Dr. Strangelove in the Pentagon: Lowering the Nuclear Threshold and Other Follies of the New Nuclear Posture Review, by Rajan Menon

Some so-called experts, many who’ve probably never seen a nuclear weapon blast, are talking of surgical nuclear strikes and other such nonsense. Take it from someone who grew up in Los Alamos, and whose father did above-ground bomb tests in the Nevada desert in the 1950s and died of cancer ten years ago (the two may or may not have been related), there’s no such thing as a surgical nuclear strike, especially after the fallout wafts through the atomosphere and gets in the soil and water. From Rajan Menon at tomdispatch.com:

If you’re having trouble sleeping thanks to, well, you know who… you’re not alone. But don’t despair. A breakthrough remedy has just gone on the market.  It has no chemically induced side effects and, best of all, will cost you nothing, thanks to the Department of Defense.  It’s the new Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, among the most soporific documents of our era.  Just keeping track of the number of times the phrase “flexible and tailored response” appears in the 75-page document is the equivalent of counting (incinerated) sheep.  Be warned, however, that if you really start paying attention to its actual subject matter, rising anxiety will block your journey to the slumber sphere.

Threats Galore

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that the United States devoted $611 billion to its military machine in 2016. That was more than the defense expenditures of the next nine countries combined, almost three times what runner-up China put out, and 36% of total global military spending. Yet reading the NPR you would think the United States is the most vulnerable country on Earth.  Threats lurk everywhere and, worse yet, they’re multiplying, morphing, becoming ever more ominous.  The more Washington spends on glitzy weaponry, the less secure it turns out to be, which, for any organization other than the Pentagon, would be considered a terrible return on investment.  

The Nuclear Posture Review unwittingly paints Russia, which has an annual military budget of $69.2 billion ($10 billion less than what Congress just added to the already staggering 2018 Pentagon budget in a deal to keep the government open), as the epitome of efficient investment, so numerous, varied, and effective are the “capabilities” it has acquired in the 17 years since Vladimir Putin took the helm.  Though similar claims are made about China and North Korea, Putin’s Russia comes across in the NPR as the threat of the century, a country racing ahead of the U.S. in the development of nuclear weaponry.  As the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has shown, however, that document only gets away with such a claim by making 2010 the baseline year for its conclusions.  That couldn’t be more chronologically convenient because the United States had, by then, completed its latest wave of nuclear modernization.  By contrast, during the decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s economy contracted by more than 50%, so it couldn’t afford large investments in much of anything back then.  Only when oil prices began to skyrocket in this century could it begin to modernize its own nuclear forces.

To continue reading: Dr. Strangelove in the Pentagon: Lowering the Nuclear Threshold and Other Follies of the New Nuclear Posture Review


One response to “Dr. Strangelove in the Pentagon: Lowering the Nuclear Threshold and Other Follies of the New Nuclear Posture Review, by Rajan Menon

  1. God what a pile of steaming Pelosi dooo. Tell me how much does China pay for its personnel costs, oh that’s right, they pay them next to nothing so how valid is the argument about money?

    How fast has China expanded and modernized its military-not to worry goes our Soros chappie. Any nation can afford to build artificial islands hundreds of miles from their shores really isn’t a threat or spending much is it?

    And of course Russia isn’t a threat, because debting a new class of nuclear subs, new stealth aircraft, and new model tanks isn’t really that unusual for a bankrupt and destitute nation. And we all know that a nation’s armed forces are in direct correlation to its economic growth? Ah really, what is North Korea or Iran’s economic growth like or Venezuela’s?

    Apparently the author enjoys a good stiff kool aid with Congresswoman Pelosi each day. I can’t wait for the author to write how mowing the grass constitutes a significant defense expenditure.

    Finally anyone who doubts the accuracy of nuclear weapons has been in a coma for the past twenty years or so.


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