By THOM SHANKER NYT
“WASHINGTON — Gen. James E. Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of the United States’ nuclear forces, is adding his voice to those who are calling for a drastic reduction in the number of nuclear warheads below the levels set by agreements with Russia.
“Given the low likelihood of a huge nuclear exchange with Russia or China, General Cartwright said, these steep reductions in the American arsenal are necessary if the United States wants credibility to urge restraints on the weapons programs of smaller nuclear powers like India and Pakistan — and on potentially emerging nuclear states like Iran and North Korea.
“General Cartwright said that countries like India and Pakistan viewed their weapons more as a shield to protect their sovereignty than as a sword to be used in conflict. They and some potentially emerging nuclear powers ignore Washington’s calls for curbing their nuclear aspirations, saying that the United States is guilty of hypocrisy because it maintains a huge arsenal.
““A significant number of countries are not part of the dialogue” on reducing nuclear weapons, he said. And as more nuclear weapons are held by more nations — whose arsenals are not guarded by the layers of high-tech security systems in place over American weapons — the greater the opportunity for them to fall into the hands of terrorists, General Cartwright noted.
“The Global Zero study also says that the large reductions make sense in a time of constrained Pentagon spending. The delivery systems in the American nuclear arsenal are nearing the end of their service life at nearly the same time, presenting a bill of hundreds of billions of dollars just as the Defense Department must cut spending.”
-Yet another example of the “retirement syndrome” James Carroll described in his excellent book on The Pentagon, “House of War.” It’s wonderful for someone of his stature to speak out on this crucial issue, but how tragic that our leaders must wait until they’re no longer in any position of authority before they can speak out on a subject they are eminently qualified to address. Instead we hear talking heads- for- hire on the news rattling the same old sabers.