THE SECOND COMING OF MIRVS: THE FUTURE OF STRATEGIC ARMS COMPETITION
SAMEER LALWANI AND TRAVIS WHEELER
AUGUST 23, 2016
Some 18 years ago, India and Pakistan conducted successive nuclear tests, joining China as Southern Asia’s three overt nuclear powers and transforming the region into a nuclear trilemma. Both India and Pakistan have developed their arsenals at a measured pace, at least compared to historical standards. Today, however, there are concerns that we could be witnessing a potential slow-moving, but cascading, arms competition in the region following China’s deployment of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), or multiple-warhead missiles, in 2015. In contrast to city-busting nuclear payloads sufficient to hold population centers at risk, MIRVs enable a single missile to carry several nuclear warheads, potentially to strike several distinct targets. MIRVs are particularly destabilizing because they enable the possessor state to target an adversary’s nuclear assets in a preemptive first strike.
Between the late 1960s and mid-1970s, the United States and the Soviet Union inducted MIRVs into their nuclear arsenals, moves that encouraged massive growth in warhead stockpiles and led both sides to entertain counterforce targeting and nuclear warfighting scenarios. If the Cold War competition is any guide, the reemergence of MIRVs could put strategic stability in Southern Asia to the test. Indeed, a recently released Stimson Center book — The Lure and Pitfalls of MIRVS: From the First to the Second Nuclear Age — concludes that India and Pakistan may follow China in deploying multiple-warhead missiles just as the Soviet Union sought to match U.S. capabilities during the Cold War.
Such technical discussions often remain confined to the nuclear security community, but the second coming of MIRVs contains broader implications for international security. Whether MIRV developments escalate into arms races over the next decade will depend on the influence of five critical variables: perceptions, doctrine, management, deliberations, and costs.
States care about how others perceive nuclear platforms as much as they care about their actual usefulness. Theories of international politics expect material interests to trump non-material preferences under conditions of intense security pressure, but the Cold War experience demonstrates that states sometimes make foreign policy choices independent of objective military utility.
In our new book, Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long show how the desire to influence perceptions of geopolitical value or the arms balance drove U.S. policymakers to field MIRVs during the Cold War, rather than “objective military significance.” In essence, the United States believed that maintaining the nuclear balance in terms of capabilities mattered because it militated the Soviet willingness to enter into a war with the United States while strengthening American alliances in Europe. Deterrence and reassurance hinged as much on perceptions as material realities.
Second nuclear age powers may employ similar logic and discount the notion that fixed numbers of weapons are sufficient for deterrence. Rising powers like India may acquire advanced capabilities to affect adversary calculations, augment international prestige, or achieve broader diplomatic goals. Rajesh Basrur and Jaganath Sankaran aver that Indian leaders are determined to obtain MIRVs not so much for military purposes, but because the mere possession of such capabilities confers a currency of prestige and might prod China to recognize India as a major power with a better bargaining position in future engagements.
Understanding these perception- and prestige-based motives is critical, though dissuading states’ pursuit of MIRVs and other counterforce capabilities will be challenging to say the least.
Development of new military technologies does not necessarily mean shifts in strategic doctrine, but adversaries may misread this since nuclear capabilities often have offensive and defensive uses that are difficult to differentiate. This hazard is present with MIRVs because affixing multiple warheads to missiles could mean a state is either seeking a first-strike capability or reinforcing its ability to conduct a retaliatory second strike, which has come under duress. In short, the meaning of MIRV developments is still quite open to debate.
The most common interpretation of Chinese MIRVs is that they might imply the adoption of a more offensive doctrine. However, Jeffrey Lewis suggests in our new book that the Chinese may have embraced some technologies associated with counterforce without thinking through the strategic implications or altering their existing nuclear strategy of deterrence by punishment, which emphasizes countervalue retaliation against cities. Others have argued that MIRVs, penetration aids, and related technologies are intended to shore up assured retaliation, which some Chinese scholars worry is currently an uncertain retaliation posture lacking credibility. From this vantage point, MIRVs indicate that China wants to overcome nascent U.S. missile defenses and bolster perceptions that it possesses a modern arsenal, which Chinese leaders believe enhances the credibility of its deterrent.
