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December 09, 2010

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I find it somewhat less than comforting thinking of this Lameduck Senate authorizing the START Treaty after listening to the $8B "pork" renamed "earmarks" included in the Tax extension bill. Both Republicans and Democrats contributed to the irresponsible behavior once again thumbing their noses at the voters. If ever there was a case to be made for just closing down after the election then this Senate has made a clear case for the proponents.

Harrycat; Just a thought since you are an independent: why do you assume that Republicans are automatically just trying to counter everything? I thought Bill did a pretty good job of explaining why Senator Kyle has questions that need answered. One thing that is apparent with this White House is that they are very difficult to get information out of when you question them. And, even worse when blocked by the opposition or the people they simply manipulate around the Congress and the courts to implement their programs. It is not too much for Kyle to ask that he be given clarification of the treaty constraints and details.
Having spent a significant part of my life engaged in or discussing Strategic Nuclear systems and their role in the world power struggles with many of the strategic thinkers in DOD, I am pretty much in support of any treaty that allows verification, reduces the nuclear weapons count to something rational and permits the US to detect and intercept accidental or rogue firings of a nuclear weapon against us or our allies. There is nothing manmade on earth like the devastation of nuclear weapons. They combine the environmental pollution of volcano erruptions and asteroid hits with the brute force of tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes. A 5 kiloton weapon of WWII is nothing compared to today's weapons megaton's in size. As a child in Nevada I woke several times to see the flash of the tests conducted at the Flats nearly 100 miles away. Just seeing the light on my bedroom walls was enough of a memory for me to recognize the power of that weapon. And when I later worked on targeting them, analyzing their killing patterns, basing options, and the trivial way they were discussed in Assurred Destruction scenarios it was always on my mind what devastation we were developing. Then, when we used damage limiting scenarios in which the USSR and the USA exchanged 1000's of weapons in theoretical first strikes on our computers I knew that the DOD on both sides had progressed beyond anything reasonable and that over the 40 years we deployed those systems we spent hundreds of billions of dollars that neither side should have based on some idiotic rationale that we needed to win a race of some kind. Reminded me of the futility of the "body count" race we waged in the press in Vietnam days. And, ironically, this same "counting" mindset still goes on as they try to wind down the absurd stockpiles they built. At one point there were more than 100,000 nuclear weapons between the USSR and the USA. Noting that tactical weapons are not in this treaty combined with the difficult time we have dealing with the muclear waste as we wind down I would guess there are still a mindless number of weapons in inventory.
i remember authoring a study in which we developed and proposed that the USSr and USA could actually employ a strategy of structured deterrence in which we would escalate slowly from a coventional engagement, like we just witnessed North an South Korea have, into a conventional battle, on into a tactical nuclear exchange assumed to be triggered by the losing side and then on to a massive strategic exchange. The idea behind this propsoed strategy was that we could get an agreement with the USSR to allow cooling off periods at each level avoiding the knee jerk response of going from an exchange, perhaps accidentally initiated or intentioally initiated by a third party (China) immediately to all out nuclear war. Nuclear war is not as simple as most people think and it is not easily understood. Strategic interations are very complex and very scary as the Cuban missile crisis demostrated. With all these new players and their rogue dictators and generals interacting with terrorists it is important that our thinkers clearly understand their options and the impact of treaties on our behavior in times of crisis. In nuclear war there is not a 4 year window to land at Normandy or return to Manilla Bay.
The intent of all this is to simply support Bill's message that these treaties always need to be well thought out and examined in depth. I, for one, was not exactly comfortable with our immediate response to come to South Korea's defense after what appeared to be a skirmish killing a few people. One nuclear exchange on our troops on the border even if they had to drag it there by a truck would have cost us many thousands of soldiers. One exchange on Soul and South Korea would be hard pressed to exist. And, what is China's role in such a scenario when we rush in? So let's let them go slow. Best, Bill

Harry: I am sorry that I was not clear about START. The administration has not provided the Senate with the diplomatic exchanges which resulted in Medvedev saying that the offensive treaty was tied to restricting our deployment of a defensive system while Obama said the opposite - that there were no restrictions. Some of what you call irresponsible Republicans would like to be sure that we can deploy systems to defend ourselves and our allies against Iran, North Korea, or others. Not a minor point. Sorry if I was not clear.

I am at a loss to find anything responsible about Reps positions on START and DADT. Both bills are widely accepted by members of the House and Senate and by a clear majority of Americans. Both are a recognition that times have changed and our defense and society need to change to fit the current situation. And yet Reps are digging in their heels against the currents of history. Yes, Reps have done well lately, but refusing to accept the new reality will be very damaging the Conservative cause (this assumes that Reps are Conservative at heart, or could this be only about depriving Obama of a victory)

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