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Who Should Manage the Nuclear Weapons Complex, Civilians Or Military?

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the can't-we-just-outsource-it dept.

The Military 183

Lasrick writes "For the first time since 1946, Congress is seriously debating whether the U.S. nuclear weapons complex should be under civilian or military control. That the article is in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is significant, as it was many of the scientists who founded BAS who argued for civilian control in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They believed that atomic energy was too destructive, and the military too secretive, which would possibly thwart scientific discovery and erect a major obstacle to international control and cooperation. The article talks about how management has changed over the decades and explains the discussion that needs to happen before Congress acts."

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183 comments

pinky to lips... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362271)

me.

~Dr. Evil

Re:pinky to lips... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362327)

right... besides super villains, who still uses nuclear weapons? This isn't the madcap 1940's anymore...

Frying pan or fire? (3, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362281)

Who do you trust less: the military, or a whatever corporation would be set up to run it? Personally, I'd take the one where people of whatever level of management can be held accountable by court-martial.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (5, Informative)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362339)

Whoa, easy, this isn't about government vs. commercial (private), this is about Civilian (government) vs. Military (government, specifically the DOD). So, the mention of a corporation isn't correct.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362565)

So I guess outsourcing to India or China is out of the question? ;)

Re:Frying pan or fire? (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362571)

In fact, if anything, corporations are more entangled in the military side of government than the commercial side. DoD facilities are full of commercial contractors of various kinds, some of which only exist to get government contracts (i.e. they have no real private-sector clients).

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362595)

Hah, I meant "...than the civilian side", of course...

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362785)

But the contractors cannot commit the government to do, not do, or pay for anything. They perform work, manage other contractors, etc. The government civilians and military personal make all the decisions. Should be no threat of contractors deciding what to do with WMDs other than in an advisory role.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (5, Informative)

Sentrion (964745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363259)

The problem is how you define "advisory". Some of the worst acts from our government, both from civilians and military, can be traced back to a private contractor who "advised" a government official to do one thing or another. Sometimes it was "advice" that was just biased to serve the interest of the contractor and the official just wasn't smart enough to pick up on it. Other times free dinners, Christmas presents, "business entertainment", and an implied offer of future employment accompanied the so-called "advice". And more common than we would like to see officials have been simply flat-out bribed to knowingly serve the interests of private corporations and individuals at the expense of taxpayers and risk to citizens.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362757)

Which I would say is worse. The military isn't as swayed by public opinion as the civilian government is.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362845)

Right. The military and it's entrenched bias to conflict is the ideal moral center for our nuclear weapons programs.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (2)

Sentrion (964745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363315)

Actually, military brass might be less likely to drop the bomb than civilian politicians. MacArthur had the entire invasion of Japan all planned out and was really p*ssed when Truman decided instead to launch the nuclear attack on Nagasaki and Hiroshima to force a quick surrender.

For a general there is much more glory in leading dozens of divisions into battle than commanding a handful of national guardsmen to press a button from deep within a missile bunker.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (0)

Zocalo (252965) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362389)

Military procedures and chain of command with civilian oversight, or just civilians and whatever bureacracy a bunch of politicians with little or no expertise in the area can come up with? That's kind of a no-brainer, isn't it? Besides which, this is the land of the NRA. Their first action on taking a civilian body taking control of the arsenal would probably be to start lobbying for a nuke in every home as the only possible way to ensure the safety of all concerend.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362819)

... a bunch of politicians with little or no expertise in the area can come up with? That's kind of a no-brainer, isn't it?

No, it is not a no-brainer, because your assumption that the military has more expertise is not true. The military rotates people regularly, and an officer's tour is often over before he even learns the job. We have had fourteen commanders [wikipedia.org] in Afghanistan in eleven years. As each one is rotated in, the former commander is usually promoted to CENTCOM, so the new commander was a huge incentive to not rock the boat or question the former commander's policies. Is it any wonder our strategy there has been a complete muddle?

