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Recommended Reading…. in the Age of Piracy


 Top Billing! Galrahn at Information Dissemination for his comprehensive Somali pirate blogging Observing the Obama Administration Somali Piracy Policy , Somalia is Bigger than Piracy Even as Piracy Dominates the News,  French Conduct Hostage Rescue Off Somalia – Updated , Captain Richard Phillips Rescued , Leveraging Success Going Forward, Somali Pirates Vow Revenge, Kaplan’s Elegant Decline Applied to Piracy  and Time to Plan and Weigh Options

Coming Anarchy:  “Stop calling them pirates”

Global Guerillas: PIRATES

Outside the Beltway (Schuler)Dealing With Somali Piracy (Updated)

HG’s World –  In the Finest Traditions of the United States Navy

SWJ BlogWeekend Piracy News, Opinion, Blog Roundup

David AxeSomali Pirates versus the Tuna Trade

Ok…that’s enough piracy for anyone lacking a peg leg and a parrot. Moving on……

A MENA Burst: Abu Muqawama on The Regionalization of Hizballah and Lounsbury on Reading Race in MENA: Black Imam of Mecca and American reads

A more granular take on Mideast cultural-political issues.

DEBATE: The Army’s Strategic Role  Dr. Steven Metz of SSI vs. Nathan Freier of CSIS

SEED –  The Living Robot

” Researchers have developed a robot capable of learning and interacting with the world using a biological brain.”

The Journal of DemocracyReading Russia: The Siloviki in Charge

Thomas P.M. Barnettbanning nuclear weapons is a foolish dream and a waste of Obama’s limited political capital in national security affairs

 Tom’s 100 % correct. The folks pushing this, who include conservative Republican elder statesmen who know better, if they succeeded, would breathe new life into great power war ( our last round, WWII, cost 60 million dead) and give a huge edge to dictators who could produce a small arsenal of atomic bombs in secret.

That’s it!

11 Responses to “Recommended Reading…. in the Age of Piracy”

  1. Cheryl Rofer Says:

    Mark, your point about great power war is legitimate. It’s clear to all (including Obama and his administration) that conventional weapons are part of the equation that leads to a world without nuclear weapons. That came out in Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg’s and Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemueller’s comments at the Carnegie Nonproliferation Conference. (More about the conference here.)
    But it’s sad that Barnett gets so many things wrong.
    Obama’s team proposes a replacement to START that would limit both sides to 1k nuclear warheads (not weapons, warheads). We currently have about 4k and Russia has 5k. Bush-Cheney had an agreement with Moscow to go down to 1700 US and 2200 Russia by 2012.
    Obama’s team isn’t proposing anything right now except negotiations. Gottemueller and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kiselyak made that clear at the conference when Peter Baker kept probing about what they expected the treaty to look like and they said that they didn’t intend to negotiate there. What they did agree on was that the verification provisions of START need to continue to support the very inadequate Moscow Treaty, which Barnett incorrectly references in the last sentence. But let me plow on before I correct that.
    No number has been proposed. However, reliable gossip has it that the new treaty might have a limitation of 1500 deployed warheads. Barnett gets a little confused here, not entirely unjustifiably so: a lot of numbers that refer to different sorts of things get bandied around. Deployed warheads means warheads on bombers or ballistic missiles, warheads ready to be used. They have been the only kind counted because they are easier to count via the delivery vehicles. But for each deployed warhead there are one or two in reserve, being refurbished, whatever. And then there are the disassembled pits that are stored at the Pantex plant. So that 1500 deployed translated to maybe 3000 total. How to count warheads will be the subject of later treaties, not the START followon that everyone wants by the end of the year.
    The Moscow Treaty specifies a "limit" of "1700 to 2200" deployed warheads each for the US and Russia, no difference between the two. Those numbers are confusing because they weren’t reconciled during the truncated period of negotiations (Bush didn’t want a treaty at all) and the compromise was to use a range. Of course, the higher number in that range is the operative one.
    The business about producing nuclear weapons in secret is just silly. It might be possible for the former nuclear powers, but international inspections will increase as numbers of nuclear weapons decrease. And building them isn’t something you can do in your garage.

