Obama and his Noxious Nuclear Nonsense

Michael Bohm, writing in the Moscow Times:

Josef Stalin once said, “It’s not important how the people vote, but who is counting the votes.” This could also apply to counting the warheads in the New START agreement. Despite all the hyped-up talk about “30 percent reductions” in nuclear weapons in what U.S. President Barack Obama has called “the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades,” the real reductions in the nuclear arsenals of both sides are modest at best.

As Peter Baker reported in The New York Times, Russia and the United States have agreed to apply “creative accounting” to pad the reductions on both sides to get to the much-desired 30 percent figure -— at least on paper. For example, one trick was to count the 20 warheads on B-52 bombers as only one. At the end of the day, the real net cuts, according to Hans Kristenson of the Federation of American Scientists, will be only 100 U.S. deployed warheads and 190 Russian ones.

Based on Kristenson’s figures of deployed warheads currently on the U.S. side (2,100) and the Russian side (2,600), the arsenal of deployed warheads will be reduced by only 5 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Thus, creative accounting has produced creative disarmament.

But this was not the only nuclear sleight of hand.

When the two sides announced the final number — 1,550 deployed warheads — the key qualifier is “deployed.” The roughly 2,000 non-deployed warheads stored in U.S. military warehouses were not included in the New START. (Russia has far fewer stored warheads.) These stored warheads can be placed back on U.S. strategic delivery vehicles in a matter of several weeks. If the United States were serious about disarmament, it would have included stored warheads as well in the new agreement.

During the 16-month talks, Russia’s objections focused on two issues: refitting strategic launchers with conventional weapons and missile defense.

The Russians made it clear that the new START should limit strategic delivery vehicles regardless of whether they carried nuclear weapons. The old START of 1991 treated all strategic launchers as nuclear a priori. Since 1991, however, the United States has developed the capability to refit strategic delivery vehicles with conventional weapons. The principal U.S. position was that the New START — like the old one — should focus on nuclear weapons only, not conventional ones. Refitting excess strategic launchers (above the 800 limit) with high-precision conventional weapons is a key U.S. military objective. Russia is against the United States refitting strategic launchers mainly because Russia is not refitting its own launchers. Notably, Russia listed these refitted, high-precision weapons as the country’s fourth-biggest external danger in its new military doctrine, released in February.

At the same time, Russia’s concern about the possibility of mistaking an Ohio-class nuclear submarine, for example, that has been refitted with conventional missiles is legitimate — one that could have potentially apocalyptic consequences for both sides in the event of a misidentified launch. Thus, it is crucial that the two sides return to the Memorandum of Agreement of 2000 to build a U.S.-Russian center for data exchanges on early warning systems and missile launches to avoid confusion over whether a missile launch is nuclear or non-nuclear. This is an important joint project that would build trust and give a big boost to the “reset” initiative.

But the biggest and most important issue raised by the Russian side was its favorite bogeyman — missile defense. Recall over the past year the countless statements from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, President Dmitry Medvedev and the military top brass about how U.S. missile defense would “weaken Russia’s strategic forces” and how it could, in theory, allow Washington to deliver a nuclear first strike against Russia and be fully protected against a retaliatory strike — or at the very least allow Washington to use its “overwhelming nuclear advantage” to “blackmail” Moscow.

The U.S. side — and the Russian side as well — knows perfectly well that the U.S. “strategic missile defense system,” which consists of only 30 interceptors in Alaska and California, is useless against Russia’s 800 delivery vehicles and 1,550 warheads, the New START limits. Even the most ambitious plans to upgrade the U.S. regional missile defense system in Europe are slated for 2020 at the earliest, the year that the New START expires. Therefore, linking START with U.S. missile defense was a bogus argument from the beginning.

So why all the fabricated objections about missile defense if, in the end, Russia walked away from its position to include a “legally binding” limit on U.S. missile defense deployment in the treaty?

In reality, missile defense was only a bluff and obstruction tactic. The real benefit from placing missile defense as the supposed “make-or-break” condition was to play the role of the spoiler in the New START talks — at least for as long as Russia could get away with it. Russia understood that Obama very much wanted to have the treaty signed by Dec. 5, when the old START expired, or by Dec. 10, when Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his nuclear disarmament efforts.

But Russia was driven by more than just a desire to rain on Obama’s parade. It wanted to make sure that Washington would have to work hard to get Moscow’s consent. Perhaps this shows that the eternal Russian question, “Ты меня уважаешь?” (Do you respect me?), is just as important when seasoned diplomats are negotiating a major arms control agreement as it is when a bunch of guys are sitting around drinking vodka.

