Jan 27, 2009

What Passes As News

I was emailed a request yesterday to post a new Time article titled Obama's Showdown Over Nukes. Normally I post nearly anything requested, but I couldn't let this one pass without comment. Written by Mark Thompson, the article blends facts and quotes with opinion and agenda. The article belongs in the editorial/opinion category. It is not news.

Thompson begins by faulting Gates for not changing his opinion on the need to modernize our nuclear deterrent after being selected by President Obama to remain as defense secretary. Thompson probably didn't mean to imply that President Obama was too stupid to choose a "yes man" for the job, but that's precisely what he did imply.

Next he attempts to make hay out of a portion of a single sentence on the new White House web site, "They will stop the development of new nuclear weapons;".
"Obama would have a difficult time reversing course on what is now a stated policy of his Administration instead of simply a campaign promise. And any move to produce new nuclear weapons will be read by other nations as a U.S. push for nuclear supremacy, even as Washington urges the rest of the world — Tehran, are you listening? — to do without the weapons. Russia would very likely respond by upgrading its own arsenal."
President Obama may choose to stop the development of new nuclear weapons if it is in the nation's interest. He may choose to restart development if it is in the nation's interest. Either way, I doubt the decision will be announced in a sentence fragment on a web site. And by the way, the Russians are already upgrading their nuclear deterrent. And they haven't been complaining about RRW. What has them upset is ten missile interceptors and a radar in Europe. Put your agenda aside when you read the news, Mark. Maybe you'll start to notice things like this.

And finally, Mark, you're a little rusty on math. Using two weapons which are 50% reliable does not result in 100% confidence that at least one of them will work.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The liberal elite press hates the nuclear weapons complex. They will do all that they can to see to it that the US unilaterally disarms our strategic weapons. It's no surprise that an op-ed piece ended up being placed in the "news" section.

Whether Obama listens and obeys the liberal elite press or instead listens to his man, Bob Gates, is another matter. We shall soon see.

Anonymous said...

From Secretary Of Defense Robert M. Gates, Submitted Statement, Senate Armed Services Committee, Tuesday, January 27, 2009, 9:30 A.M., short summary:

Afghanistan and Pakistan; Iraq after SOFA [Status of Forces agreement between the U.S. and Iraq went into effect on January 1, 2009]; North Korea, Iran, and Proliferation; Russia and China; Wounded Warrior Care; Ground Force Expansion and Stress on the Force; National Guard; Nuclear Stewardship; Defending Space and Cyberspace; Wartime Procurement; Defense Acquisition; Conclusion.

Nuclear Stewardship:

I continue to believe that as long as other nations have nuclear weapons, the U.S. must maintain an arsenal of some level. The stewardship of that arsenal is perhaps the military´s most sensitive mission -- with no margin for error.

That there should be any question in that regard is why recent lapses in the handling of nuclear weapons and material were so grave. They were evidence of an erosion in training, expertise, resources, and accountability in this critical mission. And they brought severe consequences, starting at the unit level and reaching up to the top leadership of the Air Force.

Nonetheless, despite the shortcomings of the past, I do belive the U.S. nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and reliable. The Air Force has taken significant steps to improve its nuclear stewardship by:

-- Streamlining the inspection process for nuclear material to ensure that it is all handled properly;
-- Standing up a new headquarters office -- Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration -- that concentrates on policy oversight and staff integration for nuclear programs. The office´s leader reports directly to the Air Force chief of staff;
-- Creating a Global Strike Command, which has brought all of the Air Force´s nuclear-capable bombers and ICBMs under one entity; and
-- Reassigning the supply chain for nuclear programs to the complete control of the Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, which is being overhauled and expanded.

A task force headed by former Energy and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger has now reported. It has identified many trends, both recent and long-term, that may warrant corrective action. Among its recommendations:
-- A new assistant secretary of defense for deterrence to oversee nuclear management; and
-- Develop and maintain a strategic roadmap to modernize and sustain our nuclear forces.

I will be evaluating all of the Schlesinger Commission recommendations along with the new service secretaries and defense team.

(http://armed-services.senate.gov/statement/2009/January/Gates%2001-27-09.pdf)

And, A Balanced Strategy, Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age, By Robert M. Gates, From Foreign Affairs, January/February 2009, Robert M. Gates is U.S. Secretary of Defense:

And even though the days of hair-trigger superpower confrontation are over, as long as other nations possess the bomb and the means to deliver it, the United States must maintain a credible strategic deterrent. Toward this end, the Department of Defense and the air force have taken firm steps to return excellence and accountability to nuclear stewardship. Congress needs to do its part by funding the Reliable Replacement Warhead Program -- for safety, for security, and for a more reliable deterrent.

