Looking beyond New START

While Matt Kroenig writes that increasing our arsenal is the solution to an uncertain future- history seems to be moving in the other direction.  The idea that Reagan spent the Soviets into ruin is questionable (see atomic audit) but we might have the chance to do the opposite now – we need to cut budgets we could slash our nuclear spending and leave the Ruskies holding a very expensive bag. (zero sum power?) I think we’ve seen that economic stability and growth are a ‘weapon’ we actually get to use in international politics while our aging nuclear weapons are the opposite.

I think it was Jeff Lewis that told me that “Unilateral Disarmament” is one of the phrases to avoid at all costs. That said, Thomas Schelling keeps saying that if you want to make a credible deterrent threat you should threaten with conventional weapons. They are the weapons that you are actually going to use. It turns out that what will realistically happen is correlated closely with credibility. When the Hawks talk about updating the arsenal (see b-61) two subjects not mentioned are utility of nuclear for almost all missions and credibility of nuclear for almost all missions.

If the U.S. is serious about diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in the world, one way is to diminish the number and type of weapons that we field. The PNI’s were a success. It is possible to lead and allow the international community to follow. It is time to look beyond the cuts required under New START. This may mean getting a head start on the Russians- and given the current geopolitical situation we might imagine nuclear cuts taking a back seat.

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