The Left never ceases to make attacks on what makes America great and strong – including its military power. And by far the most important and powerful component of America’s military power is its nuclear deterrent. Hence, it is the #1 target in the Left’s crosshairs as it seeks to disarm America unilaterally – gutting both its conventional and strategic arsenals, as well as missile defense.
But of course openly seeking to disarm America for its own sake – and to expose it to danger – would be rejected by most Americans. So to get the public to accept unilateral disarmament, the Left has made up a plethora of lies: that it will supposedly make America and the world more secure and peaceful, that others will follow suit and disarm themselves, that lots of money will be saved, that terrorists will be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons, that America’s “moral leadership” will encourage the “world community” to pressure North Korea and Iran into forgoing nukes… There’s seemingly no end to these Leftist fantasies.
I wonder if they’ll also claim that scrapping America’s nukes will solve the problem of obesity in America.
Let’s review the most popular Leftist lies about America’s nuclear arsenal and see if any of them have even a grain of truth.
1. Myth: “Cutting America’s nuclear arsenal, per se, will make America and the world more secure and peaceful. Less is more. Less is inherently better.”
Fact: On the contrary, it would make America and the world less secure and peaceful. It would weaken America’s deterrent against the gravest threats to US, allied, and world security – nuclear, chemical, biological, and ballistic missile attack, against which nothing else can protect (except, to a limited extent, missile defense). It would thus encourage such attacks by America’s adversaries, for whom the consequences of such attack – because of cuts in America’s deterrent – would be much smaller than when America’s nuclear arsenal is large.
To be secure, you MUST have a large nuclear arsenal – at least as large as that of your biggest adversary. This is because:
1) it needs to be big enough to survive an adversary’s first strike, thus deterring him from attempting one in the first place; and
2) it needs to be big enough to hold the vast majority of an enemy’s assets at risk – and there are thousands of such targets that need to be held at risk.
The more nuclear weapons America has, the safer she and her allies are and the more peaceful the world is. It is STRENGTH, not WEAKNESS, that ensures peace and security.
Just ask yourself: has the world gotten more secure and peaceful over the last 21 years, while America has cut her nuclear by over 75%? Of course not. Russia has rebounded, China has become a superpower, multiple rogue states have become grave threats (and are developing nuclear weapons), and multiple wars have engulfed the world.
2. Myth: “It will entice other countries, e.g. Russia and China, to cut and eventually eliminate their own nuclear arsenals.”
Fact: Quite the contrary, there is abundant evidence that they’d only increase, not cut, their nuclear arsenals. As even Jimmy Carter’s SECDEF, Harold Brown, has said, “When we build, they build. When we cut, they build.” He has called nuclear disarmament a fantasy.
Under New START, Russia has INCREASED, not cut, its nuclear arsenal – as it is allowed to, because New START only requires America to cut its arsenal. Previous unilateral American cuts have also failed to entice Russia to reciprocate. The only time Moscow has cut anything was under the old START treaty, signed in 1991. Now it is GROWING its nuclear arsenal and developing intermediate range missiles in violation of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Meanwhile, China, North Korea, and Pakistan, not bound by any treaty, have indeed GROWN their nuclear arsenals since then – China to as many as 3,000 warheads!
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 by Obama when Russia is not complying with existing arms reduction treaties? We can’t!
3. Myth: “It will show America’s “moral leadership” and “moral example” to “the world community” and encourage it to heavily and successfully pressure North Korea and Iran to forego nuclear weapons.”
Fact: On the contrary, there is abundant evidence the world wouldn’t apply sufficient pressure on North Korea and Iran. And of course, these countries, by themselves, will not be impressed by America’s useless “moral example”. How do we know that?
Because we’ve already tried the Left’s useless, suicidal “arms control” policies and they have utterly failed. Since 1991, America has cut its nuclear arsenal by over 75%, from over 20,000 warheads to just 5,000 today – and has unilaterally withdrawn tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea, ships, and submarines, and unilaterally scrapped its most powerful ICBMs, the Peacekeepers.
Yet, the “world community” has utterly failed to significantly pressure North Korea and Iran – who, to this day, have or pursue nuclear weapons (and North Korea intends to grow its arsenal). Iran even recently opened a heavy-water facility that will enable it to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
Why has the “world community” failed to apply meaningful pressure? Because there is no such thing as a unified “world community”! (Despite the Chicago community organizer’s fantasies and those of Ploughshares’ Joe Cirincione.) America’s allies, including the Gulf states, Israel, Japan, and South Korea, have always supported strong pressure against Iran and North Korea, and they’d support such pressure regardless of what the US would’ve done.
(In fact, allies are more likely to back the US and be content with mere “pressure” and sanctions if the US provides a large, strong nuclear umbrella to them, and much less likely to back the US if it continues to cut its nuclear deterrent – which will force them to develop their own nuclear arsenals.)
