US on Nuclear Weapons: Do As I Say Not As I Do

freda_war_and_peaceOp-Ed by Michael Hicks

Obama recently made another call to end nuclear weapons during his speech at Hiroshima; while I’m sure the words were well-intentioned they start to lose meaning when you look at the actions our country has taken on this issue in recent times. If we really want to pursue a world without nuclear weapons we should lead by example and not just preach what other countries should do while we do it ourselves.

Obama recently said in a Washington Post op-ed that we “remain on track to meet our New Start Treaty obligations so that by 2018 the number of deployed American nuclear warheads will be at their lowest levels since the 1950s.” That sounds nice but it’s not the whole picture. Let’s keep in mind that the number of operational warheads has been steadily declining since the end of the Cold War in the late ’80s. While this is progress, the decline is not an accurate picture of Obama-era policies in the last eight years.

The United States and Russia by far have the largest number of operational warheads. In 2015 the US had 4,571 while Russia had around 4,500. Coming in third place was France with 300. If you remember back in 2011, the New Start treaty went into effect – the US and Russia agreed to reduce their operational nuclear weapons by 50%. We can look at the data and see from 2011 to 2015 there’s only been a 6.7% reduction in the US.  The obligations of the treaty must be met by 2018 so there’s still time, but it looks unlikely.

On top of these numbers, we announced a plan to “modernize” our nuclear weapons in 2014. Basically, instead of removing out of date nuclear weapons we’ll use them to make ones that are smaller and more precise. Naturally, this means they’ll be easier to use. According to the government’s own budget projections, these weapons will likely cost one trillion dollars over the next 30 years. This budget exceeds Reagan’s in 1985, which at the time was the largest budget for nuclear weapon modernization.

Obama’s defense budget requests for 2017 show that the reasoning for this is to counter Russia’s “aggressive policies.” Hopefully I don’t have to keep going for you to see how much sense this makes – this sounds like Cold War logic all over again.

In 2013, the Pentagon issued a report saying that after our nuclear weapons are reduced by 50%, our nuclear force levels will be “more than adequate for what the United States needs to fulfill its national security objectives.” Before that, the Pentagon also concluded that Russia “would not be able to achieve a militarily significant advantage by any plausible expansion of its strategic nuclear forces, even in a cheating or breakout scenario under the New START Treaty.” So here we have the government saying internally there’s no issue, but externally telling the public in a press release we need to bulk things up to counter Russia’s aggressive policies. I’m amazed more people don’t acknowledge this but the only way you’d know is to spend hours reading internal papers and a lot of times you have to get access to them through the Freedom of Information Act. Most citizens don’t have time for that.

If the United States wants to lead by example it should be brave enough to take the first step in fulfilling our legal obligation to reduce our nuclear weapons, not “modernizing them” (aka making more precise ones) because we’re afraid of what another country might do. The amount of weapons we have now is enough to destroy the entire world seven times over, there’s no reason to have this many active nukes unless we plan on using them which would kill ourselves. Nations will keep holding onto their nuclear stockpile justifying it publicly with this fear logic until someone is brave enough to make the first step in the opposite direction. If the United States is really a “nation of laws” as many describe it, it’d be a good idea to start abiding by international laws we continuously ignore, including the NPT treaty of 1970 which was signed with the intention of moving towards complete nuclear disarmament.

Image Credit: Anthony Freda Art

Michael Hicks and is an independent game designer, musician and writer. You can follow him on Twitter here, or check out his website here.

  • Bill

    Nuclear weapons are a hoax. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were fire bombed so that Japan could bow out and save face (“nobody could have predicted a super weapon”), and prevent the Soviets from invading Hokkaido.

    • Arlene Lane

      YOU NEARLY HAD THAT NEARLY RIGHT, HIROSHIMA and NAGASAKI WERE NUKED 17 HOURS AFTER THE SURRENDER AND CEASE FIRE, THEY WERE NON MILITARY TOWNS, AND THE DEATH TOLL WAS NEARER 8 MILLION, and not the figure’s that we were told, THE USUAL AMERICANUS HORRIBILIS.

      • Bill

        The incoming capitalist class wanted a lot of land cleared to build the concrete and steel buildings ubiquitous in Japan today.

        • JAy J

          The Japanese were already capitalists.

          • Bill

            Uhh, yeah, except for that whole “being subjects of the emperor” thing

          • JAy J

            That had nothing to do with the economic model. Germany under Hitler was supercapitalism. So What.

      • Bill

        DID YOU REALLY JUST ALL-CAPS ME?

    • DisqusKnowitAll

      Explain how firebombing causes keloids, subcutaneous hemorrhage and
      cataracts. I would really love to see your answer for that one.

  • Arlene Lane

    I think that someone wants to ban Nuclear weapons, but they want to bomb the rest of the world with them, do you suppose that it could be AMERICANUS HORRIBILIS.

  • DisqusKnowitAll

    Guess you forgot what subcutaneous means. Only radiation could cause that kind of scarring, and firebombing could not cause the radiation levels from Fallout that was recorded at both these sites. Leukemia rates are through the roof, and firebombing would never cause that. You are deranged and a fool if you think Hiroshima and Nagasaki were faked. People like you need to be locked away in an insane asylum. Just pathetic.

    • Bill

      Subcutaneous just means at or below the skin. Only 176 people died of leukemia of the 280,000 people who were supposedly exposed to radiation. That’s extremely low for such a crowded, industrialized nation. In fact, the rate of Leukemia in Japan is half that of Panama; hardly “through the roof”.

      • JAy J

        what a dumb comment. Of course it means below the skin,.. and subcutaneous burns cannot happen from firebombing. Only radiation similar to Solar radiation could cause those kinds of burns. Maybe you are going to tell us “Ol Mr. Sun was responsible for the atomic bombings. The number of New Leukemia cases per year in the USA is 13.5 per 100,000 people. If you are capable of doing simple math, you will see Japans Leukemia radiation exposure rate of 176 deaths from 280,000 was astronomical compared to USA average. And your figure does not even include those that had Leukemia and did not die. So your post is totally false.

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