Retired generals have been noticeably silent even as the threat of sequester, with devastating consequences for American military preparedness, draws nearer. Perhaps they are afraid they will be derided as “militarists” for standing up for a strong defense. Retired generals are more likely to be applauded for calling for defense cuts, especially to programs they once oversaw–a “man bites dog” story that provides predictable fodder for the news media.
Thus, retired Gen. James Cartwright, a former commander of U.S. Strategic Command (guardian of the nation’s nuclear arsenal) and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is garnering headlines for suggesting a unilateral cut to the U.S. nuclear arsenal that would be far below the limits negotiated with Russia in the last START agreement. That agreement limits the U.S. and Russia to 1,500 deployed warheads, down from the previous total of 2,200. Cartwright, along with other retired worthies gathered by Global Zero, an organization with the utopian goal of eliminating all nuclear arms, now claims we could go down to 900 warheads, of which only half would be deployed. This, in sum, would be a 70 percent reduction in our deployed nuclear arsenal.