April 26, 2004


Our Hidden WMD Program: Why Bush is spending so much on nuclear weapons (Fred Kaplan, Slate, 4/23/04)

The budget is busted; American soldiers need more armor; they're running out of supplies. Yet the Department of Energy is spending an astonishing $6.5 billion on nuclear weapons this year, and President Bush is requesting $6.8 billion more for next year and a total of $30 billion over the following four years. This does not include his much-cherished missile-defense program, by the way. This is simply for the maintenance, modernization, development, and production of nuclear bombs and warheads. . . .

There is no nuclear arms race going on now. The world no longer offers many suitable nuclear targets. President Bush is trying to persuade other nations—especially "rogue regimes"—to forgo their nuclear ambitions. Yet he is shoveling money to U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories as if the Soviet Union still existed and the Cold War still raged.

These articles must just write themselves: we spend lots of money on something useless; any idiot should realize that it's useless; hey, look, isn't it ironic that we're doing things we don't want other nations doing. The rebuttals flow just as easily: this is less than three-tenths of one percent of the federal budget; reasonable people can disagree about whether today's world presents attractive targets for nuclear weapons; and most Americans insist on the admittedly parochial distinction between Libya, Iraq and North Korea, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, us. For that matter, we're not even asking the French to disarm, suggesting that we can still see a sliver of light between Jacques Chirac and Saddam Hussein.

But we shouldn't complain about the Fred Kaplans of the world. They do us the indispensible service of helping to convince the rest of the world that the President, and by extension the entire country, really is willing to nuke someone we find sufficiently annoying. We really, really are.

Posted by David Cohen at April 26, 2004 12:03 PM


Wasn't it Nixon who posited that having our enemies think the commander-in-chief a bit mad is a good thing?

I note that the increased budget increase includes maintenance and modernization. Without those twin 'Ms' you get the Kursk, don't you? Duds rusting in silos is not a credible threat.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at April 26, 2004 2:24 PM

I think that's right.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 26, 2004 2:35 PM

Why not use them?

Posted by: oj at April 26, 2004 2:41 PM

Orrin your last comment should serve to verify your mad dog status when you run for President.

Posted by: Ray Clutts at April 26, 2004 4:16 PM

I wonder if they'll develope an ICBM with dozens of GPS-guided mininukes, a nuclear shotgun designed to take out hundreds of tiny targets at once. Pashtun villages for example.

Essentially a weapon of genocide against medieval people with no industrial centres but the means, in their witless, 7th century ignorance, to shelter millenial Islamic terrorist organisations with global reach.

I hope so.

Posted by: Amos at April 26, 2004 9:14 PM