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  • Policymakers Should Disregard “Global Zero” Report

    Yesterday the “Global Zero” report, chaired by retired Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright, unpersuasively argued that the U.S. should reduce its nuclear arms to the dangerously low number of 900, of which only half would be deployed. The report also recommends “de-alerting” the U.S. force, making it less capable, and getting rid of the land-based leg of the nuclear triad, making the force less resilient.

    Disarmers like President Barack Obama will undoubtedly use this report as an authoritative document defending their plans to continue to lower the number of U.S. nuclear weapons. After all, in March of this year, the President made the flippant remark that the United States has “more nuclear weapons than we need.”

    The authors begin their “study” with the conclusion already determined: The goal is to rid the world of nuclear weapons. This is not a national security objective; it is an academic one, driven by an emotional opposition to nuclear weapons themselves. The authors’ goal was not to determine what the U.S. requires to prevent nuclear war, or in the event nuclear war ensues, to win it. On these grounds alone, the report should be dismissed as an unhelpful—indeed, perilous—contribution to national security policymaking.

    If one begins with the goal of protecting the American people and allies in an increasingly unpredictable and dangerous world with multiple nuclear powers that have disparate value systems and national goals, then one would conclude the U.S. must maintain and possibly increase the number, in some cases the characteristics, and precision of its nuclear weapons to hold a variety of targets at risk with the most capable weapons.

    Because the U.S. values innocent life—even the lives dictatorships don’t—the U.S. must maintain a nuclear force that credibly targets the war-making apparatus of foes and potential foes—not population centers.

    What would the makeup of nuclear weapons look like if the U.S. provided credible assurances to Japan? Europe? Allies in the Middle East? If our allies doubt U.S. assurances, it would only make sense that they would acquire nuclear weapons to defend themselves.

    Deterrence is an art, and it involves assessing what foes and allies may perceive as constituting credible deterrence and assurance, respectively. Policymakers who take seriously the government’s solemn responsibility to provide for the common defense should take the greatest pains to ensure that the U.S. strikes this balance. This requires humility and the realization that we are in uncertain times—and the stakes are too high to test out impetuous academic theories like the one the Cartwright report advocates.

    Lowering the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal, allowing the weapons complex and stockpile to deteriorate, and tying the hands of the U.S. by signing on to any other arms control agreement would likely embolden America’s foes, spur nuclear proliferation, and increase the likelihood of nuclear war.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Policymakers Should Disregard “Global Zero” Report

    1. bobbymike says:

      If we are to live with 1550 deployed strategic weapons and 700 deployed launchers then we should be doing it from a renewed industrial base able to produce modern delivery systems like ICBMs, SLBMs and bombers and new advanced nuclear warheads. Also, we should not forget other important technologies like re-entry vehicles, advanced guidance systems and solid rocket energetics.

    2. @1913Intel says:

      Thank you Rebeccah Heinrichs. It's nice to see that at least one person in America has some sense.

      The Global Zero report is terrifying. The entire fate of the western world is hanging by a thread on this one assumption in the Global Zero report:

      “There is no conceivable situation in the contemporary world in which it would be in either country’s national security interest to initiate a nuclear attack against the other side,” the report says.

      Too bad the authors didn't bother to ask Russia and China about this. They have already told us when they would be willing to launch a nuclear attack. Interestingly, the conditions for both are at a tipping point. It is entirely possible that the US will not exist by the end of 2013. Here are the conditions:

      1. Russia: If the security of itself or allies are threatened. Russian leaders have told us that an attack on Iran would threaten Russian security. Other Russian leaders have pretty much told us that an attack on Iran will bring nuclear retaliation.

      2. China: If its core interests are threatened. Currently, China blames the US for all its trouble in the South China Sea – a core interest. One Chinese general also threatened nuclear war if Iran is attacked.

      So it looks like an attack on Iran by Israel or America might very well be the catalyst to start a major nuclear war. Both Russia and China have been kind enough to spell it out pretty clearly. Yet western leaders refuse to listen.

    3. Dave says:

      The concept of "nuclear zero" may be dangerous and unrealistic, but the idea that reduction discussions should be ignored is foolish. Which of America's "enemies" are going to be less deterred by 900 nuclear warheads than 1550, or the 2200 of last decade? And, why exactly is the difference of 650 warheads more likely to instigate nuclear war, or embolden "enemies"? There is no circumstance, in reality or fantasy, where 650 extra nuclear weapons could have made the difference between victory and defeat against a third world country like North Korea. Iran does not own a nuclear weapon yet and the Israeli's are not likely to allow them to. Neither the Russians, nor the Chinese, nor our own government want to engage in a nuclear war. Such a war would at best set us back decades and at worst be unrecoverable. Engaging in general nuclear conflict would jeopardize our positions as global super-powers. Our nuclear strategy has been one of counter-force for many years, both during the Cold War and after. We do not need 20-30,000 warheads to create a credible deterrent, or to target the nuclear assets of other superpowers who, like us, have also reduced their stockpiles.

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