But Russia took the obstruction game a bit too far. By February, negotiators had already agreed that Obama’s missile defense switch from its strategic “third position” in Poland and the Czech Republic to a much smaller, regional system based in Romania was acceptable, and it seemingly dropped their objection to missile defense deployment. In fact, on Feb. 14, during a visit to Nicaragua, Lavrov said the two sides had reached agreement on “97 percent” of the treaty. Then, out of the blue, Russia once again raised the sham missile defense issue. A frustrated Obama called Medvedev on March 13 and basically said, “OK, Dmitry. The game is over. Enough of the shenanigans. You and I will both be at the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in New York in May. We need to get serious about signing the New START now.” Two weeks later, on March 26, the final deal was announced.

In the end, both sides can claim PR victories in resetting relations and in making further steps — albeit modest — toward nuclear disarmament. In addition, Russia can claim a few small victories for itself. It is happy that the new inspection regime of test launches for missiles is far less intrusive than under START. This will allow Russia to modernize its strategic missile force in maximum secrecy. Second, the Kremlin can claim that it received “missile defense linkage” in the treaty’s preamble, although its language is conspicuously vague and theoretical and in no way limits the United States from developing missile defense.

But perhaps most important of all, Russia experienced the pleasant nostalgia of Cold War-era arms control agreements — one of the few areas where Moscow can still project its global influence as a superpower. Now, with a little imaginative spin, Russia can go to the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in May as equal partners with the United States and say it fulfilled its global disarmament responsibility as “the other nuclear superpower.”

Russia should enjoy the moment while it lasts.

“The new agreement will become the last in the series of Cold War-era treaties,” political analyst Fyodor Lukyanov said in Kommersant. “Nuclear security in a multipolar world will no longer be decided between the United States and Russia.”

If Lukyanov is correct, negotiating the New START was Russia’s last dance on the nuclear world stage. Now the Kremlin will have to look elsewhere to pursue its superpower ambitions.

35 responses to “Obama and his Noxious Nuclear Nonsense

  1. For example, one trick was to count the 20 warheads on B-52 bombers as only one. At the end of the day, the real net cuts, according to Hans Kristenson of the Federation of American Scientists, will be only 100 U.S. deployed warheads and 190 Russian ones.

    Wow. That looks like Russia is getting the worst of this deal. Obama has pulled out a winner! Good job, Mr. Prez!

    • An interesting interpretation, no doubt. However, since the treaty is bilateral, the same principle of counting a strategic bomber payload as a single unit applies to Russia. Thus, we are able to count the stretegic payload of our Tu-160 bombers, which can carry up to 35 nuclear tipped cruise missiles, as one warhead. Thus, no one is getting the worst of this deal, and there is no single “winner.” I’m sure, however, that the corporate media in the good ole’ US of A will carry a different story.

  2. Oh Russia….so much to be proud of….The t34, Volga, Lada (Fiat?), cheap booze, Vodka and hookers…

    • Oh Russia, so much to be proud of….

      -The last remanining manned space program, with the best safety record of any other. (Never has one of our craft burned on on re-entry,killing a half dozen people, god save their souls.)

      -Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was the father of theoretical austronautics.

      -Pioneer of aviation Alexander Mozhaysky made his first flight by his own design aircraft (monoplane) as early as in 1881.

      – Nikolai Lobachevsky, founder the non-Euclidean geometry.

      – Andrey Markov, who developed the theory of Markov chains, central in information sciences and modern applied mathematics.

      -Nikolai Zhukovsky, the founding father of modern aero- and hydrodynamics.

      -Andrei Kolmogorov, a leading mathematician of the 20th century, developer the modern theory of probability.

      -Nine Soviet/Russian mathematicians were awarded with Fields Medal, a most prestigious award in mathematics.

      -Grigori Perelman, who won the recent Clay Millennium Prize Problems award for his final proof of the Poincaré conjecture in 2002.

      -The world’s premier school of classical ballet.

      -Dmitry Mendeleev, creator of the periodic table, and thus, modern chemistry.

      -In biology, Dmitry Ivanovsky was the first to discover viruses (1892).

      -Ivan Pavlov is widely known for first describing the phenomenon of classical conditioning.

      -Lev Landau formulated dozens of fundamental principles of theoretical physics.

