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  • Reducing Nuclear Arsenal Would Shift U.S. Target Options

    President Obama wants to reduce the nuclear arsenal to as little as 300 warheads. While this might seem like a lot, the targeting list is evolving more rapidly than at any point in history. The United States has more enemies than ever before and provides nuclear security guarantees to more than 30 countries.

    Every U.S. President faces a difficult decision regarding what to target in the case that the U.S. homeland or allies are attacked. The President can chose to strike counter-force and counter-value targets. Counter-force targets are the enemy forces and supporting infrastructure—including weapons capabilities like missile sites, production capabilities, and command and control centers. Counter-value targets are the enemy cities and population. Lowering the number of weapons could reduce the President’s options when deciding what would be an appropriate response in the case of an enemy strike.

    In addition, enemies can take steps to discourage or complicate U.S. counter-force targeting. They can disperse facilities and forces or hide them in tunnels or within population centers. Lowering the number of U.S. nuclear weapons will incentivize enemies to create more targets that can be attacked. As a result, the United States might not be able to stop an enemy force before it could attack. With lower numbers of nuclear weapons, the United States would be forced to threaten the population centers in other countries. A country that values freedom—for itself and others—above anything else should not divest itself of weapons that allow it to destroy enemy forces instead of civilian populations.

    A review based on an arbitrary set of numbers instead of a sound assessment of the strategic environment can have devastating consequences for the U.S. and its allies. U.S. adversaries will not give up their weapons just because the United States gets rid of its nuclear arsenal. After all, since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. eliminated more than 80 percent of its nuclear weapons arsenal while North Korea, India, and Pakistan tested their nuclear weapons.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Reducing Nuclear Arsenal Would Shift U.S. Target Options

    1. Cliff2008 says:

      If someone had written a tv show in the late 1950s entitled 'The Incompetent President' and used the facts of the Obama administration as material, it would have received howls of laughter akin to that of 'Amos & Andy' because it would have been unimaginable that it could become reality. Black people of that time would have been insulted by the portrayal of another black character as a cluless buffoon. Who knew that the American public could get so stupid, so quickly as to actually give power to a freakshow like this administration?

      • Jeff, Illinois says:

        You're the clueless buffoon. Please read some books, get out in the world and shut off Fox News . . You've been indoctrinated, and our country needs something better than your kind of ignorance.

    2. William Thibodeau says:

      —You say the us has more enemies than ever-that should tell you we are doing something vary wrong-please put your thinking how to correct ! Get rid of bombs, they do more harm to the way we are seen and instigate attack to our Achilles' Heel because of hate. The war machines of the world are eating up the peoples wealth. We must be brave enough to lead to true disarmament !

      • Michaela Bendikova says:

        If the United States leads in disarmament, other countries will not follow because they have other motivations for the possesion of these weapons than how many nuclear weapons the United States has. There is no historical evidence that others would follow the U.S. lead with this regard. If anything, to the contrary. The United States dismantled over 80 percent of its arsenal since the end of the Cold War. North Korea, Pakistan, and India expanded their arsenals and enterest the nuclear weapons club. South Africa gave up its nuclear weapons program when the United States was building up its strategic forces and testing its nuclear weapons.

    3. Jon says:

      I don't think it is a plausible argument that there will become a shift from counter-force to counter-value targeting. I'm sure that both have always been part of the SIOP plan as you need a combination of both in order to totally disable an enemy. And I don't think we will adopt a purely theoretical minimum deterrence stance where we will only aim at counter-value targets. The danger I believe that is most pressing in this situation is if Obama decides to reduce the deployed arsenal to only 300 warheads. This would be very destabilizing. Historically, reductions to nuclear arsenals has come from gradual steps at equal levels between the US and Russia. And we should not deviate from this. And if Obama decided to reduce our deployed arsenal to 300 warheads, we should make every effort at impeachment.

    4. Zeke Rose says:

      Go to the movies and see "2016." Whether you love President or not, you need to see what motivates him.

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