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April 08, 2010


Thank you for these incredibly informative posts. I don't know enough about the specifics to offer comment, but I feel like I know a lot more than before I read it.

Please keep them coming.

The best thing about the new NPR is that Obama really seems to get the degree to which the US sets international norms. The declaration that the US will not use nuclear weapons against conventional attacks set the norm for the rest of the world, which will both influence their weapons development programs, and would have a great effect in the aftermath of the use of a nuclear weapon by another state in defending against a conventional attack. The new posture basically says, you can't use nukes against people who don't have nukes; and if you never want to get nuked, the best way to accomplish this is never to develop nukes. That's kind of a big f-cking deal, as Biden might say, because none of that was true under the previous doctrine.

The (admittedly few) people I have seen who are focusing on the "handcuffing" of US nuclear power really do not seem to get this. In reality the US cannot be handcuffed and the NPR would be just so much paper if a real crisis ever came about*. It matters almost exclusively as a way to communicate to the world what the US thinks are acceptable and unacceptable uses of nuclear weapons (well, and to save money on maintaining a peacetime arsenal far larger than necessary). The moral authority of the US may have been undermined in recent years (see recent threads here...) but Americans should understand that the world looks first & foremost to the US for guidance on norms. In part that's because of its military power, but that's not enough; Russia has plenty of military power and no authority whatsoever when it comes to setting norms. What the US says and does sets the tone to a far greater degree than any other country.

* The whimperers tend to be particularly focused on reductions in weapons systems, which is pretty silly to me; the US could build an endless supply of new delivery systems at very short notice in a real crisis. A favorite statistic of mine: between 1936 and early 1941 the US built 134 B-17s; between late 1941 and 1945 it built 12,597. The only important functions of peacetime weapons systems are, 1) ensuring a second-strike capability (which the SLBM arm does), and 2) maintaining technological capability in design and manufacturing should the need arise for mass production.

"..The declaration that the US will not use nuclear weapons against conventional attacks set the norm for the rest of the world, ..."

I am pretty sure I don't think this is true.

"Cheryl Rofer currently blogs at Phronesisaical, after a career that included research and practical experience in the nuclear fuel cycle, fossil fuel, lasers and environmental cleanup, including collaborations in Estonia and Kazakhstan."

Yeah, but Sarah Death Palin will say in her Presidential Inaugural Speech .... "How's that nukey, mushroomy thingy goin now Kenya boy" .. as she snaps her gum and hangs the red telephone around Vice President Erick Erickson's favorite goat's neck for a later romp under the covers in the Lincoln bedroom, with Moe Lane standing by in a hoop skirt in case Erick's tastes run beyond the ruminant.

Any policy not vetted and determined by dumbasses dressed in crotchless cracker pants Confederate uniforms taking time out from their lesbian roadhouse shows while simultaneously waving shotguns in the faces of gummint employees won't pass muster in this ignorant, tacky country and its enabling entertainment media.

Does Mr. Thullen's comment above advance the discussion in any significant way? (Not to mention being rude and abusive....)

Mr. Thullen creatively gives us all (or at least most of us) a few laughs on occasion, usually keeping the discussion from getting too self-important in the process. There's no accounting for taste, but I like it. His posts provide a unique and quirky aspect to this blog. YMMV, of course.

Mr Thullen simply could have said it's a shame for the country and the so-called national conversation that knowledgable people like Cheryl Rofer and other thoughtful folks in the OBWI commentariat don't run for office and/or are invited to appear on talk news shows, rather than the sorry ilk in the Republican Party (and some in that other Party) who seem to get all the good gigs.

But that would be a boring way to put it.

My apologies and thanks to wj and hstd.

If I were Obama,I would be in Lindsey Graham's hip pocket the moment I got off the plane. Unfortunately he will have to do some horse trading to get Graham's unconditional cloture vote. Graham has been making bipartisan overtures, Obama should force him to put up or shut up. And Liberals have to chill when any pet is traded to get that vote.

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