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  #1  
Old 07-10-2011, 12:45 AM
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Default How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

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  #2  
Old 07-10-2011, 03:34 AM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default CTBT as next important step in getting to Zero

Great conversation about the challenges of getting to Zero nukes.

As was noted by George and Bob, the NPT is weakened by perception of the USA as not really being serious about disarmament.

USA ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (which was not discussed in this diavlog) would enhance our credibility. The CNBT has been ratified by 153 nations, and Barack Obama promised to bring it to the Senate when elected president (he has not done so):

"As president, I will reach out to the Senate to secure the ratification of the CTBT at the earliest practical date."

The CTBT bans ALL nuclear explosions. Period.

It could be a helpful end run around the NPT because nations like India, Pakistan and Israel can sign on to it without joining the NPT.

The Treaty would certainly not end the threat of nuclear war, but it would be a big step forward and should be a priority of the US government.
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Old 07-10-2011, 07:03 AM
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Default A Really Bad Day for Social Science

Now, it's two diavlogs where two social scientists eschewed empiricism for the humanities. I think Perkovich did a more competent job of at least comparing several cases of nuclear states. But, it went downhill after this. If Perkovich wants to outline the motivations for why these nucear states maintain their arsenals, then he needs to examne the paradigmatic assumptions within IR theory and test them against the nuclear states' behavior. Perkovich's use of the term "interest" indicates a realist approach, but the general drift of the discussion, both from Perkovich and Wright, was liberal internationalist - not surpised there. I'd rather start talking about whether states are survivors, i.e., offensive realists, or defenders, i.e., defensive realists. A liberal approach requires information about interest groups, politicians, diplomats, etc., and Perkovich just didn't bring any scoops.
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:11 PM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Bob, on a related issue. I would very much like to see a diavlog between an advocate for traditional nuclear energy production (e.g. Rod Adams or an equivalent) and an advocate for the alternate Liquid Flouride Thorium process. Dr. Joe Bonometti would be a good choice and I suspect he would be more than willing to participate or recommend someone who would. I emailed this suggestion to your wonderful staff in mid March, but nothing has happened thus far. Thanks.
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  #5  
Old 07-10-2011, 03:36 PM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Hmmm, why doesn't hearing that Henry Kissinger wants everyone to give up all nuclear weapons give me a warm tingle of hope?
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  #6  
Old 07-10-2011, 03:54 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Quote:
Hmmm, why doesn't hearing that Henry Kissinger wants everyone to give up all nuclear weapons give me a warm tingle of hope?
It works for me. It suggests that he realizes US global hegemony cannot rest on WMD supremacy. Nukes are too dangerous to exist anywhere; they weaken American power rather enhance it.

The so-called Cold Warrior Gang of Four (George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn ) send a message that you can still be a military hawk and an arch-patriot while recognizing that nukes are a recipe for the kind of conflict that will kill millions of people and threaten democracy, capitalism and even global civilization.

What's troubling in the lack-of-hope department is that being anti-nukes among Repubicans only becomes fashionable once the officials leave office.

What we need are more Republicans and Democrats today to join Global Zero (and similar abolitionist movements) and to expect whoever is in the White House to move the ball forward.

Obama, to his credit, did two important things: 1) Explicitly stated the goal of abolition (although he backtracked and hedged afterwards) and 2) got New Start through the Senate.

Without going too much into the weeds, there's still plenty more he could have done and still can do. The bare minimum is getting the CTBT ratified.
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  #7  
Old 07-10-2011, 05:37 PM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
It works for me. It suggests that he realizes US global hegemony cannot rest on WMD supremacy. Nukes are too dangerous to exist anywhere; they weaken American power rather enhance it.

The so-called Cold Warrior Gang of Four (George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn ) send a message that you can still be a military hawk and an arch-patriot while recognizing that nukes are a recipe for the kind of conflict that will kill millions of people and threaten democracy, capitalism and even global civilization.
I agree with your assessment of Obama, but as far as Kissinger goes, I simply don't believe him. Were he in power still, I can't imagine him actually pushing for all countries, including the US, to give up all nuclear weapons, much less allow inspections.

