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  • White House Fantasies on “Nuclear Zero”

    Rose Gottemoeller, Acting Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, has reiterated the Administration’s commitment to nuclear arms control at the Getting to Zero Conference at Yale University.

    In her view, nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to humanity regardless of who wields them, and global disarmament is necessary for global security. Not since Neville Chamberlain deplaned after arriving from Munich has such a dangerous fallacy been uttered. Neither of Gottemoeller’s statements could be further from the truth, and both are either egregious displays of naivety or wanton disregard of the facts.

    Studies by The Heritage Foundation’s Nuclear Stability Working Group, which tested the effects that ballistic missile defenses have on arms control, show that, contrary to the views of Gottemoeller and the Administration, if a nation attempts to disarm, regional instability ensues as the balance of power shifts. In these scenarios, the use of nuclear force becomes more likely, not less.

    The announcement by Gottemoeller also comes on the heels of an Administration decision to reduce the U.S. nuclear stockpile by as much as 80 percent. Such a reduction would give the both the Russians and Chinese nuclear superiority.

    Looking beyond the fact that most nations will not surrender their nuclear arms, let us assume that through international agreements and laws, atomic weapons are made illegal and all nations agreed to disarm. While in Gottemoeller’s opinion this would result in a safer world, the idea that it would stop a rogue state from nuclear aggression is akin to saying that outlawing guns would end gun violence or that outlawing murder would end murder.

    The Munich Agreement is again an apt comparison, as World War II began after the Nazis signed a peace treaty with Chamberlain in exchange for annexation of the Sudetenland. Only those nations that act in good-faith adherence to the law would disarm, and they would be at the mercy of those that do not.

    Taking the hypothetical scenario one step further, assume that not one but two nations secretly retain or newly develop nuclear weapons in contravention of the law. If one of these nations attacks the other in a state of perceived weakness, nuclear retaliation is inevitable.

    The goal of total nuclear disarmament is a fantasy of members of the Administration that will never happen. However, the United States’ current path of unilateral disarmament through New START and recent decisions by the Obama Administration can severely weaken our defenses and our influence in global affairs. America faces a defining choice: to go the way of the British Empire or to remain a superpower. Unilateral disarmament will ensure only decline—if not destruction.

    Chris Gardner is a former staff writer for the Homeland Security NewsWire and current employee of The Heritage Foundation. 

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to White House Fantasies on “Nuclear Zero”

    1. Chris says:

      Guns are ominous and can hurt people. So, let's totally outlaw them for everyone and marvel at how much gun-enhanced/enable crime just fades away to nothingness while peace-and-love-abounding fills hearts everywhere. Take the U.K, for example…er, um, wait a minute, maybe not.

      Deadbolts and bars places across sliding glass patio doors just mean that robbers might get splinters or cut their tender hands trying to break into our homes and/or businesses. Failure to complete their missions could damage their little psyches. Best we ban those "aggressive" physical barriers, too, for a safer, more compassionate planet.

      Utopian, Kumbaya wet-dreams continue to be demonstrated to one-and-all by the Occupy-Space Cadets on a daily basis — how's that workin' out for ya, Rosie? I guess as long as those mean ol' cops with their scary guns are kept at a distance, all is just peachy-keen and problem free among the enlightened, gentle souls who live there.

      Right?

      Wonder if ol' Neville can be found somewhere in her family tree?

    2. Greg R. Lawson says:

      These rather extensive reflections from Thomas Schelling further dispel the danger and misguided nature of the "Global Zero" movement:

      “If a “world without nuclear weapons” means no mobilization bases, there can be no such world. Even starting in 1940 the mobilization base was built. And would minimizing mobilization potential serve the purpose ? To answer this requires working through various scenarios involving the expectation of war, the outbreak of war, and the conduct of war. That is the kind of analysis I haven’t seen.

      A crucial question is whether a government could hide weapons-grade fissile material from any possible inspection verification. Considering that enough plutonium to make a bomb could be hidden in the freezing compartment of my refrigerator or to evade radiation detection could be hidden at the bottom of the water in a well, I think only the fear of a whistle-blower could possibly make success at all questionable. I believe that a “responsible” government would make sure that fissile material would be available in an international crisis or war itself. A responsible government must at least assume that other responsible governments will do so.

      We are so used to thinking in terms of thousands, or at least hundreds, of nuclear warheads that a few dozen may offer a sense of relief. But if, at the outset of what appears to be a major war, or the imminent possibility of major war, every responsible government must consider that other responsible governments will mobilize their nuclear weapons base as soon as war erupts, or as soon as war appears likely, there will be at least covert frantic efforts, or perhaps purposely conspicuous efforts, to acquire deliverable nuclear weapons as rapidly as possible. And what then?

      In summary, a “world without nuclear weapons” would be a world in which the United States, Russia, Israel, China, and half a dozen or a dozen other countries would have hair-trigger mobilization plans to rebuild nuclear weapons and mobilize or commandeer delivery systems, and would have prepared targets to preempt other nations’ nuclear facilities, all in a high-alert status, with practice drills and secure emergency communications. Every crisis would be a nuclear crisis, any war could become a nuclear war. The urge to preempt would dominate; whoever gets the first few weapons will coerce or preempt. It would be a nervous world.”

    3. Tom Shea says:

      Going to zero is a moral imperative that may one day, one distant day, be plausible. Today's nine nuclear-armed states have no alternatives to their arsenals to secure lasting peace. There is no pressing agenda for for progress on nuclear arms control, let alone nuclear disarmament. There exists no international nuclear disarmament regime to parallel the nonproliferation regime. All that exists is Article VI of the NPT, which is totally vague and at that applies to only five of the nine nuclear-armed states, and the UN Conference on Disarmament, which serves no useful purpose. As a principal author of the NPT and a Party to the Treaty, the U.S. has an obligation to continue to seek progress in the hope, however fanciful, that the world might one day look different, especially if we work at it. After all, the European Union has effectively halted the centuries of war on that continent. The search for progress should focus on bi- and tri-lateral adversarial relationships amongst the nine as the surest way to progress. Sudden disarmament would destabilize; no disarmament will continue to fuel the ambitions of states at risk from others, especially those with nukes.

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