He was part of a group called Global Zero, and for those of us who care deeply about our nuclear arsenal and modernization and that type of thing, some of the things that were authored in this report candidly are [just] concerning.
Typically, there's a tension. The Defense Department presses for weaponry and making sure that our country is safe. The State Department presses for nuclear arms agreements and reductions. And so in the event this person is confirmed, that balance is not going to be there.
You and I have spent a lot of time on the START treaty. I helped you in that effort. You let me be involved in the ratification. Modernization was to take place at a pace that is not occurring. And I'm just wondering if there's something you might say to me that sees our future in a way that with these -- with the combination of possibly these two people, one leading the State Department but one leading the Defense Department in a role that's been very different than previous defense leaders -- is there something you can say to assure me about our nuclear posture in the future and the role that you're going to play in that regard?
When that initiative sort of first came out and we began to hear about the potential of people who said let's get no nuclear weapons, I sort of scratched my head. And I said, what? You know, how's that going to work? Because I believe in deterrence, and I find it very hard to think how you can get down to a number in today's world.
But the whole point is, they're not talking about today's world. Henry Kissinger, Jim Baker, I think Jim Schlesinger, former secretaries of defense, many others, have all agreed with that as a goal for the world. It's a goal. It's an aspiration. And we should always be aspirational. But it's not something that could happen in today's world, and nor could any leader today sit here or in any other chair and promote to you the notion that we ought to be cutting down our deterrent level below an adequate level to maintain deterrence.
Now, the military has very strong views about what that is. We've cut down some 1,500 now. There's talk of going down to a lower number. I think personally it's possible to get there if you have commensurate levels of inspections, verification, guarantees about the capacity of your nuclear stockpile program, etc.
Now, Senator, I know you're deeply invested in that component of it, the nuclear stockpile [proposal]. And I may -- we can come to some of that maybe later in the he hearing here. But I believe we have to maintain that because that's the only way you maintain an effective level of deterrence.
And the Russians certainly are thinking in terms of their adequacy of deterrence, which is one of the reasons why they have missile defense concerns.
So I'm -- I don't think Senator Hagel is sitting there or he's going to go over to the Defense Department and be a proponent -- you know, this is talking about conflict revolution [Resolution?], change -- resolution, changes that have to take pace in societies that we'll -- you know, it's worth aspiring to, but we'll be lucky if we get there in however many centuries the way we're going.
Kevin Baron reports on the people and policies driving the Pentagon and the national security establishment in The E-Ring.