WTF? We’re slashing budgets right and left, cutting back on “entitlements” and Medicaid and Pell Grants and having hissy fits over the paltry sums of money NPR receives, but we have a spare $7.5 billion to build nuclear bombs in Oak Ridge?
It’s a YES on the new bomb plant for Oak Ridge. Last Wednesday, the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration published its Record of Decision in the Federal Register. And the decision was no surprise: they selected the alternative they previously identified as their “preferred alternative;” a Uranium Processing Facility with the capacity to produce 80 nuclear secondaries per year.
The Record of Decision came on the heels of an audit performed by the Army Corps of Engineers that projected the cost of construction will soar to $7.5 billion. Of course, no one imagines costs will be constrained to that total over the next twelve years of construction. With half a billion dollars already spent on designing the facility and designers saying they are only 50% complete, it is clear that neither common sense nor fiscal responsibility will stand in the way of the bomb plant.
What the hell? Who are we building these bombs for? We already have more nuclear weapons than any other country on earth. What are we going to do, use them on some guys armed with box cutters? If 9/11 proved anything at all it’s what a colossal waste of money our Defense budget is. Anyone else remember how the big conversation pre-9/11 was the resurgence of the ridiculous “star wars” program?
It’s not just $7.5 billion for Oak Ridge, either. We’re set to spend $100 billion on a fleet of new ballistic missile launching submarines and $55 bilion on new bombers.
Why do we need these weapons? Who are we fighting? Who is the enemy? A bunch of men in pajamas in the hills of Waziristan riding around on donkeys? Are you kidding me?
I’m not the only one wondering:
At this stage in history, U.S. nuclear weapons serve no useful purpose other than preventing another nation from using nuclear weapons against the United States. And a study by two professors of military strategy at U.S. military colleges has suggested that that mission could be accomplished with roughly 300 warheads, compared with the 1,550 deployed warheads permitted under the New START treaty, and the roughly 5,000 currently in the U.S. stockpile if one counts all categories of non-deployed weapons. Going down to these levels would save additional billions in reduced operating and maintenance costs for the arsenal as a whole.
Not only have a growing list of former secretaries of state and defense, presidents and prime ministers, scientists and retired military officials called for the elimination of nuclear weapons, but if pushed by budgetary realities so would many current U.S. military leaders. While they won’t say so publicly, if forced to choose between nukes and major conventional systems it is my bet that nukes would lose out in that particular budget battle.
That wasn’t some pot-smoking DFH, that was William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.
It is the height of hypocrisy that Republicans and Conservadems like Joe Lieberman refuse to touch our Defense budget, yet keep crying about how the nation is broke. Oh my, we’re broke, we can’t pay our bills, oh dearest me, we’re just going to have to make grandpa go without his blood pressure medicine and grandma will have to eat cat food, what else can we do? Meanwhile we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars on nonsense like this. We’re supposed to think of the jobs making those fighter jet engines, but somehow teachers and social workers don’t have real jobs?
This is insanity.