March 25, 2014 10:45 am -

If you are a hawk who wants to spend more money on more weapons that we don’t need, you certainly can’t be a fiscal hawk, as this only add big money to our deficits and debt.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea shows the need to “build up missile defenses and modernize the US nuclear force,” James S. Robbins, a senior fellow for national security affairs for the American Foreign Policy Council, wrote last week in USA Today. “To live in the 21st century, the United States will need to relearn the lessons of the 20th.”

Robbins’ sentiment was echoed on Thursday by Loren Thompson, the CEO of the Lexington Institute, a military think tank funded by defense contractors: “Many people in Washington might have been prepared to forego spending money on a new generation of nuclear weapons before Putin made his move,” Thompson wrote in Forbes, “but now he has changed the strategic calculation.”

Arms control experts, like Tom Collina of the Arms Control Association, see it differently.

“Our nuclear weapons did not stop Russia from going into Crimea,” Collina points out. “There’s a case that what we really need to do is spend more on economic aid”—such as the proposed International Monetary Fund bailout for Ukraine—”and that money needs to come from somewhere.”

The military could cut billions of dollars from nuclear weapons programs with little strategic impact, Collina argues. For example, instead of ordering 12 new submarines at a cost of $100 billion, the Navy could order 8 subs and outfit each one with more warheads, providing an equivalent attack capability for $30 billion less.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.