Obama and Medvedev signed a new START treaty which would codify modest warhead reductions as well as an inspection regime for said reductions.

This is good stuff, and this report in foreign affairs nicely concludes that there is no danger in doing so: both countries can still wreck things for the human race even after the reductions are done.

I just want to make small point which is my stock nuclear deterrence point. Why do we care so much what Russia does? We’re always trying to play chicken-shit games with Russia about who is going to reduce by how much and who gets to verify. Then there’s a big deal if one country does a little more than the other or vice versa. But really, we should want less nuclear weapons even if Russia wants to keep theirs. The reason is that a lot of land based nuclear weapons are kind of worthless and probably risky to have around.

Really what we want is keep a solid amount of nukes (enough to destroy the world of course) based on submarines. Submarines are the most survivable nuclear platform in that they are (nearly, probably completely) invulnerable to a first strike. In other words, subs, no matter what a potential enemy does, will be around after the bombs have fallen and can retaliate as we see fit. Since a deterrent is mostly (exclusively?) about the reliability of the second strike, our deterrent would be unaffected. We could get rid of a bunch of expensive nukes and their silos and if the Russians didn’t want to follow than that’s their problem, because more missiles can’t help them against ballistic missile submarines.

One problem might be that if we didn’t have every possible nuke at our disposal, we couldn’t mount a first strike, but I really hope that is not on anyone’ s policy radar, come what may. Also, if we had to first strike, again, subs could get very close to Russia making warning time very small. Unless of course Russia also has ballistic missile submarines…which they do. So, everyone wins if we could stop buying useless things to feedthe military industrial complex.

Don’t get me wrong, I think our military should have the best weapons are our disposal, but I don’t think it’s helpful to keep unhelpful weapons lying around and to simultaneously NOT make our weapons more dangerous and survivable.


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