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Corporate contractors not only receive money from the federal government, but help dictate policy.

By Russ Wellen

Dienekes was a Spartan soldier noted for his bravery. Herodotus wrote of him in The Histories (via Wikipedia)

It is said that on the eve of battle, he was told by a native of Trachis that the Persian archers were so numerous that, their arrows would block out the sun. Dienekes, however, undaunted by this prospect, remarked with a laugh, ‘Good. Then we will fight in the shade.'”

A reporter using the name Dienekes produced a paper in February titled Broken Promises: The White House, Special Interests, and New START that the Los Alamos Study Group featured on its website. Perhaps, he identifies with Dienekes because he feels vastly dwarfed by the forces of the Iron Triangle (his description: “the relationship between congressional committees, federal agencies, and special interest groups seeking to benefit from public policy”) against which he pits himself. Meanwhile, this reader can’t help but observe that in the event of a nuclear war, the survivors will be living in the shade of nuclear winter. Read the rest of this entry »

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In a critical op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor titled A ‘New START’ to an arms race between the US and Russia? Yousaf Butt of the Federation of American Scientists outlines just how missile defense, among other things, mucked up the New START arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia. Butt writes that

… the domestic bargains struck to ensure the passage of this modest treaty in the US were much more significant – and, ultimately, destabilizing – than its meager benefits. Huge funding increases for America’s nuclear-weapons complex and “modernization” programs as well as the green-lighting of the flawed missile-defense system were offered as concessions to reluctant hawks to get their agreement to sign on the dotted line. Obama entered office not favoring the ill-tested missile defense system but changed his mind because he needed additional votes to pass New START. Read the rest of this entry »

By Russ Wellen

“In crisis lies opportunity” is more than just a cliché (and we’re not just talking about Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine.)  For instance, what could be a better time than the recess-depression in which we’re mired to rethink the whole concept of a growth economy, which has become unsustainable in the face of climate change and dwindling resources? At the very least, it’s a chance to trim our defense budget. In fact, it might not be foremost in the minds of most Americans, or even of much consolation, but cuts to our nuclear-weapons program constitute a silver lining to our economic crisis.

If you’ll recall, earlier this year, the New START treaty was held hostage by Senate Republicans under the direction of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). By way of ransoming it, the Obama administration forked over a proposal to spend $88 billion during the next decade on nuclear-weapon modernization. (As if to show the futility of that approach, while it was ultimately passed, Kyl still didn’t vote in favor of New START.) That figure represents a 20 percent increase above funding levels proposed during the Bush administration. Read the rest of this entry »

By Russ Wellen

Arms control organizations usually try to cut the Obama administration some slack on nuclear disarmament and accentuate the positive, such as the New START treaty, however minimal its disarmament measures. But the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) operates under no such constraints. Among the conclusions of its just-released SIPRI Yearbook 2011 (for purchase only): “continuing cuts in US and Russian nuclear forces are offset by long-term force modernization programmes.” Read the rest of this entry »

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