The point is that new platforms are not imbued with any inherent meaning. This is especially the case with MIRVs, which enable offensive and defensive nuclear options. The danger of misconstruing new military technologies is particularly high in a strategic environment prone to inter-state wars, crises, and hyperbolic threat inflation. Appreciation of new technology’s multiple meanings along with transparent discussion can help to reduce misinterpretation of intentions.
Political leaders’ supervision of strategic establishments can have far-reaching implications for nuclear doctrine and regional stability. Poor management of strategic architectures and nuclear portfolios can incentivize institutions within a state to pursue their own prerogatives while jeopardizing national security. Organizational pathologies can create principal-agent problems that undermine leadership intentions or nuclear doctrine. These could send confused or even dangerous signals to an adversary.
Some argue that the Indian civilian leadership’s mismanagement of the strategic portfolio and exclusion of the military from nuclear decisionmaking leaves the research and development agency — the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) — unchecked to pursue missiles and weapons systems without concern for strategic and geopolitical consequences. Indeed, DRDO is working on MIRVs and other strategic technologies even though Indian prime ministers have not weighed in on whether such capabilities should be designed, tested, and deployed. DRDO’s semi-autonomous moves have raised questions about India’s commitment to a restrained nuclear doctrine and provoked Pakistani fears over survivability of its strategic forces.
Political leaders in Pakistan are also deferential in managing nuclear affairs and weapons development matters. In the book, Feroz Khan and Mansoor Ahmed contend that Pakistan’s political leaders are unwilling to challenge the military-scientific consensus on strategic capabilities let alone debate these issues in public, potentially rendering Pakistan’s nuclear strategists and force planners less sensitive to other states’ concerns and threat perceptions.
Despite a different civil-military architecture, Soviet policymakers also ceded weapons procurement and development decisions to other entities. According to Alexei Arbatov and Vladimir Dvorkin, this was because the political-military leadership dealt almost exclusively with “big picture” issues related to nuclear weapons employment. Consequently, Soviet force planners were able to push forward with launch-on-warning technologies despite the fact that the leadership had not considered whether these systems altered nuclear doctrine or increased the likelihood of an accidental nuclear exchange.
Proactive management to check dangerous signals inherent in certain technologies could help stabilize the strategic competition in Southern Asia today.
Internal and external exchanges on security tradeoffs and arms control may dampen the pernicious effects of strategic competition. A broad and inclusive internal deliberation on the development and employment of new technologies like MIRVs can force states to weigh the costs, risks, and negative externalities. The historical record suggests that the United States engaged in vigorous strategic debates inclusive of civilian leadership, the military, and the intelligence community over the relative merits of multiple-warhead missiles. Arbatov and Dvorkin argue, by contrast, that the Soviet government dismissed risks and brooked no discussion of the possibility that MIRVing could trigger security dilemmas and arms race spirals.
Under certain conditions, external dialogues on strategic issues can provide a valuable forcing function for a state to seriously grapple with, prioritize, and clarify its interests amongst competing internal factions often operating on distinct agendas. China may be reluctant to engage in such conversations with the outside world at present, but that should not stop the United States from trying. Lewis points out that China’s participation in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty negotiations in the 1990s proved valuable because it functioned as a mechanism for internal resolution of disputes within the state.
The indirect clarifying effect of dialogue can help avoid unintended competition among adversaries. A non-traditional approach to resolving inter-state conflict might embrace arms control not as a constraint, but as a tool to manage weapons systems, reconcile tradeoffs, and enhance national defenses.
States may be forced to choose between robust nuclear arsenals and sustained economic growth. MIRVing at any level demands costly investments up front to master re-entry technology and produce fissile material, warheads, and delivery vehicles. A move down the path of counterforce encounters an infinite number of military targets and requires the development of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms for discrete targeting. It is these ISR costs in particular that may prove most prohibitive for states. Basrur and Sankaran estimate that the cost of a satellite array for 24/7 observation of a single missile base could cost $6.4 billion, more than half of what the Indian budget has allocated for procurement this year.
As it did to the Soviet Union, the fiscal costs of intense arms competition could pose significant economic challenges for second nuclear age powers. Though difficult to compare different economies across decades, available data normalized across all countries to 1990 dollars reveals the conundrum. China’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in 2010 ($8,032) is half of what the United States’ was when it began fielding these weapons in the 1970s ($15,030) while India’s ($3,372) and Pakistan’s ($2,494) are even lower today than the USSR’s GDP per capita in 1970 ($5,575). As the USSR sought to compete with the United States over MIRV deployments around 1970, its GDP per capita growth slowed to a quarter of its rate from the previous 20 years and half the rate of U.S. growth from 1970-1990 until it ultimately collapsed.