      -Nikolai Basov and Alexander Prokhorov were co-inventors of lasers and masers.

      -Igor Tamm, Andrei Sakharov and Lev Artsimovich developed the idea of tokamak for controlled nuclear fusion and created its first prototype, which finally led to the modern ITER project.

      -The worlds first supersonic passenger jet, the Tupolev Tu-144.

      -A self-sustaining arms industry.

      -Classical Russian literature, which is universally recognized as one of the most influential and developed in the world.

      -The greatest Chess school in the world, with the overwhelming proportion of world-famous grandmasters coming from Russia. (from 1927, Soviet and Russian chess grandmasters have held the world championship almost continuously).

      -Absolute domination in high intensity sports like gymnastics, synchronized swimming, track and field, tennis, and others.

      -Seminal artsists such as Kandinsky, Chagall, Shyshkin, Repin, and Vasnetsov.
      -A lack of people bloated beyond recognition with polysaturated fats.

      Yeah, it’s quite a list. Once you sober up, you should read it.

      • Oh, that Soviet textbook crap again ! Non of these achievements are self-standing, in fact most of them are of theoretical in nature and are quietly taken out of its scientific context which amounted to nothing more than media hyperbole. Space flights and nuclear achievements ? Stolen and rushed through by slave labor at the expense of living standard of its civil society. If there were achievements in some areas, they were highly impeded through lack of anything that was non-military, at the end most of its participants have left for search of a better life. Practical achievements that translated into betterment of Russian society are close to nil. Great strides in space flights were achieved by disregarding safety or lack of accountability for human life. Chess ! I guess sitting in a cold winter with nothing to do will create great players by default. Russian painters, especially 19th century realists are BS, nothing but a footnote in a world of art. Repin, Shishkin, etc. – you know nothing of fine art. Chagall has nothing to do with Soviet / Russia. Russian literature – its what you make out of it. Most of the better ones have left Russia, like Nabokov (who at the end despised Russian ways) and is not even understood by the majority of Russians. Russian sports, well we have the results when it was not sponsored by the Government money. About bloated people, you better take a closer look around you and see how Russians look after 30 or better yet take a closer look at what they eat. Most of the Russians that I know are quite bloated and are fond of fatty foods such as kielbasa and sugared cakes. In fact, Russians are the most aged looking people with highest hearth disease rates in the world.

        • That’s right Gene. But there is a bigger point here. Let’s say Leo Tolstoy unquestionably was a genius. So what? What does that have to do with Russia? It has everything to do with his enormous talent; his achievement was that of an individual not of a country. And I might add he succeeded despite every obstacle erected in his path by the Czar’s government and Orthodox Church.

          So, every scientific and cultural figure on that list signifies an individual achievement; of course in a country of that size there will be some outstanding talents, it’s statistically speaking inevitable.

          But I have noticed that many Russians attribute successes of individuals to Russia as a country, as if she ever helped any of these people to achieve anything. I guess it stems from the idea that Russia is everything and an individual is nothing.

          It seems to never occur to Russians that all of these cultural figures speak for their own individual accomplishments, not for Russia.

        • Most of this really doesn’t merit a responce, since what has happened has already happened and gone down in history as such. But you can play around all you want and attempt to justify why it is that Russia produces fine art, culture, and science.

          @Great strides in space flights were achieved by disregarding safety or lack of accountability for human life.

          I realize that all you can do is regirgitate whatever the History channel tells you, but as so many on here do, you believe you can get away with shallow ideological statements about disregard for human life and expect the educated to eat it up. Lets review the facts, shall we ?

          Space program deaths:

          Twenty-two have died while in a spacecraft:
          -3 on Apollo 1 (US)
          -1 on Soyuz 1 (USSR)
          -1 on X-15-3 (US)
          -3 on Soyuz 11 (USSR)
          -7 on Challenger (US)
          -7 on Columbia (US)

          By space program, 18 NASA astronauts (4.1%) and four Russian cosmonauts (0.8% of all the people launched) died while in a spacecraft.

          In total, Shuttle accidents have claimed the lives of fourteen.

          Soyuz accidents have claimed the lives of four. No deaths have occurred on Soyuz missions since 1971, and none with the current design of the Soyuz.

          Ask the people who burned up on reentry on the Colombia what they think about Soviet disregard for human life.

          @Russian painters, especially 19th century realists are BS, nothing but a footnote in a world of art. Repin, Shishkin, etc. – you know nothing of fine art.

