For Shame

Wired News is reporting that the contract for Los Alamos is coming up for bid, and UT is planning to submit a bid. The article starts out with a very real concern — cronyism between the president and the home state of the president — and then takes a hard turn that I just couldn’t wrap my head around:

“Management at Los Alamos needed a radical shaking-up, not moving the monkeys around the same old tree,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico. In recent years, the lab has suffered through spy scandals, security lapses, environmental fights and recurring fraud. And Coghlan blames the University of California, in part, for many of these problems.

But he’s concerned about UT, nonetheless.

“If it were to win the bid, I’d expect UT would follow in lockstep behind Bush’s nuclear weapons programs,” Coghlan said.

Oh my GAWD! A government contractor that actually does what the government tells them? Oh, for shame! Oh, the humanity! Why, pretty soon, we’ll have a government that actually enforces budgets and gets results for the money poured into the current black hole budget! What is the world coming to?

In its funding requests for next year, the Bush administration “submitted a nuclear weapons budget equaling the all-time high under Reagan’s spectacular buildup,” Coghlan noted. Funding for a nuclear “bunker buster” weapon is up almost threefold in the fiscal 2005 budget, introduced Monday. Research into low-yield “mini nukes” increased by more than half.

And it is probably the best move they could make in terms of national defense. Our nuclear threat has been the deterrent that kept the US mainland safe between 1946 and 2001. It did that through the threat of MAD. On September 12, 2001, the entire MAD doctrine was blown completely out of the water. It was blown out the water because Afghanistan did not become the “Land of Glass Parking Lots”.

I don’t know that this is a bad thing. I did on September 13, 2001. The world since then has proven me wrong. We can protect ourselves without killing millions of non-combatants, but it is hard. It has cost us a lot, in money, life, and liberty. But MAD as it existed for that fifty years is dead. There is no credible threat in the world right now that would prompt us into dropping city-busters anywhere. Don’t take that to mean that I think we should scrap our city-busters; I think that would be suicide. The threat isn’t there now, but China could certainly be that threat in 10 years. Russia could deform and become that threat again.

But right now, we don’t have a credible nuclear deterrent. In fact, until we captured Saddam, we didn’t have a credible deterrent at all. (The fact that Khadaffi is giving up shows that we have one again.) But there is a threat of someone making a limited nuclear strike against us, and we need to be able to respond in kind. To do that, we have two choices: we can drop a city-buster somewhere, or we can drop several tactical weapons.

If we do nothing now, then we will be backed into the city-buster response. If we develop precise, bunker busting bombs and tactical weapons, then we will have the ability to respond by destroying the holes that the rats who attacked us are hiding in and destroying just the military infrastructure that they hide behind. Developing tactical yield weapons is the humanitarian option. If we are attacked with a nuke, people will die in nuclear fire on the other side; the question is, will it just be military targets, or will we be forced to use the big hammer and murder thousands of civilians as well?

As far as the University of California goes, there are bigger implications than that. If Coghlan is concerned that UT will develop these weapons, then he must conversely believe that the University of California won’t, and that is a damning accusation to me. When you are charged with a national defense program, and you deliberately (for whatever reason) cause that program to not show results, that is sabotage. Someone who commits sabotage in a time of war is someone who has committed treason. I don’t know if this is true, and I sincerely hope that is isn’t, but that is the conclusion of the statement he made.

If there is a danger that the University of California is sabotaging our nuclear research, and wasting three billion (with a “B”) dollars a year to do it, then they need to be booted out as fast as you can swing your foot.

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