6 Democracy and Nuclear Stuff
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By Hans M. Kristensen The Obama administration has published its budget request for Fiscal Year 2012, which includes its plans for maintaining and modernizing its nuclear weapons arsenal. Due to the extensive debate about the New START treaty last year a great deal of the nuclear plans were already known. And the budget request demonstrates that the administration follows through on its promise to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal and production facilities.
Feb 14 . By Hans M. Kristensen At a time when the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is asking Congress to authorize billions of dollars to modernize what it calls its “aging” nuclear infrastructure for maintaining and producing nuclear weapons, a new report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) concludes that “NNSA does not have accurate, reliable, or complete data on the condition and replacement value of its almost 3,000 weapons activities facilities.”
I believe that US nuclear forces, policies and posture are mis-aligned with today’s security environment. The current budget crisis provides the best opportunity to fundamentally realign our approach to nuclear deterrence since the end of the Cold War. That simple fact — that this is a decisive moment — is why we have an intensely personal and partisan debate over the normally mundane question of how to calculate the nuclear weapons budget. Some people are bitching and moaning about the Ploughshares estimate of $700 billion in spending “on nuclear weapons and related programs during the next ten years.” Many of them are only upset because they are losing the debate over US nuclear weapons policy. In particular, some of the same people screaming about $700 billion are the same people suggesting China might have 3,000 nuclear weapons.
In a recent article , Jeffrey Lewis of Arms Control Wonk outlined what could happen to U.S. nuclear forces under a sequestration budget. He illustrates that even with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s so-called “doomsday” cuts to nuclear weapons related activities, the U.S. could still field enough warheads to greatly surpass the limits put in place by New START. What could that “doomsday” look like if the U.S. maximized its nuclear forces? ( View at full size ) Lewis is careful to note that these cuts are what could happen and not necessarily what will happen. Likewise, he posits a nuclear force that we could have under the deepest cuts.
We do not purchase one at the expense of the other. “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” —Benjamin Franklin They are perhaps the most famous words ever written about the relationship between liberty and security. They have become iconic.
The Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR) is a review conducted pursuant to guidance from the President and the Secretary of Defense, while also addressing the legislative requirement to assess U.S. ballistic missile defense policy and strategy.
We live in a much more democratic world than our great-grandparents.
Unaccountable: Exploring the Lack of Budgetary Transparency for U.S. Nuclear Security Spending | Articles | NTI Analysis | NTIWith U.S. federal government spending, including defense spending, now expected to decline sharply over the next decade—even as the Obama administration has pledged to invest more than $210 billion to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal and its supporting infrastructure—it becomes increasingly important to know where nuclear security dollars—money spent on nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs (such as cooperative threat reduction)—are going on both an annual and a cumulative basis. 
Jacob Groshek from Iowa State University recently published the latest results from his research on the democratic effects of the Internet in the International Journal of Communication . A copy of Groshek’s study is available here ( PDF ). Groshek published an earlier study in 2009 which I blogged about here. In this latest set of findings, Groshek concludes that “Internet diffusion was not a specific causal mechanism of national-level democratic growth during the timeframe analyzed,” which was 1994-2003. The author therefore argues that “the diffusion of the Internet should not be considered a democratic panacea, but rather a component of contemporary democratization processes.” Interestingly, these conclusions seem to contradict his findings from 2009.