Jeffrey LewisWaPo Hit Job on EastWest Institute

Open note to Fred Hiatt: You are a total neocon hack job.

I don’t know how Hiatt ended up as the editorial page editor at the Washington Post, and I suppose this ends my chances of placing any op-eds at the Post in the near future, but to hell with it. And so much for the “new” Arms Control Wonk.

Lots of other folks — Andrew Sullivan among them — have documented the steady rightward list of the Post editorial page since Hiatt took the helm.

What set me off today is a small thing, but precisely because it is such a small, ordinary slight, I find Hiatt’s latest shenanigan to be very telling about how the Post does business these days. (And I don’t mean apparently selling access to the newsroom.)

On Monday, July 6, Eric Edelman and Henry “Trey” Obering had a predictably silly oped about the Iranian missile threat in the Post (Defense For a Real Threat). They are entitled to their opinion. Opinons, as my Dad would say, are like belly-buttons: Everyone’s got one. (Ok, he didn’t say “belly-buttons”.)

There are at least three things that bother me about the Post’s decision to run the op-ed:

One (1) The op-ed is just a smear against the EastWest Institute’s very interesting Joint Threat Assessment. Why Hiatt is pimping inches in the Post to people like Edelman and Obering to use in settling some stupid personal score is beyond me.

Make no mistake, Edelman and Obering have some axe to grind — right down to putting scare quotes around “experts” to describe the Joint Threat Assessment participants. Step back for a second and consider that: Trey Obering is questioning the technical chops of, among others, Richard Garwin.

Garwin received the National Medal of Science. Obering can’t count to eleven without taking his shoes off. But I digress.

Garwin obviously was evidently bemused by all this. His byline in the response that he circulated with Ted Postol merely lists his qualification as being “a long-time contributor to U.S. military technology.”

This is like Michael Jordan noting that he “played some ball.”

Two (2) Edelman and Obering, by all accounts, should love the idea of a Joint Threat Assessment, not trash it.

The EastWest Institute Joint Threat Assessment did wonders in bringing Russians experts around to a realistic assessment of the short- and medium-range ballistic missile threat from Iran, as well as Tehran’s nuclear program.

That it didn’t convince the Russians of some bizarre neo-con fixation with ICBMs and Scuds-on-ships (anybody else remember Scuds-on-ships?) is not a short-coming.

Getting the Russians to join in a Joint Threat Assessment, as opposed to their typical ostrich-maneuver about Iran, is a fantastic idea — which is why some serious senior people like General James Jones endorsed the concept of a Joint Threat Assessment. Indeed, that is also why Obama sought and won a pledge from Russian President Medvedev for Russian experts to participate in an official Joint Threat Assessment.

The fact that Edelman and Obering don’t see the value in working to bring the Russians around to our point of view is a perfect example of why US leadership languished while those two were on the job. You’re either with us or against us. Coalitions of the willing. You get the idea.

Three (3) Hiatt and the Post refused to run a response by Dick Garwin and Ted Postol, who were among the six American participants (aka “experts”). Now that is just cowardly.

(Update: I should note that the Post published a short letter by Garwin.)

You run a second-rate hack job by the two rocket scientists like Edelman and Obering — that’s sarcasm — and you don’t let their victims (who happen to actually be scientists of one form or other) rebut?

Garwin and Postol, by the way, are circulating the response. Here is the full text.

The Wrong Defense and the Wrong Target
Richard L. Garwin and Theodore A. Postol
July 8, 2009

Trey Obering and Eric Edelman misrepresent the findings of an East-West Institute study done by a team of Russian and US experts on Iran’s Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs and then use these misrepresentations to make arguments that are without merit. They claim that a recently tested Iranian solid propellant ballistic missile represents a threat to Europe (“putting much of Europe within range”) and imply that the Czech radar and Polish interceptors can counter it when in fact the missile is of too short a range to reach most European capitals and even to be engaged by the European missile defense system they advocate.

They also claim that our report incorrectly identifies and discusses serious limitations of the European Midcourse Radar that Gen. Obering was involved in advocating for the Czech Republic when he was director of the Missile Defense Agency. Our study found that the range of this radar against warheads is so short that it cannot provide even rudimentary discrimination capabilities against warheads and decoys launched from Iran to the eastern two thirds of the continental United States and Northern and Western Europe.

