On the ForeignPolicy.com website, R. Jeffrey Smith of the extremely leftist “Center for Public Integrity” says that Barack Obama and his administration’s officials have settled on the number to which they will cut America’s nuclear deterrent beyond the cuts already imposed, and to try to justify these cuts, which he enthusiastically supports, he makes a litany of false claims.
In other words, his screed is a litany of blatant lies.
The deployed US nuclear arsenal is to be cut, under Obama’s plans, from 1,550 to just 1,000-1,100 warheads – i.e. by a third. Obama also wants to reduce America’s total nuclear stockpile – including reserve warheads and tactical nuclear weapons – to just 2,500, i.e. by 50%, from about 5,000 today.
Smith tacitly admits that these cuts – and their announcement – were cowardly delayed until Obama was safely reelected so that Obama would not lose the election:
“Several said the results were not disclosed at the time partly because of political concerns that any resulting controversy might rob Obama of votes in the November election. Some Republican lawmakers have said they oppose cutting the U.S. arsenal out of concern that it could diminish America’s standing in the world.”
This is a tacit recognition that American voters would likely NOT approve of his planned gutting of America’s nuclear deterrent, and would’ve likely voted him out of office, had the cuts been announced prior to the election
It is only now that Obama will announce these cuts, now that he’s safely reelected and that he doesn’t have to face voters again.
Smith says that “Senior Obama administration officials have agreed that the number of nuclear warheads the U.S. military deploys could be cut by at least a third without harming national security, according to sources involved in the deliberations”, and falsely claims of the draft nuclear arsenal cut decision and targeting strategy that “It makes clear that an even smaller nuclear force can still meet all defense requirements.”
But that is completely false. A significantly smaller nuclear arsenal will not be able to meet most, let alone all, of America’s defense requirements and those of its allies. It will not be able to effectively deter America’s enemies for the simple reason that it will be too small. Being significantly smaller, it will not be survivable enough and will thus be much easier for both Russia and China to destroy in a nuclear first strike on the US. Even if they refrain from such a drastic action, they will certainly use America’s weakness to intimidate Washington and its allies and to attack American allies and interests around the world. Don’t delude yourself that Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran would refrain from doing that if they had the opportunity to do so.
The fact is that a nuclear arsenal, in order to be survivable, MUST be large – there’s no way around that fact. In order to be an effective deterrent, it also must be able to hold the vast majority of enemy military and economic assets at risk. A smaller arsenal and the new nuclear strategy prepared for Obama’s signature will be utterly unable to do so.
This is because there are simply so many strategic and nonstrategic weapon sites and other important military (and economic) targets in Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran that being able to target a majority of them will require far more warheads than Obama would allow – not a mere 1000-1100, but at least 1,550, if not more. The Heritage Foundation’s nuclear weapons experts have estimated that about 2,700-3,000 nuclear warheads are required for that.
And why is it important to target at least a majority, if not the vast majority, of an enemy’s assets? Because only then will he suffer a truly devastating and prohibitively costly retaliation if he commits aggressions. If he loses only a minority of his assets – even if they’re the most important ones – he will not be deterred from attacking. Only if the vast majority of his assets are held at risk will he refrain from aggression.
Yet, Obama and his bureaucrats and apparatchiks don’t care about that. All they care about is disarming the US and creating their pipedream “world without nuclear weapons”, a fiction that will never exist.
So instead of reviewing possible targets and then deciding on how many warheads the US needs, they’ll instead impose an ideological, arbitrary warhead cut on the military: no more than 1000-1100 warheads, and the military will have to adapt its targeting strategy to that.
They’ve got it exactly backwards. They’re imposing an arbitrary warhead limit on the military and forcing it to THEN come up with a targeting strategy to fit that limit.
Smith also uncritically repeats the 2010 NPR’s false claim that nuclear weapons are
“poorly suited to address the challenges posed by suicidal terrorists and unfriendly regimes seeking nuclear weapons.”
This is a blatant lie. Nuclear weapons are very well suited to defend America and its allies against rogue regimes seeking or already possessing nuclear weapons. When your enemy is seeking – or already has – such weapons, a large and survivable nuclear deterrent is your ONLY chance of survival.
Indeed, America’s nuclear deterrent is its – and its allies’ – only real insurance policy against the large nuclear arsenals of Russia and China, the small but growing arsenal of North Korea (which Pyongyang plans to test again later this month), and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Conventional weapons cannot substitute; only nuclear weapons have the striking power capable of imposing a sufficient retaliation and thus of deterring these enemies.
As I have documented and proven numerous times, most recently last week on CDN, nuclear weapons are not relics of a bygone era; they are vital assets which are very much needed today to deter Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.
