Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Horsetrading for arms control

Lindsey Graham is one of those frustrating right-of-center figures--not unlike Peggy Noonan, to name the first that comes to mind--who alternate between saying entirely sensible things and entirely stupid things, often at the same time. This falls into the latter category:
The Hill reports that Senate Republicans have a rare opportunity exercise leverage on President Obama's new agreements on arms reduction with Russia, which will require a two-thirds majority in the Senate in order to be ratified. Republicans are likely to apply pressure on missile defense, as explained by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "I don't want the Russians to get something and we get nothing. I don't know what we're getting out of this."

It's pretty simple. Less nuclear weapons in the world = less possibility of a nuclear war + less of a chance of nukes falling into the hands of terrorists. Russia and America get exactly the same benefit from this arrangement--essentially, more peace of mind. Granted, the Russians have gotten stronger in recent years, and while it is often treated as some sort of disaster that they are looking after their own self-interest instead of ours I think that a stronger Russia means less chance of loose nukes floating about. Sadly, it looks like the right is going to come out against reducing nuclear weapons, for reasons that make absolutely no sense.

Still, this whole horsetrading thing is deeply silly. I've come to accept that Republicans are never going to give up the ghost on missile defense. It's been a bigger waste of money than the drug war in terms of achieving its objectives, and almost a textbook case of the sort of thing the government can't do. Directing scientific research in this fashion is simply not something that the government does well. But Reagan wanted it (though he also wanted disarmament, but that can't be put in purely nationalistic terms, so screw it), and there are a few broken-down cold warriors who probably still want a first strike option against Moscow, which is, by the way, the only real reason why this is on anyone's radar screens. It's why this idea came from the hard right. It comes from a place that says that we should be able to do anything we want, and the rest of the world can suck it. There's the whole argument about "making nuclear weapons irrelevant" that I find more acceptable, but if that were the case, surely sharing this research with everyone would be better, in order to pool resources and try to stop this threat? Then it wouldn't look so much like the other thing. If you ever wonder why Russia hates this stuff so much, well, this is the reason why. They don't want to be nuked with impunity! Of course, for a lot of Respectable People, making Russia mad is the goal of Russia policy. John McCain clearly thinks this, and it seems that his mini-me Graham does too.

New McCain motto: personal pique first!

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.