Rebuttal of the WSJ’s garbage pro-disarmament screed
On June 19th, after Barack Obama’s infamous Berlin speech, the Wall Street Journal published an utterly ridiculous, irredeemably biased, and misleading article propagandizing in favor of Obama’s proposals to further cut America’s nuclear deterrent. The screed, written by extreme leftists Adam Entous and Julian Barnes, proves how far the WSJ has moved by now, and proves that the WSJ is no longer a respectable, credible publication.
The screed makes numerous utterly false claims, attempts to smear and demonize Republicans, and quotes only the claims and “arguments” of the supporters of cutting America’s deterrent. Only supporters of cuts are quoted or allowed any say; no opponents are quoted and no arguments against the cuts are cited.
In short, the article is nothing but a shameless propaganda screed masquerading as an objective article, and can have no purpose other than to brainwash and mislead the public.
The central lie of the article – and of the numerous nuclear cuts supporters it quotes – is that even after Obama’s newest round of cuts in America’s deterrent, the US will still have enough weapons to deter Russia, China, and others:
“A one-third cut would allow Washington and Moscow to lower the number of warheads to between 1,000 and 1,100 each, down from the New Start limit of 1,550. That still would leave them with more than enough warheads to deter any current or future adversary, said U.S. officials.
“The president determined that we can ensure the security of the United States, and our allies and partners, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while safely pursuing up to a one-third reduction in deployed strategic nuclear weapons from the level established in the New Start treaty,” a senior Obama administration official said of Mr. Obama’s message in the speech. (…)
The senior administration official said the disputes between the U.S. and Russia over Syria and missile defense shouldn’t affect talks over nuclear reductions because both the U.S. and Russia are acting based on what they see as their interests.
“If we both determine that it is in our interest to work together to reduce our arsenals even further, then we’ll move in that direction,” the official said. “I think that’s irrespective of other issues in the relationship.”
Advocates of further cuts say the number of warheads in the U.S. arsenal even after the proposed cuts would be more than sufficient to deter not only Russia but also a rising China, which has an inventory of 250 nuclear weapons, according to the Federation of American Scientists and other organizations. (…)
“If you still have 1,100 weapons that is pretty good deterrence,” said one U.S. official.”
Those claims are blatant lies. 1,000-1,100 warheads would be utterly inadequate to deter Russia or China, let alone both at once. This is because, in order to deter, you need to be able to:
a) have enough weapons to credibly threaten the destruction of the vast majority of the enemy’s assets if he commits aggression; and
b) survive any enemy first strike to conduct retaliation.
And for that, a LARGE nuclear arsenal – far larger than a mere 1,000 warheads – is needed. The Heritage Foundation estimates that the US needs between 2,700 and 3,000 strategic and tactical nuclear warheads for effective deterrence.
Why is a large nuclear arsenal needed, and why will it always be needed?
Because both Russia and China have large arsenals, countering which will require far more than just 1,000 warheads. (China’s arsenal is far larger than the FAS claims – more about that below.)
Russia has 434 ICBMs, all of which except Topol and Topol-M missiles carry multiple warheads; collectively, they can deliver at least 1,259 warheads to the CONUS. 58 of these are “Satan” heavy ICBMs with 10 warheads and up to 38 countermeasures each. It has just fielded a road-mobile ICBM also capable of carrying 10 warheads: the Yars-M. Furthermore, it has 251 intercontinental bombers (63 Tu-95s, 16 Tu-160s, 171 Tu-22Ms, though not all of them are combat-capable at all times) and 14 ballistic missile submarines (5 Delta III, 7 Delta IV, 1 Typhoon, 1 Borei class), all of which can carry 16 SLBMs. Each of these, in turn, can carry 4-12 warheads – the R-29M Sinyeva carrying four to ten, the SS-NX-30 Bulava ten, and the R-29RMU2 Liner twelve warheads each. Russia’s bombers can each carry 3-6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on its wings and one nuclear freeball bomb in the bay.
That’s just Russia’s strategic nuclear triad. Russia also has a vast tactical nuclear arsenal, consisting of, according to various estimates, up to 4,000 warheads. All of these are deliverable by a wide range of systems, including submarines, their cruise missiles, surface ships, artillery pieces, short-range missiles, and tactical strike aircraft.
Russia is now steadily growing and modernizing its nuclear arsenal. It is developing several new ICBM types: the “Son of Satan” heavy ICBM (10 warheads), a rail-mobile ICBM, the “Avangard” ICBM, and a “pseudo-ICBM” with a 6,000 km range, in addition to the forementioned Yars-M now entering service. Moscow is also developing a new bomber type (due to enter service in 2020) and fielding a new class of up to ten Borei class SSBNs.
As numerous distinguished analysts have observed, Russia has significantly increased, not cut, its nuclear arsenal under New START, and Mark Schneider warns Moscow will actually deploy more strategic warheads than New START’s “notional limits” allow, and that New START places no limits on the size or payload (including number of warheads carried) of the Russian forces. It is also building up its Tu-160 bomber fleet from stockpiled components. And, the introduction of newer Bulava and Liner SLBMs, capable of carrying – as noted above – 10 and 12 warheads, respectively, will dramatically increase the warhead carriage capacity of its SSBN fleet.
