When he delivers the SOTU tonight, Obama will likely mention his plan to deeply cut (read: dramatically weaken) further America’s already excessively cut nuclear deterrent at a time when Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, and India are all growing and modernizing nuclear arsenals, and just a day after North Korea tested a nuclear weapon – thus utterly refuting Obama’s notions of a “nuclear-free world”.
Republicans have the duty and the power to stop his cuts of America’s nuclear deterrent while explaining to the public – in their rebuttal of Obama’s SOTU as well as on other occassions – why Obama’s policy is suicidal and treasonous and why America needs a large nuclear deterrent and will need it for the foreseeable future.
The following is offered as advice on how to refute the lies that Obama is likely to make in his remarks.
Obama will likely falsely claim that:
1) “America has more nuclear weapons than needed for national security.”
Yet, on close inspection, this claim 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 intimidateWashington 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 aggression. 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.
A small nuclear arsenal could only target Russian, Chinese, North Korean, and Iranian population centers, as it would be woefully insufficient to hold the majority of enemy military assets at risk. This would mean a shift from counterforce to countervalue targeting – i.e. targeting innocent civilian populations (which Russian, Chinese, NK, and Iranian leaders don’t value anyway) instead of enemy warmaking capability. Is this the policy we want? The proponents of arms reduction do.
But such a policy would arguably be immoral, and would not be accepted by most Americans. So the only credible and acceptable policy is counterforce – which requires a large number of warheads.
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 (as NK’s nuclear test yesterday proves).
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.
2) “Nuclear weapons are relics of the Cold War.”
This false claim doesn’t even meet the straight face test. Nuclear weapons are highly relevant in today’s security environment.
The biggest military threats to America are Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. The first three have nuclear weapons; Iran is racing to acquire them. The biggest threat posed by these countries is that of a large-scale nuclear or (in Russia’s or China’s case) attack by them.
Russia has a very large strategic nuclear arsenal (2,800 warheads, 1,500 of them deployed and 1,300 in reserve) and the means to deliver it:
- Over 250 strategic bombers (64 Tu-95s, 16 Tu-160s, and 151-171 Tu-22Ms), each capable of carrying six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and a nuclear freefall bomb;
- 14 ballistic missile submarines (5 Delta III class, 7 Delta IV class, 1 Typhoon class, and 1 Borei class submarine), which can carry 16 ballistic missiles each (the Typhoon class boat can carry 20); these missiles include the 12-warhead Liner SLBM and the 10-warhead Bulava SLBM;
- 434 ICBMs, including (numbers in parentheses refer to the maximum warhead carriage capacity):
- 58 SS-18 Satan missiles (10 warheads and 30 penetration aids each);
- 136 SS-19 Stiletto missiles (6 warheads/missile);
- 171 SS-25 Sickle (RT-2PM Topol) missiles (single-warhead);
- 74 SS-27 Sickle B (RT-2UTTH) missiles (single-warhead);
- at least 18 SS-29 (RS-24) missiles (4 warheads/missile).
The Satan fleet alone can carry 580 warheads to the CONUS. Russia’s ICBMs are not currently loaded with the maximum possible number of warheads, but can be thus loaded at any time, if the Kremlin so orders.
Russia also has a huge tactical nuclear arsenal – far larger than America’s. It is estimated to have at least 1,000-4,000 tactical nuclear warheads – by any measure, far more than the US has (about 500). These are warheads of various types: missile warheads, aircraft bombs, nuclear depth charges, nuclear torpedo warheads, nuclear artillery shells, etc. They are deliverable by a wide range of systems, including aircraft (e.g. the Su-24, Su-25, Tupolev bombers, and the Su-27/30/33/34/35 Flanker family; Russia plans to procure 200 Su-34s), short-range ballistic missiles (e.g. the SS-26 Stone), surface warships, submarines, and artillery pieces.
So Russia alone has a huge nuclear arsenal which America must defend itself and its allies against. It has, in recent years, made repeated threats (over a dozen in the last 4 years alone) to use these weapons against the US or its allies if they don’t succumb to Russia’s demands on various issues.
Thus, the Russian threat, by itself, is huge and justifies the retention of a large US nuclear arsenal.
