Jeffrey LewisBodman Letter to Gates on RRW

I came across an interesting letter (full text) from then-Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

The letter was Bodman’s parting shot — he cc’d then Energy Secretary-designate Steven Chu — on nuclear weapons modernization. (Chu was sworn in on January 21, 2009.)

Bodman warns that the lack of enthusiasm for nuclear weapons threatens the health of the stockpile:

[T]he laboratory directors shared their perspective that the science and engineering basis that enables assessment and modifcation of the stockpile is fragile and potentially at risk from budget and morale concerns at the labs. This perspective is attributed primarily to a sense of uncertain national support for the nuclear deterrent mission.

This argument is totally lazy — Bodman (and others) make no effort to establish a causal relationship between policy choices, morale and efficacy of stockpile stewardship, let alone to quantify those relationships.

As a result, the argument boils down to “not doing my pet program will make the labs sad and, as a result, they will stop doing their job.”

Boo-f’ing-hoo.

I am all for giving the labs a clear and compelling mission, but this is the argument of a “make-work” program.

Comments

  1. Major Lemon (History)

    Boo-f’ing-hoo. Who is this guy?

  2. John Field (History)

    How about building robots to pick up trash in the city park? The robot designs would have to be reviewed by an outside agency to make sure that they couldn’t be misused for weapons assembly applications. Anyone caught designing a “dual use” robot would be fired on the spot.

  3. rkelly (History)

    “I am all for giving the labs a clear and compelling mission…”

    How f’ing generous of you.

  4. yousaf

    “This perspective is attributed primarily to a sense of uncertain national support for the nuclear deterrent mission.”

    Perhaps there is a reason for that.

    Perhaps instead of pushing ahead with “modernization”, a case for the post-Cold War “nuclear deterrent mission” and its size and alert level ought to be made to the U.S. public first.

  5. J House (History)

    If it is an argument for a ‘make work’ program, shouldn’t this President be supporting it? After all, he just signed a bill that has hundreds of billions of dollars worth of other ‘make work’ programs in it.

  6. Jodi (History)

    Nice find Jeffrey! Mind if I cross post on our ListServ?

  7. bobbymike (History)

    J House – right on! Not only would I have make work at our fabulous nuclear labs but also at the defense contractors churning out new ICBM’s, SLBM’s and the 2018 bomber.

    As for the content of the post maybe, just maybe, there are a lot of scientists/patriots want to work on the nuclear deterrent mission and not other programs. Can they express that opinion/concern?

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