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Out to launch: American nuclear policy


<music> hello and welcome to the intelligence on economist radio. I'm your host jason palmer. Every weekday. We provide a fresh perspective on the events shaping your world. The south asian monsoon is more than just a weather system awesome. It's rhythms control. The region's agriculture its annual supply of freshwater ultimately the fortunes of well over a billion people as climate change disrupts oops those rhythms south asians must change with them and there's been another change of style for taylor swift. The singer has long had treacherous relationship with streaming services the last time she released an album. It didn't go live on spotify for three weeks now. Everything has changed and the lump story is back on. I though aw aw in debate earlier this month democratic contender elizabeth warren proposed a new direction for american nuclear policy committing to what's it's cold no-first-use in january she'd introduced senate bill to mandated those who support a policy of no first use or n._f._u. Its absence means. There's more risk of accidental nuclear war we increase the odds that there would be a miscalculation and that someone we'll believe that we have used nuclear weapons or symptom in their direction. When that is not this is about trying to keep america safe or not about playing politics and if you pledges are common china and the former soviet union committed themselves to versions of it india has to although it's defense minister recently lee hinted that it may be revoked in america and if you goes against several decades of nuclear thinking but antagonistic talk and policies from president donald trump has left many worried about disaster at the recent g seven summit can be rids. Mr trump said he would be open to meeting with iran's president hassan rohani yet his withdrawal from the nuclear treaty with iran in the first place corresponds to more hardline tendencies administration has pulled out of a treaty with russia on medium range inge nuclear missiles and has commissioned new warheads. President obama promised to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in american policy. He said i won't get rid of them. I won't embellish nuclear weapons but i will make sure they're not central to american national security policy sean. Joshi is our defense editor. President trump has done the opposite in his first nuclear posture review the first review of american policy said he would probably expand the role in which america might use nuclear weapons first to include cyber attacks on american's systems. He has ordered the creation of new types of nuclear warheads that includes very low yield warheads which are much smaller than ordinary nuclear bombs and of course as we remember he's issued very hair-raising threats fire and fury against north korea and all of that is making a lot of people in america rethink the way they should handle nuclear risks in what kinds of weight lots of ways so one of them for example is <hes> suggestion russian bhai elizabeth warren she has proposed changing america's seven-year-old policy of preserving the right to use nuclear weapons fest in a conflict before or an adversary has used nuclear weapons against america and essentially. It's the idea that says if you knew you back but we won't use nuclear weapons at the beginning give a conflict we won't use them before you've done that and proponents say well obviously that sensible america is strong enough to fight off adversaries using its conventional forces if they haven't used nukes why should america and it's dangerous to threaten that recur simply that creates a very high degree of risk and possibility of misunderstanding or accident so that's what the proponents say what do those who are against it say well. It may seem like a no brainer to say you know. Of course we shouldn't use nuclear weapons. I this is absurd but what the critics say. It's not as simple as that because america doesn't just protect itself with its nukes it protects allies it practices what we call extended deterrence over other countries like south korea korea or taiwan or estonia in europe and for those other countries they are attacked by the big rivals with russia for estonia or china-taiwan. They want to hold out the possibility that america might bring its nuclear weapons to the fight. They won't russia or china or anyone else to have to contend hynde for the possibility that their national survival is at stake american nuclear weapons might come into play even and this is a crucial even if their adversary hasn't used nukes themselves and so when president obama toyed with the policy of introducing no-first-use countries like japan britain others lobbied lobbied against it because they liked the way things off and so which set of arguments do you think is more compelling here well ranked to point out these risks and i think i use would only be in really really exceptional circumstances but i tend to agree with the allies. I tend to think there is value in america holding out the possibility however remote that if estonians going to vanish off the face of this earth american nuclear weapons might come into play. I think that's a valuable thing we all know. American allies right now with under the trump presidency are already pretty petrified for find for all sorts of reasons whether it's buying strategic islands or threats to withdraw troops from europe and so on and so i think this is not the time to upset that particular apple cart but where i do agree with elizabeth warren others is it american nuclear policy does carries substantial risks nucleus getting worse. We see arms control collapsing we z. Nuclear accidents in russia as tests new kind of missiles and so we have to find some way to limit those nuclear risks you mentioned that there is some rethinking of american nuclear policy on on several fronts what what else besides no-first-use one proposal that we've seen recently is interesting. It's from congressman ted lieu and senator ed markey and it says if if the president wants to conduct i use if nuclear weapons okay. He has to make sure that congress has declared war and giving him express permission to do so. That's that's a very high bar. Congress has not declared war since something like nineteen forty two and having a check on the president's powers to conduct nuclear strikes would be a big deal. It would be the biggest change to america's nuclear command-and-control for seventy years so i think that's a very sensible way to proceed. I think there are also other things america could consider it could take its weapons. It's all very high levels of alert which are prepared to fire on minute's notice russia could do the same of course i think we should point out and it could stop trying to develop weapons. <hes> evermore exotic or unnecessary