Oct 30, 2008

Defense chief promotes nuclear deterrent

By ROGER SNODGRASS, Los Alamos Monitor Editor

In a major address at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on nuclear weapons, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that America would continue to need a nuclear deterrent.

“Simply put, we cannot predict the future,” he said. “Even as we strive to live up to our noblest goals, as (Andrew) Carnegie did, we must deal with the messy realities of the world in which we live.”

Gates said that even Carnegie, the American philanthropist who dedicated the final years of his life to the cause of World Peace, found himself encouraging President Woodrow Wilson to declare war against Germany before World War I.

“As long as human nature is what it is – as long as the tragic arc of history continues its course – we cannot eliminate the need to be prepared for war any more than Andrew Carnegie was able to eliminate war itself,” Gates said.

Gates speech was delivered against a backdrop of a reduced numbers of nuclear weapons under the Moscow Treaty with Russia, a period of military incompetence in the mishandling of nuclear weapons and flat budgets across a nuclear weapons complex that is committed to reducing its footprint.

Gates swore in new Secretary of the Air Force Mike Donley on Oct. 17 to replace the top Air Force official who was fired in June for failing to respond to warning signs about a decline in nuclear expertise over recent years.

“You are well aware of problems over the last year or so with the Air Force’s handling of nuclear weapons,” Gates told the Carnegie audience, listing some of the steps that have been taken to restore trust.

He was referring two incidents, one involving the unwitting airborne transfer of live nuclear weapons from North Dakota to Louisiana in August 2007, and the other concerning electrical fuses used to detonate strategic nuclear missiles, which had been shipped to Taiwan in error and went unnoticed for several months.

A series of high level studies and corrective actions have followed, including the preparation of a “Nuclear Enterprise Roadmap,” released on Friday, that called for the establishment of a Global Strike Command and a Headquarters Air Force staff agency to handle Air Force nuclear assets.

“The Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base (in Albuquerque) is being revitalized and expanded – with focus on sustainment and clearing up ambiguous chains of command that have created problems in the past,” Gates said Wednesday, discussing what he expected to be a “long term process” with further high-level reviews due in December.

Nearly two years ago a Defense Science Board report on issues related to the nuclear weapons programs recommended that the national security leadership should “declare unequivocally and frequently, that a reliable, safe, secure and credible nuclear deterrent is essential to national security and a continuing high priority.”

As he has in other speeches and policy papers recently, Gates reiterated his support for the Reliable Replacement Warhead for which, he noted, funding was cut completely this year.

“Let me be clear: The program we propose is not about new capabilities –- suitcase bombs, or bunker busters or tactical nukes,” he said. “It is about safety, security and reliability…and it deserves urgent attention.”

During follow-up questions, he said, “We just have to work harder in trying to make clear to members of Congress that the RRW is not about new capabilities but about safety, reliability and security; and as long as we have a stockpile, we need to have it viable in all those categories.”

It remains to be seen how much weight the Secretary of Defense’s thoughts on the matter of nuclear policy will carry at the end of the current administration. His speech identified unfinished business and carry-over priorities that may well fuel next round of national debate.

[See also Gates Sees Stark Choice on Nuke Tests, Modernization.]

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

too bad he did not have the cojones to stand up and say these things back when it mattered, instead of right before he is about to be thrown out of office.

Anonymous said...

it will get worse under Obama.

enjoy the inside vantage point.

Anonymous said...

Under the next Administration, the weapons complex will be stripped down to the bare essentials. Look at the complex as it stands right now and then take it down another 40% in size. The Michigan-ization of Northern New Mexico is about to begin.

Anonymous said...

I just love all these people, who continually claim that under Obama the Lab's situation will get worse. Just as a reminder:
It was a republican secretary of DOE, with a republican President, with a republican controlled house and senate
who privatized the lab.
So I assume, all these people must love it here right now, because the privatization is such a huge success.

Anonymous said...