Smith also falsely claims that:
“The financial savings from even the modest reduction now being contemplated could be substantial, according to officials and independent experts. Already, to comply with New Start, the Pentagon has been pulling warheads from land-based missiles and making plans to decommission some of the missiles themselves; it is also planning to reduce the number of missile tubes aboard its Trident submarines.
By pushing the arsenal size even lower, it could close perhaps two of its three land-based missile wings and cut at least two of the 12 new strategic submarines it now plans to build — saving $6 billion to $8 billion for each one. Eliminating a single wing of 150 missiles would save roughly $360 million a year, or more than $3 billion over a decade, according to Tom Collina, research director at the Arms Control Association, a non-profit research group in Washington. Modernization of the remaining land-based missiles might also be deferred, bringing additional savings.”
Firstly, Collina is not an expert, he’s an extremely leftist pro-unilateral-disarmament propagandist. He has zero expertise in the field of national security. Indeed, no real expert worth his salt would make claims as ridiculous as those quoted above.
Secondly, compliance with New START treaty produces only tiny “savings” but high compliance costs (of dismantling the missiles and warheads and disabling submarine missile tubes) and, on balance, costs far more money than it saves.
Thirdly, the claim that eliminating a single wing of ICBM would save “roughly $360 million a year” is false. Even eliminating the ENTIRE ICBM leg of the nuclear triad would save only 1 bn USD per year; cutting one of the current 3 ICBM wings would save even less. Furthermore, given that the ICBM leg of the triad is the cheapest and most reliable of the three legs of the triad, the damage thus done to national security would far outweight the meagre monetary savings this would produce.
Fourthly, eliminating one SSBN of the planned new ballistic missile submarine class would save, at most, only $4.9 bn per year (which is their real cost), not $6-8 bn as the author falsely claims. Furthermore, fewer submarines in total means fewer submarines at sea, which means fewer targets for Russian or Chinese attack submarines to sink.
Fifth, the claim – which the author repeates throughout the entire article – that the deep cuts Obama has ordered will save lots of money is also completely false. All of the cuts that Obama has now decided on will not make ANY impact – even the most meager one – on the budget deficit, which is $1 trillion per year. Even saving, say, $10 bn per year on nuclear weapons would not make even the most trivial impact on the federal budget deficit. What’s more, even eliminating the entire US nuclear arsenal altogether would not make any meaningful impact on the deficit, because the US nuclear arsenal costs only $35.2 bn per year to maintain.
Remember: the entire federal budget deficit is 1 trillion per year. Even eliminating the nuclear arsenal entirely would not even make a dent in the deficit.
Moreover, Jeffrey Smith’s claim that China has a “deterrence-only policy” is also a blatant lie. China actually has a far larger arsenal than the author and other disarmament proponents claim. It has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, and the means to deliver at least 1,274 of them immediately, including about 200 of them to the US.
Smith also falsely claims that other nuclear weapon states are also reconsidering their nuclear arsenals, but the only country doing so – and the only example he gives – is cash-strapped Britain where, as in the US, even supposedly “conservative” politicians prefer to cut defense rather than social spending (which, in the British government budget, is 7 times higher than defense spending). An unnamed British official claims that Britain needs a “debate” on nuclear deterrence and might scale back or cancel its procurement or deployment of new SSBNs and their warheads.
But Britain is the ONLY nuclear weapon state other than the US cutting its nuclear arsenal. No other country is doing so. Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, India, and Israel are all GROWING and MODERNIZING, not shrinking, their nuclear arsenals. They have no intention of cutting, let alone giving up, their nuclear arsenals.
So we’re seeing the most dangerous phenomenon and most dangerous world possible: the West is unilaterally disarming itself while Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, and others are growing their nuclear arsenals!
This is a recipe for suicide, aggression, death, and destruction.
Finally, the claim – which the author and Obama administration officials continue to repeat throughout the article – that the US will still be secure even with such a significantly reduced arsenal is also a blatant lie. The US will not be secure. The US will be threatened and frequently blackmailed by both Russia and China. Moreover, even if the cuts are done through a treaty with Russia, it’s very likely that Russia will not comply with it, just like it hasn’t complied with any previous treaty it has signed.
Furthermore, we must not forget that while Russia and China are threats to many and protectors to nobody, the US is responsible for providing a nuclear deterrrent not just for itself, but also for 30 allies. If the US makes the cuts that Obama calls for, many of America’s allies will have no choice but to develop their own nuclear weapons. And you can bet that they will.
Shame on Jeffrey Smith for writing this litany of blatant leftist lies, and shame on Foreign Policy for publishing it.