I have been astonished at some of the incompetence I witnessed in the military, even on basic subjects like tactics.. When I was going through infantry training, we were taught one version after another of frontal attacks, or "high-diddle-diddle-straight-up-the-middle". When I asked why we weren't leaning Hutier infiltration tactics [wikipedia.org] or something else that wasn't outdated a century ago, I was told it wasn't in the manual. At least we weren't taught to form squares against cavalry charges.

War is too important to be left to the generals.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

paiute (550198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363189)

At least we weren't taught to form squares against cavalry charges.

What the fuck are you supposed to do against a cavalry charge then? Form lines?

Re:Frying pan or fire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363481)

form lines and open up on em with machine guns, yes.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362449)

Corporate executives can be tried under criminal law, just as generals can be court-martialed. The problem is, neither of them will be. Our legal system is completely incapable of extracting justice from the powerful. No general has been prosecuted for torture after the Bush administration, and no executive has been prosecuted for fraud following the 2008 financial crisis. There is no justice or rule of law left in the US. Who you are and who you know matters a lot more than what you did.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (3, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362739)

Corporate executives can be tried under criminal law

Link?

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362931)

Rare, but it does happen, remember Bernie Madoff?

Re:Frying pan or fire? (2, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363057)

Rare, but it does happen, remember Bernie Madoff?

and Bernie Ebbers, Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, Andrew Fastow, etc, etc.
Now show me a list of generals court-martialed over the last few decades.
The idea that generals are more accountable than CEOs is absurd.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

niado (1650369) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363233)

Rare, but it does happen, remember Bernie Madoff?

and Bernie Ebbers, Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, Andrew Fastow, etc, etc. Now show me a list of generals court-martialed over the last few decades. The idea that generals are more accountable than CEOs is absurd.

Well, there are a lot more CEO's than generals, so that would affect the statistics. CEO's also on average make significantly (orders of magnitude) more money than generals, so it should be worth a bit more risk!

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363281)

Well, there are a lot more CEO's than generals, so that would affect the statistics.

And generals (and admirals) typically have years of through-the-ranks experience before they make it to the top, with a lot of competition. They aren't just popping up like CEOs can, and almost never make rank just because Pop owned the army.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363571)

Re:Frying pan or fire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363345)

Maj. Gen. John Longhouser, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363567)

Again, I think the question here is referring to the control of civilian government employees versus military officers, not control by private corporations run by civilian business executives and a board of civilian directors. I haven't checked recently, but I still don't think any private coporations own and maintain their own missile silos, complete with nuclear warheads and staff to maintain and launch attacks. Though I'm sure Blackwater would jump at the opportunity if it were available.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363183)

>There is no justice or rule of law left in the US. Who you are and who you know matters a lot more than what you did.

There never was. Things are actually much better than they used to be, with the elites often actually being prosecuted when they kill a serf.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (5, Interesting)

Quila (201335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363287)

No general has been prosecuted for torture after the Bush administration

If you mean that rendition stuff, that's because it has been determined they didn't break any laws. Sorry, but if you're talking accountability by the top brass for that, anything they did was at the direction President Bush and his civilian leadership. They can't go down unless he goes down since it appears Bush didn't take the convenient step of throwing one of them under the bus.

If you mean the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, up to lieutenant colonel rank was tried, as that was the highest level of person who was actually involved (unfortunately, someone didn't read him his rights, letting some charges be dismissed). Above that, his colonel received non-judicial punishment for dereliction of duty, and his general was demoted just because that happened under her command.

But as far as generals in general (haha) being court martialed, it does happen. Just recently they tried the highly respected BG Jeffrey Sinclair of the 82nd Airborne for sexual misconduct with subordinate officers and abuse of his power. This guy was like a god in his unit, practically revered like Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, and he still went down. Even if found not guilty, his career is over.

There is much more accountability if it's military. They don't even have to break a regular criminal law to go down, a simple finding of dereliction of duty is enough. Imagine if our recent high-profile CEOs could have been criminally prosecuted for dereliction of duty, without even having to try to prove intentional fraud.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362503)

Held accountable, like all those generals and other high level officer who were held accountable for Abu Ghraib? Oh, wait, that was just a few bad apples at the bottom of the totem pole, my mistake.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362523)

Who do you trust less: the military, or a whatever corporation would be set up to run it? Personally, I'd take the one where people of whatever level of management can be held accountable by court-martial.

