are and can be safer.

          -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

          by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:41:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've been anti-nuke since the mid 70's (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JPax, Meteor Blades

            (I lived in Pennsylvania not far from TMI in 1979).

            Of all the reasons I opposed them back then (nowhere to store the waste, nuke proliferation, built in some really stupid places, accidents may be rare but just one can ruin your whole state) none have been solved yet.

            But alas, much as I would like to claim that it was the environmental movement that killed the nuclear power industry, it was not.  It was pure simple economics that killed it.  Instead of being cheap cheap cheap, it was horribly expensive, could not survive without subsidies and insurance guarantees, and even then simply could not compete with coal or, today, natural gas.

            •  I agree with those issues, but (0+ / 0-)

              coal and petroleum have their own issues as bad or worse than nuclear. And there are plausible solutions to some of the nuclear problems. New designs can actually burn the used fuel and some of them, such as LFTR, don't leave solid waste behind in the same way. We need to spend more money, but I'm okay with government spending money on nuclear because I feel that the threat from global warming is worse in severity and scope than any threat from a well designed and safely operated nuclear plant.

              -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

              by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:23:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  They could be essential at deflecting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JPax

      an incoming meteor. Many of the ideas on how to deal with that involve the use of nuclear weapons.

    •  lol, it's not like we never used them in no war... (0+ / 0-)

      Of course it has military utility. Blowing shit up is militarily useful. We may not like the side-effects, but it does what it says on the tin.

      -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

      by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:39:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no, they have no military utility (0+ / 0-)

        They are simply anti-civilian weapons that serve as a threat against the use of the other side's anti-civilian weapons.  Blowing up cities simply isn't militarily useful.

        That's why the US military has already phased them out.  The US did try to turn small nukes into ground-penetrating bunker-busters and such, but they're not very useful for that either.

        That's why everyone is so willing now to give them up. No weapon system is ever negotiated away unless it has already outlived its usefulness.

        •  You're confusing correlation for causation. (0+ / 0-)

          These weapons don't have to kill civilians, although a lot of militarily useful infrastructure is near civilians. Not all military installations are hardened against blast over-pressures. Airbases structures and nearby aircraft, sea base buildings and nearby ships, weapons depots, construction facilities, power plants, nuclear missile silos, massing troops. It's not as useful against troops in the field that are ready for it.

          I agree that the B61-Mod11 isn't ideal for busting bunkers. I recommended the conversion of an artillery round into the BLU-118 bunker buster casing (that was originally created out of surplus artillery tubes). If the device could survive being shot out of a barrel, it could probably be made to survive crashing a couple hundred feet into earth inside one.

          -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

          by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:37:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Technically we don't target cities (0+ / 0-)

          I used to sit alert with these things.

          We had legitimate military targets. Unfortunately many of them were located in or near major population centers.

          Some of the targets were very "hardened" and required an almost direct hit with a large warhead to take out.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 07:24:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  If you can destroy Moscow (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lost and Found, Icicle68

    or any other city with one nuke, why do we need 5000?Besides,it's costing us 35 billion dollars a year just to maintain this stockpile.

    •  Counter-force targets... (0+ / 0-)

      If you want to take out military targets for whatever reason (salve your own conscience, or letting the other guy bomb cities first to make him look bad - Game Theory). Missiles fail or can be intercepted, so they need extras. Aircraft need to be refueled, so they target refueling bases and airborne tanker bases and likely flight routes to catch them in the air, and perhaps nuclear weapons storage locations. And this is for an Emergency Nuclear War.

      If the war goes into over-time, then you may see secondary targets being attacked, like conventional military bases and industrial infrastructure (like bridges across the Mississippi) and even population centers. This would be to prevent the other country from invading with troops to take over the damaged country. Of course, it might not be the attacker that would try to sneak in and take control, so the war planners may want to take out the militaries of allied countries or even non-aligned countries to make sure no one has an advantage.