          As for this one, I appreciate your personal opinion, but luckily, the body of art history literature, which is written by people a bit more qualified than you, contradicts it. But, always nice to hear your onput, as close minded and ignorant as it is.

          • Yeah, its funny how people that are oblivious to the grimness of their surroundings will use every imaginable “straw” to uphold their self-created image of superiority. For one, they will delude others that that a “horse and buggy” technology of Soyuz is safer to Shuttle. For one, Soyuz is a continuation of most basic space vehicles around and represents nothing in technological advancement. Imagine if Americans decided to continue with Apollo program and evolved it into today’s flight ? After all, basic statistics don’t tell us anything of what really happened in Soviet Space flight program ! Most of it was hidden from public view with only god knows how many cosmonauts have perished. The main reason that US is using Soyuz is for economic reasons, caught with Odumba cutting NASA budget for his innate belief that its main purpose was to put “whitey on the moon”.
            Oh, speaking about Russians, why is that practically every young “Komsomolets” believes that Americans faked their flight to the moon ? Talking about a nation of “reason” and talent subscribes mindlessly to this tired conspiracy theory ?

            • Guys, yours is a perfect example of a talk of a propaganda-brainwashed too emotional fool and a taking-it-too-serious, too rational naive guy.

              I mean, enough of it.

  3. Ppsh, PP, Sturmovik and other idiotic suicide capsules!

    • Yep, the Shturmovik was such a “suicide capsule” that it was the most heavily armored ground attack aircraft of any army in the war, able to take . Among Russian aircraft of the war era, it was shot the least-shot-down.

      The Il-2 Shturmovik is regarded as the best ground attack aircraft of World War 2. It was a prominent aircraft for tank killing with its accuracy in dive bombing and its 37mm guns penetrating their thin back armor.

      So much for the ravings of your dieased mind.

      • Actually the Typhoon, Tempest, and Thunderbolt all achieved greater numbers of kills against tanks.

        Sturmoviks suffered immense losses, albeit slightly less than those of other Russian flying deathtraps.

        However they still got slaughtered in large numbers in WW2, just as they did in Korea……

        • @Actually the Typhoon, Tempest, and Thunderbolt all achieved greater numbers of kills against tanks.

          I’m sure they did. Whatever makes you feel good about yourself. Typically…you make a statement without any evidence and/or detail to back it up. How very unsurprising. Keep it up. Your clumsiness provides me with hours of enjoyment.

          As for flying deathtraps, your trolling really is not particularly successful. Your ignorance of emperical evidence really undercuts any attempts at an argument. The Lavochkin LA-7, a fighter introduced in 1944 was superior to anything the Luftwaffe flew; and with fifteen thousand produced, the LA-7 gave the Soviets the edge in a theatre Germany believed it dominated right to the end. Kozhedub, our greatest ace, shot down several Me-262s flying the LA. As for the Shturmovik, it was christened the “flying tank,” becuse its armour was easily able to withstand scores of direct hits. Then we have the Yak-9, which was faster and more maneuverable than its main foe, the Bf 109, especially at lower altitudes. I can go on, of course, but I think your one-sided ignorance of the facts is already pretty obvious.

          And really, you’re going to mention Korea ? You’re only hurting yourself here, since the best pilots were cleary and emperically the Soviet ones. The top ace of the war was Nikolai Vasilievich Sutyagin, who scored 21 kills. The closest Americans to come close were only able to rack up 15 kills each. Our most successful month was October 1951, when the Soviet MiG-15s bagged 7 F-86s, 6 F-84Es, 2 RF-80As and one F-80C, one Meteor and 10 B-29As -24 victories- and suffered only 8 MiGs lost.

          Your boneheaded determination in the face of evidence and emperical fact is phenomenal. God help you.

  4. and sorry….your mot famous Cosmonaut is a DOG! How apt!

    • I’ve got to say, this has got to be your most half-hearted effort. Nearly everyone, even school children in a backwater like West Virginia, know that Russia was the first country to send a man a man into space, even if they don’t know his name.
      It’s a pity that fewer people know about the American effort: Albert the space chimp, who rode a recycled Nazi V-2 rocket to his death (poor primate.) Even when it comes to monkey space flights, we have a better record. All of our space monkeys suvived, and one was even presented to Fidel Castro.

  5. Russian /US relations is trapped in a 1970’s time warp, the only issue where the two leaders seem to have any sort of dialog is nuclear disarmament.

