START: A “Fuller” perspective of the continuing Cold War


President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev walk together, after dining with their wives at President Medvedev's dacha outside Moscow, Russia, July 6, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Earlier last month in Europe the United States and Russia agreed upon the new and updated Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Along with other objectives the new treaty calls for the reduction of operationally deployed nuclear devices by 30 percent on both sides as well as new limits on launchers and updates to verification systems to certify that these limits are being met.

The first treaty was proposed by Ronald Reagan in 1982 and was signed in 1991. Since then there was a revision to this treaty in 2002 to lower the amount of nuclear arms on both sides to 2,200 by 2012 (the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty).

President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev walk together at President Medvedev's dacha outside Moscow, Russia, July 6, 2009.
President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev walk together, after dining with their wives at President Medvedev's dacha outside Moscow, Russia, July 6, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Each nation is now allowed to have no more than 1,550 operational warheads. The amount of launchers to be deployed (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, heavy bombers and Submarine launched ballistic missiles) is to be lowered to 700.

However, a hole exists in this new level of peace that gets wider and wider when more closely examined. One problem is that although each warhead on an ICBM equals one warhead heavy bombers such as the American B-52 may carry up to as many as 20 warheads but still are categorized as carrying only one.

This alone means that, according to Arms Control Association, a pro-disarmament group, the objective of 1,550 could be met by both sides if the U.S. cut 100 warheads and Russia only 190. But there is more that is troubling.

The ceilings of warheads to be limited only refer to “operational” devices. It does not take into account warheads that may be in storage. This then leads to that X amount of warheads could be taken out of operational status to meet the objective of 1,550 and then simply put into storage to be used operationally again at a later date.

There is a problem with the launcher limit as well. Russia is believed to have 566 launchers that are operational at this time, a number that is already well under 700 and the U.S. is believed to have 798 that are in operation which means that it would only have to cut its operational launchers by only 12%.

In the U.S. and in Russia the treaty will have to be ratified by the Senate and the Duma before it can be signed and made into force, which is expected to happen by the end of 2010.

With this new treaty that almost promises no change whatsoever to the problem of nuclear proliferation one is reminded of the words that a man of renascence once said many years go, “If humanity does not opt for integrity we are through completely. It is absolutely touch and go. Each one of us could make the difference.” The man who said these words was one R. Buckminster Fuller. Fuller was a man of genius, logic and reason. He was a mathematician, an engineer, a professor, writer, public speaker and inventor.

During the 1960s Fuller would travel around he world speaking to audiences of college students and others alike. He would ask of his audiences what the meaning of the word synergy meant and on average only one hand out of 300 would be raised. Synergy, or synergism, means that interactions of discrete components or conditions such that the total effect is greater than the sum of the individual effects.

There has been much that has changed over the last 40 years surrounding this word. It is now used quite frequently in the business world and in the political world but the concept is of much broader strength which can be used by every individual on this planet.

We have the ability to make the difference as Fuller said, not by each and every one of us working independently but together to have an even greater effect that could ever be imagined.

This last treaty that was signed by the U.S. and Russia could have been the testament to end nuclear proliferation between the two countries all together but in the end each side was still only thinking of its self and how it alone will stand in the future instead of how the people of this world will stand. This is evident in the fact that there are so many loopholes in the new treaty, too many rooms for error.

“We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth, as Fuller would refer to our one and only home that we all share, successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. “It has to be everybody or nobody.” These were the words of Buckminster Fuller, spoken over four decades ago. He saw well into the future not with vague notions or pure speculation but with logic and nothing else. He knew what was to come and so he told us that we have the tools to be “the architects of the future, not its victims.”

And so in the end, as Fuller once said, “Our power is in our ability to decide.” To decide what is right and what is wrong. What will help and what will only perpetuate.