The economic tradeoffs tell an important story. The second nuclear age states—already contending with major conventional force modernization projects and internal security challenges—would likely have to siphon resources from their economic development agenda in order to compete in counterforce capabilities.
Lessons for Strategic Observers
MIRVs undoubtedly up the ante in Southern Asia — and China, India, and Pakistan must take these risks seriously and adjust course to avoid a destabilizing arms race. That being said, all strategic observers must be cognizant of states’ complex motives in pursuing such capabilities while acknowledging the difficulty interpreting the meaning for doctrine and posture. Threat assessments benefit from considering the effects variables such as management, deliberations, and fiscal tradeoffs could have on the spread of MIRVs and broader security outcomes in a complex, evolving international environment.
Sameer Lalwani (@splalwani) is Deputy Director of the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center. Travis Wheeler (@travisdwheeler), a Research Associate in Stimson’s South Asia Program, was co-editor of The Lure and Pitfalls of MIRVs.
THE NUCLEAR OPTION: IRAN FILLS VACUUM LEFT BY OBAMA’S AMERICA
15 Sep 2015
You may not like ex-Vice President Dick Cheney and you may not miss former President George W. Bush but you have to give them credit. They did not do things halfway.
They didn’t just nudge over a vicious dictator in Iraq and then scurry away. They didn’t just encourage an uprising and then pretend they had nothing to do with it. They didn’t inspire insurrections across several continents and then waltz away like innocent bystanders.
No, Mr. Bush announced that he would depose Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein. Then he deployed the most ferocious military campaign ever assembled. He conquered the country and eventually found Hussein, who was then hanged.
Even then, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney were not finished. They spent massive amounts more of political and monetary capital rebuilding the country they had just annihilated. And whenever mayhem seeped back in, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney threw more and more troops against it to stand the country up.
They never gave up. Never quit. And if they were still in power, they would still be fighting that war.
Sure, it wasn’t easy. Not for them, not for voters. And, most of all, not for the soldiers and their families.
But the unwavering commitment of the commander in chief, at least, ensured that the sacrifices were made on behalf of a grateful and somber nation.
Compare that unshakable commitment to their own world vision and America’s role in it to that of President Obama.
He doesn’t care about the Middle East. He certainly doesn’t care about Israel. He has no hope that the Islamofascist networks spreading like cancer throughout the world can be brought to heel to live peaceably among civilized people.
Give them all the power they need to once and for all deal with Israel, which they insist they want to see wiped off the map. Let them deal with the civil war in Syria. Let them deal with the Islamic State and all their human roastings.
Let the mullahs deal with the slaughtering of Christians and women in North Africa. Let them deal with the child murderers and rapists.
In other words, Mr. Obama wants the United States of America to recede from the world stage and allow that vacuum be filled by the Islamic Republic of Iran. That is the MOST charitable explanation for this dastardly deal with one of the most heinous regimes on the planet today.
Why would a president who swore an oath of allegiance to America trade away her most hard-won influence around the world? Why would a president care so little about protecting the country against enemies who want to destroy us? Why would a world leader so callously give up hope on the rest of the world?
Is the man dumb? Is he evil? Or, is he so in love with himself that he cannot see the madness he wreaks?
Hard to say. But he is certainly a man who is not capable of more than half answers to very serious problems.
Don’t like war? Okay, then just pull the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. See how that work out.
The problem with half-answers to perilous problems is that they are like half-bridges over perilous seas. Just a highway to sure suicide.
Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter via @charleshurt.
Deterrence on steroids: Pakistani strategists embrace nuclear option as answer to Indian threat
Cyril Almeida · Yesterday · 12:30 pm
The good thing about nuclear weapons is that they’re relatively simple to understand. None of that order of battle stuff and how one set of jets stacks up against another set of tanks and what not.
I have a bomb and if you invade me, I’m going to use the bomb, so you better not ever think of attacking me. Simple.