Obering and Edelman state that the radar “has been operated in flight tests in the South Pacific for more than eight years.” What they do not say is that the radar was of such short range that it could only be tested against realistic mock warheads at ranges of a few hundred kilometers, where the actual intercept attempts occurred after long-range missiles had already flown thousands of miles to arrive near the radar.

We have recommended to the National Security Adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, that the real capabilities of this radar get high-level technical attention in the president’s Missile Defense Review. If this radar does not have the range to discriminate between warheads and decoys, it will mean that the Missile Defense Agency has committed to a radar that would leave two thirds of the eastern part of the continental United States, as well as Northern and Western Europe, with a defense that cannot tell the difference between warheads and countermeasures so simple that it is impossible to believe they would not, and could not, be used.

The other findings of the East-West Institute Study are also relevant to Obering’s and Edelman’s claims of a dire threat from Iran that requires the immediate adoption of a flawed and untested missile defense system. They are:

– A ballistic missile can only be a nuclear threat if the adversary has a nuclear weapon that the missile can carry.

– The time it would take Iran to have a roughly 2000 km range ballistic missile armed with a nuclear warhead is determined by the time it would take Iran to build a nuclear warhead that is sufficiently light and compact to fly on a ballistic missile. Assuming Iran does not have clandestine enrichment capabilities, it would take Iran about six years to produce such a weapon – starting from the time they expel the International Atomic Energy Agency from their currently monitored nuclear enrichment facilities.

– In the event that Iran could build longer-range missiles that could reach Northern and Western Europe or the United States, they would be very large and cumbersome, and would have to be launched from well-known specialized launch locations. Such missiles would be highly vulnerable to preemption and, as described in our report, to small interceptor missiles based on stealthy drone aircraft to shoot down the lumbering missiles as they are launched.

Unlike the European missile defense, this defense is not subject to countermeasures. We like it, because we like weapons that work!

Richard L. Garwin is a long-time contributor to U.S. military technology.

Theodore A. Postol is Professor of Science, Technology, and national Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


  1. The Other FSB (History)

    Jeffrey, this particular post is beneath you. Tut, tut.

  2. SW

    Dr Lewis, really, this is beneath you… Has the dummy reached escape velocity, or plunged into the Pacific? If the WP oped is a hatchet job on the Joint Threat Assessment and the EW Institute, it is not markedly worse than the JTA’s one on the missile defense initiative. The JTA actually comes through in no small measure as a booster to assist the Russians’ own effort to place a dummy in orbit. If anything is going to get these US installations built, staffed and placed on alert, it will be the Russian obstinate insistence that, come hell or high water, the Czech and Polish territories are the rightfully Russian war booty of WWII, and nothing has changed since 1989, so the US must not go there, Iran or no Iran. I believe that the historically honoured Russian language term to describe Western purveyors of analysis that just happens to fit a preconceived Russian foreign policy objective is ‘полезные идиоты’.

  3. Jason (History)

    First of all, we all know that Hiatt is a hack – he let SARAH PALIN write an op-ed on energy policy. Honestly, does anything more need to be said?

    Second, you’re absolutely right about Edelman/Obering, and I’m glad you have submitted the rebuttal. I didn’t want to give the article the time of day, but it’s good that someone in the community calls these asses for what they are.

  4. Mark Gubrud

    “Dummy in orbit”? Huh?

    SW, did you actually read the JTA report? Is there anything in it that you would care to dispute?

    It’s one of the clearest and most authoritative documents on this topic in existence, and it’s not too technical, but it cuts straight through to robust conclusions based on robust technical reasoning. Not Russian reasoning at all; Russian views are clearly explained and so labeled, but the bulk of the report is clearly the work of Dr. Garwin and Prof. Postol primarily.

    I’m not too enthusiastic about their “weapons that work,” either – I think it would be escalatory and dangerous to deploy air-based interceptors on UAVs flying in or near Iranian or North Korean airspace. But here, too, I must admit that their technical reasoning is sound.

    Jeffrey is right on target here. Whatever else Mr. Hiatt has done, this episode clearly earns him the title awarded.

