Monday, March 03, 2014

Selective Diet

(Cartoon by Steve Sack/Minneapolis Star Tribune (2/26/14).  Click on image to enlarge.)

Last week, Chuck Hagel produced his budget for the Pentagon, and it was clear that he really had cut out a lot of the excess and bloat.  That said, however, an astute observer, Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times, did a careful read of the proposed budget and found some interesting stuff.  Not every project was pared or eliminated.

From McManus' 2/26/24 column:

The headlines on the Pentagon budget unveiled by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week were all about austerity: the smallest U.S. Army since 1940; fewer aircraft, ships and armored vehicles; even some modest belt-tightening on future military pay and benefits.

But one category of military spending largely escaped the budget ax: nuclear weapons.

The United States has about 1,600 long-range nuclear weapons on active duty — more than any other country, including Vladimir Putin's Russia. Under the 2010 New START treaty, the United States and Russia agreed to reduce their arsenals to no more than 1,550 warheads apiece by 2018. The Russians are already below the treaty ceiling after taking missiles out of service as part of a modernization program. But the U.S. doesn't appear to be in any hurry. ...

...The Congressional Budget Office estimates that U.S. nuclear forces will cost $355 billion over the next 10 years. About $89 billion of that will go to replacing aging missiles, submarines and bombers, and those costs will grow much larger after 2023, the CBO warned in a recent report.

Worst of all, much of that spending is unnecessary. Almost every expert on nuclear weapons agrees that the United States has a far larger nuclear force than it needs to deter attacks.  [Emphasis added.]

I'm not so sure that being "Number One!" in this category is all that praiseworthy, especially in light of our opposition to other countries joining the nuclear club, countries such as Iran and North Korea.

Furthermore, asking Russia to comply with a treaty regarding the use of troops in the Ukraine while we still haven't complied with the new START treaty seems a bit, well, specious.

Finally, the sheer dollar amount expended to keep these fancy (and potentially world-ending) weapons up to date is patent madness at a time when our federal government claims it cannot afford unemployment benefits, foods stamps, and Medicaid expansion -- life-saving programs.

There is something terribly wrong with this picture ... shamefully wrong.

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