The bad thing about nuclear weapons is that, when their purpose and potential use is articulated by military minds, they can get awfully complicated. And complicatedly dangerous.
Just don’t expect the boys here to let you in on that.
“In view of the growing conventional asymmetry, the National Command Authority reiterated the national resolve to maintain ‘Full Spectrum Deterrence Capability’ in line with the dictates of ‘Credible Minimum Deterrence’ to deter all forms of aggression, adhering to the policy of avoiding an arms race.”
Thus spake the Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations in a press release this week.
It sounded terribly important, so it made splashy headlines. But what did it mean? Few seemed to understand or even care. Not even some of the civilian participants in the National Command Authority meeting, if the picture accompanying the press release is anything to go by.
But matter it does, so let’s get down to it.
Gone though the boys are pretending it’s not ‒ is the old nuclear doctrine of credible minimum deterrence. That was the simple business of having a handful of nukes to ensure India would never invade us.
It was based on the fairly robust presumption that India would not like to be nuked and that, no matter what it did, no matter how massively and widely and quickly it attacked, it could never be sure we didn’t have a surviving nuke or two to lob India’s way.
Credible minimum deterrence was simple, elegant ‒ and enough. But then, because they can and because of the way they see the world and understand security, the boys decided it was not enough.
In its place came this newfangled business of full-spectrum deterrence. It is based on, roughly, four elements. First is the high-end of the spectrum ‒ long-range missiles. In March Paistan tested something called the Shaheen-III, which has the rather specific stated range of 2,750 km.
Why 2,750 km? Well, if you pull out a map and look for the Andaman and Nicobar islands, you’ll see they’re roughly 2,750 km from Pakistan. India controls those islands and is apparently working on militarising them. And India has plenty of long-range missiles of its own.
Theoretically, if India had a land mass somewhere that Pakistani missiles could not reach, then India could put a bunch of nuclear missiles there and apparently threaten Pakistan.
So we need to be able to hit the Andaman and Nicobar islands, the farthest outpost of India from Pakistan, with our own nukes. Because, apparently, being able to hit every other part of India with nuclear missiles is not credible enough.
Second, the low-end of the spectrum: very-short-range missiles, aka tactical nuclear weapons. That controversial expansion was based on an even more controversial idea ‒ vague Indian musings on Cold Start and the possibility of rapid and shallow India military ingresses into Pakistan.
Apparently, there’s a way for India to make war on Pakistan without declaring war on Pakistan ‒ and to contend with that, we needed to develop tiny little nukes that we can use to bomb the Indians on our soil. Go figure.
Third is an assured second-strike capability. Missiles can be found, planes can be knocked out of the sky, but nuclear submarines ‒ now they are always on the move and impossible for an enemy to find all simultaneously.
So, yes, at some point you’re going to hear that Pakistan is going for a sea-based nuclear option, ie nuclear submarines. At that point, you’ll also wonder how it’s possible to keep warheads and missiles physically separate in a nuclear submarine, like we say we do with the rest for security reasons. It’s not.
Fourth is something called ambiguity: we don’t tell the world or India just how many, even in rough terms, nuclear weapons we have. The idea is to keep India guessing ‒ if they can’t be sure how many we have, they can’t be sure if any war plan of theirs will succeed.
The rewards of ambiguity
Ambiguity works because it creates doubt ‒ but it also turns on its head credible minimum deterrence. That worked by suggesting a few is enough; full-spectrum deterrence works by suggesting you have more bombs at every tier than the enemy can ever be sure his military can find and neutralise.
The boys insist full-spectrum deterrence is not open-ended. The four elements ‒ long-range missiles; tactical nuclear weapons; assured second-strike capability; and ambiguity ‒ add up to a finite, but classified, number of nuclear weapons that we need.
The immediate problem
But then they slip in something else ‒ deterrence is not static. Which is just another way of saying an arms race can’t be ruled out. The really wild and woolly frontiers are out there: MIRVs (essentially, multiple warheads atop a single missile ‒ the most dangerous kind); missile defence (you’d need more nukes to swamp a futuristic system); and space.
Scary as that sounds, that’s for the distant future. The more immediate problem is already here: the boys have internalised nukes as the answer to an ever-growing range of threats that they perceive from India.
Indian military base in Andaman and Nicobar? Build a big nuke. Cold Start and Integrated Battle Groups? Build a small nuke. India is going the sea route? Get nuclear submarines and build sea-based nukes.