      So, you need nukes for all those targets, plus about 20% extra for the ones that fail for some reason, then you may want to keep a few on hand as deterrence or response against later invasion after the nuclear attack.

      Yeah, I don't like the world having that many nukes, but there are reasons why they did have them (aside from the MIC make-work programs to prevent brain-drain and to force other countries into bankruptcy by trying to keep up).

      -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

      by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:53:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  um, the Cold War ended a quarter century ago (0+ / 0-)

        Do try and keep up.

        •  militaries gauge threats by capability, not intent (0+ / 0-)

          No need for snark, I'm merely pointing out reality.

          It doesn't matter if Putin wants to be our bestest buddy and friends-forever. The ability to launch a massive or even limited nuclear attack means that military planners will want to be prepared for it.

          Do you think that the US conventional force would deter a nuclear attack from one of the other countries that has nukes?

          -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

          by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:43:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If the war (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades

        goes into overtime? Seriously? This is nuclear war we're talking about, not some football game. Despite your military theory rhetoric, you're basically saying we should have enough nukes to destroy the world as we know it.And trust me, no military leader with half a brain is going to send his armies into an area that has just been nuked. That's what you would call suicide in slow motion.

      •  This idea that a nuclear war can be "fought"... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        catilinus

        ...looks great when the colonels and generals are gaming. In reality, a few hours is all there would be with a full-bore attack and counter-attack. If Russia (or the U.S.) were to launch 500 missiles, the return salvo would be hitting as many soft targets as possible, with decapitation being a primary goal and maiming the remainder. Hit 50 cities with a 5x-10x Hiroshima nuke or two each and the struck nation is kaput. So the first-striker is going to go for both hard targets to hurt the counter-strike capability and soft targets.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:16:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I hope Putin can rise up to the greatness he (0+ / 0-)

    is capable of:  the Russian leader can give hope to the world for an end to nuclear weopons.  Obama is such a rock star he needs now to be very low key in every detail of his presentation with exceptions as he sees fit.  Others want to be part of the greater good in a significant way.  The people of Brazil and Turkey seek redress of grievance.  And the Iranians have a cool chance of shifing, but don't count on it they have more moves than a master chess player.  I still don't know what is the chasm between Shia and Sunni, I have studied but I think it is a succession problem from who is related to the Prophet (May Peace Be Upon Him).  Can thes old deep wounds be broght to the table to be cared for or shall they stay open and hurting in every generation.  

    Children of Abraham Lay Down Your Arms:
    A Triptich of Faith For Love, Justice and Mercy

  •  All I Can Say Is… (0+ / 0-)

    …Ronald Regan would have approved.

    Just about the only thing I liked about him was his efforts to cut the nukes.

  •  this is why he won the nobel prize (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeff Simpson

    criticism of his foreign and "security" policies are mostly well-deserved, but when people say his nobel should be rescinded, they need to understand why it was awarded.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:06:49 PM PDT

  •  Watch Republicans get their knickers in a wad! (0+ / 0-)
  •  This is a bit of good news... (0+ / 0-)

    And there's no reason to keep these large stockpiles of nukes, the future of war is cyber-warfare, drones and other hi-tech systems. Not in nukes which destroy--or render uninhabitable-- the most valuable thing of all, property.

    I hope Putin is supportive of this effort. He's looking angry, and cagey and decidedly hostile these days. And that's saying something for him.

  •  50 years ago this month, JFK started this off (0+ / 0-)

    with his speech at American University, a first step toward avoiding the nuclear nightmare that most of us has lived with our entire
    lives. Up until then, it seemed that nuclear war was inevitable.

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:24:36 PM PDT

    •  That day JFK said: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades
      I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war--and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

      Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

      by willyr on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:34:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good news, but I disagree on multiple counts. (0+ / 0-)

    I think reducing nuclear weapons is a good idea. However, I'm not sure about Global Zero, because nuclear devices may be useful for planetary defense against asteroids or comets, which physics has shown might be useful depending on composition. Nuclear devices may also be useful for spacecraft propulsion beyond earth. Moreover, we can't un-invent nuclear technology, the genie is already out of the bottle and basic nuclear weapons or advanced radiological dispersal devices can be secretly built by any nation or group that can acquire fissile or fissionable material, so a nuclear deterrent will always be needed.