    The USA is the world’s largest single investor. Russia (population 144 million) is only 24th when looking at trade partnership with the US, lower than the Republic of Ireland (population 6 million). Apart from nuclear non proliferation Russia is a non entity for the US, so Medvedev/Putin better enjoy the attention because as far as the US is concerned Russia is well down the list when it comes to most other issues.

    Trade and commerce; Russia has the same amount of clout as Nigeria (25th).

  6. The proletariat will not allow another Hiroshima and Nagasaki(and other imperialist mass-murders).Never again.
    Atomic force-guarantee of freedom from NATO exploitation.

    • Well, when we need to use atomic weapons, we will consult with proletariat first. Perhaps, we will get permission in special cases, like Iran

  7. I hope that,in near future,new Soviet Union builds at least 1000 new SS-18 “Satan” ICBM to threaten the imperialist menace.

  8. First let us face the fact that Obama never was a citizen at all and is doing as much harm as possible.

    Obama is a cheap conman who happened to fall into the presidency of this country. He also is on record of being horrified when Reagon smashed the Soviet Union. That is why this mental case is doing what he can to prop up Putin.

    I think the end result will be excellant from my viewpoint. My political views are somewhere to the right of Attilla the Hun. Boy is this jerko getting the Americans on board with me. It is going to be fun to watch. I might even turn christian (from bar room brawler) to enjoy it even more.

  9. Actually I have never engaged in a bar room brawl.

    On another subject, under no circomstances do we ever make deals with Russians. The left always wants to reduce America’s capacity to defend itself. We need 5 times the capacity that we have now in order to respond to attack. We need to constantly test these weapons.

    We may need to be able to respond hundreds of times without running out of weapons. No matter how many times we engage in exchanges of weapons of mass destruction we must have thousands left over. We must never feel we are short these kinds of weapons.

    If we have a massive inventory no one will dare attack us. The the purpose of the dirt bag left is to weaken our capacity for repeat defense.

    • Ron,

      Please don’t use the editorial “we”. You do not speak for the American people. As I recall, you admit to be “to the right of Atilla the Hun”.

      You advocate spending hundreds of billions in taxpayers’ money on bonuses to the Wall Street bankers. I am sure you also support spending hundreds of billions in taxpayers’ money on the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now you advocate spending trillions of extra money on nuclear defenses and are upset that Obama doesn’t want to.

      You and the right wing Atilla the Huns should take the initiative into your own hands! Instead of expecting the government, that you hate so much, to spend the money it doesn’t have, do it yourself as a private enterprise.You guys should spend your own money on all these projects. Just get together and collect $1 trillion per year – and fund these projects. Say, you can get 10 million fellow right-wingers together. Each contributes $100,000 per year – and boom, you got your beloved projects funded.

      We need to get rid of the socialist idea of government spending. If you want to spend $1 trillion on weapons or Wall Street bonuses – you fund it.

      • You certainly don’t speak for the American people RTR.

        Of course the fact that you are an ungrateful backstabbing Russian, who worships the old Russian communist empire does not help…..

    • Ron,

      You have to face the fact that people, who share your Atillian views, are a small minority. Most people in USA support Obama and Ronald Reagan’s views, who said in 1984: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. And no matter how great the obstacles may seem, we must never stop our efforts to reduce the weapons of war…we must never stop at all until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the Earth.”

  10. Nikita ,
    Mozhaysky , Perelman , Tamm , Landau ,
    Lobachevsky , Chagal , Kandinsky ,
    Tsiolkovsky , real ” russians ” ??? More of
    the typical russian tactic of garnering of
    other people’s efforts and stealing their
    accomplishments , to pass off as their
    own .
    Real ” russian ” inventions would be more
    like : Holodomor , the Gulag system , the
    ” troika ” trials , the arrests of innocent people
    in the middle of the night , the bullet to the
    back of the head , creating a ” hero ” cult
    around a son who denounced his own father ,
    those are without a doubt , purely ” russian ”
    inventions .

    • Maksym,

      Are you saying that Jews cannot be real Ukrainians or Russians? Should Jews, living in Ukraine and Russia, be treated as “foreigners”? You advocate highly offensive antisemitic views.

    • Maxim just says being a real Ukrainian, he hates Jews slightly less than Russians.

    • Maxim hardly ever thought Russian can be “Russian national”, and Jew still can be “a Ukrainian”.

      Those Moskals are always Moskals, and Judas always Judas… nicht wahr, Maximtsyo, mein teuer Ukrainer??

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