Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nuclear Options

Oh, how the ironies abound. On the heels of deploying one of the biggest shows of domestic military force in recent memory, President Obama is now accused of being a lily-livered, noodle-kneed manager for failing to muster enough votes to pass even the most tepid of domestic gun control legislation.

Maureen Dowd, in a rather half-hearted piece being universally lambasted for its mean girl tone, adds poor leadership qualities to the legendary lack of Obamian schmoozing ability to explain the Senate defeat last week. A front page article in today's New York Times lamely ascribes a lack of Johnsonian arm-twisting skills for the failure. None of the Times writers saw fit to mention the lack of the so-called "nuclear option", as perennially threatened by passive-aggressive Majority Leader Harry Reid. Filibuster reform theoretically could have passed background check legislation without a 60-vote supermajority (the final vote was 54-46).

Obama, according to The Times, also could have used threats against his own party's outliers, such as Mark Begich of Alaska and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. He could have made crucial financial support for their campaign war chests and pet projects in their home states contingent upon their support for his gun control measures.  For some weird reason, according to The Times, he just doesn't use the standard quid pro quos at his disposal. He hasn't learned how to play dirty politics. He's no LBJ.

Which brings us to another important story that The Times is choosing not to cover, possibly because it proves that the conventional portrayal of Obama as a principled but weak Mr. Nice Guy is hilariously and patently false. According to The Guardian, Obama is very adeptly trying to bribe those recalcitrant boobs in the Senate with a nuclear option that even the faux-gridlocked dinosaur leadership could love. Even as he calls for more and more crushing domestic austerity, Obama's budget proposes spending $11 billion to retrofit our entire stockpile of nuclear weapons. He wants to make them every bit as accurate and streamlined and precise and surgical as his beloved predator drones. Plus, those drones are coming back to haunt him. He might need the nuclear option backup plan.

Obama, who campaigned on a pledge to reduce our stockpile of nuclear weapons, is now reneging on that promise in order to reward the defense industry-heavy districts of Congress critters whose votes on other deals he may need in the future.  That's according to the various anti-proliferation public policy groups quoted in the piece. This has nothing to do, mind you, with his failed domestic arms control legislation. It's a backdoor gambit has everything to do with enriching the Military-Industrial Complex which, in turn, enriches legislators with campaign donations, who then line the pockets of defense contractors, and ad infinitum.

Domestic gun control failed because life is cheap. The bank accounts of corrupt politicians and merchants of death are more precious than the lives of 20 six-year-olds, more precious than the lives of the estimated 30 people killed every single day by guns in America. It failed because the United States is the biggest arms dealer in the world, with annual sales of almost $67 billion now constituting almost 80% of the world market, actually tripling in the past few years.

But back to that Other Nuclear Option That is Not Filibuster Reform. According to The Guardian,  
Under the plan, nearly 200 B61 gravity bombs stockpiled in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey would be given new tail fins that would turn them into guided weapons that could be delivered by stealth F35 fighter-bombers.
"This will be a significant upgrade of the US nuclear capability in Europe," said Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of Nuclear Scientists. "It flies directly in the face of the pledges Obama made in 2010 that he would not deploy new weapons."
In its Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, the US undertook to do reduce the role and numbers of its nuclear weapons, in part by not developing new nuclear warheads, and pledging it would not "support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities".
(snip)

What will be going back to Europe will be a guided nuclear bomb," he said. "Especially when you combine it with F35 with stealth characteristics, that expands the targets you can hold at risk from Europe, because by placing the explosion closer to the target you can choose a lower explosive yield. That is very important as there is less radioactive fallout. For many people this is a great concern because it means making nuclear weapons more 'usable'."
 
Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, said he believes Obama is displaying a "schizoid" mindset, because although he "sincerely" wants to reduce nukes, he also needs to expand nukes in order to buy off his political frenemies. "I'm convinced the president wants to the continue his efforts to reform US nuclear policy," he said.

The Guardian article should have explained that Cirincione's own apparently schizoid thought processes might have something to do with his serving on Secretary of State John Kerry's international advisory board as well as on the Council on Foreign Relations.

I suppose that this impossible melding of opposing viewpoints in one brain is an example of what is known as progressive pragmatism in contemporary Newspeak. Obama wants to reform nuclear policy by refining weapons, making them humanely more accurate in order to spare millions of innocent bystanders a hundred miles away any genetic damage affecting future generations. It's kind of like impoverishing current seniors in order to save Social Security for the unborn. It's like removing government food inspectors from poultry plants. People will die, but look at how much cheaper a Pic-of-the-Chick pack will be in your local Walmart! Look how the plutocrats will prosper! The benefits will radiate and then they'll trickle down, down, down to the permanent underclass.