  5. Scott Monje (History)

    Actually, I think you’ll find that the Russians have been demanding a joint threat assessment for years, presumably to convince us that the threat has been exaggerated. In October 2007 Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice went to Moscow to discuss the BMD controversy. In November they gave the Russians a written version of what they had discussed, but the Russians rejected it, saying they had left out several of the proposals they had made orally during the visit. One of those was a joint assessment of the threat. (Other points said to be left out were stationing Russian observers at the sites and delaying deployment until Iran’s missile threat had materialized.) See Congressional Research Service RL34051 “Long-Range Ballistic Missile Defense” (2008).

  6. Yale Simkin (History)

    I don’t wish to evaluate the merits of the report as a whole, but I see sections 2.9 and 2.11 as way out-of-wack.

    Assertions are being made that don’t seem justifiable, and there is no technical justifications in the doc that I can find. (SIX MONTHS to convert 25 kg of HEUF6 to metal hemispheres? Give me a break. It’s a garage scale process, which BTW they would do IN PARALLEL with enriching the LEU-HEU.)

    Claiming that the Iranians can design a spherical implosion system but can’t design a small uranium gun?

    Ok fine, lets pretend that they can’t do a 50 year old design for a 110kg device (the W-33). Can they build sixty-year old designs? like the simple single gun W9 or W17. These puppies yielded 15kt and weighed only 275-375kg including the massive ballistic casing. The Demolition Mine version weighed a fraction.

    Only .28m wide by 1.4m long.

    You can see one in action (the Grable Test) here

    As Holdren, et al, pointed out in the NAC Technical Issues Related to Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (2002):

    “For any nation with a modest technical competence, laboratory measurements would suffice for such a uranium-235 gun design, together with firing the gun with a dummy projectile. Knowledge… of the fact that the United States once possessed large numbers of artillery-fired gun-type nuclear shells might lead a proliferant country to a system much lighter and smaller than the Hiroshima weapon.”

    I don’t think the Iranian’s would use a uranium gun in the short-term, because it requires triple the HEU, but with their target 50k+ centrifuges on line, why not eventually?

    2.10 is not much better, because it seems to imply that: 1) Iran has not engaged in an extensive program of cold-testing. And 2) Intelligence is good enough to know that #1 hasn’t occurred.

  7. FSB

    How effective would the missile defense be against a nuke stolen in on a boat or a SRBM launched from a ship? Not very.

    The reason that missile defense will never work in protecting the US is that it is subject to the “Fallacy of the Last Move.”

  8. bobbymike (History)

    Garwin and Postol are McNamara “parity and stability is security” purists. They have opposed any weapon system that provides the US with perceived military superiority, they believe it would invite attack.

    Their thinking is, if you have parity at a certain level of armaments you can slowly bring that “parity” level lower and lower until complete disarmament is achieved. I don’t think it is an invalid theory I just disagree with it.

    Also, the personal attacks on Obering are kind of puerile don’t you think?

  9. yousaf

    Missile defense does not provide the US with “perceived military superiority” — it provides the US with mis-perceived military superiority.

    The real danger of missile defense is that our future political leaders (Ms. Palin?) may actually think it works and implement provocative policies which, even if they don’t invite a real test of the system, may result in some asymmetrical responses (e.g. outlined by FSB above) for which a missile defense is totally ineffective.

    A leaky missile defense system — and all such defenses will be leaky at some level — would likely encourage Iran to build even more missiles and nukes (to be sure that some got through the ineffective “defense”) and to perfect other method of delivering the warhead.

    At the very least Obering should have admitted in the OpEd that he had somewhat of a conflict of interest in supporting missile defense. Why did WaPo not catch this?

    “Schafer Corporation is a provider of scientific, engineering, systems integration, programmatic support and technical services/solutions, primarily to government clientele. Schafer has a national footprint supporting mission-critical programs for customers including the US Armed Services, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Missile Defense Agency (MDA),…”

  10. Nick (History)

    Villain du jour is now Iran. If we want to create an enemy to sell more weapons, this country is a perfect choice. Hiatt of WP has a set agenda to push for the vilification of Iran.

    Let’s assume they are capable of extending the range of Sajil2 to 3000 Kilometers, with the third stage, why would they attack NATO countries with their very limited capability. No, they are not suicidal, that is an Israeli assessment that does not hold water.

    This whole discussion is moot whether the anti-missile system works or not against Iran. They have not attacked anyone in 200 years. Why not point defensive measures towards China were the real threat might be in 10 years.