We are not in a military dictatorship.
Control of nuclear weapons should be entirely with the civilian government, even if that government is less than perfect.
We vote for our civilian leaders, we don't vote for the military.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362753)

I work on a military site as a civilian contractor. We have MARINE GUARDS on the site to protect sensitive items stored on the base. Those marines are taught to "shoot ANYONE who violates the rules, and ask questions later." I remember a time when a 4 star ADMIRAL was made to go prone in the mud by a 19 year old marine guard, and NOTHING happened to the guard. That is the kind of security I want to guard WMD. I do not want some civilian cop wanna-be guarding nukes, I have done my share of security when I was in school, and the average guard is not able to tie his own shoes without help. The military takes that kind of job VERY SERIOUSLY.

I vote for MILITARY CONTROL and SECURITY.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363425)

That never happened, you Trekkie idiot.

I guarantee the 19 year old guard was brought to the admiral's quarters, naked, to be raped by the Admiral and his entire staff, after which, the EM was forces to felch his own ruined asshole with a feeding tube.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363717)

That never happened, you Trekkie idiot.

I guarantee the 19 year old guard was brought to the admiral's quarters, naked, to be raped by the Admiral and his entire staff, after which, the EM was forces to felch his own ruined asshole with a feeding tube.

It does happen, I saw a full Commander laid out on the deck of a missile tender during a nuclear weapons security drill. When the marines come running and say hit the deck, you damn well better hit the deck. The new (to the tender) Commander didn't think he had to, why I can only guess. Myself and the enlisted guy beside me backed up against the wall and slid down to our butts and sat there. After being told 3 times by the marines, and ignoring them, lets just say the sound of the butt of a weapon against the back of the head is a sick sound. The Commander did try to have the marine brought up on charges, the CO of the tender informed him of who was actually in the wrong.

I worked with the Poseidon sub based missile system, the military makes NO JOKES about safety and deadly force is authorized to protect them, period. Security of anything nuclear, including say spent fuel from a boats nuclear reactor is guarded like For Knox and you will be killed if you try to access any of it you are not authorized and this was before 9/11. I can only imagine it has been even more tightly controlled since then.

So next time, make sure you know what your talking about before calling someone an idiot.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (2)

Ian Alexander (997430) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363547)

Good, soldiers that follow orders make for good soldiers. What the rest of us are wondering is if we can trust the people giving you orders.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (2)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363387)

We are not in a military dictatorship.
Control of nuclear weapons should be entirely with the civilian government, even if that government is less than perfect.
We vote for our civilian leaders, we don't vote for the military.

And that's why the President is the "Commander-in-Chief", and the House and Senate both have Armed Services Committees. The military is controlled, governed, and policy is decided by the civilian leadership. Perhaps you should review Article 2 of the US Constitution.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363783)

I suppose you think civilians should be in charge of guarding the truth about UFOs and aliens as well, right? Other than private Bradley Manning, the military has done a good job of keeping its secrets. Civilian control would sooner or later bring about direct involvement from politicians in Congress who are members or chairs of various congressional committees. And from these congressmen, and sometimes from cabinet members of the executive branch, there tends to flow a steady series of leaks that get published in the New York Times even when the information is supposed to be classified, secret, or even top-secret.

We vote for civilian government, and those civilians (well, only the President actually) can hire and fire military personnel, even the highest generals, but the replacements still have to be military. The US government is actually barred by the Constitution (and international treaties) from sending civilian bureaocrats to directly command military personnel in combat zones. Whether a general, captain, or fresh recruit, neither can take orders from a civilian except directly from the President. Of course the executive branch didn't like these restrictions so they set up the OSS, which evolved now to the CIA. Nowadays the operations of the CIA are so encumbered by politics, including oversight from congressional committees, that the trend today is just to outsource the dirty work to private contractors. I fear the day when nuclear command is handed over to a private firm with a profit motive and a legal obligation to serve the financial interest of its shareholders.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362729)

If there's anything I've learned from Stargate SG1 - it's that the military is far more competent than civilian organizations when it comes to handling advanced weaponry and technology.