With regard to the limiting nuclear weapons rhetoric vs actuality, I seem to have read recently (I can't find the source now) that the US is budgeting to spent many additional billions of dollars to modernize its own stash. Perhaps something to do with a large new program at Los Alamos? Did I dream this? If it is the case, wouldn't a sensible first step toward zero nukes be to at least stop expanding the arsenal?
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:25 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Quote:
I agree with your assessment of Obama, but as far as Kissinger goes, I simply don't believe him. Were he in power still, I can't imagine him actually pushing for all countries, including the US, to give up all nuclear weapons, much less allow inspections.
That often happens with hawks. They retire and become less bellicose (cf. Robert McNamara). Kissinger (quite arguably a major war criminal) is no dove, however, which makes the Realpolitik argument for abolition even more compelling.

Quote:
With regard to the limiting nuclear weapons rhetoric vs actuality, I seem to have read recently (I can't find the source now) that the US is budgeting to spent many additional billions of dollars to modernize its own stash. Perhaps something to do with a large new program at Los Alamos? Did I dream this?
No, you didn't dream it.

Quote:
President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget blueprint calls for an increase in funding of more than 13 percent for the agency that oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, a greater percentage increase than for any other government agency....

The $11.2 billion request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) represents a 13.4 percent increase for the agency from the previous fiscal year. Most agencies across the rest of the government saw either no increase in the spending plan announced this week or a single-digit percentage increase.
Nuclear weapons spending, by the way, is hidden throughout various departments and agencies in the federal government (most notably Dept. of Energy), so it's hard to even get an accurate number on how much taxpayers contribute annually to maintaining the doomsday arsenal. A megatonload, suffice to say. (Wake up, Tea Party!)

Quote:
If it is the case, wouldn't a sensible first step toward zero nukes be to at least stop expanding the arsenal?
Yes, increased WMD spending by the USA is yet another reason why other countries laugh in our face when we talk about disarmament. Notwithstanding all that, Global Zero is mapping out a pathway that takes into account all the self-interests, profits, secrecy, dishonesty and hypocrisy. Abolition may still be doable. The alternative remains unthinkable.
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  #9  
Old 07-10-2011, 06:43 PM
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

I don't know much about government, or military agencies, but this is what I found about the NNSA. Either the budget or the agency's function or both doesn't make sense.

Quote:
NNSA has four missions with regard to National Security:

To provide the United States Navy with safe, militarily effective nuclear propulsion plants and to ensure the safe and reliable operation of those plants.
To promote international nuclear safety and nonproliferation.
To reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction.
To support United States leadership in science and technology.

The NNSA maintains a database containing personal information on 37,000 persons who design and maintain nuclear weapons for the U. S. government.

The NNSA's Office of Secure Transportation (OST) provides safe and secure transportation of nuclear weapons and components and special nuclear materials, and conducts other missions supporting the national security of the United States of America. Since 1974, OST has been assigned responsibility to develop, operate, and manage a system for the safe and secure transportation of all government-owned, DOE or NNSA controlled special nuclear materials in "strategic" or "significant" quantities. Shipments are transported in specially designed equipment and are escorted by armed federal agents.

The agency works in more than 130 countries to recover nuclear materials. In its 12-year history it has collected 20,600 dangerous sources of radiation. In 2008, the agency recovered 3,153 radioactive sources. Its current backlog of uncollected items numbers 8,800. The program costs about $15 million a year. Most of the recovered material is stored at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.[2]
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  #10  
Old 07-10-2011, 07:26 PM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default The states that exit the federal system would not have nukes

An advantage of states dropping out of the federal system is all of North America could rework its nuclear umbrella.

