Monday, November 17, 2008

US Removes Last Nuclear Weapons from the UK

For some time I have been advocating that our government remove our last nuclear weapons from Europe. One problem though is that it is difficult to determine exactly how many US weapons remain on the continent.

I recently came across this on the blog of the Federation of American Scientists. It is a blog post from July noting that the last US nuclear warheads in the UK have been removed. However, the post notes that the US is doing much of this in secrecy. With those weapons removed, the question now is how many remain? Why the secrecy? As noted by the commenters, NATO is missing a big opening to engage the Russians. And if engaging the Russians is not enough, why not make a big deal about the reductions for PR purposes?

T^he remaining number of US nuclear weapons in Europe is somewhat small and many seem to be housed on allied bases. I assume that those weapons are stationed under the Cold War era agreement between the US and our allies to have nuclear weapons available for them in case of war with Russia. That concern is obsolete, so why keep them there, especially as nuclear weapons require upkeep and security, money that can better be spent addressing other security concerns.

The author of the FAS article wonders if part of the problem is that the US thinks everything involving nuclear weapons must be secret. Yet, with enough digging, he was able from public sources to, with much difficulty, determine the fate of the weapons. I wonder if the real issue is that European governments fear the US is "leaving" Europe. Yes, there are old emotional, military and economic ties between the US and Europe, but since the end of the Cold War, those ties have been fraying. As the United States becomes more Latino and Asian and the history of European immigration becomes a distant memory, I think the US will look to the south and the Pacific, not the Atlantic. And once US forces leave Europe, I doubt they will ever go back there again. For Europeans, that cannot be a good result, as that means they will have to spend more on their security.

Granted, I think it is time we removed the last of our troops there — given that the USSR is no more. I do not see Russia as a threat to the United States, unless we make her one. NATO policy made sense in that the USSR was a threat to the US. It was, however, primarily an ideological treat, so it made sense to say to Europe we have so many troops here that if the Soviets attack, we are in it from the beginning, I have trouble seeing that relevant today.

I hope this will be something the Obama administration will address. He can start by removing the last US warheads from the continent.


William R. Barker said...

We're in agreement re: removing set, in place nuclear weapons from European soil.

Why the secrecy? Why the refusal to take PR advantage of the move? God only knows! (*SIGH*) Two names and an initial: 1) George; 2) Bush; 3) W.


As to the future...

I agree with you. (Or rather you agree with me. (*WINK*) In the long run Europe is that past - at least in terms of our most vital international trade, economic, and military relationships - but in the sort term...

Again, Anthony, "tying" Europe's military and to an extent foreign policy to us via NATO is in our interest. The longer we can forestall the development of an independent European (specifically French & German) military structure... (*SIGH*)... the better.

As to Russia...


I can't emphasis enough how incompetent and short sighted our American leaders of both Parties are with regard to Russia. I fear "Democratic" foreign policy with regard to Putin's Russia (and, yes, it's STILL "Putin's" Russia) will be little improved (and perhaps worse!) over "Republican" foreign policy.

China is our adversary. China is our most likely major "enemy" in terms of being able to do us harm - both economic and military harm.

My vision of proper U.S. foreign policy mid/long-term focus is to at best ally ourselves with Russia in the way we're allied with say Japan, and worst case have Russia basically stay out of future U.S. vs. China "cold" war disputes (let alone, God forbid, possible "hot" war disputes).

I see a true "worst case" future (if we continue to alienate Russia while Europe continues along it's own independent path) as being a multi-power-block world where the U.S. is opposed by the China block while Russia/Europe act as block not directly allied with the China block against us, but more concerned with containing (*RUEFUL SMILE*) U.S. power and in pursuit of this goal often situationally "allying" themselves with the Chinese block as a tool of containment against us.

Our main foreign policy goal for the future is to keep our alliance with Japan, strengthen our ties and build an alliance with India, and if possible have Russia more on "our side" than not. At the same time, yes, by all means we've got to develop and strengthen our relations with our neighbors in this hemisphere.


Anthony said...

We disagree on this Bill. I do not see and cannot imagine a Europe that is in any way militarily expansive. I do see that NATO means further US-Russian conflict, when there is no real conflict between our countries.

I do agree with you on Putin.

As for China, I agree that China is the future, though I wonder if she will stay together as a country. In light of US-Chinese relations, I also do not see us as advesaries. Unlike the Soviet Union, China actually makes things people want to buy.

As for your worst case scenario just remember -- Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia

William R. Barker said...

"...I wonder if she will stay together as a country."


No... seriously, Anthony! Though the reason I fear China is because there's lots to be afraid of...


...the flip side of the coin is that China is in many ways a fragile state encompassing vast disparities of wealth, power, influence spread across vast territories with diverse ethnic and religious populations neither historically in sync nor united even today under a single ideology of nationism uber alles.

And yes... China's economic strengths are also China's economic weaknesses. And export economy is strong only when the export market is even stronger!

See... this is why I like you, Anthony - because it's quite clear you know a lot! (*SMILE*) (*WINK*)

(Oh... and because you drink...) (*SHRUG*)

As to NATO...


As you say, we disagree. I "get" where you're coming from, though.


Micha Elyi said...

I do not see and cannot imagine a Europe that is in any way militarily expansive. -Anthony (1:21 PM)

That is a failure of imagination, young man. At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a widespread belief among Europeans that another war on the soil of their most advanced nations had become impossible. In less time than it took the US to go from the election of James Earl Carter as President to the inauguration of bill clinton to that office, the slaughter of the Great War had begun.

By the way, who in Carter's coterie could imagine the transformation of a steadily westernizing Iran into the missile-seeking, nuke-craving mullah-land we know today? That all happened within his single four-year term.

Anthony said...

Micha --

Maybe it is a failure of imagination on my part, but there is a world of difference between the Europe of 1900 and 2008. I do understand your thoughts however.

I understand that many felt in 1900 it was impossible that a general European War would take place. Soon after the Boer War, there was a discussion regarding reorganization of the British Army -- it was shot down as it was considered unlikely that the British would ever again fight a "western" enemy following the defeat of the Boers. Yet, thios took place in the context of the naval arms race between Germany and Britain and the land arms race involving most of the continental powers.

You do not see that right now. The European powers for the most part are not spending money on their militaries. Russia is, buut that follows a long period of decay (and they probably will slow down spending now that oil is at $55/bbl).

In short, I cannot see a Europe being militarily agressive.

As for Iran, the writing was on that wall for a long time.