Re:Frying pan or fire? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363611)

Wait, the nuclear weapons complex is managed?

Civilian control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362283)

DHS. nuff said...

Re:Civilian control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362525)

What are you saying?

You would the Department of Homeland Security to control the country's warheads?

Re:Civilian control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363495)

no the TSA. The DHS is much too competent.

watch Dr. Strangelove (0)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362285)

Any questions on why to not ever put this in the hands of the military?

Re:watch Dr. Strangelove (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362363)

99 red balloons....

Re:watch Dr. Strangelove (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362487)

I agree. I think we should base all our decisions on 50-year old fictional movies.

Re:watch Dr. Strangelove (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362559)

I agree. I think we should base all our decisions on 50-year old fictional movies.

Better put all in the hands of the military yes ?
Those same fuck ass holes that wanted to start world war 3 during the Cuban missile crisis ?
Those same fucktards warmongers that wanted to invade Cuba ?
I trust the government much more than I trust even one military.

Re:watch Dr. Strangelove (2)

Dave Emami (237460) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363759)

Better put all in the hands of the military yes ? Those same fuck ass holes that wanted to start world war 3 during the Cuban missile crisis ?

And your basis for this opinion is... what? Something other than movies, I hope?

Those same fucktards warmongers that wanted to invade Cuba ?

If you mean the Bay of Pigs, you do know that that was a CIA operation, and that the CIA is a civilian agency, not a military one, right? If you mean the JCS recommendation during the missile crisis, that was their assessment of what it would take to remove the Soviet missiles. When Kennedy asked for their opinions, should they have lied to him and not given him honest analysis about what they thought it would take to ensure no missiles remained in Cuba?

I trust the government much more than I trust even one military.

Then you know very little about how decisions are made, especially the high-level kind that you're referring to. Military personnel are often more cautious than their civilian bosses, because they have a better grasp of the actual capabilities and risks involved. When the generals urge a stronger response than what the civilians are suggesting (as in the Cuban Missile Crisis), it's usually because the civilians have an inflated perception of what the military can do -- in that case, the JCS recommended an invasion because airstrikes alone couldn't ensure the destruction of the missile sites. Do the thing properly, or don't attempt it at all. Go read pretty much any memoir by a US president, vice-president, or secretary of defense (regardless of party) who had a serious military crisis on their watch, and you'll see this when they discuss the decision-making process. Bob Woodward's The Commanders is also insightful on this. It's not quite the same dynamic as PHB vs. techie, but there are strong similarities at times.

Further, military personnel have a range of ideologies, just like civilians do. John Kerry, George McGovern, Jeremiah Wright, and Charles Rangel hardly match the caricature you're painting.

Re:watch Dr. Strangelove (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362727)

The military hasn't changed that much in the past 50 years in terms of culture, what the movie's about can still happen today, I don't know if the launch key protocol has been changed since in concept, I wouldn't be surprised it hasn't.

Now the fact that somebody on slashdot would down mod dr. strangelove... that's just pathetic, mods should have a requirement to check for hair on balls before assigning mod points :)

Re:watch Dr. Strangelove (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363177)

Just to be clear, this article is about the "Nuclear Weapons Complex" not "Nuclear Weapons". Might sounds like semantics, but...
Today the military manages the deployed nuclear weapons ICBMs, SLBMs, Gravity Bombs, etc. Those are guarded, maintained, loaded, and launched when directed by a 100% military force except for that one civilian at the top who gives the launch order. The missiles are property of the military EXCEPT for the nuclear payload itself, which is technically 'on loan' from DoE.
What this is talking about is the "Complex" which is referring to the labs and factories that enrich uranium, figure out how to make a bomb, and stockpile the supplies needed to keep them going and design/build new ones. Los Alamos National Labs does -not- have capability to launch a nuke. But what they do have lots of is the design intelligence, equipment, & material to build warheads (but not launch vehicles).

Re:watch Dr. Strangelove (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363117)

I agree. I think we should base all our decisions on 50-year old fictional movies.