  11. Josh (History)

    The op-ed did a disservice to readers. It’s really unfortunate that the Garwin/Postol reply didn’t find its way into print.

    Of course, the point could have been made here with a higher light-to-heat ratio. Let’s bring back the new ACW, at least a little!

    My own two cents on the op-ed are here.

  12. anon

    “Their thinking is, if you have parity at a certain level of armaments you can slowly bring that “parity” level lower and lower until complete disarmament is achieved.”

    Sounds more like Cheech & Chong logic 🙂

  13. FSB

    bobbymike, anon,
    cool that you know what Garwin and Postol’s thinking is.

    How did you navigate within their minds?

    Perhaps you have other jewels of wisdom extracted from their brains you’d care to share with us….

  14. Yale Simkin (History)


    bobbymike and anon are stating Garwin’s thinking correctly.

    To quote Garwin: (blending some sources here)

    RLG: …I think that the United States, for instance, could put half its nuclear weapons into a reserve from which they could be recalled in a period of months. The rest of the weapons would be given the job of assured destruction in case of need; and if the Soviets followed suit by disabling half of their weapons, then we could proceed further.


    Promptly and unilaterally reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal to no more than 1,000 warheads, including deployed and reserve warheads. The United States would declare all warheads above this level to be in excess of its military needs, move them into storage, begin dismantling them in a manner transparent to the international community, and begin disposing— under international safeguards— of all plutonium and highly enriched uranium beyond that required to maintain these 1,000 warheads.
    By making the endpoint of this dismantlement process dependent on Russia’s response, the United States would encourage Russia to reciprocate.

    … Announce a U.S. commitment to reducing its number of nuclear weapons further, on a negotiated and verified bilateral or multilateral basis.

  15. FSB

    I appreciate that but 1000 nukes is not “complete disarmament” (bobbymike’s wrong interpretation of Garwin’s viewpoint).

    1000 nukes is ridiculously many — the only reason it does not seem so is that we still recall the Cold War numbers. That is no baseline.

    What Garwin is saying we should negotiate with Russia to reduce both our stockpiles to a level of ~1000 or somewhat less. A very sensible starting point. But IMHO it can be waaaay less than 1000 nukes.

  16. FSB

    Plus, those quotes obviously do not address Prof. Postol’s thinking on the matter at all.

  17. Yale Simkin (History)


    Each of my quotes DO address the spiral to zero – not limiting to 1000 each:

    “…then we could proceed further.

    and that after reaching the 1,000:

    … Announce a U.S. commitment to reducing its number of nuclear weapons further, on a negotiated and verified bilateral or multilateral basis.

    Garwin’s point is that 1,000 is a nice STARTING point, where US and Russia would feel warm and fuzzy about the capability to deter, and than, spiral down incrementally.

  18. bobbymike (History)

    First thank you Yale for the quotes.

    FSB do you really think Garwin would stop once the number of warheads reached was 1000, please don’t be so naive. His number is zero, end of story.

    Yousef – always blame America first. Yup some future US president will indiscriminately use military power because we have 30 or 44 or ?? GBIs, right that sure sounds plausible.

    Anon – I think one can ascertain someone’s thinking from their writings on the subject. I have written at ACW the need to modernize the triad and that there is no need to go below the 1700 to 2200 warheads of the Moscow Treaty. Are you smart enough to “know” my thinking from this one sentence?

    Both Garwin and Postel have opposed every strategic weapon system since I started reading their writings. So I will say AGAIN to those who attack me. I believe they have a valid and defensible position. I just think it is wrong and dangerous for the security of the nation.

  19. FSB

    Yale, BM,
    your view that Garwin wants to go to zero nukes is pure speculation absent a quote from him saying so.

    You are free to speculate and make assumptions, of course. But they may be wrong.

    If he wants to go to, say, 30 nukes (w/ Russia, china etc. the same) instead of zero, I would actually agree w/ him.

    Anyway, his view on nukes does not disqualify his valid objections to MDA — a huge waste of money.

    I think, bobbymike, your views are dangerous for the nation, and for the world.

  20. Andy (History)

    Wow, Jeffrey. As a long-time ACW reader I have to say that I’m disappointed in this post since it seems it was written more out of frustration than anything else.