    Additionally, we'd have to see what the treaty counts and how it's counted. According to the last treaty, certain types of weapons were counted singly and others were counted by delivery system, such that a B-52 counted as 1 despite being able to carry multiple nuclear armed ALCMs or gravity bombs.

    -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

    by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 04:33:39 PM PDT

    •  "any ... GROUP that can acquire fissile (0+ / 0-)

      or fissionable material" is not deterrable.

      As for counts, both delivery systems AND total warheads are part of that.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:20:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  300 nukes not enough. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JPax

    " As if the thought of having 300 nukes delivered to one's homeland is no deterrent to launching an attack of one's own."

    I am pro nuclear arms reduction but 300 is a small number and would no longer have the desired impact.  

    With a well planned preemptive attack and a bit of luck. A small nation with say only 30 could wipe out our nuclear capabilities if we had  only 300.

    As a small example situation. China could than theoretically nuke the shit out of us and we would have no way to defend ourselves.

    That would destroy the MAD paradigm.  

    •  But it's "deployed" and may not include weapons (0+ / 0-)

      that can be made ready for use on short notice. That distinction between deployed and deployable and stockpiled. And some weapons platforms can carry more than one warhead/bomb and fly multiple missions. That would mean that a nuclear war could still happen, but it would be protracted since it would take time to re-arm and deploy those weapons instead of launching everything at once.

      -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

      by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:48:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  After (0+ / 0-)

        A first strike, for the most part the weapons are considered to become undependable.

        The idea of MAD is even if one side takes the first strike, the other side has enough weapons ready to at least launch a devastating counter attack.  A weapon system which is less dependable plays a much less significant role in those calculations.

        The pure havoc of a nuclear war I imagine would prevent it from becoming protracted. After both sides first strikes have landed I imagine that most command and control capabilities are assumed to be zero.

        300 nukes apparently is not enough, otherwise I imagine Obama would have suggested something closer.

        •  Due you mean because of EMP damage? (0+ / 0-)

          Faraday cages could protect them somewhat. B61 gravity bombs can be loaded onto most attack aircraft. If the attack comes after rising tensions, there are many things that could be done to protect them against direct strike, such as dispersing to multiple bases or secret storage locations ordeploying them to non-strategic assets, such as putting them in stores on aircraft carriers and tomahawks for attack subs, or loading them into cargo planes that orbit out at sea until the first waves of attack are concluded.

          Whether C&C is destroyed may depend on whether the attacker wants to mitigate the war by leaving someone to treat with or whether they will expect whoever is left in the chain of command to be incapable of ordering a retaliatory strike.

          BTW, my understanding is that Mutually Assured Destruction is a myth, a description by arms reduction enthusiasts for a condition that never existed. My understanding is that the US military wanted Assured Destruction, with nothing mutual about it. That's why they kept wanting weapons systems that MAD promoters thought would destabilize MAD... because MAD was not their actual policy.

          -We need Healthcare Reform... but i'm selfish, I Need Healthcare reform-

          by JPax on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 07:21:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No I mean due to direct targeting (0+ / 0-)

            We have some secret locations, and our boomers (nuclear subs that can launch nukes) but for the most part other nations know the relative locations of much of our arsenal.

            They are DIRECTLY targeted in a first strike from a hostile nation.

            You cant launch a ICBM if the launch pad just had a nuke dropped on it.

            Nukes can not nor should thay be able to be launched without a good command and control system.

