Questions for "America's Nuclear Bomb Gets a Makeover"
- Some of the people interviewed in the video, including General James Cartwright, Major General Garrett Harencak, Brad Boswell and Donald Cook, make the argument that the B-61 bomb needs to be updated. What are at least four of their reasons?
- Critics of the modernization program, including Jay Coghlan and Hans Kristensen, object to the way the program is being administered, its likely effects on military strategy, and even its definition. What are four of their arguments against it?
- What do you think are the most important factors in assessing whether to spend money upgrading a nuclear weapon? Which of the men interviewed in the video did you find the most persuasive and why? What more would you want to learn to better understand the problem?
The collapse of the former Soviet Union some 25 years ago marked the end the Cold War and a halt to the nuclear arms race that characterized it. Terms like Mutually Assured Destruction, nuclear winter, and fallout shelter now may seem part of the distant past to those old enough to have lived through their popular use and totally unknown to today's high school and even college students. But nuclear weapons are not gone. A vast stockpile is still in the US arsenal, and its components have become outdated and perhaps unreliable.
Despite a public pledge not to build new nuclear weapons, the Obama administration has committed billions to modernizing some of these aging bombs, increasing their reliability and accuracy and extending their usable lifespan.
In a multi-part series looking at efforts currently underway to update the US nuclear arsenal (Resource 2), Pulitzer Center journalists Jamie McIntyre and Dan Sagalyn have reported on an issue with deep implications for the US national security and its economy, but no easy answers and too little public awareness.
Watch the video (Resource 1) and answer the three accompanying questions.
In this lesson, students will watch a 9-minute video and answer questions that will demonstrate their comprehension of its presentation of the complex problem of nuclear weapons, a story that has largely faded from public discussion but is still critically relevant.