2009/05/26

Bolton's "special interests"

I must say, I truly appreciate the opinion piece by the former UN Ambassador John Bolton. In it, the guy who accomplished pretty darn close to nothing during his tenure in that job, tries to make it sound as though the Obama Administration was doing something wrong by not continuing Bush's failed policies. He complains that Obama, by canceling the highly provocative, destabilizing Missile Defense system in Eastern Europe "is simply giving it away." Well, yeah. When you have an item that's not doing you any good and the other country considers it a threat, i.e., it's actively hurting your relationship with the other country, it's a good idea to get rid of it.

I was most puzzled by the following statement:

Fortunately, Russia seems likely to save us from the dangerously low warhead levels proposed by Senator John Kerry and others, but the risks of foolish, unnecessary concessions remain high. [emphasis added]

What in the heck is a "dangerously low warhead level"? I learned during the late 1970s that nuclear weapons are only good for deterrence, so if both sides have say, 50 weapons of each type, plane-delivered bombs, ICBMs and submarine-launched missiles, then both sides are "deterred" and everybody's happy. China has 100 to 200 warheads. That appears to be a completely appropriate amount. It's hard to see why any more are needed. With the US currently having almost 6000 nuclear warheads and Russia having over 4000, it's not at all clear what a "dangerously low warhead level" would be.

Bolton wants the US to preserve tactical nuclear weapons. It's difficult to understand why. They're the worst of both worlds. They're harder to secure and as they're less destructive, they have less deterrent effect. They can't be used as any sort of true "tactical" weapon (Any use short of national deterrence) as any use of nuclear weapons will inevitably escalate into full-scale, all-out world-wide destruction. As someone who was a history major during college, I generally hate using the word "inevitable," but this scenario was gamed out during the 1970s and no one ever came up with a way to prevent the situation from escalating all the way up to the complete destruction of the human race.

Why Bolton wants to pursue an arms race in outer space is another puzzle. If there's currently no threat to our satellites from any other nation, why create a threat that others will have to respond to? Why does the US want to create a threat where none currently exists? Does that serve any purpose other than creating jobs in the arms industry? Back during the 1980s, President Reagan would derisively refer to "special interests." Are arms manufacturers pitting their own "special" financial interests against the interests of the American taxpayer?

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