Sunday, July 02, 2017

Could Hardliners Egg Trump Into a New Nuclear Arms Race?

Like everyone else, America's militarist hardliners have been taking the measure of their man/baby president and these latter day Dr. Strangeloves see opportunity for the taking.

[A] small but influential group of analysts are suggesting extremist nuclear weapons policy ideas. An example of this is a Pentagon advisory board proposing strategies for the “limited” use of nuclear weapons. Another example is this same group suggesting the development of so-called “mini-nukes.” Further, a cadre of hardliners is pressing this unseasoned, mercurial new administration to resume explosive nuclear testing.

Over these past several decades without explosive nuclear testing, the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories have developed and implemented a robust — and expensive — science-based program that has certified that the U.S. nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable. In fact, laboratory leaders have stated that they have a more fundamental understanding of nuclear weapons than “when we were blowing them up.”

So what could drive the United States to reverse course, abandon 21st century science, and abdicate global diplomatic leadership to resume nuclear testing? Just one thing: an effort to develop wholly new U.S. nuclear weapons. These novel weapons systems would introduce uncertainty into the U.S. arsenal that could lead to an explosive test to provide full confidence.

Many of today’s policymakers have limited memory of the 20th century nuclear arms race — the constant fear and tension, the “duck and cover” drills, the concerns about nuclear fallout. Maybe it seems just a little unbelievable that this history could repeat itself. But in fact, it might be worse. Today, it’s not just Russia and the United States that would embark on dangerous game of one-upmanship, as China, India, Pakistan, and likely others would jump in to develop new and more sophisticated nuclear weapons. Nothing would more effectively throw gasoline on a global nuclear arms race than restarting nuclear testing.

If it is the United States that leads the way to a global nuclear testing breakout, what possible restraint could we influence or enforce upon other nations using diplomatic tools? Any nuclear test would be a highly provocative event inciting a reaction that could quickly spiral out of control. In a 21st century security environment with multiple global “hot spots,” resumption of nuclear explosive testing now might initiate a cycle with the launch of a nuclear warhead as its tragic end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peter Sellers, Monty Python!
We, of a certain age, had all the gifted comedic psychics!!
Sadly those that drove us to think critically are no longer around.
I ask , could we place George Carlin on the list?