            And as far as MAD goes

            "
            Whether MAD was the officially accepted doctrine of the United States military during the Cold War is largely a matter of interpretation. The United States Air Force, for example, has retrospectively contended that it never advocated MAD as a sole strategy, and that this form of deterrence was seen as one of numerous options in U.S. nuclear policy.[4] Former officers have emphasized that they never felt as limited by the logic of MAD (and were prepared to use nuclear weapons in smaller scale situations than "Assured Destruction" allowed), and did not deliberately target civilian cities (though they acknowledge that the result of a "purely military" attack would certainly devastate the cities as well). MAD was implied in several U.S. policies and used in the political rhetoric of leaders in both the U.S. and the USSR during many periods of the Cold War."

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            It was more or less real.

    •  Not likely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades

      They wouldn't be able to take out the ballistic missile submarines, any one of which could launch a devastating counterattack.

      Since you brought up China, they maintain a deployed force of roughly two dozen nuclear missiles. Just enough to keep us from using our nukes.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 07:28:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right now. (0+ / 0-)

        How long do you think think their low count is going to remain in place?

        The Chinese military would gladly take that opportunity.

        •  Why would they (0+ / 0-)

          They don't want to spend the money. Their nuclear doctrine is to maintain the "minimum credible deterrence".

          There's absolutely nothing stopping them from building more now if they wanted to. They have no treaty with us limiting their maximum number of warheads.

          They've just realized that nukes are really only good for keeping the other guy from using his.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Fri Jun 21, 2013 at 03:30:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They are building more now (0+ / 0-)

            They are building and increase research nuclear armaments.

            I have no idea where you got the idea that the Chinese are not  building out their nuclear arsenal.

            That is simply the exact opposite of what is happening.

    •  Ballistic missile submarines are extremely... (0+ / 0-)

      ...hard targets to take out.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:23:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not impossible (0+ / 0-)

        But considering one holds at most say around 20 nukes. and we've got say around 15.

        You are either going to have NO land based nukes or the capabilities of the boomers is going to be significantly reduced.

        •  Actually, each Ohio-class submarine carries... (0+ / 0-)

          ...24 Trident II missiles. Each of these missiles has a range of 7,500 miles and can be equipped with up to eight multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles for a possible total on one ship of 192 warheads. Reconfigurations mean some of the missile tubes have been converted to launch single warhead cruise missiles instead.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 10:15:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Forgive me for using the easy (0+ / 0-)

            estimate of 1  missile = 1 weapon.  But as you specify with so many living in single targets reducing that number to a paltry 300 would increase the "luck"  factor to likely an unreasonable level.

            You say you can fit 192 to per ship. Under the 300 count situation the military would obviously like to spread them around so as to not "put all their eggs in one basket" .

            But under the unlucky situation where hostiles hit one which is half full at around 100 missles, that would take out 1/3rd or load out.

            Having a single point of failure with that large a % effect would be scary as shit.

            Plus the fact that everyone and the world knows where our ships get loaded and unloaded only adds to that level.  All they would have to do is pop a ship or two at dock and easily 40% of our systems would be taken out.

            300 is fine if all you need is first strike capability. It fails completely on the retaliatory aspect.

  •  Point of information (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    Britain has no tactical nuclear weapons left. It has less than 200 strategic warheads stockpiled for its only nuclear weapons delivery system, the Trident missiles on its V-class SSBNs. Normally only one sub is on patrol at any given time, the others being in refit or working up on training exercises. Each sub carries up to 16 missiles although they usually have less than a full complement on board, and never carry more than 48 warheads. Each warhead has a maximum yield of about 100kT.

  •  I'll cut down my drinking from 3 cases a night (0+ / 0-)

    to just 2 1/2  cases of beer.

    "It's no measure of health being well adjusted to a profoundly sick society"

    by buckshot face on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:38:01 PM PDT

  •  The Berlin Wall (0+ / 0-)

    Te blazing sun and  over a half million cheering Germans can't stop PresidentvObama from giving a great speech nearly 50 years after JFK gave his speech in front of the Wall.

  •  More Oblah blah. (0+ / 0-)

    Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England as shall never be put out.

    by Bollox Ref on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:56:58 PM PDT

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