As for China, contrary to the FAS’s and WSJ’s lies, it has far more nuclear weapons than just 250. Former Russian missile force Chief of Staff Gen. Viktor Yesin estimates (based on China’s fissile material stocks and Russian intelligence data) that China has 1,600 to 1,800 nuclear warheads, while former DOD chief nuclear strategist Professor Philip Karber estimates China has up to 3,000 warheads, based partly on its vast, 3,000-mile-long network of tunnels for strategic missiles and their warheads. (You don’t build such a vast network for only 250 warheads.) Reputed analysts such as John Tkacik and Frank Gaffney consider these figures credible.
To deliver its warheads, China has:
- 36 DF-5 heavy ICBMs (capable of carrying up to 10 warheads each); over 30 DF-31/31A ICBMs (4 warheads each), 20 single-warhead DF-4 IRBMs, and some DF-41 heavy ICBMs (10 warheads each);
- 6 ballistic missile submarines capable of carrying at least 12 ballistic missiles each, each missile carrying 4 warheads, thus making the Chinese navy able to deliver 288 warheads (6*12*4), and even more if their SSBNs can carry more than 12 missiles each;
- 20 DF-3 and at least 80 (probably many more) DF-21 MRBMs, one warhead each;
- 440 nuclear bombs for its 440 strike aircraft (Q-5, JH-7, H-6), and possibly nuclear warheads for the CJ-10A cruise missiles arming China’s H-6 bombers;
- over 1,600 SRBMs (though most of them are probably conventionally-armed); and
- a large quantity of ground-launched CJ-10 and DH-10 cruise missiles.
This writer estimated last year, very conservatively, that China has at least 1,274 immediately deliverable nuclear warheads – without counting ANY of China’s SRBMs or GLCMs as nuclear-armed. In any case, it is a blatant lie to claim China has only 250 warheads when China’s airforce alone has at least 440 nuclear bombs for its strike aircraft, a fact acknowledged by General Yesin.
Not only that, China is rapidly modernizing all three legs of its nuclear triad. It is now introducing new DF-41 ICBMs, DF-25 MRBMs, and a sixth Jin class ballistic missile sub, and bombing
So no, America WILL NOT be able to maintain nuclear deterrence against either Russia and China if Obama gets to cut America’s arsenal further. Any claim to the contrary is a blatant lie.
And anyone claiming that, with a mere 1,000 warheads, the US will be able to deter “any current or future adversary” is a fool or a congenital liar. How can anyone predict what capabilities and how many weapons will future adversaries have?
Nobody can accurately predict that. Nobody knows what the future holds.
Yet, the mission of America’s nuclear deterrent is to protect America and over 30 allies not just against the threats of today, but also those of the future. The larger your nuclear arsenal, the larger your margin of safety is.
Nobody who claims to support nuclear deterrence or to be concerned about current security and deterrence requirements can support further cuts in America’s deterrent. Cutting it – and thus weakening the US military – will only gravely undermine deterrence and US and allied security.
In addition, Russia is blatantly violating the INF Treaty by developing and testing an IRBM, and also violating the CFE Treaty! How can we trust Russia to comply with New START and reciprocate the newest cuts proposed Obama when Russia is not complying with existing arms reduction treaties? We can’t!
Yet, the WSJ screed further quotes disarmament supporters (and only them):
“”Action by the president to achieve further cuts to the Cold War nuclear arsenal is overdue and in our national security interest,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.”
Those are also blatant lies. As I have demonstrated above, if Obama cuts America’s barely-adequate nuclear arsenal further, the US will no longer be able to deter Russia and China, both of whom retain large nuclear arsenals, which they are growing, not cutting. Obama’s nuclear deterrent cuts will imperil America’s and its allies’ security.
Cutting America’s nuclear deterrent is absolutely AGAINST America’s national security interest and is not “overdue” – it should never happen.
Moreover, Kimball – whose organization is funded by a plethora of extremely leftist groups to propagandize on behalf of disarming America unilaterally and is PAID TO LIE for the sake of disarming America – has shown he (like his bundlers) completely rejects any notion of peace through strength and subscribes to a notion of peace through weakness.
Of course, his claims – and the notions on which they’re based – are utterly wrong. It is military STRENGTH, not weakness, that brings about national security and peace. Weakness, including cutting one’s own nuclear deterrent, only brings about aggression, war, death, and destruction – as the US and numerous other countries have experienced throughout history.
The WSJ also claims that:
“Advocates of cuts say they would help save money as the Pentagon struggles to cope with deep, automatic spending cuts.
A 2013 assessment by the Arms Control Association estimated that the U.S. could save $58 billion over the next decade by reducing its nuclear force to 1,000 or fewer strategic deployed nuclear warheads.”
But those claims are also utterly false. Cutting the nuclear deterrent would “save” only pennies and thus would not help the DOD cope with deep defense budget cuts at all – while inviting a Russian or Chinese nuclear first strike.