(http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20090101faessay88103/robert-m-gates/how-to-reprogram-the-pentagon.html)

In summary: I agree in Secretary Gates´remarks, it is also the common sense view, and hopefully this view in the final end will prevail over the anti-nuke view, e.g. the idealistic worldview that threaten US national interest.

Anonymous said...

"I continue to believe that as long as other nations have nuclear weapons, the U.S. must maintain an arsenal of some level."

Yes, a shrinking arsenal of the same old nukes & with no $$$ for RRW.

LANL will perhaps receive a passifier in the guise of new $$$ for non-weapons work.

Anonymous said...

LANL will perhaps receive a passifier in the guise of new $$$ for non-weapons work.

1/28/09 7:22 AM

Beyond construction and cleanup work, nothing will be given to LANL. We won't see new funding for non-weapons projects unless the staff go out and earn it through the hard work of making the necessary cold calls, entering competitions and writing new proposals.

Anastasio made this very clear in his Monday talk. Unfortunately, given the high cost structure at LANL (because of weapons work), and LANS statements that these high costs will be permanent, it will be extremely difficult for LANL to bring in new funding. And as Mike briefly mentioned on Monday, LANL doesn't have much in the way of discretionary money to let people charge the cost codes for working on these new project proposals.

Anonymous said...

Anything that comes after a phrase like "The liberal elite press" is guaranteed to be bullshit. This is an idea invented by Rupert Murdoch to get unthinking idiots like Sarah Palin and 8:41 to think his propaganda is "fair and balanced."

Anonymous said...

7:43 pm: "Anything that comes after a phrase like "The liberal elite press" is guaranteed to be bullshit."

I agree with the "elite" part. The liberal press (there is no arguing that the mainstream press isn't predominantly liberal) is just a bunch of schlubs who have just enough higher education to have become liberals, but not enough to figure out how bad their philosophy (or in the case of Obamamania, religion) is for society in general. As the new administration begins to fulfill its dream of a populace totally dependent on government, and therefore perpetually Democratic, we'll see how freedom, self-reliance, and individual privacy fare.

Anonymous said...

Freedom, self-reliance, and individual privacy haven't done so well under republicans, have they? Considering the republicans' nazi agenda, I don't have much choice but to vote democratic.

Frank Young said...

Let's limit ourselves to calling each other cowboys, buttheads, ect. "Nazi" has a specific meaning that should be reserved for those to whom it really applies.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Frank. As HBO's Bill Maher is found of saying, there has been only one group of people in history to have been like the Nazi's... and that's the NAZI's!

Casual use of this word belittles the horrors that actually took place under Hitler's regime.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that 8:18 pm said that Republicans were any better as regards "freedom, self-reliance, and individual privacy."

We The People have been singularly inattentive in safeguarding our personal freedoms lately, and the problem looks to be increasing. We seem to like it that way. I guess if you've elected a Messiah, you don't need to worry about what he might do to you.

Anonymous said...

"if you've elected a Messiah, you don't need to worry about what he might do to you."

1/28/09 10:23 PM

The only ones calling Obama a Messiah are the right wing Republicans. I believe he's a cool, smart guy who has some pragmatic leanings. He wants to help lift this country out of the approaching economic depression and stop families from descending to the point that they have to beg for food on the streets. He's been far kinder to the Republicans who helped destroy this country over the last 8 years than FDR ever was during the 1930's.

Anonymous said...

y'all are funny!

Anonymous said...

The New York Times has been an easy target as of late. The old grey lady is in serious decline, the quality of their writing, editing, and fact-checking doesn't match their previous standards. They've had to borrow money from Carlos Slim Helu and are selling space in their building just to keep running. The economy has taken a toll for sure, but also the liberal press can't sell many newspapers filled with apologies for the current administration's mistakes.

Look for the NY Times to collapse this year.

Anonymous said...

Look for the NY Times to collapse this year. - 6:35 AM

Maybe, but the name "NY Times" will still be used on a web site that recieves some ad revenue.

The web is the future for most newspapers. All of the print papers are going under: The Seattle Post Intelligencer, The Denver Post, the ABQ Tribune, you name it.

What I've been very impressed with is some of the new boys, like the web based New Mexico Independent. Good stuff!