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  • Idealistic Nuclear Reductions Detrimental to U.S. National Security

    The Global Zero Nuclear Policy Commission Report, endorsed by retired Marine Corps General James Cartwright, is calling for dramatic reductions in the number of U.S. nuclear weapons.

    Since its publication in May, it has stirred discussions about perceptions of today’s strategic environment and competing visions regarding U.S. strategic posture. Mark Schneider, senior analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy, offers a compelling argument countering the report’s assertions that the U.S. will be safer if it unilaterally lowers its numbers of nuclear weapons.

    While the U.S. is the only country in the world without a substantial nuclear weapons modernization program, Russia and China are expanding their nuclear arsenals. Russia under President Vladimir Putin has started the most robust nuclear weapons modernization program since the end of the Cold War.

    In addition, as Schneider points out, “Russian Presidents, Chiefs of the General Staff, commanders of the Strategic Missile Forces, and generals representing the Defense Ministry have made about 15 separate threats to either target missile defense facilities or make a pre-emptive nuclear attack.” While U.S. and foreign audiences tend to dismiss these threats as domestic rhetoric, it is imprudent to disregard the hard line the Russians have taken.

    There also are significant inconsistencies between the targeting plans that the commission’s report proposes and numbers of weapons to destroy these targets that the report recommends to maintain. While it identifies 945 targets around the world, it advocated to retain only 450 de-alerted warheads (i.e., they would require 24–72 hours to get ready).

    The plan ignores Russia’s and China’s intentions to deploy missile defenses and expand their nuclear capabilities. At lower numbers of nuclear weapons, the U.S. would be forced to adopt counter-value strategy: destroying populations. The problem with this approach is that potential adversaries such as North Korea or Iran do not value human life; they value means of internal oppression and external attack.

    A nuclear weapons reduction plan based on hope and idealistic assumptions does not make sense in the realities of the current strategic environment. Reductions in the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal should be driven by an effort to maximize the deterrent value of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, not by disarmament policy as an end in itself.

    Instead of unilaterally disarming, the U.S. should move toward a “protect and defend” strategy combining offensive, defensive, conventional, and nuclear weapons. This is the best way the U.S. could respond to the challenges of today’s environment.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Idealistic Nuclear Reductions Detrimental to U.S. National Security

    1. zbigniewmazurak says:

      The author is right on the money, except this:

      "Reductions in the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal should be driven by an effort to maximize the deterrent value of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, not by disarmament policy as an end in itself."

      What could've been a GREAT blogpost has thus been fatally undermined.

      No, reductions in the nuclear arsenal should not be driven by anything; they should not be made at all. Period. Disarmament should be rejected completely, not be viewed as an end in itself or a way to anything. Any cuts in the nuclear arsenal reduce its deterrent value (deep cuts reduce it dramatically), weaken the US military, and thus jeopardize national security. Disarmament is a lofty, naive, dangerous goal which will never result in anyone but the West disarming, and will only bring about a lack of security and renewed aggression. It is a fundamentally flawed policy which cannot be corrected and thus needs to be rejected out of hand.

    2. legrand joy says:

      La sécurité d'un peuple ne commence pas par la défense pour se transformer en guerre ,elle doit avant tout être évaluée à sa juste valeur en faisant intervenir au maximun la diplomatie dans tous ses domaines :politique extérieure ,politique intérieure et surtout politique humaine et sociale . Un pays doit savoir se défendre certes mais pas au détriment des autres peuples .La réduction des armes nucléaires recommandée par le général 4 star JAMES CARTWRIGHT ( en retraite ) est une bonne chose pour la santé politique extérieure américaine ,( vue en tant que politique étrangère ) .MR CARTWRIGHT devrait-être nommé ambassadeur itinérant pour les états-unis ou bien AMBASSADEUR EN FRANCE et je serai la première personne à le soutenir en la matière pour la non prolifération des armes nucléaires

      • NO nuclear reduction says:

        Diplomacy fails when you are actually attacked. Russia, Iran, and China will not quail in fear after their attack when our ambassadors sally forth and insult them.

    3. Michaela Bendikova says:

      THF's position is that the number of U.S. nuclear weapons should not be driven by arms control for the sake of arms control but from a sound assessment of the strategic environment. We do not agree that "nuclear zero" would make the world safer but it's a distinct issue from how many nuclear weapons the U.S. should retain.

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