It is America’s adversaries, Russia and China, who shield those regimes from meaningful pressure. And cutting America’s nuclear deterrent won’t impress them at all – it will only make them even MORE unwilling to influence Iran and North Korea, because an America with fewer nuclear weapons is a militarily weaker America (thus fewer reasons to fear it).
4. Myth: “It will lead to a world without nuclear weapons, which is both desirable and achievable.”
Fact: A world without nuclear weapons is neither desirable nor achievable. There is ZERO chance of there ever being a world without nukes. Russia and China have large and growing arsenals – and are growing and modernizing them. Russia is developing an IRBM in violation of the INF Treaty. North Korea, already wielding nukes, intends to grow it (and has the facilities to do so) – and frequently threatens nuclear war. Iran is well on its way to the nuclear club. Worried about Iran, the Gulf states are seriously considering “going nuclear.” Besides them, India, Pakistan, and Israel all have nuclear weapons and refuse to discuss, let alone scrap, them.
As SIPRI recently admitted, no nuclear power is willing to scrap, or even stop modernizing, its nuclear arsenal. (Other than Obama’s America, that is.) SIPRI’s Hans Kristensen speaks of “rampant modernization” of the arsenals of all nuclear powers.
Moreover, Russia claims her nuclear weapons are “a sacred issue” and utterly refuses to scrap or even cut them. It accords them absolute priority in its military doctrine and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first, even if its adversary doesn’t have nuclear weapons.
The goal of “a world without nuclear weapons” isn’t just “distant”; it’s utterly unrealistic and ridiculous.
The world is not “moving towards nuclear zero”; it isn’t even on the beginning of the road to nuclear zero, and never will be. The world (other than Obama’s America) is going in the EXACTLY OPPOSITE direction: more nuclear weapons and more nuclear-armed states.
Barack Obama’s legacy will not be “a world without nuclear weapons”, or even a planet going in that direction. Barack Obama’s legacy will be a planet going in the exactly opposite direction, and quite possibly, a nuclear-armed Iran.
So there is ZERO chance of there ever being a world without nuclear weapons. A world with unicorns is more likely.
Nor would such a world be desirable. Nuclear weapons should be liked, not hated, because they’ve prevented any war between the major powers since their inception in 1945. They have a superb, stellar record in deterring enemies and preventing war – a record no other weapon system can claim.
And as Sun Tzu taught, the acme of military skill is to win without fighting.
Humanity lived through “Global Zero” – in a world without nukes – for almost its entire history from its dawn to 1945. During that time, there were numerous and horribly destructive wars between the great powers of the time, each one leading to huge casualties among combatants and civilians and to great destruction. Examples included the Peloponesian war, Rome’s wars of conquest, the Hundred Years War, the Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War, the Seven Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, and of course, the two World Wars. Not to mention the numerous bloody civil wars such as those in the US (1861-1865) and Russia (1918-1923).
5 million people, including 1 million Frenchmen, died in the Napoleonic Wars. Proportionally to the populations of today, that would be 50 million Europeans, including 10 million Frenchmen. French casualties in these wars were 14% higher than in WW1. In that war alone, about 10 million people died; in World War 2, over 60 million, and its perpetrators attempted the extermination of entire nations (peoples) and even races. The sheer barbarity and murder witnessed during that war is unmatched by any conflict before or after that war.
Since 1945, however – the advent of nuclear weapons – there has been NO war between the great powers. And it is mostly, if not entirely, because of nuclear weapons, which have moderated their behavior and forced them to accept coexistence with each other even if they have diametrically opposed ideologies. Nuclear weapons have taught them that even the most difficult compromise is better than a nuclear exchange.
5. Myth: “It will prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Fact: This claim is so ridiculous, it’s laughable. Scrapping America’s deterrent will do nothing to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons. They can’t steal American weapons, because these are too well protected. And scrapping America’s nuclear arsenal, as proven above (and by real life experience), will do nothing to entice other countries to give up their nukes, nor prevent terrorists from stealing such weapons or buying them on the black market (if it’s possible).
Besides, having a nuclear warhead is not enough. One must also have a delivery system – a missile or aircraft and mate the two. That is too difficult for terrorists.
6. Myth: “America’s nuclear arsenal is too expensive and not worth the cost of maintaining it. And it siphons money away from other defense programs.”
Fact: America’s nuclear deterrent is one of the cheapest parts of its defenses. It costs only 6% of America’s annual budget, thus giving taxpayers a great return on investment – namely, peace and security from the gravest military threats of this world: nuclear, biological, chemical, and ballistic missile attack.
The ICBM leg of the nuclear triad – the cheapest, most ready, most responsive, and most dispersed leg – costs only $1.1 bn per year to maintain; the bomber leg costs only $2.5 bn per year. The entire nuclear arsenal, including all the warheads, missiles, bombers, submarines, supporting facilities, and personnel costs only $32-38 bn per year to maintain, which is only 6.3% of the entire military budget ($611 bn in FY2013, pre-sequestration).
