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America’s missile obsession (? penis envy)

Oscar-01 Launch Control FacilityShould the Nuclear Triad Be Saved? Nation presses ahead with wholesale upgrade as cracks appear in its value and utility Time  By  @MarkThompson_DC Dec. 25, 2013  The U.S. spent two generations building a nuclear triad of bombers, land-based ICBMs and missile-firing submarines to prevail in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. A generation ago, the Soviet Union went away, and we continued maintaining the triad on some kind of Strangelovian autopilot.

Now those aging weapons need to be replaced, and the Congressional Budget Office has just told us how much it’s going to cost to keep the older ones afloat while developing their replacements: $355 billion between now and 2023 (not including $74 billion getting rid of old weapons and $105 billion for missile defenses to protect against enemy missiles).

That’s a cool half-trillion dollars over the coming decade for weapons most of the world hopes are never used. It, too, is happening on autopilot. The public pays little attention to the mammoth investment it represents, and the continuing hazards of having the nation’s nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert more than 20 years after the foe they were aimed at went away.

That $355 billion to support the nation’s nuclear forces works out to $35.5 billion annually, nearly $100 million a day, $4 million an hour, $1,000 a second as far as the eye can see. And that’s only the down payment. “Annual costs are likely to continue to grow after 2023,” the CBO reports, “as production begins on replacement systems.”…..

others think the money could be better spent elsewhere, even if it stays inside the Pentagon’s purse…..

Politically, there is no stomach to take on the nuclear theologians who insist too much is at risk to scale back the triad. The same elected officials who refuse to pass annual appropriation bills, decline to grapple with entitlements like Social Security, and kick required budgetary reforms down the road for their kids to handle, squirm when the topic is discussed. Far easier, they have concluded, for the leaders simply to salute their followers.

The whole “nuclear enterprise” — a phrase that surfaced in the Pentagon when it became clear that the Cold War atomic aura had tarnished and needed to be replated, lest it fade into history — seems adrift. Most acknowledge its shrinking deterrent value. The threat no longer is a foe with a thousand nuclear warheads, but an enemy with one, where deterrence most likely would fail to deter. Even those in charge of the weapons can sense it, according to reporting over the past year by Robert Burns of the Associated Press, who has revealed one missile officer’s report of “rot” afflicting ICBM crews and an independent assessment of “burnout” among them……….http://swampland.time.com/2013/12/25/should-the-nuclear-triad-be-saved/

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December 27, 2013 - Posted by | weapons and war

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