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Eliminating nuclear weapons best option to cut military costs

Director of Policy Education, Global Zero of Boston College

Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01


Throughout much of this past presidential election, defense spending played a pivotal role in casting the two candidates apart. On one hand, Governor Romney showed his support for an increase in military spending in an attempt to building up the standing of the United States in the world. On the other hand, in a traditional liberal fashion, President Obama vocalized his plan to cut military spending.  Both candidates stressed the importance of a safe international sphere in which Americans would be able to live freely and thrive. Yet both candidates have seemingly different plans for achieving this end.
I say seemingly because these two different agendas are attainable by means of cutting military dead weight. Restructuring of military programs such as officer candidate trainings have already reduced costs, but it may not be enough. What then can be safely cut from the defense budget?
Nuclear weapons. Like proverbial horses and bayonets, they represent an obsolete and outdated military vestige.  Annually, the maintenance of the country’s nuclear arsenal costs about $35 million, according to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Commanders find little utility in these relics of the Cold War including retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Cartwright, who guaranteed nuclear deterrence with only 900 nuclear weapons compared to the current stockpile of a few thousand. Yet there is still the likely possibility that the U.S. nuclear arsenal will be renewed and replaced. According to Bloomberg News, this would include a new nuclear missile submarine fleet whose ships would cost $8.2 billion each.
With all this said, how can President Obama proceed in liberating funds for his fiscal commitments to a better economy, more entitlements, and a stronger military?  By cutting the dead weight of nuclear weapons and making the world a safer place.

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