How Obama Could Reduce the Risk of Nuclear War Right Now
Minuteman missiles in remote silos are a thermonuclear accident waiting to happen.
Are we insane? Is the Pentagon so attached to its sacred triad that it will not let us pry these hair-trigger missiles away from them? The answer is yes. Because I write about this stuff, I just received an invitation to a congressional breakfast seminar on Capitol Hill in which “Sen. John Hoeven (R-N Dak) will respond to proposals calling for cuts to U.S. nuclear forces and call for a national discussion about the role nuclear weapons play in maintaining global stability in remarks entitled: ‘The Continuing Case for the Nuclear Triad.’"
I won't indulge in a "lost my breakfast" joke but, sorry, there is no case for the nuclear triad anymore. It's a further indication that no treaty process is going to bring about the triad's reduction to a dyad. (And hopefully next a monad. After that a No-mad?) The nuclear arms reduction process may be stalled, but we must find a way to eliminate the dangerous, suppurating silo-missile leg of the triad and the danger of "inadvertence" those Minutemen in silos present now, before the next breakfast, the next flock of geese.
As I said, I see no constitutional or treaty obstacle to Obama and his new secretary of defense just deciding to change the type of delivery vehicles in which we place our precious 1,550 warheads. (In fact, it occurs to me that one reason he chose Chuck Hagel is that it might give him cover for doing so.)
I've always felt that Obama had his heart in the anti-nuclear struggle but that he had become disheartened by the military industrial complex's clout. Sad that he didn't mention the subject at all in his second inauguration speech. This isn’t an ideal or comprehensive solution, but it can restart movement in the right direction.
Obama can ask Putin to join him, and if Putin doesn't go along with him he can do it unilaterally and challenge Putin to join him, implicitly challenging his manhood. (I can beat you with one leg of my triad tied behind my back.) And believe me, 1,550 warheads on bombers and subs is enough deterrence.
And if Putin dramatically decides to join in, that could earn him his Nobel. There's something in my plan for everyone. But mainly: It can be done. Now. Get out the quick-drying cement or the hot liquid lead and get ready to entomb those Minutemen in their vertical coffins, stat.
Mr. Obama, have your people call my people, and we'll go over the draft of the executive order I'm working up. Gun control is important, but a single nuclear warhead can kill not just 20 but 20 million people at a time. And time is running out.
Ron Rosenbaum is the author of The Shakespeare Wars and Explaining Hitler. His latest book is How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III.