like low yield nuclear weapons something like hoffa hiroshima is worth of yield the maybe more usable in conflict so i i think they're all sorts of steps. That could take to try and cut those risks that we we've talked about. What about the public appetite for change or indeed for their being this kind of nuclear shadow. That's the american arsenal. Presents is very hard to work out exactly what the public thing calmness if you look at some of the polls there's a survey in twenty ten. It says over half of the survey the american public agree with elizabeth warren that the u._s. should only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack by another country so it seems simple enough but actually when you probe probe into that some of that data you find this quite a lot of blood lost amongst some of the american public. There's a fascinating paper published two years ago by a couple of political scientists that showed claim majority of americans approved using nuclear weapons i if doing so saved the lives of just twenty thousand american soldiers even if if that nucleus strike killed two million iranian civilians so when the chips are down when the stakes are really high what you find is the american public as in in history a willing to tolerate ate a lot of organized violence by the american government if they feel it's necessary and imperative and so where do you think these discussions are going that in terms of revoking evoking or radical change to various policies. It's very hard to say because politically of course you have the democrats in control of the house which makes a big difference. The the democratic leader of the house armed services committee adam smith someone who's been engaging on these issues. He cosponsored elizabeth warren bill. He's been trying to cut funding for some of breath. America's land based nuclear missiles. He's been trying to cut funding for trump's low-yield warhead so there's a lot of political pressure going on but i think more broadly shortly there's also a lot of debate about whether a system that was built on the assumption of a rational actor in the white house can survive more impulsive more more reckless president and i think that's provoking thought as to whether the checks and balances are adequate so i don't know if we'll see any drastic change in nuclear policy but i think there's a clear sense that both within america but i think also diplomatically in terms of arms control with russia with china these risks amounting and something has to change stabilize the situation sean. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you each year one point eight billion souls almost a quarter of the world await the arrival of the south asian monsoon their lives depend on it in india and the rest of south asia something like four fifths of the years rains fall between june and september the monsoon replenishes is water supplies and turns arid brown earth into vivid green grasslands but a bad monsoon when the rains are persistent and heavy can destroy crops and and carry away soil devastating economies that depend on agriculture it can also claim many lives and while climate change accelerates such unwanted events events governments are ducking the need to mitigate the risks. The arrival of the monsoon rains is an extraordinary moment. Dominic ziegler writes banyan our call call him on asian affairs waiting for the rains as an agonizing thing as the temperature starts to climb the skies a blue but people start to look for signs of these monsoonal clouds coming from the south and when the monsoon arrives the clouds burst. It's called the burst of the monsoon. It's a sensual thing to stand in the pouring rain off. Two weeks of intense heat is liberated doesn't excitement or happiness that is passed from person to person. It's the time traditionally in poetry and literature and in real life. When romance is a made it's a weather event that is closely bound to the lives of so many people and because of that the effects of climate change on the monsoon and the way water has been misused in recent decades is especially worrying. What evidence is there. That climate change is already affecting the monsoon climate. Change is almost certainly having an effect on the monsoon but what that affect is is something that scientists don't wholly agree over. It's often thought that rising global temperatures. I mean that wet places tend to get dry paces tend to get drier. That's not obvious in terms of the annual rainfall caused by the summa emma south asian monsoon but what does appear to be happening is that the monsoon is arriving later and the the rain that does fall within early in the season falls in fewer bigger bursts now that of course has consequences because it means that the likelihood of flooding thing is greater which has of course all sorts of negative consequences on the land means that soil and early crops washed away and it means that floods are much more likely to cause severe damage in highly populated areas more than a hundred people have been killed millions displaced after days of treasure ashore rains and flooding in south asia india nepal and bangladesh have all been affected in july for instance mumbai saw aw the biggest floods in a decade very large amount of rain falling in a very short amount of time in northeast india where the giant rivers of the ganges brahmaputra ultra flow well there something like three million people were displaced from their homes by these rivers spreading right across their flood plains that of course brings brings hardship and misery <hes> pumping. The rain has been extremely seventy hours of continuous downpour. Everything's submerged and almost all of our crops absolutely destroyed. Is there some consensus on what the sort of further effects of climate change will cause what we see now will lead to the likely effects of climate change are extremely serious for countries in south asia. That's partly because of their dependence upon agriculture and they need predictable all regular rain. It's also because the north indian plane with the himalayas behind is a great trap. Four particles in the air and denny's smog is notorious but that's smog made from particulates from car emissions power-stations burning stubble in the fields is that spreads across the whole north indian plane and is certainly having an effect on the climate. Some scientists think it leads to prolonged periods of dryness and then finally of course rising sea levels will particularly affect this part of asia because so many cities that sprung up first of all in the western colonial times are built right on the sea. They were built to serve the steam driven age and now that eh particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels caused precisely by the burning of fossil fuels that where the reason for their for their growth in the first place it it sounds like