CHINA IS NOT THE NEW SOVIET UNION
China has become the new Soviet Union strawman for advocates of bigger military budgets. But there’s one big difference between China and the former Soviet Union: while the Soviet military and nuclear arsenal were a fair match for the United States, China’s simply aren’t. By many measures, it’s not even close.
In new detailed analysis by Senior Fellow John Isaacs comparing the United States and China by various defense measurements including size of defense budgets, number of nuclear weapons, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and modern nuclear submarines, the United States has a staggering lead.
BIDEN REQUESTS INCREASE IN DEFENSE SPENDING
On April 9, the Biden administration released a budget outline for the upcoming fiscal year as a preview to its full request later. In a detailed analysis of the so-called “skinny budget,” Senior Fellow John Isaacs explains that the White House will request $753 billion for defense spending ($715 billion for the Pentagon and $38 billion for the Department of Energy and smaller sources) in Fiscal Year 2022, a 1.7% increase from the final enacted Trump budget.
This cannot be considered the new normal. There are no substantial cuts from last year’s already excessive Pentagon budget level. As Executive Director John Tierney told Breaking Defense, Congress must work to reduce this budget further. “Much work remains to divest ourselves of legacy weapons systems and strategies intended to fight the Cold War. We must reduce wasteful spending to meet the moment we find ourselves in now.”
NEW DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR TO FOSTER PLANNED GIVING
The Council has hired Robbi Woodson as its new Development Director, who will be overseeing efforts to reestablish a robust fundraising effort and help ensure the Council is able to continue advocating for a world free from nuclear threats for decades to come. Learn more about planned giving, or please consider supporting us with a one-time or monthly donation.
DESPITE SHADOW WAR WITH ISRAEL, U.S.-IRAN TALKS CONTINUE
The sweet relief felt after Iran and the United States agreed to indirect talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) nearly turned sour due to a shadow war between Israel and Iran that has escalated from mostly maritime and air attacks to an explosion at Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility, causing a power failure that has disabled the facility for an uncertain amount of time.
In response to the Natanz attack, Iran immediately informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it intended to begin enriching uranium up to 60% — above its previous limit of 20% and a short distance from weapons-grade. Iran has never enriched to this level before, so beyond the technical challenges, it is also unclear how much damage was done to Natanz and thus, how quickly Iran can get its operation running again.
Despite these war-like escalations, both Iran and the United States returned to Vienna this week for more indirect talks about the nuclear deal. As Center Board Chair Ed Levine has argued, “If we’re luckier than we deserve, the affair will lead the Supreme Leader to reason that, at least in the short term, mutual compliance with the JCPOA is more in Iran’s interest than is the combination of deal-busting Iranian actions and kinetic Israeli sabotage.”
BICAMERAL NO FIRST USE LEGISLATION REINTRODUCED
On April 15, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA-9) reintroduced the “No First Use Act,” a one-sentence bill that simply states that it is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first. Council for a Livable World wholeheartedly endorses the legislation as there is no scenario in which the United States would ever need to use a nuclear weapon first. This bill is a critical measure to ensure that the most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world can only ever be used as a tool of deterrence, or in defense of a nuclear attack.
UNITED STATES RETIRES TWO OPEN SKIES PLANES
The United States has retired the two planes used to fly monitoring missions under the Open Skies Treaty after recklessly withdrawing from the treaty last year. While a State Department spokesperson has reiterated that this does not mean the United States has finalized a decision regarding the treaty, some see this as closing the door on rejoining. Benefits of the Open Skies Treaty include increased trust, transparency and stability among the United States, Russia and 32 other member countries across the Euro-Atlantic region.
ENDING ENDLESS WAR IN AFGHANISTAN
On April 14, President Joe Biden set a firm deadline for the withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan of September 11, 2021, 20 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that ostensibly sent the United States to fight there.
This is a goal long sought by Council for a Livable World, and we worked with a bipartisan group of Members of Congress — Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), among others — to achieve that goal.
As the United States has learned in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, it is easy to get enmeshed in overseas wars and very challenging to exit.
COUNCIL SUPPORTING BILLS TO EFFECT SMART POLICY CHANGES
The Council is supporting more than a dozen bills so far introduced this session in the House and Senate. These bills would reduce nuclear proliferation threats, end endless war, cut funding for weapons systems, support diplomacy and compensate victims of the nuclear weapons complex.
COUNCIL SENDS CONDOLENCES TO HART FAMILY
The Board of Directors, Advisory Board and staff at Council for a Livable World (CLW) extend sincere condolences to Senator Gary Hart and the entire Hart family for the loss of Olthea (Lee) Hart. Ms. Hart, who was the wife of CLW Advisory Board member and former Chair of CLW Board of Directors (2006-2009) Sen. Hart, died earlier this month after a brief illness.
Lee Hart was a mother, English teacher and active campaigner for Sen. Hart’s two Senate runs and two presidential runs. The couple were long-time Council supporters. She was known for her love of family, traveling and nature. She was 85. We wish Sen. Hart and the family an abundance of warm memories to bring them peace and comfort at this time.
BOARD MEMBERS HEAD TO BIDEN ADMINISTRATION
Rebecca Lissner has resigned from the Center’s Szilard Advisory Board upon joining the National Security Council, joining a long list of other Center and Council board and advisory board members who have joined the administration. Center Board member Jill Hruby has been nominated to become Under Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). If confirmed, she will be the second woman to lead the NNSA.