Just like the countries in Europe are not a target for nuclear attack, a less centralized US would also not be a target. And being further from the turbulent parts of the world than Europe, we would arguably be less of a target.
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  #11  
Old 07-10-2011, 07:59 PM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
No, you didn't dream it.
That's it, thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
(Wake up, Tea Party!)
Unlikely since they seem to think they are the only ones already awake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Yes, increased WMD spending by the USA is yet another reason why other countries laugh in our face when we talk about disarmament.
Exactly, and George spent virtually the whole diavlog talking about how to get those other countries to disarm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Notwithstanding all that, Global Zero is mapping out a pathway that takes into account all the self-interests, profits, secrecy, dishonesty and hypocrisy. Abolition may still be doable. The alternative remains unthinkable.
Thanks for the hopeful outlook. I agree. Many military, social, and ecological unthinkable alternatives seem to be looming while Nero fiddles with himself.
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  #12  
Old 07-10-2011, 08:06 PM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
I don't know much about government, or military agencies, but this is what I found about the NNSA. Either the budget or the agency's function or both doesn't make sense.
With the prevailing double standard mindset, these two missions can be easily twisted to justify the expansion of the US's stockpile:

Eg

To promote international nuclear safety and nonproliferation (in other countries).

To reduce global danger (to the US and its allies) from weapons of mass destruction.
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  #13  
Old 07-10-2011, 08:08 PM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: The states that exit the federal system would not have nukes

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Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
An advantage of states dropping out of the federal system is all of North America could rework its nuclear umbrella.

Just like the countries in Europe are not a target for nuclear attack, a less centralized US would also not be a target. And being further from the turbulent parts of the world than Europe, we would arguably be less of a target.
I don't think so. Large urban centers, which are currently the tempting targets, will always be potential targets whether they are capitals of independent states or part of a larger national system.
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Old 07-10-2011, 08:33 PM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: The states that exit the federal system would not have nukes

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Originally Posted by sapeye View Post
I don't think so. Large urban centers, which are currently the tempting targets, will always be potential targets whether they are capitals of independent states or part of a larger national system.
I don't know about that. Germany is not threatened even though it does not have nuclear weapons. I am thinking once we regionalize we can collectively be non aligned and certainly have a much smaller footprint overseas. Where we give up all but the bomber part of the triad and concentrate on missile defense. At that point it is Russia and China which can square off against each other. Or whatever. Not our concern.

Maybe another way to look at this is to ask what happens if the US unilaterally disarms. To do that we would have to bring all the troops home. Put up trade and immigration barriers. The less we have to do commercially and politically with the rest of the world, the less other countries have reason to clash with us.
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Old 07-10-2011, 09:05 PM
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Excellent discussion. Thanks to both.
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  #16  
Old 07-10-2011, 10:49 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Quote:
I don't know much about government, or military agencies, but this is what I found about the NNSA. Either the budget or the agency's function or both doesn't make sense.
Yep. Nuclear expenditures are buried in the budget deeper than the underground silos.

Helpful sources for calculations are below. The link shows how we calculate WMD money every year per capita for our county. We hold a press conference at our County Government Center on April 15 Tax Day. In the past couple of years there's a competing (or not?) Tea Party rally.


Quote:
DOCUMENTATION AND SOURCES
The national average nuclear cost per person of $175.89 was obtained by dividing total U.S. nuclear weapons expenditures of $54 billion (see sources 2, 3) by the total U.S. population of 307,006,550 (see source 1)

$54,000,000,000.00 ÷ 307,006,550 = $175.89

SOURCES
1. U.S. census Bureau estimate ('09)
http://censtats.census.gov/usa/usa.shtml
2. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace - Stephen I. Schwartz, Deepti Choubey (1/09)
3. Center for Strategic Budget Analysis - Steven Kosiak, Vice President of Budget Studies - www.csba.org
additional sources:
U.S. Department of Defense
Center for Defense Information
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:33 PM
sapeye sapeye is offline
 
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Default Re: The states that exit the federal system would not have nukes

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Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
I don't know about that. Germany is not threatened even though it does not have nuclear weapons. I am thinking once we regionalize we can collectively be non aligned and certainly have a much smaller footprint overseas. Where we give up all but the bomber part of the triad and concentrate on missile defense. At that point it is Russia and China which can square off against each other. Or whatever. Not our concern.