  2. zen Says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    I will pass your comments along to Tom as he will find both your corrections and your arms control RUMINT interesting.  I think the tolerance for having a range has much to do with the traditional difference in force structure for delivery vehicles of nuclear weapons between Russia and the U.S. and the decrease in the threat of WWIII that makes modest numerical differences less crucial.
    Regarding "secret weapons programs" and inspections in a nuclear free world:
    A more exact and better way for me to have expressed the threat I was trying to articulate would be to say that a nuclear free world, or a very low nuke ceiling world, creates exceptionally strong incentives for states to acquire a small number of nuclear weapons. Their strategic value becomes greatly inflated as does their likelihood of use when a state has a nuclear monopoly. You are correct that the entire process would be unlikely to be successfully kept secret from IAEA inspections but what matters is if a state can move far enough down the path covertly that, once discovered, they can overtly "sprint" from capability to weaponization in a relatively short time. Or even a longer period of time – Pakistan, Iraq, North Korea and Iran demonstrate that if a state is willing to endure pariah status or economic sanctions, they can pursue nuclear programs (or proliferate to other states) in defiance of the NPT, IAEA, UN and the great powers, unless the latter are determined to intervene militarily. Of those examples, only Iraq is certifiably not a member of the nuclear club or pursuing membership.
    To have a nuclear free world means a willingness to pro-actively stop regimes seeking nukes before they acquire them. A non-nuclear United States might be very hesitant to engage in a major armed conflict with a nuclear armed North Korea, even if Pyongyang had only 5-6 functioning warheads. To have a credible, non-nuclear, conventional deterrent to incipient, illegal, nuclear powers, the United States might need to return to levels of defense spending as a % of the GDP not seen since at least the Kennedy administration. That strikes me as an incredibly bad bargain – more expense for greater uncertainty and less security than the status quo.

  3. Cheryl Rofer Says:

    Mark, no country, repeat NO country, has developed nuclear weapons without raising suspicions elsewhere. South Africa comes closest, but there were indications, and that was in a world of less-exacting inspections.
    And I am wondering why you think that low numbers of or zero nuclear weapons create "exceptionally strong incentives for states to acquire a small number of nuclear weapons." We are not talking about today’s world minus nuclear weapons, but a world in which years of negotiations have removed nuclear weapons from the universe of weapons that might be used. We have done much the same thing with chemical and biological weapons, and what seems to have happened is closer to universal abhorrence by nations of chemical and biological weapons.

  4. zen Says:

    Cheryl, let me re-emphasize a point you may have overlooked:
    "You are correct that the entire process would be unlikely to be successfully kept secret from IAEA inspections but what matters is if a state can move far enough down the path covertly that, once discovered, they can overtly "sprint" from capability to weaponization in a relatively short time….Pakistan, Iraq, North Korea and Iran demonstrate that if a state is willing to endure pariah status or economic sanctions, they can pursue nuclear programs"
    I expect that proliferation behavior will raise suspicions. I also expect that as a rule, nothing will be done about it in terms of inflicting enough pressure to force such a state to desist.
    Your second question requires me to ask why you think that such negotiations would change the fundamental nature of how regimes calculate their interests in terms of national survival or greatness, or for that matter, human nature itself.
    Chemical and biological weapons can be regulated out of common use because they are outclassed by the existence of nuclear weapons anyway. These weapons take on greater importance as they become rarer and the ability for a state to execute a strike first without suffering retaliation in kind, becomes first, possible and then later, probable. Conventional weapons do not offer the same superannuating and degree of deterring effect for eliminating nukes that nukes did for biochem arsenals