Numbers don’t lie; liberals do.
For that low cost, taxpayers get a large, diverse, survivable nuclear triad capable of surviving even a large-scale first strike and of striking anywhere in the world with any needed measure of power. A triad that gives the President huge flexibility in where, when, and how to strike; a triad that keeps the enemy guessing as to how the US would retaliate.
No, the nuclear deterrent is not siphoning money away from other defense programs. It is certain other, far more expensive defense programs – notably the Junk Strike Fighter and $13.5-billion-per-copy aircraft carriers – that are siphoning it.
7. Myth: “America’s nuclear deterrent is a relic of the Cold War irrelevant to the current security environment.”
Fact: Nuclear weapons are HIGHLY RELEVANT in the 21st century security environment. They protect America and all of its allies against the following three, potentially catastrophic, security threats: a nuclear/chemical/biological attack, a large-scale conventional attack, and nuclear proliferation.
The US nuclear arsenal is the most effective counter-proliferation program ever created. It has discouraged all of America’s allies except Britain and France from developing nuclear weapons, reassuring them that they don’t need to do so because the US provides a powerful nuclear umbrella to them. Such an umbrella is ESPECIALLY needed now – more than ever – given the nuclear threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.
Russia has 2,800 strategic nuclear warheads (including 1,550 deployed) and up to 4,000 tactical warheads – and the means to deliver all 6,800 if need be. Its 434 ICBMs can collectively deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; its 14 ballistic missile submarines can deliver over 2,200 warheads to the CONUS (while sitting in their ports); and each of its 251 strategic bombers can carry up to 7 warheads (1 freefall bomb and 6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles). Its Tu-95 bomber fleet alone can deliver over 700 warheads to the middle of America.
China has at least 1,800, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, and the means to deliver 1,274 of them. Among these are almost 70 ICBMs, 120 MRBMs, over 1,600 SRBMs, dozens of land-attack cruise missiles, six ballistic missile submarines, and 440 nuclear-capable aircraft. While the vast majority of its SRBMs and cruise missiles are reportedly conventionally-armed at present, they could be armed with nuclear weapons anytime, which is called “breakout capability.”
Then there’s North Korea with its nuclear arsenal (which it has announced it will grow) and ICBMs capable of reaching the US, and Iran, which is coming closer to achieving nuclear weapon status everyday. Only nuclear weapons can protect America against these threats. So they are HIGHLY RELEVANT in the 21st century.
Besides deterring nuclear attack, nuclear weapons also protect America’s treaty allies against a large-scale conventional attack – ensuring that it has never happened so far.
8. Myth: “A small nuclear deterrent (minimum deterrence) will suffice; we don’t need a large arsenal. Our arsenal is too big right now.”
Fact: A small nuclear arsenal will not suffice. Not even close. A small arsenal would be very easy to destroy in a first strike – as there would be far fewer targets for the enemy to destroy – thus stripping America of her nuclear retaliatory power. As Robert Kaplan rightly writes, “Never give your adversary too few problems to solve, because if you do, he’ll solve them.”
Destroying a US arsenal of only 300, 400, or even 800 weapons and a few submarines and bombers would be far easier for Russia and China than destroying America’s current arsenal.
It would also be, in and of itself, due to its small size, unable to threaten any credible retaliation because of too few weapons.
Why? Because, with a small arsenal, the US could threaten only a small number of Russia’s and China’s assets (such as military bases or weapon production plants). Yet, both Russia and China have thousands of assets that America must be able to strike in retaliation – and that doesn’t include North Korea and Iran. The 1,550 deployed strategic warhead ceiling is the absolute minimum needed to threaten credible retaliation against Russia and China. The Heritage Foundation estimates the US needs to have between 2,700-3,000 deployed warheads. The explanation why, and a simple discussion of the principles, the “mechanics”, and the needs of nuclear deterrence are here. Also please see my article here. Also see here.
May I remind you that Russia has between 6,800 and 8,800, and China has between 1,600-3,000, nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver all of them?
Thus, all leftist lies about America’s nuclear weapons have been utterly refuted once again. There isn’t even a kernel of truth in them. They’re all blatant lies.
Footnotes: Former DOD chief nuclear strategist Dr Philip Karber estimates China has up to 3,000 nuclear weapons, mostly hidden in its vast, 3,000-mile-long network of tunnels and bunkers. Retired Russian missile force general Viktor Yesin estimates China’s arsenal more conservatively at 1,600-1,800 warheads.  While South Korea was somewhat hesitant to pressure the North under Presidents Kim and Rooh, that era is long over; current President Park is fed up with North Korea’s incessant threats.  Israel, of course, has good reasons to have a nuclear deterrent, as does America.