Ohhh, THEM! [imdb.com]
Clearly, we should be irradiating as much wild life as possible. These giant mutant creatures would feed millions!

I know! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362297)

Me! Me! Me! Pick me! I can do it! I know how to push red buttons!

This isn't even the right question. (0)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362323)

The right question is, how do we arrange to have the oversight process for nuclear power plants, should we build them, actually work to keep them safe? How do we avoid regulatory capture? Can we build nuclear plants economically if they have to purchase insurance, or is it really necessary for nearby homeowners to take on the risk associated with these plants? If these plants can't be funded through the normal investment process, does it really make sense for the government to intervene in the market by offering low-interest guaranteed loans?

The military has demonstrated in Hanford that they are not the best organization to put in charge of building reactors, but the civilian nuclear industry hasn't covered itself with glory either.

Re:This isn't even the right question. (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362605)

I don't disagree, but the debate here is about the nuclear weapons stockpile, not about nuclear power plants.

Obvious choice is obvious: (1)

Psicopatico (1005433) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362343)

Outsource!

Re:Obvious choice is obvious: (1)

cpghost (719344) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362393)

Outsource!

... to China?

Civilian control (5, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362387)

Isn't the military supposed to be under civilian control already? Have they gone rogue and I just haven't heard of it until now?

Re:Civilian control (2)

cpghost (719344) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362415)

The military is under civilian control, but the military are better at controlling their own weapons than some private corporation, IMHO.

Re:Civilian control (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362451)

Who said anything about a corporation? TFS refers to civilians, as in the government.

Re:Civilian control (1)

cpghost (719344) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362553)

Doesn't the government have the habit to privatize these kinds of tasks and have corporations act on its behalf?

Re:Civilian control (2)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363589)

Doesn't the military do that anyway?

Re:Civilian control (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362569)

Personally, I'd trust the military much more than I would Congress, especially now.

I thought that too.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362693)

Who said anything about a corporation? TFS refers to civilians, as in the government.

I thought that too, but if you look they mention contractors, as in, well connected corporations who can do business under cover of their powerful Washington bitches - like Blackwater's killing of civilians and walking away from it without penalty.

It should be under civilian control just for the principle of the thing: the military is under civilian control in the US.

We're not talking about spy planes or secret weapons that can knock down a missile. This is about nukes. And one madman with one nuke can cause more problems and deaths than - I don't know what.

Re:Civilian control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362521)

The military is under civilian control, but the military are better at controlling their own weapons than the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [wikipedia.org] , IMHO.

FTFY

Re:Civilian control (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363417)

Mod parent funny!

Re:Civilian control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363779)

The military *is* private corporations. At least the by far biggest part.

Yes but only at the highest level (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362583)

The military is subordinate to the President (and in some ways to congress). The President is the ultimate command authority. However their day to day stuff? That's all internal. There aren't a bunch of civilian overseers who pass the final ok on everything. It isn't like a general makes a decision and then looks over at a civilian who gives the thumbs up or down to the plan.

So while the civilian government maintains the ultimate control, they can fire or promote military leaders, controls their budget, and can set their agenda, there is little civilian control over the details.

So the question is do we want a civilian government agency overseeing nuclear power, or a military agency?

Re:Yes but only at the highest level (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363437)

there is little civilian control over the details.

If that is true, why did civilian leadership revoke DADT? Isn't that a little detail?

Re:Civilian control (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362869)

Isn't the military supposed to be under civilian control already?

No, you have that confused with our political syst... oh, wait...

Re:Civilian control (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362991)

the word you want is "oversight".

in theory, the civilians, not necessarily knowing what or how to run a war, simply tell the military "we're at war with X...go get them!", and the military does so.
sometimes they micromanage and screw things up. sometimes they dont have enough oversight and screw things up.

POTUS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362409)

Isn't the head of the military an elected official?

Kubrick/Southern/George's take (3, Informative)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362455)

Major Jack D Ripper : Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?
Captain Lionel Mandrake : No, I don't think I do, sir, no.
Major Jack D Ripper : He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought.

Re:Kubrick/Southern/George's take (2)

Mistah Blue (519779) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363073)

It is all about flouridation and our fluids...