10/30/08 8:26 PM

worse than under Bush and a Republican Congress? Really? I don't see how it can get any worse. NNSA has made it clear for more than four years where we are headed and we are now in the end game. Most of you act as if you were caught unaware. Either you are in denial or you haven't been paying attention.

So please explain how it will get "worse" than it is now.

Anonymous said...

"...It was a republican secretary of DOE, with a republican President, with a republican controlled house and senate who privatized the lab.>>"

And if our so-called supporters screw us so badly, imagine what those who hate us under B. Hussein Osama are going to do.

We are Neanderthals at a Darwin party.

Anonymous said...

Since the threats were paranoid delusions by onanistic neocons, the threats will disappear once new blood transfuses DC.

O Happy Day

B. Hussein Osama is coming to deliver us.

Anonymous said...

B. Hussein Osama is coming to deliver us.

Who is B. Hussein Osama?

Anonymous said...

"And if our so-called supporters screw us so badly, imagine what those who hate us under B. Hussein Osama are going to do."

Unknown who B. Hussein Osama is but it is a fact that "we" did a whole lot better with the pre-Bush Democratic administration.

Anonymous said...

I also don't know who B. Hussein Osama is, but according to Politico.com, a well-positioned Democrat has identified the two names on soon to be President-elect Obama's short list for Secretary of Energy: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.).

No joke.

Might be a good thing since both have major DOE labs in each of their states, and are very familiar with them. Remember that Schwarzenegger is on the UC Board of Regents and gets the regular LANS/LLNS briefings on what's happening at LANL and LLNL.

Anonymous said...

Dems want to keep their soon to be 60 count majority in the Senate, so there is no way Bingamin will become the new DOE chief.

Schwarzenegger isn't stupid enough to give up being Govenator of the biggest state in the Union to become manager of a broken DOE.

The next chief of DOE will not be a Governor or a Senator. It will probably be someone from industry.

As far as the "B. Hussein Osama is coming to deliver us" stuff, it appears that some people watch far too much Faux News.

I'm going to enjoy watching all the Obama haters faces on Wednesday. Yes, Barack Hussein Obama will be our next President. It will be a grand moment in American history when we elect the first black man to our highest office. My prays go with him.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, Barack Hussein Obama will be our next President."

He will not be mine as I did not vote for him :)

Anonymous said...

Whomever is elected president will be everyone's president.

There is no opt-out option just for not voting for the winner.

Anonymous said...

"Whomever is elected president will be everyone's president."

wanna bet :)

Anonymous said...

McCain said at a rally a few weeks ago that Obama was a decent family man and a fine citizen. I heartily agree.

The hateful race-baitors in America (as in "B. Hussein Osama") can go rot in Hell. We don't need them here any longer. They are part and parcel of what is helping to destroy this great country of ours.

Anonymous said...

11/1 8:44 pm: "I'm going to enjoy watching all the Obama haters faces on Wednesday."

I'm going to enjoy watching all the Obama worshipers' faces after Jan. 20, when they realize just who, and what, they elected. The Troika of Pelosi, Reid, and Obama will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

I found it interesting that just as soon as the New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, and the Washington Times endorsed McCain, their reporters were kicked off the Obama press plane. Yeah, that's called "the politics of inclusion" Obama style. Just a preview of what's to come. For example, expect to hear that anyone who disagrees with President Obama on anything must be a racist. The country is about to get much uglier under Obama, to the shock of, or maybe to the glee of, his "worshipers." Our predominately right-centrist country will elect an ultra-liberal president instead of the right-centrist McCain, mainly out of hatred for Bush. We'll regret it.

Anonymous said...

The country was right-center but eight years of Dubya have finally begun to shift public sentiment towards left-center. Whether it stays there will depend on how well Obama and the Democratic controlled Congress perform.

I think Obama has the right stuff to become a great President. Not nearly as impressed about the rest of the Dem's lineup (i.e., Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the ever obnoxious Barney Frank).

