In the past two days it has been reported that the US is undertaking an “atomic revitalization,” and will spend a significant amount of money modernizing its nuclear arsenal. William J. Broad and David E. Sanger report on the new direction in US Nuclear policy for The New York Times in “U.S. Ramping Up Major Renewal in Nuclear Arms.” They write that there is a “nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. A recent federal study put the collective price tag, over the next three decades, at up to a trillion dollars. This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for ‘a nuclear-free world’ and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy. The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads. Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return.”
And the editorial board of the Times, in “Backsliding on Nuclear Promises,” also weighs in : “the Congressional Budget Office now estimates that Mr. Obama’s plans will cost $355 billion over the next decade; other studies put the price at $1 trillion over three decades. The wish list includes 12 new missile submarines, up to 100 new bombers, 400 land-based missiles, plus upgrades to eight major plants and laboratories. . . . Not only is this spending unwise and beyond what the nation can afford, multiple studies by the Government Accountability Office have described the modernization push as badly managed. In a statement released on Monday, nuclear weapons experts from the Arms Control Association, the Federation of American Scientists and others called the modernization plan excessive and said the country can reduce the number of missiles and bombers it buys and still maintain a safe and reliable nuclear arsenal. . . . Investing in nuclear security protects Americans more than unwise investment in new nuclear weapons.”
And as part of his forthcoming 3 million page novel, Breeze Avenue (2015), Richard Grossman has buried a crystal ball deep inside of Princeton Mountain in Colorado. The ball, “made of synthetic sapphire, which is almost as indestructible as diamond,” has the Ten Commandments inscribed on it in Hebrew, and in “20 million years, as a result of natural forces carefully calculated by the geologists, the Torah Ball will emerge from its eroded resting place and bear the Ten Commandments down the mountain.” Hyperarchivalists of the deep future rejoice!
Richard Grossman, The Torah Ball (Synthetic Sapphire, Princeton Mountain, 20 Million Years of Erosion, 2011).
As I have been lax in posting things, yesterday I posted a bunch of links on recent stories regarding the NSA. Today I’m posting links of more general interest. I’ve tried to organize them by category.
The biggest story I have not had time to address were the diplomatic talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program. So here are some links to that.
I have refrained from posting about Syria and the US sabre-rattling in response to chemical weapons attacks both because it would probably be hard to miss in the news and because the situation seems a bit too complex to treat in either a short post or by posting a number of links. But it looks like the US, Russia, and Syria have reached a diplomatic solution, at least according to the BBC. I am a bit surprised and considerably relieved to hear this. Having come of age during the 2000s, I thought such middle-of-the-road compromises, whether between the US and other nations, or within the US gov’t itself, were patently impossible. Obviously this is more complicated than being a simple “solution,” but man, it doesn’t sound like the US will be dropping bombs after announcing that it would/might in this instance, and that is certainly something new in my adult life.