    Particularly disappointing is the use of ad hominem, but I also found the extensive use of the appeal-to-authority arguments disappointing. Garwin is certainly someone that should be listened to, but receiving the national medal of science does make him the oracle on NMD. The irony is that you were apparently unaware of some of Garwin’s positions before writing ths. For instance, you comment about the supposed neo-con fixation with scuds-on-ships, yet Garwin testified on the Hill about that very topic last year and sees that as a bigger threat than Iranian ICBMs. In addition he still talks about the 1998 Rumsfeld commission and apparrantly still agrees with its conclusions.

    Additionally, you would have us believe that Andrew Sullivan is an authority on where a news organization stands along the political spectrum. You think he might have his own ax to grind? And really, even assuming the WAPO has drifted right, so what? Being a right-winger or even a neo-con does not automatically make one wrong.

    To me, this is a political post – the only one that I know of on this blog. As such, I really do think it says a lot more about your politics than it does about the WAPO or NMD. If that is the direction you intend to take in the future, then I hope you realize what that will do for this blog’s credibility.

    I say all this as someone who thinks the European site isn’t such a wise idea, so we pretty much agree on the substance. I hope this post was an aberration and that ACW continues being one of the best places to go for substantive analysis.


    I think you take this “fallacy of the last move” thing too far. That supposed fallacy is a characteristic of all defensive systems to a greater or lesser extent. My area of expertise is surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles along with their corresponding defensive systems. Let me assure you that even with redundancy they can be defeated through changes in tactics or technology. That fact doesn’t mean we throw up our hands and unbolt them all.

    So, the fact that a system can be defeated or avoided does not automatically make that system useless and I think that applies to missile defense as well. There is, for example, a substantial difference between a nuclear weapon delivered by ICBM and one delivered by ship. Were I to choose which I’d rather have to deal with, it would certainly be one on a ship, for reasons that should be obvious.

    Now one could, and should, make arguments about the cost-benefit of NMD, the possibility that it would be politically destabilizing, etc. but that is something different. I think criticisms about NMD’s apparent inability to deal with countermeasures are also fair game, but this “fallacy of the last move,” at least as I’ve seen it argued with respect to NMD, should be taken in with a bit more context.

  21. Yale Simkin (History)

    As to Ted Postol’s views, he tends to limit himself to technical analysis.

    However, he did say:

    “What we need are rapid and large reductions in nuclear forces. The goal is for both sides to have small, secure forces that aren’t vulnerable to attack, so that there is no incentive to launch weapons rapidly.”

    So bottom line, both Garwin and Postol advocate severe cutbacks in absolute numbers, potentially on new platforms, and Garwin is explicit in continuing the reductions in a phased, reciprocal process to an undefined minimum or zero.

    Their goals sound good to me.

    Some small secure deterrent force would have to linger till all the large players involved advance beyond brutal thug dictatorships or pseudo-democracies. I would think that the smaller nuclear powers could be deterred without atomic retaliation by some rich combination of massive multinational conventional threat and limited scale missile defense.

  22. FSB

    …as for the “blame america first” canard against other readers — it, too, does not stand.

    either with missile defense you will take Iran’s alleged-to-exist-future-possible-threats seriously or you will not.

    if you take them seriously, then missile defense has not bought you much for the gazzzzillions of $$$$$$$ spent.

    if you do not take Iran’s threats seriously because you have missile “defense”, you are dumb.

    it is possible (even likely) that some future american leaders do fall in the latter category.

    Missile “defense” is a hoax.

    As for blaming america in general: well, there are instances when america is at fault — e.g. the origin of the Iranian problem (1953); backing the repressive shah and his goons squad, the Savak. Saudis, Egyptians etc. support now…

    Other nations are not blame-free but there is plenty of blame for america to shoulder in messing around abroad and inviting retaliation.

    This is likely to persist as long as the military-industrial-lobbying-congressional-pork complex is in play.

    A strong offensive military (as of late) is completely un-American.

    Let’s see the Founding Fathers’ views:

    America’s system of government was tailored to domestic politics: checks and balances from representatives responsible to states. It is ill-suited to foreign adventurism, especially when much of foreign policy is held hostage to corporate/foreign/defense lobbying interests.

    Here is what the Founding Fathers had to say:

    James Madison:
    A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.