Full-spectrum deterrence is about the creeping nuclearisation of most conflict scenarios ‒ and the swagger that comes with the belief that defeat can never be suffered.
Really, what could go wrong with that?
This article was first published on Dawn.com.
Attack on Iran could set back bomb effort two years
Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
3 hours ago
WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) — U.S. airstrikes aimed at Iran’s nuclear facilities would likely set back the regime’s quest for a weapon by one or two years and require waves of attacks spearheaded by the ultra-heavy conventional bomb known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, according to military officials and experts.
A comprehensive attack aimed first at taking down Iran’s air defenses and destroying its deeply buried nuclear facilities would provide a “moderate confidence level” that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon would be set back by as much as two years, said a senior officer familiar with the planning.
Two senior officers involved in planning potential Iran attacks spoke to USA TODAY. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
President Obama wrote an op-ed piece this week that ran in papers across the country, saying that if Iraq violates the recently negotiated agreement, “it’s possible that we won’t have any other choice than to act militarily.”
A U.S. attack on Iran, according to two officers involved in planning and several others interviewed for this story, requires more than pinpoint strikes against that country’s nuclear facilities. It could spawn retaliatory attacks in the Persian Gulf if Iran retaliates by attempting to choke off shipping.
“A strike would try to reduce as much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure as possible, recognizing it wouldn’t be perfect or permanently eliminate it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow and military expert at the Brookings Institution.
An air war such as that, with as many as 1,000 aircraft sorties over several days to a week, would likely destroy power plants and other infrastructure associated with Iran’s nuclear facilities, O’Hanlon said. He estimates that would set back Iran’s nuclear program, which it maintains are for peaceful purposes, from one to five years.
The first wave of a “two-pronged attack”
Even before the first bombs fall and missiles are fired for such an attack, the Pentagon would need to shift people and weaponry to the Middle East.
Public diplomatic overtures to allies in the region will likely be made seeking access to bases and port facilities for U.S. forces, said a second senior planning officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Patriot missiles, which can shoot down enemy missiles, would be deployed to protect bases and other facilities in the region. The Air Force might even announce weapons testing of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a huge bomb capable of destroying deeply buried, fortified facilities, the second officer said.
The first wave of attacks would be aimed at Iraq’s air defenses, the first officer said. Missiles fired from a safe distance — so-called stand-off weapons — would likely be used initially, O’Hanlon said.
Among the initial targets: surface-to-air missile sites and radars that would be used to track and attack U.S. warplanes. Intelligence would have to be gathered on a “fairly quick timeline” — a matter of hours — to determine if follow-on airstrikes could be safely flown, the first officer said.
The hard part
Targeting facilities where nuclear material is produced is relatively easy, the first officer said. The sites are large and hard to mask. The location of Iraq’s nuclear facilities are not much of a secret, the officer said. Spy satellites and other means, including monitoring of social media, result in an assessment known as “all-source fused intelligence.”
Uranium-enrichment facilities, those with thousands of centrifuges, are large complexes that “are incredibly hard to hide,” the first officer said. The other route to a bomb — using plutonium — requires a heavy water reactor and produces tell-tale elements that air sampling can detect. There are about 20 nuclear facilities in Iran that would need to be attacked, some with as many as 60 individual strikes.
The Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000-pound bomb capable of burrowing through rock, soil and even concrete, would probably be the weapon of choice, O’Hanlon said. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told CNN in April that the MOP can destroy Iran’s buried production facilities.
Much more difficult is pinpointing the labs and factories that manufacture the means to deliver the nuclear weapon, the first officer said. The sophisticated work of building warheads, engines and guidance systems for a missile can be done in scattered locations, including populated areas where civilian casualties would be nearly impossible to avoid.
A comprehensive attack could require as much as a week’s worth of bombing and 1,000 sorties, O’Hanlon said. And the Iranians wouldn’t be expected to take it laying down. The Pentagon would have to prepare for attacks on its ships in the Persian Gulf, he said.
A U.S.-launched attack on Iran would likely result in American servicemembers being killed, O’Hanlon said.
Asking the wrong question
To retired Air Force general David Deptula, airstrikes in Iran make little sense — and could be counterproductive — unless they’re tied to a strategy.
