Friday, April 10, 2009

HOT5 Daily 4/10/2009

1. "Nukes On and Under the Table"  Nuclear weapons policy and U.S. interests.

Representative Sample: Regarding some of President Obama’s recent foreign policy moves, I have on several occasions thought and written here on GPP, ‘what’s in it for us?’, or ‘How does this concretely help either side?’

2. "Atheism…Ten Advantages!" A list of ten benefits of being an atheist.

Representative Sample: 2. As an atheist you are no longer obligated to say “God bless you” to someone who sneezes.

3. "The right, culture war and white flags" Has the tide irrevocably turned against cultural conservatism?

Representative Sample: I have no illusions that the far-right rump of the GOP has surrendered any cultural ground. If anything they’ve retrenched into positions that further marginalize their impact on both culture and politics.

4. "Why Is Hillary Laughing?" Five reasons explaining Hillary's sudden laugh in an recent interview about Somali piracy.

Representative Sample: 1) Nervous laughter because she suddenly realized she would be reprimanded for saying “piracy” instead of using a slight variation of the Administration’s preferred term, “Man-caused seafaring disaster.”

5. "The Thing That Made the Things for Which There is No Known Maker"Amusing video.

Representative Sample: It's a video.

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  1. The post I linked is a lot shorter and makes more sense. And I try to link blogs in the HOT5 instead of major publication articles -- although sometimes I cheat by linking a blog that links a major article.

    And I disagree with pretty much every premise of the Economist article. It's a reasonable argument based on bad assumptions.

  2. (Word lengths are 800 v. 1000, for what that's worth)

    The GPP post flips from Obama's statement of moral responsibility to "disagree that it was immoral", but that's not a point Obama made. The rest doesn't seem particularly interesting.

    GPP does ask a lot of questions, some of which The Economist has answers for. How about listing the premises you disagree with -- or at least the most important ones if there are so many...?

  3. I'm against most arms control agreements on principle.

    1) Even if it were possible, getting rid of all nuclear weapons would be a bad thing. It would make conventional war between great powers more likely, and we wouldn't have nuclear weapons should we ever need to use them.

    2) Most cuts in nuclear weapons are pointless. It doesn't matter whether a country has 2000 or 1000 weapons.

    3) Cutting weapons to very low levels (say a couple hundred) opens up the possibility for a realistic decapitating first strike -- making nuclear war more likely.

    4) Even if arms control were desirable, we can't trust any of the countries in question to abide by such agreements.

    5) The realistic way to reduce the threat of any particular weapon is to develop countermeasures. We should continue to work on ways of neutralizing or countering ICBMs, the one threat that we have no effective defense against. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that international agreements are a substitute for a real defense.

  4. #1 Economist acknowledges this.

    #2 It's not pointless, there are fewer points of failure and 2000 is obviously unnecessary unless you're in a cold war.

    #3 One word: subs

    #4 So Reagan's famous "trust but verify" was a sham?

    #5 Who's arguing against countermeasures? I'm certainly not. But I would argue against putting all eggs in one basket. And since increasing security and reducing the total number of nuclear weapons will reduce the chance of one falling into the wrong hands and thus reduce the threat, we should do those things too.

    I also think you're missing that some nations want nuclear weapons in part because they see other nations have them. If we reduce the prestige associated with them by fostering disarmament among as many nations as possible, then it should help prospective nuclear powers be comfortable with Japan's stance. (Capable of building nukes but choosing not to)

  5. 2) I disagree. That type of cut is nothing more than a feel-good measure -- something that allows politicians to pretend they've accomplished something.

    3) Subs are not immune from first strikes. Although they are very difficult to locate and track, it is not impossible. They can be destroyed, particularly if you are willing to use nuclear weapons. And the less of them there are, the easier it becomes. Plus, if we are talking about across the board cuts in nuclear weapons, that will affect the submarine force as well.

    4) Basically yes. I was against Reagan's arms control efforts too. Verification is very difficult. Test-ban treaties can be verified, but they are also pretty useless, and counterproductive. We should be testing new weapons.

    5) That's only one reason to want them. The primary reason to want them is because they are currently the ultimate weapon. Having them makes your home country largely immune from attack. The only nuclear power that has ever been invaded is Israel. And other nations are going to continue to have them regardless of any agreements.

  6. We'll just have to disagree on #2 and #4. I'm keen on both and think reductions have been/will be beneficial to world peace. Cold War-era stockpiles were insane.

    #3 Sub-based nukes should be the last to go, and probably won't be disarmed in our lifetime. They're the US's largest strategic advantage, we'd be insane to give them up without extraordinary security guarantees. (Like, guarantees of the sort that probably aren't yet possible with today's technology)

    #5 Just because there are other reasons does not mean reducing what reasons we can isn't an excellent idea. Every bit helps.