Re:Kubrick/Southern/George's take (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363565)

The thing is, that in the USA today, there is no difference anymore, between the politicians, and the military-industrial complex. They are the same thing. The whole reason of existence for the USA nowadays is war, war, war. It's all the whole US world rotates around. It's the basis of the state. The USA has become a military dictatorship.

Both (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362463)

Civilians should institute basic guidlines and limits for the military.

And the military should follow its orders and creed to uphold those. See constitution, bill of rights, and maybe for nuclear weapons further legislation.

Who should wear the One Ring? (4, Insightful)

jdavidb (449077) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362479)

Noone. It should be destroyed in the fires of Mt. Doom.

Re:Who should wear the One Ring? (1)

jdavidb (449077) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362527)

Who should have the power to indiscriminately target civilians, noncombatants, children, everybody within a rival gang's given radius?

Re:Who should wear the One Ring? (0, Troll)

sdguero (1112795) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362669)

And they might as well throw in The Hobbit movies along with em. SO BORING!

Re:Who should wear the One Ring? (2)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363021)

I would welcome your solution if we could be certain everyone else would also dispose of their rings too. which leaves us at a bit of an impasse.

Re:Who should wear the One Ring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363447)

You can't ask others to destroy them, if you don't do it first yourself.

The by far best candidate to destroy them first, is the USA. Because they are the only ones who have enough military (more than all other countries on the planet combined), to force other nations to destroy theirs too, even without nukes.
Hey, I finally found the point of the US having such a giant war machine!

Geesh...I'll volunteer to do it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362505)

OK, ok... I'll do it. I've got some free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then alternate weekends. I'll make sure to count them and rotate them in an appropriate fashion. I'll also do searches on Kijiji to make sure that none fall out of my control and end up on the "black market"

Congress! (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362551)

They should have to vote on each and every target and its subsequent launch.

Re:Congress! (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363285)

Nah, just diffuse them. Don't ever launch them, outlaw that shit. Use 'em for powering space stuff or energy plants, never weapons. We've got other better more precision weapons. Think about Nuclear Retaliation... really? Even if fired on, or as a last ditch effort to win some war, wouldn't it be better not to launch a nuke? I mean, imagine you're now going to die... Soooo... what? You whip an Uzi out from under your death-bead pillow to take a few others down with you? FUCK THE LIVING! I'M DYING ANYWAY. I can't find much difference between this type of thinking and the mentality of those suicide bombers, or climate change denialists.

My Vote (Pretending Like it Matters (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362563)

I vote for DHS and TSA. At least we'll know that when they cause a catastrophe, they'll be irradiated first.

Neither (1)

ronpaulisanidiot (2529418) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362577)

Just let the free market sell that job to the highest bidder. Problem solved, you're welcome. I expect a 10% take on this.

I'm for being secretive for non-proliferation (1)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362581)

Nucear weapons, and technology are so destructive, that I don't want this information to be widely available. The mathematical and technical details (Jesse Beams, etc) behind the ultracentrifuges used in the Manhattan project were later made available to Abdul Qadeer Khan, who went on to make nuclear weapons in Pakistan. Should private companies like Urenco exist, that enrich uranium? What kind of security clearance did Abdul Qadeer Khan have when he worked at the Physics Dynamics Research Laboratory in Amsterdam? How hard is it to secure a national lab. It seems to work here, but it failed [in hind-site?] in Amsterdam..

It is my belief that the status quo should remain. The system works, though perhaps they should hire better security contractors to reign in recalcitrant nuns.

This is insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362613)

The military has issues but clearly this is a military issue. If they can't handle it they need oversite. If they are doing fine then leave them the hell alone.

George W. Bush (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362621)

Answer seems obvious.

Re:George W. Bush (1)

volvox_voxel (2752469) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362643)

What's, obvious? ..and why?

having worked for both, (1)

james_van (2241758) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362699)

i can say from experience that neither one is even remotely qualified to manage nuclear weapons. hell, lets be honest, most people people at the management level, civilian and military alike, shouldnt even be managing their own breakfast choices, let alone nuclear weapons, or worse- other people (yes, i consider people much more dangerous than nuclear weapons, but thats just my opinion).