In Iran’s case, that strategy needs to account for Iranian leaders and their desire for a bomb. Unless that desire is changed, a U.S. attack is a temporary solution at best, said Deptula, who led the Air Force’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts.
DOJ: No, We Weren’t Asked To Launch A Criminal Probe Into Clinton’s Emails
JULY 24, 2015
The U.S. Justice Department said Friday that, contrary to media reports, it did not receive a request to open a criminal investigation into how sensitive information was handled in Hillary Clinton’s private emails.
The New York Times reported Thursday that two inspectors general asked the Justice Department “to open a criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state.” The language of that report originally cast Clinton as a target of the requested probe, but notably was changed after Times reporters received complaints from Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The agency now says that it what it received was “not a criminal referral,” but a request related to the potential compromise of classified information, according to Washington Post report Sari Horowitz:
The Department of Justice now correcting their earlier statement & saying the referral regarding Clinton emails was not a criminal inquiry.
10:17 AM – 24 Jul 2015
10:23 AM – 24 Jul 2015
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the top Democrat on the select House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks, also rejected the notion that the inspectors general of the State Department and intelligence agencies asked for a criminal probe into Clinton’s email account.
“I spoke personally to the State Department inspector general on Thursday, and he said he never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton’s email usage,” Cummings said in a statement, as quoted by The Hill.
Cummings added that the State Department inspector general “told me the Intelligence Community IG notified the Justice Department and Congress that they identified classified information in a few emails that were part of the [Freedom of Information Act] review, and that none of those emails had been previously marked as classified,” according to The Hill.
Google says Hillary Clinton will be the next president
Search engine optimization can be a peculiar thing. But conspiracy theorists will surely enjoy these results.
by Chris Matyszczyk @ChrisMatyszczyk
June 25, 2015 4:20 PM PDT
Google, be blessed.
You have given me almost two more years of my life that I never thought I’d have. You have saved me from endless hours and days of purgatorial pain. You have offered me closure, even before the doomed affair had truly begun.
My apologies. I’m not wrecked on Retsina. I’m merely reading reports that Google’s very fine search engine has already indicated that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States.
Of course, there’s a touch of hyperbole here. But I suspect there might be one or two political partisans who will be experiencing intensely hyperbolic reactions when they hear of it.
I know, I know. You were still holding out for either Ted Nugent or the Hulk Hoganesque intellect of Donald Trump.
Instead, as the Next Web reported, two formulations of the same question both throw up results that suggest that in 2016, the revolution will be Clintonized.
Nerds will surely rush to explain that Google’s search engine reacts to optimized results, and these two happened to be results that appear to be — but aren’t — definitive answers. One, after all, is from renowned independently-minded performer Glen Beck.
I have contacted Google to ask for a definitive answer and will update. However, my own searches don’t throw up that definitive card anymore.
There is no suggestion that Google’s engineers are machinating to offer a coronation before the 18-month ululation.
I suspect, though, that a few conspiracy theorists will be ready to offer concerns about Google’s alleged dark arts.
One imagines that a sizable proportion of Google’s youthful staff might lean more to port than starboard. However, let me toss in one exalted conspiracy theory, merely for the amusement of those who cannot get enough of them .
Wouldn’t it be delicious if this was a ploy by Bernie Sanders supporters to combat the notion that the Clinton nomination is a foregone conclusion?
Hillary Clinton Lambastes Republicans in Arkansas Homecoming
10:42 AM ET 10:42 AM ET Amy Chozick
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Democrat is not likely to win this state in the 2016 presidential election, not even one with the last name Clinton.
But on Saturday, Hillary Rodham Clinton returned to Arkansas where she and her husband began their political ascent, delivering a fiery critique of Republican policies and a pep talk of sorts for Democrats who suffered dramatic losses in the midterm elections.
Mrs. Clinton lambasted Republicans as “the party of the past” and tried to portray the extreme comments of one candidate, the businessman and reality TV star, Donald Trump, as representative of the entire party.
“There’s nothing funny about the hate he is spewing at immigrants and their families,” Mrs. Clinton said of Mr. Trump who addressed Arkansas Republicans in Hot Springs, Ark. on Friday. But, she added, of the other Republican candidates, “The sad truth is if you look at many of their policies, it can be hard to tell the difference.”