Win the Future, look toward the North Star, ignite that ephemeral middle class engine. As Obama says, we Americans just refuse to be terrorized:
If anyone wants to know who we are; what America is; how we respond to evil and terror – that’s it. Selflessly. Compassionately. And unafraid.
Through days that would test even the sturdiest of souls, Boston’s spirit remains undaunted. America’s spirit remains undimmed. Our faith in each other, our love for this country, our common creed that cuts across whatever superficial differences we may have – that’s what makes us strong. That’s why we endure.
Now watch in amazement as the biggest arms dealer in the world, that brave purveyor of streamlined weapons of mass destruction known as USA, deflects attention away from itself by elevating a pair of psychopathic losers to the status of an invading rogue nation, complete with their own unsanctioned weapons of mass destruction. Be not terrified of them, but abide in your awe of America the Compassionate. Gaze upon distant mushroom clouds through rose-colored glasses. Duck and Cover.

10 comments:

Suzan said...

We're covered all right.

Thanks, Karen, for your illuminating presence in blogtopia.

I read you every day and not just to increase my serotonin levels.

Your last NYT Krugman response was also a spectacular piece of commentary.

You should be employed by the best news org the web has supplied.

Perhaps WhoWhatWhy?

Live long and prosper!

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, Suzan. Plenty to get irate about these days, huh?

James F Traynor said...

Don't scare easy? The hell we don't. The politicians wouldn't have been able to get away with as much as they have over the last 30 years if they couldn't scare us shitless. It must have started with 'duck and cover'. And of course we've had to keep vigilant, what with all those welfare moms riding around in Cadillacs. And there being a commie under every bed. Oh yeah and they're trying to take our guns away from us. The Mexicans are coming! The Mexicans are coming!

Jesus! We've had a lot more to fear from the Fortune Five Hundred and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Zee said...

I am quite certain that the relatively junior senators Udall and Heinrich will be quite grateful for the largesse that Obama will shower on New Mexico's two nuclear weapons labs in exchange for their favorable votes on gun control.

Hey! I didn't vote for the guy! I think you should start a petition to rescind his Nobel "Peace" Prize.

Denis Neville said...

“Humanity hanging on a cross of iron,” pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons, while building and deploying new nuclear weapons

B-2 stealth bomber to carry new nuclear cruise missile:

http://blogs.fas.org/security/2013/04/b-2bomber/

“The U.S. Air Force plans to arm the B-2A stealth bomber with a new nuclear cruise missile that is in the early stages of development, according to Air Force officials and budget documents.”

“Over the next five years alone, design and development costs for the missile are expected to reach more than $1 billion. Costs will presumably continue to accumulate significantly through the mid/late-2020s as full-scale production and delivery of the weapon get underway.”

“In addition to the cost of the missile itself, the production of the nuclear warhead will add even more. Rather than a new warhead, the Air Force plans to use a life-extended version of an existing warhead: W80-1, W84, or the B61. If other life-extension programs are any indication, then the LRSO warhead program can be expected to cost several billion dollars.”

Not to mention the one billion dollars for adding tailfins and guidance to those B61 gravity bombs.

All this while telling Iran they have no right to nuclear power let alone weapons.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Jay - Ottawa said...

This just in: Obama has betrayed yet another pledge. This time: Nukes. Can’t make up my mind whether to yawn over his consistency as a welsher or grind my teeth over his cumulative betrayals. Are there any remaining pledges he hasn’t reneged on?

Wait! Maybe he’s into his deep chess mode.

As he said, we folks in the USA fear nothing and soldier on, no matter what. Uncle Sam stands tall, takes no guff and tells everybody else where to get off – ‘cause he’s got nukes in his dukes. Hey, Iran, you got a problem with that?

So, Obama has figured out how to send a subtle signal to Iran while he simultaneously flips the birdie to Mother Nature herself – her with her threats about Global Warming. Who’s afraid of Climate Change? CO2, F.U.

Obama counters with a Nuclear Winter. Brilliant!

Zee said...

First and foremost, you Progressives elected a LAWYER.

NO ONE can split hairs finer than a LAWYER.

