Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Nuclear Missiles Twice As Cheap Under Communism

I don't want to get too worked up about this, international and internal politics being what they are, but this is best news I've read in quite a while.

Note that the main objection in the piece (must be fair and balanced, must be fair and balanced) is from John Bolton. Unfortunately I don't know enough about the ins and outs of nuclear deterrent theory to know whether or not to call bullshit from him this time. I do know that Bolton is a vicious, incompetent motherfucker and a rabid partisan hack, though, who has been wrong every single time he's spoken on a topic I do understand, most recently during his commentary on the Presidential Election, in which he deliberately misrepresented the comments of reporters in the field, accused them of not knowing what they were talking about, and ensured that he kept up his bullying arse-water spray until the program could cut back to the studio, thus preventing his unfortunate targets from defending themselves or explaining his obvious mistakes.

That's the sort of guy John Bolton is, and that's before we even get onto Iraq, Cuba, Iran, alleged perjury, and so on and so forth. If he's speaking, you either can't understand what he's saying, or you know he's lying.


Gooder said...

It is a step forward and hopefully will encourage Russia to calm down and the Americans that they don't need to build missile defenses on Russia's doorstop.

SpaceSquid said...

Actually, and kind of annoyingly, Obama has said he still plans to go ahead with the European missile shield, but one can hopes he's saving it as a bargaining chip for later.

Senior Spielbergo said...

Personally I find Nuclear disarmament a bit of a pointless venture, but on the plus side at least it saves a chunk of money – so by all means get on with it. But the bottom line is the superpowers are always going to have enough of the damm things to wipe out anyone they want many times over anyway. If America or anyone else comes up with a better defence system, their opponents will just respond with a better offensive system (even if that is just more nukes). Someone comes up with a bigger badder unstoppable delivery system, the other guy will build one two. No one wants to be below the curve when it comes to the mutual annihilation scenario… The other guys might get ideas! The concept of mutual annihilation has been the bedrock of Superpower relations for the last 50 years, and that isn’t ever going to change now the things have already been built.

But, if it happens it happens, I’m not going to feel any better about the world being ended by 1,000 nukes as opposed to 2,000 – But on the plus side at least today the big players get on a lot better than they ever have, and we didn’t wipe ourselves out when we really had it in for each other, so that has got to be a good sign. To me the main issue is the one that is coming round the corner. As with all discoveries, building the first one is incredibly difficult, but once that has been done, and people know it can be done, building more rapidly becomes very easy. Building a nuke may well have been cutting edge technology, but it was cutting edge technology 65 years ago. Now the scientific knowledge is out there. The level of precision manufacturing required is becoming more and more easily acquirable. And of course the raw materials have always been within the grasp of most people / countries with sufficient resources to acquire them. The cat has very much escaped Pandora’s box and like it or not, be it over the next 20 years, or the next 100 years more and more countries, organisations and individuals are going to develop the ability to produce nuclear weapons. Nuclear deterrent works amongst the big players, but it has progressively less and less effect on those further down the food chain.

Defensive technology therefore has a part to play so in some ways there is a compelling argument towards the missile defence screen, but from what I’ve seen so far it’s always been geared up towards the wrong enemy. The obsession with ensuring you have a bigger gun than the other big players is largely nonsensical as all that happens is you both end up with progressively bigger guns, neither with any advantage over the other, and nothing suitable for dealing with the smaller players. Defensive ideas that are designed to face the up and coming threat are therefore a better idea, than something evidently 20+ years ago and geared up for a very different and ultimately undefeatable threat. The other big players are always going to be fully capable of wiping the others out, you might not like it, but it’s time to focus on ensuring there isn’t any other such players, rather than continuing the cycle. This is where diplomacy, trade, actually stepping up and helping stop conflicts even if you don’t have a vested interest in doing so comes in. That and of course conventional military forces, better intelligence gathering and investment in the overall defensive side of the game.

While nuclear annihilation may just be a throw of the dice away, personally I would like to minimise the number of throws other people take.

SpaceSquid said...

One of the most obvious advantages to partially disarming is that it keeps the NPT alive, which is almost unquestionably a good thing.

Senior Spielbergo said...

Of course I would prefer the parties involved to keep it alive because they realise it’s a good thing.

SpaceSquid said...

I don't see any reason to belive Obama doesn't think it's a good thing. There may be financial considerations behind this as well, but there's no reason there can't be two upsides.