As for Bush, he's going to go down in history as one of the all time worst Presidents in US history. Of that I'm pretty sure.

Anonymous said...

"As for Bush, he's going to go down in history as one of the all time worst Presidents in US history. Of that I'm pretty sure."

Not likely. In case you missed it, the Dem congress the past 2 yrs has made things worse-not better. The Dems have fought Bush at every turn for the past 8 yrs. Get ready for pay back time. The Dems might be in majority but the Reps have plenty of ways to make Obama's life just a miserable as the Dems did for Bush.

Put your seatbelts on...it's about to begin.

Anonymous said...

If Obama wins on Tuesday Jesus will be rolling in his grave.

Anonymous said...

"If Obama wins on Tuesday Jesus will be rolling in his grave." - 8:19 AM


What grave? He arose from the dead! You don't even know your basic Bible literature (or perhaps you were trying to be sarcastic?).

But, seriously, I remember back in '92 when the US was in its last serious recession and all the Republicans were saying Clinton was going to destroy the US economy if he won the election.

What happened back then? Four years later all spectrums of US society were benefiting mightily, and things were so good that by '96 Greenspan had to warn the public of "irrational exurberance".

The Dems can be very good for American's economic health. The GOP can be very bad. Lesson learned.

Anonymous said...

If Obama wins on Tuesday, it will be Jesus' righteous judgment on our nation.


How the hell did a junior senator steeped in a life of Marxist upbringing get to be the front runner in a presidential election?

The mind boggles.

Anonymous said...

11/3/08 12:47 PM

“According to the most common interpretation of biblical prophecy, Jesus will return only after things have gone horribly awry. Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.” Harris

Anonymous said...

Sam Harris has shown that he isn't very conversant with actual Christian beliefs, but he's very good at sneering at the ridiculous strawmen that he likes to conjure up.

At any rate, I suppose we'll be looking for the return of Jesus sometime during Barack's term of office.

Anonymous said...

Christains are not very conversant with actual Christian beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this will be the beginning of a new secular era for the United States. It will be better for us, the world and the human race. God is not going determine the fate of humanity. We must use reason and science not magical and superstitous thinking to meet the future.

Anonymous said...

12:47 PM, you and Iran's kooky President seem to have a lot in common with your anticipation of horrible judgments to be hurled at America.

In the "real America", we don't sit around wistfully thinking such evil thoughts. Instead, we love our neighbors and practice tolerance and respect. You should try it out sometime. It's good for the soul.

Anonymous said...

5:37 pm: "Christains are not very conversant with actual Christian beliefs."

Non-Christians aren't very converant with spelling.

Frank Young said...

Converant Christains?

Anonymous said...

Obama is not black. He's half-white, 7/16ths-Arabic/muslim and 1/16th-black...not even enough black to legally qualify as a protected minority.
Jesus was Jewish. Most Christians are not Jewish.
Whatever...

Anonymous said...

Looks like Los Alamos county voted for Obama over McCain by a decent margin. Udall appears to have won in LA county over Pearce last I looked by 18 votes.

Anonymous said...

People with post-graduate education
voted heavily for Obama.

Anonymous said...

11/5/08 11:20 AM

A "victory" for political correctness, i.e. a weak America.

(Kantianism, Feminism, Environmentalism, Resentment, and Leftism prevailed at the election day.)

Anonymous said...

The Dems might be in majority but the Reps have plenty of ways to make Obama's life just a miserable as the Dems did for Bush.
=========================

I agree that the Democrats have essentially been throwing a childish tantrum ever since Gore lost in 2000.

However, I would hope that the Republicans would act like adults and not emulate the childish Democrats. Mr. Obama will be our President for the next 4 years, and I hope he succeeds - for if he succeeds, then the USA succeeds - and I care about the USA - and not about a Party.

Frank Young said...

Amen to that.