China has 1,800, and potentially up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, as determined in objective, impartial studies independently by Professor Philip Karber (Georgetown) and Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, a former Russian missile force chief of staff. Their estimates are based on Chinese fissile material stockpiles, delivery system inventories, potential targets for China, and itsst, 3,000-mile-long network of tunnels for nuclear missiles (which the US has to be able to destroy to be capable of credible retaliation if China attacks). China’s nuclear arsenal is so large and so sophisticated and survivable that General Yesin visited the US last year to warn US policymakers about that fact.
North Korea has about 12 nuclear warheads and the capability to deliver them to the US, as demonstrated by its successful December 2012 test of a genuine ICBM and the fact that it can mate nuclear warheads to ballistic missiles. North Korea, of course, also has large arsenals of SRBMs and MRBMs.
Iran is currently developing nuclear weapons and may have them by next year. It is also developing an ICBM capable of hitting the US, which US intel estimates it may have by 2015, and already possesses ballistic missiles which can hit targets as far away as Warsaw (e.g. the Sejjil missile).
Moreover, while Russia and China are threats to many but protectors to nobody, the US has to provide a nuclear deterrent not only for itself but also for 30 allies, many of whom would otherwise develop their own nuclear weapons. If the US nuclear arsenal is further cut significantly, they (especially Japan and South Korea) will have no choice but to “go nuclear.” This will make the proliferation problem much worse.
3) “Nuclear weapons are too costly to maintain. We can save a lot of money by cutting their number.”
This claim is also utterly false. The entire ICBM leg of the nuclear triad costs only $1.1 bn to maintain; the bomber leg, only $2.5 bn. The total nuclear arsenal and its supporting facilities and workforce cost $32 bn to $35 bn per year to maintain according to the Stimson Center. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the DOD’s annual budget (over $600 bn), the annual federal budget deficit ($1 trillion), or the total annual federal budget ($3.6 trillion).
Eliminating both the bomber and ICBM legs of the triad would “save” a tiny $3.6 bn per year – 0.1% of the total federal budget. It’s nothing. It’s less than a rounding error.
4) “Cutting our nuclear arsenal will convince others to give up their nukes. If we give up ours, North Korea will give up its.”
This false claim is downright laughable. There is zero evidence supporting it. In fact, while the US has been dramatically cutting its nuclear arsenal since the Cold War’s end – from over 20,000 warheads in 1991 to 5,000 today – two new states (Pakistan and North Korea) have joined the nuclear club and fielded ICBMs, while China has dramatically expanded its nuclear arsenal. India and Israel have grown theirs. Moreover, all of these countries consistently refuse to even talk about, let alone give up, their nuclear arsenals. China has recently categorically rejected nuclear disarmament and North Korea has just tested a nuclear weapon. What’s more, China has actively AIDED North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Other countries don’t give a damn about America’s “moral example” or “leadership by example”. They don’t care about American gestures. All they care about is THEIR military strength and how it compares to America’s. If the US cuts its nuclear arsenal, they will only see it as a sign of weakness – which it would be. It will never convince them to give up their nuclear arms.
Signing and implementing New START has not convinced other countries to give up their nukes.
Moreover, further cuts to America’s arsenal will not enhance America’s “credibility” in the yes of the “international community” or convince that community to place meaningful pressure on North Korea and Iran; the “international community” has utterly failed to do so.
That Obama (reportedly) plans to cynically use North Korea’s nuclear test to justify further deep reductions in America’s own deterrent is mindboggling, ridiculous, despicable, and outrageous. As North Korea, China, and Russia grow their nuclear arsenals, it is foolish and suicidal to cut America’s. North Korea’s nuclear test is an argument AGAINST Obama’s US nuclear arsenal cuts, not for them.
In sum, there are absolutely NO reasons to cut the US nuclear arsenal. But there are many reasons NOT to do it. Republicans should study the above facts and disseminate them widely to counter the blatant lies that Obama will likely make tonight to defend his indefensible, deep cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent and thus America’s deterring power. Republicans also have the power AND the duty to STOP Obama’s gutting of America’s nuclear arsenal.
Also, Dear Readers, please call your Congressman and both of your Senators and tell them that you will NEVER vote for them again if they don’t stop America’s unilateral disarmament by Obama.