Maybe another way to look at this is to ask what happens if the US unilaterally disarms. To do that we would have to bring all the troops home. Put up trade and immigration barriers. The less we have to do commercially and politically with the rest of the world, the less other countries have reason to clash with us.
I don't think it's necessary or practical to break up into individual states to accomplish what you propose. I know that's your hobby horse, but it isn't mine, since it's not going to happen without huge turmoil and suffering. I also don't think complete isolationism is the answer. As Bob and George discussed, forcing yourself and your desires on other countries is quite different from being available for mutually desired/beneficial engagement. As in all social engagement, becoming completely isolated is not the only way to resolve or dissolve conflict.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:38 AM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Yep. Nuclear expenditures are buried in the budget deeper than the underground silos.

Helpful sources for calculations are below. The link shows how we calculate WMD money every year per capita for our county. We hold a press conference at our County Government Center on April 15 Tax Day. In the past couple of years there's a competing (or not?) Tea Party rally.
Okay, let me be more specific. You quoted this:

Quote:
The $11.2 billion request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) represents a 13.4 percent increase for the agency from the previous fiscal year.
I found this quote:

Quote:
In 2008, the agency recovered 3,153 radioactive sources. Its current backlog of uncollected items numbers 8,800. The program costs about $15 million a year.
There's a huge difference in budget amounts between the two quotes. I wanted to know which one was correct.

Also, your comment and quote suggests that the only/primary function for the agency is to increase the nuclear arsenal, and the implication for a budget increase would be that the government is supporting to increase it. However, the link I supplied refers to other functions for the agency, which include safety issues, handling of nuclear waste and materials and working on non-proliferation. In that case, it isn't clear that the increase budget has as a goal to increase the arsenal. If there was an initiative to decrease the same or make necessary arrangements for safety issues, or escalate non-proliferation initiatives, the budget would need to be increased. That's the core of my question. I truly don't know the answer to the question, but I can see that there's more than one possibility. Therefore, clarification is needed.
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:03 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: The states that exit the federal system would not have nukes

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Originally Posted by sapeye View Post
I don't think it's necessary or practical to break up into individual states to accomplish what you propose. I know that's your hobby horse, but it isn't mine, since it's not going to happen without huge turmoil and suffering. I also don't think complete isolationism is the answer. As Bob and George discussed, forcing yourself and your desires on other countries is quite different from being available for mutually desired/beneficial engagement. As in all social engagement, becoming completely isolated is not the only way to resolve or dissolve conflict.
I think you are not factoring in how empires work. In an empire, the will of the people becomes secondary to the desires of those with special interests in the FP of the empire. By breaking the US into regions, the feds will no longer have the resources to routinely project force overseas.

Regarding isolationism, I don't see import tariffs and sharp limits on immigration as being harmful. Such a policy works very well for China.
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:53 AM
sugarkang sugarkang is offline
 
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Default Re: The states that exit the federal system would not have nukes

Quote:
Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
Regarding isolationism, I don't see import tariffs and sharp limits on immigration as being harmful. Such a policy works very well for China.
Mercantilism doesn't get you to first world status. China's logical conclusion is Japan and South Korea. Both of those countries are scrambling to sign free trade agreements.
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  #21  
Old 07-11-2011, 02:54 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Quote:
There's a huge difference in budget amounts between the two quotes. I wanted to know which one was correct.
The 15 million is for one program the agency administers.

Quote:
Also, your comment and quote suggests that the only/primary function for the agency is to increase the nuclear arsenal, and the implication for a budget increase would be that the government is supporting to increase it. However, the link I supplied refers to other functions for the agency, which include safety issues, handling of nuclear waste and materials and working on non-proliferation. In that case, it isn't clear that the increase budget has as a goal to increase the arsenal. If there was an initiative to decrease the same or make necessary arrangements for safety issues, or escalate non-proliferation initiatives, the budget would need to be increased. That's the core of my question. I truly don't know the answer to the question, but I can see that there's more than one possibility. Therefore, clarification is needed.
The rest of the article I cited goes into more of a breakdown of the budget. For example:

Quote:
At the NNSA, the Obama administration is seeking a funding increase of 25 percent, to $2 billion, for the continued safety and surety of the nuclear weapons stockpile. That would ensure funds for the agency to reach full production of the refurbished Navy W-76 Trident submarine warhead, to refurbish the B-61 bomb, and to study options for maintaining the W-78, the warhead in the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile.