Within the confines of his lawyerly mind, Obama is keeping his pledge. The number of warheads will not increase.

Their DELIVERY SYSTEMS are what will change, along with maybe some alterations to arming, fuzing and safeguards.

Small comfort to you Progressives out there, but you got what you voted for.

A slimy LAWYER who can mince words and parse phrases with the best of them.

So pummel me if you must for speaking the truth, but like the scorpion who stung the frog who was carrying him across the river, Obama is just being true to his all-too-clever, lawyerly nature.

Ya got what ya wanted: a Constitooshunal lawyer.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

Can't fully reply. Currently hiding in fallout shelter, limited to 140 characters!!!

On a more serious note:

From Eisenhower's "Chance for Peace" speech:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

Of course, that is absolutely true, a concise and eloquent statement that we ignore at our own great peril.

But nowadays, it could be extended further. My own addition:

Every threat that is made against a sovereign foreign nation, every "pre-emptive" invasion launched, every cruise missile fired into such nations, by us, signifies, in the final sense, that the government of the United States views itself as having the largest unwarranted entitlement of them all, the entitlement to world domination.

Belief in such an entitlement sounds like something we would expect from the villain in a James Bond movie, but unfortunately, it has become national policy for the United States.

Needless to say, it is an untenable attitude.

Quite apart from the hypocrisy (of the U.S. itself having thousands of nuclear weapons while at the same time telling other countries that we won't entertain the possibility of them owning even one), there is the monumental stupidity of our strategy. As I pointed out several years ago in a New York Times comment, plus I think at RealityChex and/or here long ago, our threats against nuclear development won't stop foreign nations from developing a deterrent capability, it'll just push them to instead create bioweapons, which can be done in a small lab, undetected by us. (Many years ago, "60 Minutes" reported on some U.S. government agency, I think the CIA, building a bioreactor in a suburban house as proof-of-concept). When deterrence is forced into that strategy, the entire world and all of humanity becomes endangered.

Miss Sarcasm said...

Re: "estimated 30 people killed every single day by guns in America."

Unfortunately, people die. Keep in mind that "On average in 2011, 89 people were killed on the roadways of the U.S. each day." Even so, "The 32,367 traffic fatalities in 2011 were the lowest in 62 years (1949)."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

Unfortunately Obama is no Lyndon B. Johnson. LBJ is one of our country’s greatest advocates for ordinary people, "civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education, and his "War on Poverty.""

"With the appointment of Thurgood Marshall, Johnson placed the first African American on the Supreme Court."

But even LBJ "escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War, from 16,000 American advisors/soldiers in 1963 to 550,000 combat troops in early 1968."

Unlike Obama, and Republican chickenhawks, LBJ served in harms way in WWII.

"In the spring of 1942, President Roosevelt needed his own reports on what conditions were like in the Southwest Pacific. Roosevelt felt information that flowed up the military chain of command needed to be supplemented by a highly trusted political aide. From a suggestion by Forrestal, President Roosevelt assigned Johnson to a three-man survey team of the Southwest Pacific."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_B._Johnson

Democrats must accept the fact that people die, and the search for a "savior" should be limited to church, not politics. How is the "savior" Obama working out?

Here’s another irony: "Florida Set To Become First State To Limit Police Drones After House And Senate Vote"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/18/florida-police-drones_n_3108942.html

"A Florida bill limiting police use of camera drones has unanimously passed in both the House and Senate."

"If Governor Rick Scott signs it into law as expected, Miami-Dade Police, the only Florida agency to own unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), will be restricted to using drones only with a search warrant or when they can prove "imminent danger.""

"If passed, Florida would be the first state to regulate drone use, according the Orlando Sentinel."

Rick Scott’s position on domestic drones is more humane than Obama. Go figure.

Denis Neville said...

“Our presidents are deeply grateful for the job we gave them, and they feel obliged to return the favor.”

We the sheeple willingly follow and do the bidding of a government that cares little for our freedoms or our welfare.

Yes, remember the essential humanity and decency of our presidents.

“It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.” - Nazi Field Marshal Hermann Goering, Nuremberg trials

“In the rush to mythologize and demonize our presidents, we forget they’re human. Remember to respect the Office of the President! It’s the decent thing to do. They don’t check their humanity at the Oval Office door. Remember the essential humanity and decency of our presidents.” – Ron Fournier, Editorial Director, National Journal

"What class," Freddie de Boer, http://lhote.blogspot.com/2013/04/what-class.html