The ACA’s own $58 billion figure is not only vastly exaggerated, but also decennial: it talks about “savings” over 10 years. divided by 10 years is just $5.8 bn per year – only a drop in the bucket. Remember that under sequestration, the DOD is obligated to cut its budget by a whopping $55 bn EVERY YEAR.
The cuts Obama and the ACA would save close to nothing – while gutting America’s nuclear deterrent.
The WSJ article (not people quoted in it, but the article’s authors themselves) claims that:
“Calling for a significant cut in the size of the nuclear arsenal will lend Mr. Obama’s remarks historical significance.”
But if these remarks will have any historical significance, it will be because his speech will go down as one of the most shameful moments in American history – when a sitting US president blatantly lied and called for unilaterally disarming his own country.
The WSJ article also falsely claims that:
“Mr. Obama has made reducing the size of global nuclear arsenals a priority of his administration, but the effort stalled after the 2010 treaty. Mr. Obama struggled to get the treaty ratified. Republicans in Congress demanded a costly nuclear-modernization program and have made clear they oppose additional warhead reductions.”
Oh, those dastardly Congressional Republicans! How dare they demand that what is left of America’s arsenal is modernized instead of atrophying through neglect!
The fact is that the modernization Republicans demanded would not be costly at all. Modernizing the B61 warhead will cost only 10 bn over several years, for example. A new ICBM could cost only 70 mn.
The real reason why Obama’s effort to “reduce the size of global nuclear arsenals” has stalled is because NOBODY except Obama’s America wants to disarm themselves. Not Russia, which rejected Obama’s arsenal cuts proposal shortly after it was made. Not China, which refuses to even talk about its arsenal, let alone accept any limitations on it. Not North Korea, which continues to grow and perfect its nuclear arsenal and threaten the US and its allies. Not India and Pakistan, hostile to each other and desiring to retain their nukes. Not Israel, which is surrounded by enemies on all sides. Not even Britain or France, whose nuclear arsenals’ importance will only grow as America cuts its own.
THAT is why Obama’s effort has gone nowhere – because nobody else is crazy enough to disarm themselves.
There will NEVER be a world without nuclear weapons. NEVER. Obama will never succeed in getting other nations to disarm themselves – because nobody else is crazy enough to do so.
And the reason why Obama “struggled” to get New START ratified is because it was never, and is not, in America’s national interests – it undermines US national security, contains dozens of huge loopholes, and allows Russia to build up its nuclear arsenal – which it has been doing since New START ratification.
The WSJ also falsely claims that Obama can make further cuts in America’s nuclear deterrent without any Congressional oversight:
“Nuclear-arms experts said Mr. Obama doesn’t need to wait for a formal follow-on treaty to move on new reductions. The two presidents instead could achieve similar results, more rapidly, through parallel, reciprocal reductions of strategic warheads to well below 1,000 within the next five years. (…)
… the White House hasn’t ruled out an alternative approach of seeking parallel, reciprocal reductions that could be undertaken by both governments without a treaty, eliminating the need for Senate ratification.”
That is also patently false. Section 2573 of Title 22 of the US Code states that ANY agreement limiting the US armed forces, armaments, or weapon inventories must be drafted as a treaty and thus submitted to the Senate for ratification. No ifs, no buts, no ands. Obama is obligated by law to submit such agreement to the Senate.
Thus, any cuts Obama makes to America’s nuclear deterrent without a formal Senate-approved treaty would be utterly illegal and grounds for impeachment, in addition to being treasonous.
Moreover, without a treaty and a strong verification protocol, such cuts would be utterly unverifiable, making it highly likely that Russia would cheat and not make any cuts at all. Historically, Moscow has NEVER complied with any arms reduction treaties it has signed.
The WSJ screed is irredeemably biased
But the numerous blatant lies stated in the article aren’t the only reason why it’s a scandalous screed. It’s also because the authors, clearly taking sides, quoted only ONE side of the issue – the side favoring further cuts in America’s arsenal – while not asking any opponents of further cuts to voice their opinion. Nobody from the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy, the Hudson Institute, the NIPP, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, or any other non-extremely-leftist institution has been asked to comment.
Nor does the article cite any arguments against the cuts, even though there are many. The article barely mentions the concerns of some of America’s allies:
“Some European officials voiced concerns that Russia won’t reciprocate with equal warhead reductions and will balk at cutting its tactical-nuclear-weapons arsenal. Russia maintains some 2,000 tactical nuclear bombs, many of which are on obsolete naval and air-defense systems, according to an analysis by the Arms Control Association, which advocates for reductions in the nuclear arsenal. The U.S., in turn, keeps 180 aircraft-delivered nuclear bombs in Europe.”
And by gushing about the speech’s “historical significance”, the authors clearly betrayed their bias in favor of the deep cuts Obama plans to make.
In short, their screed is irredeemably biased, highly misleading, contains a litany of blatant lies, and clearly serves only one purpose: to brainwash the public into supporting Obama’s unilateral disarmament of America.
EDIT: To be fair, the WSJ’s editors, by contrast, penned an editorial criticizing Barack Obama’s disarmament plans and pointing out – quite rightly – that his legacy will be a world with more nuclear weapons and more nuclear-armed states in it.