Monday, September 13, 2010

Testing a Fragile Relationship

This is a big week for nuclear weapon issues in the United States. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to give its take on the New START agreement with Russia a mere five months after the agreement was signed. Also, the US military has scheduled a test launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands for Wednesday morning.

For months now Republican senators and pundits have flooded the op-ed pages with warnings of the "bad deal" that is the New START agreement. "We're giving up everything while Russia gives up nothing," they say.

Now let's imagine that on Wednesday morning, instead of the US shooting off one of its ICBMs, it's the Russians doing it.
What would the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting look like then? I can hear it now: "We can't trust the Soviets - I mean the Russians - they're practicing how quickly they can wipe us all out as soon as we ratify New START."

Sadly, here's how it will play out in reality: we launch yet another nuclear-capable missile at the fragile Kwajalein Atoll, our favorite long-range missile target. Senators on both sides of the aisle applaud the launch for keeping us safe and ensuring a safe and effective nuclear deterrent. Leaders from countries around the world take note and take a step closer to the only thing they think can prevent an offensive US attack - their own nuclear weapon and missile delivery programs.

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