We've gotta have a plan. It's just .. well, does anyone trust this bunch or their leaders to be the one's making it?
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 4, 2006; Page A02
The Bush administration is developing plans to design and deploy refurbished or replacement warheads for the nuclear stockpile, and by 2030 to modernize the production complex so that, if required, it could produce new generations of weapons with different or modified capabilities.
We might as well give up on unmanned NEO science for a while. The way this Admin sees it, as long as we have a place to live in space, who really cares if we'll be able to survive it for any length of decadial time?It is a step in the right direction, at any rate. It just freaks me out that our nuclear arsenal is so freakin' large ... All that research money that produced these WMDs... errrr, Homeland Securities, and China's Military budget-% is rising inevitably as well.
The first step in the long-range plan is focused around the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program that was approved last year. That program contemplates designing new components for previously tested nuclear packages that would make the resulting bombs and warheads safer and more reliable over the long term than older stockpiled weapons that are being refurbished.
The RRW warheads would create, Brooks said, a "reduced chance we will ever need to resort to nuclear testing." In addition, he said, "Once we demonstrate we can produce warheads on a time scale in which geopolitical threats could emerge, we would no longer need to retain extra warheads to hedge against unexpected geopolitical changes."
Under current plans, the number of deployed U.S. warheads on submarines, missiles and bombers would be reduced to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012. There would be an additional number, said to exceed 2,000, that would remain in a strategic reserve, and it would be the latter that could be further reduced under the RRW program.
No matter what the reason though, it makes for too small a pie to cut a piece for unmanned Science. No matter that understanding what it's gonna take to survive the solar environment sans planet is cheaper and uhh, kinda necessary if there's going to be any non-Military point to the other stuff; the Glamorous stuff; the media friendly stuff of personal human challenges to the vast expanse of space. That stuff certainly thrills me! But really, what good is it if we can't survive for more than a couple of years* or so once we've gotten there?
I guess they've decided to trust the market forces to come up with answers to non-weapons-related survivability solutions. I get the impression that this Admin think of these kind of unmanned missions as "research" somewhat derisively. 'S'Not in the budget. Remember No Child Left Behind? Yah, well these scientists don't even have the excuse of poverty and ignorance that them poor dumb kids do. They gotta sell this idea to someone else. It it's worthy, some patriotic American who knows the intrinsic value of the dollar will buy it.
But do we really want to be that kind of a society, where we trust to market forces for our very survival? I know that, for a few people, the answer is yes. I believe we can fine tune capitalism to the point where it is not so deadly to those of us who are simply not adept at or attuned to it's microspecifics. Economics is one of the few abstractions that are, one way or another, an integral component of our cultural evolution.
Survival of the Most Profitable is a sublime corporate mantra. It is far more efficacious to the exercise of freedom and Free Will than any other fundamental economic solution yet developed by homo sapiens.
Survival of the Fittest as determined by the Most Profitable is something altogether different. Its what puts the Ism in Capitalism and impels one to fight one for fear of losing each their own individuality.
* Sorry but there's a subscription requirement on the link. I'm subscribe to the paper magazine version, and don't recall if you can just get a website sub. I think so. I'm just not sure, so give 'er a try. It's a depressing story, which is interestingly followed in the mag immediately by an article on Longevity genes called Sirtuins. That story seems to have potential to obviate my concerns. As per usual, Time will tell.