The Congressional budget cuts are starting to happen fast and furious. Some of this is good, as we want to reign in spending. Other cuts were not well thought out, such as reducing international food aid, a key pillar of our foreign policy since World War II.
But since we are talking about saving money, let’s look at a program that has placed heavy burdens on the backs of Americans for years—nuclear weapons. These weapons of mass destruction have a declining utility in the post-Cold War world.
Nuclear weapons also present new dangers, with the risk of terrorist seizure. They will continue to wreak havoc on the wallets of Americans with costs estimated at least $52 billion a year. Do we want to continue to sustain this cost and pass it on to future generations? Or do we want to pursue a path of reducing nuclear weapons arsenals step by step?
The threat of terrorism and the heavy expense of these weapons are things all nuclear states have in common. Look at Pakistan and India, testing nuclear missiles when that money would have been much better spent meeting the great humanitarian needs of their own people. So working toward nuclear arms reductions across the globe is something that may very well have a better reception than we think.
The two largest nuclear states, Russia and the U.S., have to be the leaders. They can begin by working on a treaty to reduce tactical nuclear weapons. The U.S. can move this disarmament momentum forward by ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The CTBT has been stalled long enough. Americans are not likely to accept a resumption of nuclear test explosions which threaten to ignite an arms race. For if the U.S. did test a nuclear bomb, we could expect Russia, China, and maybe others to follow. That would mean more international tension and more burdensome expense.
So setting on a path toward global zero is a worthwhile goal for the U.S. and others to pursue. It will take time to work out the political difficulties and install confidence-building measures, but it is a road to peace and security for all. Progress toward nuclear disarmament today can mean less heavy expense for Americans tomorrow.
The Global Security Priorities Resolution states, “The savings generated in the long term by significant reduction of nuclear armaments will be appreciable, with estimates as high as $13,000,000,000 annually, even in the face of the real costs of eliminating a large portion of the nuclear arsenals of both the Russian Federation and the United States.”
Fewer billions spent on nuclear weapons are more billions put toward other sectors of our society. If you are into cost-cutting and saving money, and most Americans are, this is one place to go.