  5. Cheryl Rofer Says:

    I read that paragraph, Mark, but I gave it different weight than you do. You could make an even stronger argument by noting that Israel and India have developed nuclear weapons outside the NPT and have suffered much less of pariah status than the others you cite. I would put Pakistan somewhere between the two groups and note that Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was stopped (although that was not the primary purpose of the action), North Korea’s device was one of the least successful ever tested, and Iran has yet to produce a weapon.
    I have my doubts about that "sprint" business.  And we’re not doing "nothing" about North Korea and Iran, unless military action is the only thing that qualifies as "something."
    Pakistan, India and Israel all acquired their nuclear weapons during a very different time (read George Perkovich’s India’s Nuclear Bomb or Avner Cohen’s Israel and the Bomb for two of the histories), with covert support (or a wink and a nod, anyway) from existing nuclear powers. Such complicity seems much less likely now, and even less in a future in which negotiations have addressed the security issues that drive some nations’ desires for nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the various interactions related to it (Argentina’s and Brazil’s accommodation with each other, South Africa’s giving up their arsenal, for just two) have made the world a different place than it was in the sixties and seventies, the time in which those two books are set.
    It’s not a matter of human nature or national interests in some absolute sense, but how those characteristics are expressed. The laws of war have changed in the past and can change in the future.
    In any case, the concern about clandestine nuclear weapon production is about a world with zero or very, very few nuclear weapons. On the way to that world from our current tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, we will pass through numbers of them like 1500, 500 and 100. There are ways to those numbers. We can worry about the end-game when we’re closer to it.

  6. fester Says:

    Zen — I think your North Korea limited deterrance scenario is fairly unlikely as it is not like the major nuclear powers will not maintain the physical and intellectual infrastructure to reconstitute an arsenal so even if overwhelming response is delayed by a month or six, the implied deterrance capacity of the US, Russia and China at the very least would remain (I have doubts about the UK ability to mothball their capacity, and don’t know enough about the French)

  7. zen Says:

    Cheryl and Fester,
    Addressing various points……
    North Korea is not a success story for nonproliferation as the DPRK is a member, albeit a weird pariah member with subpar warheads, of the nuclear club. What the Norks represent is a mitigation of worst-case outcomes to something tolerable along the lines of a negotiated containment while they work on perfecting their weapon design components which appear to be unreliable in practice ( one dud does not mean the next device won’t work or won’t be more powerful than the North Korean scientists expected; errors can run both ways). Better than nothing, to be certain. There are diplomatic success stories for getting states to abandon nuke programs or actual nuclear arms which could be pointed to – Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Libya, the aforementioned South Africa. What made those states amenable to diplomacy is a lack of grandiose geopolitical ambitions that nuclear weapons could further, carrots that were more satisfying than the nationalistic glory of being a nuclear power or economic dependency/vulnerability. States that have local expansionistic goals, a nuclear armed regional rival or delusions of regional hegemony will not be nearly so agreeable.
    I agree that most member states of the nuclear club have gained entry by piggybacking on the tech of existing members by hook or by crook, starting with Soviet espionage that penetrated the Manhattan Project and going forward from there. China, India, Israel etc. all had help or access to foreign tech during their quests for the bomb. I do not expect this process to stop – the NPT’s provision on peaceful uses of nuclear technology is itself a vehicle for nuclear proliferation banned by the treaty. A peaceful program creates the scientific and technological base for a covert weapons effort.
    Will we have six months to assemble a bomb if our suspicions are confirmed by a first use against a third party? I am not a huge fan of closing the strategic barn door after the cow has wandered into the next county. Had Saddam suddenly brandished a nuclear weapon when he invaded Kuwait in 1991, then Kuwait would have remained part of Iraq and Saddam Hussein would still be in power there today.
    The fact is that, assuming the fantasy of a nuclear free world was a reality and not a Kellogg-Briand Pact potempkin village, the high tech, uber-expensive, conventional military of the United States would be disproportionately more powerful than it is now. The only affordable equalizer for Russia and China is nuclear weapons. The only deterrent against a U.S. ground invasion even by a strong third tier power is nuclear arms which become more valuable if the U.S. has decommissioned theirs.
    No, the end game does not become easier by putting off thinking about it. If answers are not readily conceivable now they will be less so in the future as states adapt their behavior and planning to reduction in nuclear stockpiles by the U.S. and Russia ( assuming Russia buys in to this drama – a fairly large assumption).

  8. Slumdog Millionaire album Says:

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  9. Brody James Says:

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  10. Larry Dunbar Says:

    "But it’s sad that Barnett gets so many things wrong."
    Man isn’t that true!

  11. Keira James Says:

    bollywood movies are quite cheesy isn’t it? but they are nice stuffs too`;’

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