As we enter a new week, I don’t want to take away too much from attempting to finish the Corporate taxes conversations because I haven’t gotten much of a response from the left yet, and I figure that will happen more today. But I do want to have a new topic, and thus wanted to address something that wasn’t too massive a topic to handle at the same time. This weekend has flown by for me, with a lot of yard work with Mrs. Weapon, which was nice. Added to that was some good time spent out on Saturday, hitting the farmers market here, and while there having a fried catfish sandwich at the North Carolina Seafood market. I must tell you it doesn’t get much better than that. Overall I have had a very busy, but awesome weekend with Mrs. Weapon, something that doesn’t get to happen too often (I usually work the weekends). Add in some time with legendary couch slayer, Canine Weapon, and the weekend was complete. But when I had time, I read up on the START II treaty negotiations and found myself thinking, “who cares?”
Last week during the open mic, D13 offered a quick note about the new nuclear arms treaty that President Obama and Russian President Medvedev signed. The good colonel was seeking thoughts from others on what this treaty could mean for the United States, Russia, our national defense, etc. I had some thoughts then but I wanted to sit on them for a bit and see what else I could learn before I offered my thoughts. As I mentioned above, once I did so, I found myself really ambivalent about the whole thing. But at this point, I am at least ready to offer my two cents on the subject. Let me first say that I was very knowledgeable about the first START agreement. I remember it well, and I supported it then for the same reasons I will offer below, which is really less about support than it is about not thinking it is all that important in terms of our national defense strategy.
So what are the basics? The START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) idea was begun under Ronald Reagan. The first treaty was completed in the early 1990’s and expired last year, paving the way for the new treaty to be signed last week by the President. From Wikipedia, some general information on START I:
START (for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994. The treaty was signed by the United States and the USSR, that barred its signatories from deploying more than 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers. START negotiated the largest and most complex arms control treaty in history, and its final implementation in late 2001 resulted in the removal of about 80 percent of all strategic nuclear weapons then in existence. Proposed by United States President Ronald Reagan, it was renamed START I after negotiations began on the second START treaty, which became START II.
The START I treaty expired 5 December 2009. On 8 April 2010, the new START treaty was signed in Prague by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev. It will enter into force after its ratification through the parliaments of both countries.
So, as you can see, the new START II treaty isn’t the brainchild of a reckless President who is hellbent on making America weaker. It is a continuation of a program begun under a Republican President who is considered a very strong military and defense President, Ronald Reagan. I have seen a lot on the blogs out there mentioning that this treaty makes us weak and shows how bad President Obama is at understanding the threats facing the United States today. I listened to a clip from Rush Limbaugh saying so outright and another conservative talk show host, John Gibson, spent an entire hour on the subject Friday, declaring all the doom and gloom that you expect from the GOP pundits whenever someone removes so much as a bullet from the US military arsenal.
It should also be noted that while this new version is being called the START II treaty, it really isn’t the second one. It is the third. START II was originally completed during the Bush Senior’s last days in office. It banned the use of MIRV warheads on ICBMs. A multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warhead is a collection of nuclear weapons carried on a single intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). START II was ratified but never put into force because Russia backed out of the treaty the day after the United States backed out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. So there you have the first two START agreements, both signed by a Republican President. And there was another START agreement that was negotiated during the Clinton Presidency, but an agreement was never reached and the treaty never signed.
Under START I, the United States reduced its number of delivery vehicles for nuclear warheads to 1,600, and the number of nuclear warheads themselves to no more than 6,000. At the time I remember feeling that it was really nothing more than a political dog and pony show that allowed the US to appear the be cooperating while essentially destroying outdated equipment, a lot of chopped up B-52’s as I recall.
On to the START II (or should we be calling it START III since there was a II already? No, we will continue to call it START II and forget the MIRV one ever happened). Again, the easy basics from Wiki: It will limit the number of operationally deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550, which is down nearly two-thirds from the original START treaty and is 30% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty and it will limit to 800 the number of deployed and non-deployed inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments. Also it will limit the number of ICBMs, SLBMs, and deployed heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments to 700.
