I don’t have much to add to Page’s excellent post and Foreign Policy article on the politics of stockpile “modernization”, other than to repeat my suggestion that we all stop using the “M” word — modernization:
I wish, by the way, wonks would stop using “modernize” as though it has some technical meaning. If it has any meaning, we are modernizing now, though it seems clear that is not what advocates of modernization mean by the word.
I tend think think that the ongoing Life Extension Program counts as modernization — and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Replacing an old fuse with a modern fuse to give the W76 a capability it didn’t have before, to pick one example, seems like modernization to me. So do most of the other improvements in the ALT and MOD process.
I see clearly the domestic political advantage in selling a weapons activity as modernization, just as clearly as I see the international downside of doing so. Whether to use “modernization” is an issue of salesmanship and priorities; it doesn’t affect which option along the now famous “spectrum” of activities a policymaker chooses.