Archive for December 7th, 2008|Daily archive page

New groups wants total elimination of nuclear weapons

A new group that will formally launch this Tuesday (9 December), Global Zero, seeks the total elimination of nuclear weapons over the next 25 years.  After their big kickoff in Paris, they’re going to Moscow to meet with Russian officials and subsequently to Washington to meet with Bush administration figures, and possible advisors to President-elect Obama.

The 11-megaton Castle Romeo nuclear test, the third largest ever conducted by the United States

The 11-megaton Castle Romeo nuclear test, the third largest ever conducted by the United States. This image is often used to make nukes look scary, which they are.

The group, which has been organizing for 18 months already, is not a bunch of wild-eyed peaceniks.  Listed supporters include former President Jimmy Carter; former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger; former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci; former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev; Shaharyar Khan, a former Pakistani foreign minister; retired Air Chief Marshal Shashindra Pal Tyagi of India;  Malcolm Rifkind, a former British foreign secretary; Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.); Lee Hamilton, vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission; Robert Blackwill, a former top Bush administration official on Iraq policy; former Nebraska Senator and Governor Bob Kerrey; Strobe Talbott and Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution; former U.S. Ambassador Tom Pickering; former diplomat Richard Burt; retired Marine General John J. Sheehan; former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski, Anthony Lake and Sandy Berger; and retired four-star Marine General Anthony Zinni.  Other supporters include British billionaire Richard Branson and Jordan’s Queen Noor.

Though I’ve heard nothing about him being affiliated with Global Zero, former Kennedy- and Johnson-era Defense Secretary Robert McNamara has voiced support for reducing and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons.  He included an appendix in his 1995 book In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam on the topic, writing that “insofar as achievable—and I underline that phrase—we should move back to a nonnuclear world. ”  McNamara argues, after some analysis, that “the military utility of nuclear weapons is limited to deterring one’s opponent from their use.  Therefore, if our opponent has no nuclear weapons, there is no need for us to possess them.”

Global Zero says its goal is achieving a binding verifiable agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons by working through diplomacy and international public opinion.  They hope to organize a summit of world leaders in January of 2010.  Global Zero is funded by several charitable foundations.  This blog commends the group’s efforts.

Thoughts on China’s economy

Did you know that red was Karl Marx's favorite color?  Anyway, the PRC has a good flag.

Did you know that red was Karl Marx's favorite color? Anyway, the PRC has a pretty good flag.

Jonah Goldberg, editor and columnist for National Review Online, raises some interesting questions about the Chinese economy.  He is skeptical of all the claims that China will surpass the United States economically in 2027 (or whatever year people are now predicting) on account of some serious structural problems with China’s institutions.

Ask yourself this: Why are we in this financial crisis?

Any short list of reasons would include a lack of transparency in markets and regulatory rule-making; collusion between business and government; the politicization of lending practices (including the socialization of risk and the privatization of profit through giant governmental entities like Fannie Mae); and, of course, simple greed.

Does anyone honestly think China doesn’t have these problems ten times over? It has no free press, no democratic accountability, and no truly independent regulators.

After every Chinese earthquake, we discover that safety inspectors couldn’t be trusted to oversee the construction of schools and hospitals. And we’re supposed to believe that China’s corrupt model produces toxic baby formula but spic-and-span finances?

Goldberg calls China’s entire economy “one big Fannie Mae” and suspects it won’t be anytime soon that the People’s Republic surpasses the United States as the world’s leading economy, just as predictions in the 1980s that Japan would do so proved incorrect.