Tag Archives: missile defense

Poking the Russian Bear and Baiting the Chinese Dragon

In my seminar on “Nuclear Weapons, Risk, and Hope,” I emphasize the need for paying attention to early warning signs before a disaster involving nuclear weapons occurs. For example, in one of my course handouts, I identify six key steps that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and demonstrate how, by July 2008, we had repeated five and a half of those mistakes. Continue reading

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Missile Defense: Two perspectives

My friend and colleague, Dr. Pavel Podvig, has always provided an interesting perspective on Russian-American relations, especially those concerned with military issues. Born and educated in Russia — he has a Ph.D. in Physics from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology — he also has spent considerable time at MIT, Princeton, and Stanford. His current posting on missile defense is no exception. Here are some key excerpts: Continue reading

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Let’s Not Repeat the Mistakes of October 1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis surprised both Kennedy and Khrushchev because neither had adequately thought through how the other would respond to his actions. Each side saw its own moves as purely defensive, while the other side’s were perceived as offensive. The world cannot survive many crises of that magnitude, so it behooves us to better understand Russia’s current perspective. Yesterday, the Russian news service Interfax carried the following article with the headline, “USA, NATO Not Planning Attack But Still Pose Risk To Russia:” Continue reading

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Isn’t the Cold War Over?

Most people justify their complacency about the world’s 20,000 nuclear weapons by noting that the Cold War is over. But, the more I study Russian-American relations, the more potential I see for a misunderstanding to escalate into a crisis, and the more concerned I become about the world’s nuclear complacency. I sometimes feel like a German Jew in the early 1930’s who has read Mein Kampf and vainly tries to alert his compatriots to the need to take action before it’s too late. Continue reading

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The Nuclear Cookie Jar

Back in June 2010, I had a post entitled “Is Our Hand in the Nuclear Cookie Jar?” which made an analogy between our missile defense plans and a toddler having her hand in the cookie jar while asserting that she wasn’t taking a cookie. Unfortunately, we continue to risk creating a Russian-American crisis by maintaining that Russia has nothing to fear from our plans, but refusing to put that in writing and taking other actions that make it look like our hand is in the nuclear cookie jar. Continue reading

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Heading for Another Cuban Missile Crisis?

My last post warned that our current approach to missile defense has the potential to ignite a new Cuban crisis, comparable to that of 1962, something I also had warned of in a post back in 2008. So imagine my surprise and concern when, soon after completing that post, I came acros an article in RT (formerly Russia Today) entitled US and Russia: heading for another ‘Cuban missile crisis?’ Continue reading

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Russian-American Relations: Reset or Reload?

Yesterday’s issue of the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that our Ambassador-designate to Russia, Michael McFaul, was “one of the authors of the American-Russian reload.” I was familiar with President Obama’s efforts to reset Russian-American relations, so this seemed like an ominous new direction, especially for our ambassador to Russia. Fortunately, web searching showed that reload was used in some Russian accounts to mean reset, and was corrected in the version of the Kommersant article linked to above. But, for reasons given below, an important question still remains: “Are we resetting or reloading our relationship with Russia?” Continue reading

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Missile Defense Gets an F

Today’s test of our missile defense system failed to intercept its target, making the score only 8 successes in 14 tests. That would be a failing grade on any exam, and countermeasures are likely to reduce the success rate even further in a real attack. So why do the Russians object so strenuously to our missile defense program? To understand why, consider the following excerpt from my September 2009 post Missile Defense: A Play in One Act. Continue reading

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