John Barry

Stories by John Barry

  • The Real Missile System That Will Protect Europe

    President Obama's decision to scrap the missile interceptor planned for Central Europe doesn't mean Europeans will be unprotected from Iran. They'll just be protected from a system that actually exists—and works.
  • Obama Makes Peace With Nuclear Arms

    As a candidate, Barack Obama declared war on nukes, but now he's calling a tactical truce. To encourage tougher international action against proliferation, he hopes to ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The idea of outlawing weapons tests was so divisive that the Senate said no in 1999, and Republicans are ready to fight if Obama tries again. To buy them off, Obama will propose updating America's aging nuclear-weapons manufacturing complex and funding design work that would tiptoe to the very edge of crafting a new warhead, according to a senior official's recent briefing to a small group of outside experts. (Candidate Obama pledged "not to authorize the development of new nuclear weapons and related facilities.") Meanwhile, the Pentagon, working on a new "nuclear posture review," is contemplating a force of 1,000 weapons deployed and 2,000 in reserve. That's well below the 1,675 agreed to in Moscow this May, with 2,500 currently in reserve, but it dismays some...
  • Pakistan's Nukes Are Safe, But What About Labs?

    As the Taliban battles Pakistan's military just 96 kilometers from Islamabad, one question frightens experts around the world: what about the country's nukes? The good news is that Pakistan's warheads, estimated at about 100, are guarded by an elite unit screened for loyalty. So long as the Army holds together, these main sites are essentially invulnerable. But Pakistan's nuclear-research and nuclear-production facilities are another story. Kahuta, the main R&D complex, covers many square kilometers and employs thousands of workers, and it is merely the biggest of more than a dozen such facilities. Pakistan has received $100 million or so from the United States to improve security at these sites, but it has been slow to address the loyalty of employees. Kahuta was, after all, the workplace from which the scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan managed to sell nuclear technology to rogue regimes like Libya, North Korea and Iran. More recently, American officials think extremists have made...
  • Gates Spares the Marines in His Defense Budget

    In his farewell address in January 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower warned against the military-industrial complex, the cozy relationship between the Pentagon, Congress and defense contractors. In April 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates proposes to do something significant about it. He wants Congress to cut big-ticket items from all the major services: the Air Force's F-22 fighter, the Army's family of Future Combat Systems and the Navy's DDG 1000 destroyer.One service was notably spared the budget ax. The how and why suggests that Gates can be politically cagey as well as bold. The Marines are the smallest, cheapest and, arguably, the bravest of them all —"The Few, the Proud, the Marines" is not just a recruiting gimmick. The Marines were quicker than the Army to think about how to fight nasty, small wars—and do it without spending vast sums of money. But the Marines are a proud service, and they worry about becoming too much like the Army. They want to preserve their historic...
  • James L. Jones as National Security Adviser?

    In Washington, the truism of the moment is that President-elect Barack Obama has cleverly set out to create a "team of rivals." He is said to be filling out the top ranks of his administration with strong-minded, hard-headed policy warriors—Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates—who will be encouraged to disagree with each other and even with Obama. The conversations may grow heated, but the best ideas will survive and yes men will be shown the door.It's a nice concept, but doesn't always work out so neatly in real life. George W. Bush had his own team of rivals, after all, and they turned out to be all rival, no team. Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top Bush officials were experienced Beltway wise men who had very different views about how Bush should conduct his foreign policy. Instead of working together, they pushed separate, often conflicting agendas. This was especially true when it came to Iraq. The...
  • U.S. Military Role In Georgia Tricky

    Since Russia's rout of the Georgian armed forces in August, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has suggested that Washington secretly provoked the conflict. But the Americans wanted no such thing, according to Lt. Col. Robert Hamilton, who ran the U.S. military training program in Georgia until six weeks ago. (He's now on a year's fellowship at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.) "At no time did the U.S. attempt to train or equip the Georgian armed forces for a conflict with Russia," he says. "In fact, the U.S. deliberately avoided training capabilities [that] were seen as too provocative" to Russia. That's one reason Georgia's troops crumpled so fast—precisely because their training didn't cover conventional-warfare topics like tanks, artillery and helicopters.America's military involvement in Georgia began with a mission that was supposed to reduce Moscow's jitters. The Russians were complaining that Chechen rebels with suspected ties to Al Qaeda were...
  • Battling bin Laden

    An ex-bin Laden hunter on why the U.S. hasn't beaten Al Qaeda.
  • The General’s New Mission

    Pakistan's latest Army chief holds the key to next week's vote, and to the future of his unstable nation.