The Enemy Within

The Cold War isn't over.

There are still nuclear arsenals on both sides, capable of mutually assuring our destruction if an exchange begins and escalates. It turns out that Khrushchev was wrong when he supposed

"About the capitalist states, it doesn't depend on you whether or not we exist. If you don't like us, don't accept our invitations, and don't invite us to come and see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you."

We do depend on each other, we nation-states on this shrinking planet. We may all bury one another, or one of us may prove to be so colossally short-sighted or greedy that we will bury all. (It might even be Khrushchev's Russia which does it, but not likely through the economic success he was predicting.)

If one nation sneezes, we all catch cold eventually. The good-old boy network in Indonesia affects currency in Korea, and IC fabrication in Boise, Idaho. The toxic legacy of fifty years of nuclear weapons development will be visited upon on our children's children's children.

The most chilling item in the March 15th, 1998 piece in The New York Times Magazine, "Overkill is Not Dead" was not the statistics of how many weapons are left in our arsenals, or how often false alarms go off, or how meaningless a gesture "detargeting" was, or that we have many times more weapons than targets (leading to a plan to drop 69 nuclear weapons on one single target)... but why we haven't agreed to stopping the development of new weapons, and reducing our stockpiles by thousands of useless (at best) bombs.

We have more than 10,000 weapons that we never, ever want to use, but that we have to pretend that we are just maybe willing to use, lest they be truly and utterly useless.

In 1992, during Start 2 negotiations, Boris Yeltsin proposed a ceiling of 2,000 deployed weapons on each side. The United States of America wanted more, 3,500. Colin Powell, then the chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "targeting-wise, it was what we felt we needed." He also hinted that it would help provide for the "modernization" of our Trident submarines with more accurate and higher-yield D-5 missiles.

A former head of the Strategic Command, General George Lee Butler said this:

"When you go to (2,000 weapons), you start trading off systems. That always triggers interservice rivalry. We're talking tens of billions of dollars. You're talking about the future, the pride, the standing of the ballistic missile submarine force."

March 22, 1998

Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

Saturday, 12-Dec-1998 10:59:00 MST