    Virginian Patrick Henry:

    A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders? Will your mace-bearer be a match for a disciplined regiment?

    Virginia’s concern was expressed by North Carolina, which stated in its Declaration of Rights in 1776, that the people have a Right to bear Arms for the Defence of the State, and as Standing Armies in Time of Peace are dangerous to Liberty, they ought not to be kept up, and that the military should be kept under strict Subordination to, and governed by the Civil Power.

    The Pennsylvania Convention repeated that principle:
    … as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil power.

    Lastly Madison’s incredible insight into George W. Bush and mofo Cheney:

    Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people…. [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and … degeneracy of manners and of morals…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

  23. FSB

    sorry, but you present no new evidence that Garwin or Postol want to go to zero nukes, as was alleged by bobbymike.

    In fact, you present evidence only that Postol wants to go to much smaller nuclear forces.

    I happen to completely agree with Garwin and Postol’s viewpoint that we need much smaller nuclear forces — and on the method to achieve these smaller forces.

  24. FSB

    I could be convinced perhaps that some small footprint limited NMD against a target state may be OK, if it has been tested against countermeasures in a realsitic setting first.

    Otherwise, I do not advocate for untested defenses — especially when they are so expensive and cause so much trouble — warranted or not — with important friendly states like Russia.

  25. Yale Simkin (History)

    Please don’t lump my (presumed) views in with any other poster.

    At ACW, when there is lack of hard data, in order to clarify the issues, I often provide images, quotes, diagrams, calculations, links, etc. to assist.

    Here are more relevant quotes from Garwin:


    “Q: What is the right size arsenal? Garwin: There’s insecurity in having vast numbers. We should reduce to 1000 weapons within a few years, on the way to having a few hundred in the world all together.”


    “But the whole idea of nuclear retaliatory forces, or a deterrent, is really quite questionable and what we need are not more independent nuclear forces, we need more people who will take a leadership role, in the United Nations for instance, and the other nations of the world, to respond to aggression, and especially to nuclear aggression. So I have advocated great reductions in U.S. nuclear forces. Instead of the 30,000 that we had in the peak of 1967 and perhaps something like 15,000 nuclear weapons now, we should have a total of 1,000 nuclear weapons as soon as possible. Within just a year or two, we could, not necessarily disassemble them all, but de-militarise them. And then try to transfer the responsibility for these nuclear weapons to the United Nations so that they would be used not for the protection of the United States but for the protection of all peaceful nations against attack. And especially if a nation espouses no-first-use which I advocate.”


    “A reduction to 2000 strategic warheads for Russia and an equal number for the United States has the attraction that it is much lower than present levels but not different in kind; hence it can he achieved rapidly. A maximum of a few hundred nuclear warheads altogether would be amply sufficient for deterrence. The world was not drawn into war when deterrence was based on numbers of that order. It is urgent for reasonable minds to work toward a reduction in the stockpile of weapons to a level that no longer threatens the lives of hundreds of millions of totally innocent people, if the weapons were ever to be used. A more ambitious goal would be the establishment of a system of collective security that would reduce this stockpile, even to zero. To reach this goal, we shall have to involve others, and not only physicists and military personnel. For skeptics, it is utopian to hope to go to zero at this time. To do so, they argue, would give an unchallenged tool of conquest to those who might keep a few nuclear weapons in hiding, or to newcomers to the club, because the potential victims would then have no means of retaliation—hence no deterrence. But this is a problem to be solved, not an impassable obstacle; we advocate going to zero nuclear weapons only if it can be solved.”

    (Emphasis in original)

    That is what I said earlier – he wants in the short-term an immediate drop in absolute numbers and a spiral to zero. Both he and Postol see the intermediate goal as dropping to the few hundreds. His long-term goal is a drop to zero, if the “problem”, not “an impassable obstacle” of cheating can be resolved.

  26. FSB

    Yale, thank you. I stand corrected.

    Garwin’s sensible view actually align with my own, although I think going to zero is essentially impossible.

  27. Yale Simkin (History)

    Yeah, I too think it would be a real long haul to reach Garwin’s prereqs of having certainty that no one is cheating and no new players join the party.
    As Garwin pointed out, with emphasis: “…we advocate going to zero nuclear weapons only if it can be solved.”

    If, not when.

    But he at least holds out the possibility of a world free of Lucifer weapons.