Mrs. Clinton denounced comments made by Mr. Trump (who she referred to as the “Republican frontrunner”) about Senator John McCain’s war record and she said it was “shameful” how long it has taken other Republican candidates “to start standing up to him.”
(The night before, Mr. Trump, speaking at an Arkansas Republican Party convention said the Clintons had “deserted” the state.)
The visit to Arkansas whose six electoral votes will not likely up for grabs in 2016 was brief; Mrs. Clinton flew in from Iowa in the early afternoon and departed back to New York that night. But it was nevertheless a homecoming of sorts.
It was Mrs. Clinton first visit back to the place where Bill Clinton served as governor and she as first lady, since she made her 2016 campaign official. Earlier in the afternoon, Mrs. Clinton had stopped by the red brick home where she and Mr. Clinton lived and the apartment the Clintons stay at on the top floor of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center here. Before the Democratic Party Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner, which drew around 2,500 people paying as much as $200 a plate for a buffet dinner, Mrs. Clinton greeted donors and old friends at a backstage reception.
Her visit comes in the midst of an existential crisis for Arkansas Democrats. The place that bred such centrist “yellow dog Democrats” as Mr. Clinton, and former governors Dale Bumpers, David Pryor and Mark Beebe, turned deep red in the midterm elections. The audience was sprinkled with prominent Democrats who lost their midterm races, including former Rep. Mike Ross who got his start as Mr. Clinton’s driver and who lost his race for governor to Republican Asa Hutchinson.
For many Arkansans, no matter how many times Mrs. Clinton visits, the prospects of a Democrat winning the state in 2016 seemed slim, but having her name on the ticket could help lift down-ballot Democrats in local races. “There’s no doubt she helps to energize the Arkansas Democratic base,” said Will Bond, a former chairman of the state’s Democratic Party who is running for state senate.
Mr. Beebe, the popular Democratic governor who left office last year due to term limits, called the 2014 midterm elections “a huge sea change” and said Mrs. Clinton’s speech “revitalizes a lot of folks.”
Despite the turn away from Democratic candidates in Arkansas, voters here have embraced some of the party’s policies including a minimum wage increase and a private-option health insurance program.
“I am well aware that here in Arkansas last year was a hard one for Democrats,” Mrs. Clinton said. “But don’t forget, voters did come out and pass an increase in the minimum wage, Arkansas voters know pay checks need to grow.”
She said she hoped the 2016 election could also help lift Democratic candidates “on school boards and county offices and, yes, the state legislator and hold onto the White House.”
Clinton: Military options against Iran ‘not off the table’ if necessary
Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:38AM
In a statement on Tuesday, the Democratic candidate said she would respond to any violations immediately if elected as president next year.
“The response to any cheating must be immediate and decisive – starting with the return of sanctions but taking no options off the table, including, if necessary, our military options,” Clinton said.
“The message to Iran should be loud and clear: We will never allow you to acquire a nuclear weapon; not just during the term of this agreement – never,” she added.
Iran and the P5+1 group of countries — the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany — reached a conclusion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Tuesday.
The JCPOA will put limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
According to the text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran will be recognized by the United Nations as a nuclear power and will continue its uranium enrichment program.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a final press conference of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria on July 14, 2015. (AFP Photo)
Clinton noted that the deal would “prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
The former secretary of state also reassured Israeli officials over the conclusion of nuclear negotiations with Iran after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the agreement, calling it “a historic mistake for the entire world.”
“As president, I would invite the senior Israeli leadership to Washington for early talks on further strengthening our alliance,” she said.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in a statement that Washington is committed to defend Israel and it would use the military option against Tehran if needed.
“We remain prepared and postured to bolster the security of our friends and allies in the region, including Israel,” Carter said. “We will utilize the military option if necessary.”
Washington continues to threaten Iran with military strike despite conclusion of the nuclear talks after 12 years of baseless accusations against the country.
KEITH B. PAYNE
March 15, 2015 6:17 p.m. ET
A debate over the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at a pivotal moment. Last month the Obama administration proposed a budget that calls for modernization of the “nuclear triad” of missiles, submarines and bombers. This is crucial because since the end of the Cold War the U.S. nuclear arsenal has been cut by 80% and after decades of neglect each leg of the triad is aging.