Another aspect that many of the articles out there are not touching on is the fact that the Russians have recently stated that they will likely pull out of the treaty if the United States continues to build up ballistic missile defenses in western Europe. This is the one aspect I do care about. I have zero issue with our building defensive networks in western Europe or anywhere else where the countries they are in have allowed us to put them there. While Russia is not necessarily a threat, I think these defensive placements are important in a world where countries such as North Korea and Iran will continue to seek nuclear weapons. So long as what we are setting up is defensive in nature, I am OK with it, and I think that it is important for us to pursue. I am all for reducing our offensive capabilities. But I am never for reducing our defensive ones.
So now that we have what the START II treaty is about, allow me to explain why I simply don’t care about it. A list of reasons why it isn’t important to me, or better put, why I don’t think it matters a bit:
1. It still leaves us with massive offensive capabilities. Despite the claims from the right that this treaty makes us look weak, we are still left with the ability to inflict massive damage, and essentially to destroy just about every nook and cranny of the earth a couple times over with the nuclear weapons that we will keep under this treaty. Do you think it really changes anyone’s minds about us? If Iran was afraid of us when we had 6,000 nuclear warheads, do you think they suddenly sighed and said to themselves, “oh, we can take them now. They only have 1,550!”? Which leads to the next reason…
2. It changes nothing about what the world thinks of our capability to frack up anyone who wants to push our buttons. Let’s be clear ladies and gentlemen. We have been pushing around anyone we needed to push around for the last 70 years without using a single nuclear weapon. No country in the world thinks we have suddenly become a meek little corner dweller. We still have one of the most powerful conventional militaries in the world, if not the strongest. It changes nothing in terms of our relative strength in today’s world.
3. Because I don’t think for a second the US would ever stop finding new ways to frack up the enemy. Does anyone here really believe that we aren’t continuing to research and develop new and exciting ways to make friends throughout the world? I would be willing to bet that the pace of new weapon development is not affected in the least bit by this treaty. I also would not be all that surprised to find that we secretly have developed something far worse than a nuclear warhead. Maybe that blaster they tested on the goats in Atlas Shrugged is working now!
4. The treaty doesn’t force us to destroy nuclear warheads. To be clear, the treaty requires us to meet the numbers of active nuclear warheads. It doesn’t really force us to do anything with the inactive warheads that we are removing from service. How long do you think it would take them to re-activate all those inactive ones they have stored away, you know, in case we need to destroy the world a 7th or 8th time?
5. The promise to not use nuclear weapons on countries that don’t have them or signatories to the non-proliferation treaty doesn’t mean anything. Think about this realistically, if the United States military decided that they were mad enough or crazy enough to launch a nuclear weapon on some other country in the world, then things are pretty bad. If we are willing to take the brunt of the world’s disapproval for such an action, do you really think that something as silly as a treaty would stop us from doing so. Look at the Constitution. How well have they adhered to THAT contract. I will go out on a limb and say the US government doesn’t much care for contracts of any sort when they don’t want to. And if some nation out there would grow their arsenal larger than ours, I will guarantee the US government will use that as an excuse to void the treaty.
So, you see, I just cannot find the gumption to get myself riled up about this entire thing. Because I first don’t think it does anything that hurts our ability to defend ourselves in any way. And I second don’t believe that the United States government will adhere to any contract when the proverbial shit hits the fan. So the Presidents of Russia and the United States can run out there and do their dog and pony shows all they like, but I don’t think that it means anything at this point. Maybe one day it will. It is nice to dream of a world without nuclear weapons. But I figure that dream is as likely as a world without war.
Now I will shut up and let everyone blast me for my short-sightedness. But be prepared folks, you have a tough task ahead of you if you want to convince me that there is anyone in the world who doesn’t think the US is a pretty big threat with or without this treaty.