those risks are growing ever larger what our government's doing to address them absolutely and it's very clear that some very obvious steps that might i lower the stakes that are being played for still not being taken. I mean there was very very simple. Things that national and local governments should be uh not for instance providing more storage facilities for water over the past decades. Thousands of wells shino lakes of beat either filled in or built upon these were wants reservoirs for water trapped monsoon rains and kept them for the rest of the year. I was in chennai last month. That's india's sixth largest city down in the south. It was once a city famous for its water tanks and it's lakes many of those have now gone and now for the first time the government declared the city officially to have run out of water dame la la and our day starts at four in the morning when we reach this place to get water. We take two pots of water because he cannot get more to because of the huge crowd thronging the place. It's a very difficult tony. Listen infinity on boom. Another aspect is the hugely wasteful use of water in farming. The green revolution was once famous for raising agricultural yields in india in the sixties and seventies but it came at a price it involved the application of huge amounts of fertilizer and pesticide and indeed of water water in india is almost almost free. If you rich enough to be able to drill a ball well then the electricity comes to you pretty much for free. You're not charged for the use of water so that's led to a severe depletion of the aquifers and groundwater sources in india and of course rapid urbanization is only exacerbating abating the problem. There's much more that can be done in terms of ensuring a much more sensible use of water not least first of all by charging for the electricity to pump it out and indeed for judging water use itself otherwise it gets used wastefully and yes despite the news of flooding inge's real long-term problem is not an excess of water but a shortage of it don. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you jason and when taylor swift opened the video music awards on monday. It looked as if her pop ascendancy was complete. She performed her single. You need to calm down which later one video of the year the song criticize homophobia and calls for more civil rights legislation mixing pop in politics can be risky for an artist but ms swift star keeps rising for new release had the biggest week of any album since mope since the last time she put one out and much of her success is down to her evolving business strategy less friday taylor swift release lover which is a seventh album michael hann writes about music for the economist once again she was expected to be on all-conquering falls within american music because over recent years she's become the dominant artists in physical sales and very important lifeforce but what was different amount this is that she did something new for the first time she put out lover direct the streaming services which didn't have reputation her last album or with nine thousand nine hundred nine them before that why not why wasn't she streaming as well then as this what michael checkered history with streaming companies in two thousand fourteen after criticizing spotify's payments to artists. She withdrew her back catalogue doc not returning until three years later in two thousand fifteen. She falls apple pie artists for music. The users played jong three months trial period and she's been a very voluble critic streaming says shirt and op-ed piece in the wall street journal complaining about royalty payments to artists so when reputation came in two thousand seventeen she waited three weeks before putting on streaming services. Now what's interesting about ladder courses that forced her fans to actually got and pay for physical. Oh copies of her music and the result of that was ninety nine thousand nine reputation. We'll both by some distance in massive physical sata's more than anything else came out. He's any of the motivation there that if she can drive up physical sales that's higher margins more money for her than she would get from streaming services. One reason to release physical go music is that you can charge more for it for a much higher royalty rates for physical albums streaming works efficiently for artists when they aw huge selling artists in the first place because you're going to be in a higher position streaming services because you're a big artist you music is going to be promoted that will generate more strings brings so once you're out there in very problem position actually streaming does make financial sense so once taylor swift agreed to go onto streaming spotify certainly pulled out the red carpet for her so. Do you think that's why she's come back to the streaming game. There's now ways to make good money off it. I think it's probably cynical to save david. She's only comeback onto maximize revenue however let's not forget that musicians that businesses to you know they have a right to generate as much money as they possibly really come from that product so yeah she'll be after the money then there's also the the fiscal sales are declining and twenty seventeen according to nielsen which time bill gates music consumption in the us streaming accounted for about half of all music consumption and now it's eighty percent by think probably what's more interesting with theresa orissa just kind of like the alexander the great paul my theory should reach the point where she looks around from the world's left to conquer streaming walls the one world that was left her to conquer and do you think she will conquer is this is this a world hers for the taking well taylor isn't actually the full streaming the you might expect from a star star of magnitude if you compare her to the huge huge styles a streaming history nowhere. The biggest single of lover is me now. When's spotify released its talk. Ten of the first of the year me wouldn't anywhere near the top ten and the number one old town road by little nasdaq's. I had one point three billion streams. That said you know i wouldn't exactly call the release of lover failure on streaming a one point taizhou occupy on friday when it was released she helped fourteen of the fifteen spots on spotify is u._s. Jar you know it is working out pretty well for her so clean of streaming or not. She's gonna make a mint. Queens streaming not with is not going to be worrying about whether she can afford the next miles bob michael. Thank you very much for joining us pleasure aw that's all for this episode of the intelligence. If you like us give a rating on apple podcasts and you can subscribe to the economist at economist dot com slash radio offer twelve issues for twelve dollars or twelve pounds see back here on monday.

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