Jeffrey LewisNuclear Strategy Follow-On White Paper

I have some more information on the “follow-on white paper” to Maintaining Deterrence in the 21st Century, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the RRW—the cabinet level statement on nuclear policy signed by Bodman, Gates and Rice.

The “Follow-On White Paper”, which will include classified appendices, is already in draft form. I guess the initial meeting for editing and coordination was held on July 25 and should be distributed on late August or early September.

The paper has four sections: (1) The New Security Environment, (2) Sizing Forces and Infrastructure, (3) Knowledge Points or Milestones, and my favorite (4) Dispelling Myths.

“Dispelling myths” has deservedly elicited a lot of groans. Not that I have anything against an Administration official brave enough to do battle with a strawman. It gives me the opportunity to point out he or she is picking on someone his own size, intellectually speaking.

Anyway, I have a list of the “myths” to be dispelled as of today. Not surprisingly, the myths are carefully worded to avoid any resemblance to the concerns of actual human beings, living or dead:

  • Does US security posture rely heavily on nuclear forces?
  • Isn’t the failure to sign new arms control agreements encouraging proliferation?
  • Why isn’t the US reducing its nuclear arsenal?
  • Are US nuclear forces on hair trigger alert?
  • Is the US building new, more dangerous nuclear weapons?
  • If RRW will not require testing, can the US ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty?

These are, I note, draft myths that may change in the course of editing—as is evidenced by the odd use of “can” in the last “myth” when the authors really means “should.” (Unless the authors really do know someone who believes the Senate’s constitutional role to provide advice and consent to treaties is somehow contingent on the progress of technical programs at one of the labs.)


  1. johnwbragg (History)

    Where’s Myth #7“The US must maintain over 5000 warheads until the end of time”

    Or Myth #8“A US President might want to launch a nuclear first strike, so we need to have that option ready”

    Actually, I’d sign on to Myth #3.

  2. johnwbragg (History)

    Oooh, oooh!

    Myth #9 “The nuclear weapons that were good enough to scare the Soviet Union twenty years ago are massively flawed and we need new Reliable Replacement ones to scare the Chinese and what’s left of the Russians today”

  3. Mark Gubrud

    Undoubtedly this is a response to the Tauscher Doomsday Dozen study as a holdup to RRW. This is obvious on its face – Why else would the Bush gang suddenly rush to address the Future of Nuclear Weapons vision thing? The three-pager makes this very clear, reading as a high-pressure sales pitch for immediate full funding of RRW, almost threatening in tone (“Delays on RRW also raise the prospect of having to return to underground nuclear testing to certify existingweapons”).

    My favorite part is the statement that “some of the materials employed in these older weapons are extremely hazardous.” Oh boy, green nukes. The RRW is going to made with organic vanilla ice cream and pure spring water, then?

  4. lancew70 (History)

    Poor Jeff…his brilliance is just sooo misunderstood 🙂

  5. Haninah (History)

    I thought that under the theory of the unitary executive, the Senate’s constitutional role to provide advice and consent to treaties is contingent on the Senate’s agreeing a priori with the President?

  6. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    How does one going about selecting a particular warhead among all of the options for use as a screen name?

  7. lance (History)

    “How does one going about selecting a particular warhead among all of the options for use as a screen name?”

    I give up… how?