Nevertheless, the Defense Department’s $15.9 billion nuclear modernization budget for fiscal year 2016, up slightly from 2015, has met strong disapproval from analysts and others whom I call nuclear utopians. This group insists that the U.S. should delay or skip modernization, make further deep reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, or even eliminate it.
By contrast, nuclear realists believe that, given the belligerence of Russia and China and their buildup of nuclear forces, prudence now demands that the U.S. modernize and make no further reductions below those already scheduled in the 2010 New Start Treaty. The congressional defense-budget hearings now under way will have far-reaching implications for U.S. national security and international order.
Nuclear utopians tend to believe that international cooperation, not nuclear deterrence, has prevented nuclear war since World War II. As Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control, claimed in a speech last month: “We have been spared that fate because we created an intricate and essential system of treaties, laws and agreements.” The U.S. can lead the world toward nuclear reductions, the utopian thinking goes, by showing that Washington no longer relies on nuclear weapons and seeks no new capabilities.
This U.S. example, says George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will “induce parallel” behavior in others. But if the U.S. attributes continuing value to nuclear weapons by maintaining its arsenal, says Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “other countries will be more inclined to seek” them. In short, the U.S. cannot expect others to forgo nuclear weapons if it retains them.
Nuclear realists respond that the U.S. already has cut its tactical nuclear weapons from a few thousand in 1991 to a few hundred today, while deployed strategic nuclear weapons have been cut to roughly 1,600 accountable weapons from an estimated 9,000 in 1992, with more reductions planned under New Start. Robert Joseph, a former undersecretary of state for arms control, notes that these reductions “appear to have had no moderating effect on Russian, Chinese or North Korean nuclear programs. Neither have U.S. reductions led to any effective strengthening of international nonproliferation efforts.”
Realists point out that foreign leaders base their decisions about nuclear weaponry largely on their perceived strategic needs, not in response to U.S. disarmament. Thus a close review of India by S. Paul Kapur, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, concluded that “Indian leaders do not seek to emulate U.S. nuclear behavior; they formulate policy based primarily on their assessment of the security threats facing India.”
The same self-interested calculation is true for those nuclear and aspiring nuclear states that are of security concern to the U.S. They seek nuclear weapons to coerce their neighbors, including U.S. allies, and to counter U.S. conventional forces to gain a free hand to press their regional military ambitions.
Moreover, many U.S. allies have given up the nuclear option because America protects them with a “nuclear umbrella.” Some allies, including the Japanese and South Koreans, have said that if the U.S. nuclear umbrella loses credibility, they may consider getting their own. Further U.S. reductions may thus inspire nuclear proliferation.
Nuclear utopians and realists also perceive international relations differently. Utopians see an orderly system that functions predictably and increasingly amicably. Based on this perception they make two confident predictions.
The first is that U.S. deterrence will work reliably even with a relatively small nuclear arsenal, or even nuclear zero. In 2010 the authors of an essay in Foreign Affairs predicted confidently that a U.S. capability to retaliate “against only ten cities” would be adequate to deter Russia.
A second prediction is that differences between the U.S. and Russia or China will be resolved without regard to nuclear threats or capabilities. The 2012 report by the Global Zero Commission claimed that, “The risk of nuclear confrontation between the United States and either Russia or China belongs to the past, not the future.”
Nuclear realists have no confidence in these predictions. Before the nuclear age, great powers periodically came into intense conflict, and deterrence relying on conventional forces failed to prevent catastrophic wars. Since 1945, however, a powerful U.S. nuclear arsenal appears to have had a decisive effect in deterring the outbreak of World War III and containing regional crises and conflicts. Further deep U.S. reductions now would likely increase the risks of war, possibly including nuclear war.
Today as for millennia, international relations are fluid, unpredictable and dangerous. Russia’s shocking aggression in Europe is a cold reminder of this reality. In January prominent Russian journalist Alexander Golts warned, “The West has forgotten how it had used nuclear deterrence to coexist with the Soviet Union. Now it will have to open up that playbook once more.”
Further erosion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal would take decades to reverse, create fear among key allies, and inspire foes to challenge an America that appears less able to deter conflicts, nuclear or otherwise, in the hard times ahead. These are the stakes in the current debate over nuclear modernization.
Mr. Payne is the director of the Graduate School of Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University, and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.