In addition, the budget request provides for a 10.4 percent increase, to $1.6 billion, in funds for additional work in science and technology to enhance confidence in the annual certification of the nuclear stockpile. An additional $2 billion would go to the long-term program to upgrade weapons-complex facilities, including a new plutonium facility for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a uranium manufacturing plant at Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Also note that Repub. hawks are unsatisfied and wanted more to cut a deal on New START (which passed) and CTBT (which hasnt'):

Quote:
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who has actively followed negotiations over a new nuclear treaty with Russia, said the increase in the budget was "a definite improvement over previous years." But he said he will be meeting with administration officials to make certain that the budget correlates with the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review and the 10-year modernization plan that could help in dealing with any future treaty.

"The budget signals that the price for the START follow-on agreement with Russia and Senate certification of the CTBT [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty] is additional money for nuclear weapons modernization and production facilities," said Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists.
Finally, the line items that often look like they're not for nukes have an indirect nuke weapon component, eg. keeping nuke experts on payroll and standby:

Quote:
He said the additional funds for research will provide continued employment for scientists so that skills remain to build new nuclear weapons if needed.
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  #22  
Old 07-11-2011, 08:51 PM
Ocean Ocean is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Has anybody calculated how much funds would be needed if the military wanted to start decreasing the number of nukes, in terms of disabling devices and storing unused nuclear materials and related costs? I'm just curious about how that would work in practice.
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  #23  
Old 07-11-2011, 09:53 PM
Wonderment Wonderment is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

Quote:
Has anybody calculated how much funds would be needed if the military wanted to start decreasing the number of nukes, in terms of disabling devices and storing unused nuclear materials and related costs? I'm just curious about how that would work in practice.
Way above my pay grade, but good question. The Global Zero people have done a lot of work on the technical aspects of disarmament, so if you're interested you could start researching there. Hopefully, Bob will have more guests with that kind of pragmatic expertise.

One depressing aspect of the problem is that even those nuclear bombs we have decommissioned are not really dead and buried with a stake through their hearts. There's something about the "pit" that I don't really understand, but I think there's a way the old ones could come back to life, if we ever actually needed a few thousand extra nukes, say to destroy a dozen or so more planets after we finish up with Earth.
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  #24  
Old 07-12-2011, 08:18 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

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Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
Way above my pay grade, but good question. The Global Zero people have done a lot of work on the technical aspects of disarmament, so if you're interested you could start researching there. Hopefully, Bob will have more guests with that kind of pragmatic expertise.

One depressing aspect of the problem is that even those nuclear bombs we have decommissioned are not really dead and buried with a stake through their hearts. There's something about the "pit" that I don't really understand, but I think there's a way the old ones could come back to life, if we ever actually needed a few thousand extra nukes, say to destroy a dozen or so more planets after we finish up with Earth.
and yet you would not support states dropping out of the federal system. The allure of empire, political power and national social programs like the EITC. If the US was more like the EU it would not have a go it alone FP, which would lead to a dismantling of our ICBMs and sub fleet.
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Old 07-12-2011, 08:01 PM
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

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Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
and yet you would not support states dropping out of the federal system.
Perhaps your time has come?
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  #26  
Old 07-13-2011, 06:45 AM
DenvilleSteve DenvilleSteve is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

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the only problem with a new south west california state is it would have to be able to control its borders. Otherwise, the descendants of the people who started the state would soon be outnumbered and themselves retreat further into the interior to have a society of their own.
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Old 07-13-2011, 03:18 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nonproliferation (Robert Wright & George Perkovich)

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Originally Posted by DenvilleSteve View Post
and yet you would not support states dropping out of the federal system. The allure of empire, political power and national social programs like the EITC. If the US was more like the EU it would not have a go it alone FP, which would lead to a dismantling of our ICBMs and sub fleet.
Or a fight over nukes.

Makes me think of Tom Lehrer.
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