As Congress reconvenes, its main challenge is to pass a budget for fiscal 2018 in the face of the obduracy of many members of Congress and the White House. Once again Congress may punt, revealing its growing incapacity to meet national challenges, not least, adequately funding our nuclear enterprise and overall national defense. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have already made clear that another continuing resolution undermines our defense capability in a world of increasing threats and their observation pertains equally to both the nuclear and conventional weapons agenda.
The U.S. has recently begun modernizing its nuclear weapons consonant with President Obama’s pledge to do so in return for adoption of the New Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty. Since it is now budget time many voices have emerged arguing for termination of that modernization and what amounts to unilateral disarmament. These arguments must be rejected. This is not because of my fondness for nuclear weapon but because it is the right thing to do. Most, if not all, of these calls for unilateral disarmament appear to be innocent of any consideration of global strategic realities and ascribe far too much responsibility to Washington for the nuclear dimension of current crises.