Computers (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362783)

Because Artificial Intelligence beats Natural Stupidity. I propose to call the computer to which we give the control of the nuclear weapons Colossus.

Re:Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362989)

I agree, neither civilian or military, but computer based AI, emotionless and logical...

For names, either Colossus, or WHOPR, or maybe something newer and trendier like SkyNet.

Re:Computers (1)

JoeRobe (207552) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363101)

I prefer [wikipedia.org] WOPR [wikipedia.org] .

Or maybe Joshua...

Re:Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363207)

Because Artificial Intelligence beats Natural Stupidity. I propose to call the computer to which we give the control of the nuclear weapons Colossus.

Why not call it SkyNet? It seems that it worked out pretty well for the people in the Terminator universe.

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42362839)

Who cares what is best.. the feds will dictate and that is that. We wont eve last as long as the Roman Empire.

Make it like Stargate Universe (1)

cvtan (752695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42362977)

Military handles security and civilian technical community handles operations. Each one thinks they are in charge.

It's civilian either way (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363087)

I'm not sure how this changes the question, but either way the nuclear weapons complex is ultimately under civilian control. My understanding is that a nuclear device can not be deployed without an order from a civilian commander. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the order to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki solely under orders from a civilian?

Another thing to think about: Look at how other civilian government organizations are managed, and imagine a network of nuclear missiles under the same management. Don't world-destroying weapons need military-level discipline to keep in control?

Well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363133)

I should be in charge of all nuclear weapons.

I wouldnt trust the rest of you with anything more dangerous than string...

And i'd keep the string away from the politicians...

Based on history, who do you trust? (2)

OrangeTide (124937) | about a year and a half ago | (#42363297)

100% of the wars the US initiated have been initiated by a civilian government.

The current structure is that the military is a tool used by politicians to exert pressure on foreign nations. Having a military layer between the civilians and the big red button seems better than no layer at all.

DOE owns all of the nuclear weapons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363367)

Um... unless I'm really mistaken. The DOE owns all of the US nuclear weapons. Technically, they are on loan to the military. I believe the entire nuclear weapon industry is under the DOE umbrella (production of materials, manufacture, R&D, etc.) Perhaps the military would have some input into size and weight requirements, even so far as to outright say, "I need a warhead that specifically does *this*."

I haven't read the damned article and don't plan to, but I'm not sure what the plan would be to have non-military control of the weapons. Like, who is manning the missile submarines? Who pulls the trigger, so to speak? The president already authorizes use of nuclear weapons, correct? If the DOE owns the weapons isn't that already under civilian control, excluding the military logistics which is obviously under military jurisdiction?

Even the weapons tests aren't run by the military... though the military may have joint operations with the various R&D labs.

Also, all of the current weapons are strategic in nature. The tactical weapons, like short-range missiles, dumb warheads in artillery shells, the "davy crockett" variety, the "bunker busters", etc, have all been decommissioned. I'd have to double check... I'm not sure if we retain any more of the 'big ones' that would be used to destroy fortified bunkers. There's some doubt whether conventional weapons can penetrate the really deep stuff.

Without reading the article, what am I missing?

Anyways, my anonymous 2 cents.

THERE SHOULDN'T BE A NUCLEAR WEAPONS COMPLEX! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363381)

There shouldn't *be* one, *in the first place*!

The whole question is, as usually [zpub.com] , a deliberate false dichotomy, letting you only pick between two ways of getting raped in the ass. (Just like elections.)

Nuclear weapons should be completely and utterly illegal in every country on the planet. Especially so-called "civilized" ones. End of story.

There should only be *one* large nuke, that automatically gets fired at anyone who finishes to build a nuke. (But that's of course unrealistic, because such a nuke could of course not be under the control of humans, or the whole thing would be futile and get abused in a matter of seconds.)

not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363427)

this story is obviously a fake. Congress does not seriously debate anything anymore.

What if.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42363453)

What if they need to be used? Should we give them to the Generals or the ARMCHAIR Generals? That's what I thought....

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