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Rebuttal of Robert Burns’ blatant lies about ICBMs

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The leftist Associated Press has recently published (and the military.com foolishly republished) yet  another litany of blatant lies about nuclear weapons by its resident anti-nuclear and anti-defense hack, Robert Burns, whose previous leftist screeds on this issue have already been refuted several times here and once even by the US Air Force.

Burns, like AP itself and the Left in general, aims to mislead the public into believing that nuclear weapons are obsolete and useless, overly expensive, and a Cold War relic, and that Barack Obama will succeed in creating a “nuclear-free world.”

In his latest screet, Burns falsely claims that:

1) America’s ICBM fleet in particular and nuclear weapons in general are useless against the threats of the 21st century, which he claims are “terrorism”, “cyberattacks”, and nuclear proliferation to North Korea and Iran.

2) Nuclear weapons are too expensive as their maintenance & modernization will cost $132 bn over the next decade.

3) There is a “clear trend” of the US doing away with nuclear weapons, including ICBMs, and Obama has laid out a “clear vision” of a world without nuclear weapons.

4) In his latest research paper on the US nuclear triad, Evan B. Montgomery of the CSBA has questioned the ICBM fleet’s usefulness.

5) There is also a true claim in his screed: that America’s ICBM fleet is old, aging out of service, in decline, and service with it is not even appreciated, let alone prestigeous.

Let’s deal with each of his claims in turn.

Ad. 1. Contrary to Burns’ and other anti-nuclear hacks’ lies, nuclear weapons are, and will be, ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to confronting the biggest security threats of the 21st century. That’s because the four biggest threats to America’s and allies’ security, and indeed the worlds, are (and will continue to be) Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran – four state actors. The two biggest threats to US, allied, and global security by far are Russia and China – hands down. There are plenty of security threats out there, but none of them come even close to being as grave as Moscow and Beijing – two authoritarian, expansionist, increasingly aggressive and nationalist, and militarist regimes. Just recently, for example, Moscow deployed nuclear-armed ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad, on Poland’s border, while China created an illegitimate ADIZ in the Western Pacific and created a standoff with the US Navy.

B0th Russia and China have large nuclear arsenals – Russia has between 6,800 and 8,800 nuclear weapons (including 2,800 strategic warheads, deployed and nondeployed), and China has between 1,600 and 3,000 (according to General Viktor Yesin and Professor Philip Karber, respectively). Both of them are growing and modernizing, not cutting, their nuclear arsenals.

Russia is now developing or deploying several new multi-warhead ICBM types: the Yars, the Rubezh, the Sarmat (AKA Son of Satan), the Avangard, and a pseudo-ICBM with a notional 6,000 km range. It has also ordered over 200 new SLBMs for its Navy’s ballistic missile subs and is developing a new nuclear-capable bomber.

China is now producing and deploying two new ICBM types, the DF-31A and the DF-41, as well as two new MRBM types (the DF-21 and DF-25), a new SLBM type (the JL-2, with a range of at least 8,000 kms), two new SSBN classes, and is developing an intercontinental nuclear-capable bomber.

Against these adversaries, only nuclear weapons can provide credible deterrence. No amount of conventional weapons and missile defenses (and Barack Obama is cutting both) can substitute for them.

ICBMs, in particular, are very useful as they are by far the most ready (a 99% readiness rate), most responsible, cheapest (annual cost to maintain: $1.1 bn), and a very survivable leg of the nuclear triad (they sit in hardened siloes and a dispersed and many in number, so destroying all of them on the ground would require at least 900 warheads – something only Russia can currently do).

As for North Korea and Iran, one of them is a nuclear power (and a very aggressive one at that, as it proved earlier this year), and the other is well on its way to becoming one. Again, versus such adversaries, ONLY nuclear weapons can provide credible deterrence: conventional weapons and missile defenses never can. Period. So the US now has to deter three (soon to be four) nuclear-armed adversaries, whereas in the Cold War, it had to deter only the Soviet Union. Additionally, the US now has to provide a nuclear umbrella not only to itself and 11 Western European allies, but to over 30 allies who depend on it for their security and survival – many of whom ill acquire their own nuclear weapons if the US nuclear arsenal is cut further.

The truth is that the need for US nuclear weapons – and ICBMs – has never been greater. They are needed and relevant now more than ever. And USAF missileers’ service is important, and deserves appreciation, now more than ever.

Ad. 2. No, nuclear weapons are not too expensive, Quite the contrary; they are cheap. The $132 bn figure that Burns quotes, which comes from the CBO, is a decennial figure, meaning it is spread over a decade. It refers to the cost of maintaining the nuclear triad over a decade. Per one year, this works out to only $13.2 bn – less than 3% of the total military budget and a fraction of the total federal budget (not to mention the economy).

Ad. 3. Obama has not laid out a “vision” of a world without nuclear weapons – only his utterly unrealistic, unachievable, childish fantasy of such a world – which will never exist unless even more powerful weapons are invented. The only country he can verifiably disarm is America itself. Nobody else is disarming themselves – not Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, India, Israel, France, or Britain. All of them are modernizing and/or growing (all but France and Britain) their nuclear arsenals. Moreover, Iran and Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest Shia and Sunni Muslim power, respectively, are racing towards the nuclear club. According to the BBC, Saudi Arabia has ordered nuclear weapons in Pakistan.

So only the US, under Barack Obama, is and has been disarming itself – and it’s a foolish, utterly suicidal policy that should be immediately scrapped, not continued.

Ad. 4. Montgomery (a nuclear affairs analyst with the CSBA) has NEVER questioned the utility of America’s ICBMs. Not in his Dec. 5th report. Not ever. Burns is completely misrepresenting what Montgomery wrote.

What the CSBA analyst DID write (and I’ve read his entire report from the beginning to the end; I even have a copy on my Android) was that many people (ignorant people, I might add) are questioning ICBMs’ utility and survivability – but Montgomery is not. In fact, he praises ICBMs for their low cost, their ability to absorb even large-scale nuclear strikes (because America has 450 of them), and their very high (ca. 99%) readiness rate and thus responsiveness in case of any WMD strike on America or its allies.

In fact, in his report, Montgomery (rightly) advocates retaining, modernizing, and replacing ALL three legs of the nuclear triad, including the ICBM fleet.

As a professional liar, Burns has been caught blatantly lying once again – this time, totally misrepresenting what someone else has said.

Ad. 5. The claim that USAF missileers are frustrated and feel unappreciated, and that their occupational specialty is no longer prestigeous, is actually true – and the only true claim in Burns’s article.

But this is wrong. It is wrong and unjust that missileers are treated this way, that they are unappreciated and ignored as if their service didn’t matter. For, as I demonstrated above, their service and their “tools of trade” are more important now than ever before. There hasn’t been a time since the Cuban Missile Crisis when their service could be more crucial to America’s, its allies’, and the world’s security. They, together with Airmen operating the strategic bomber fleet and sailors operating the SSBN fleet, are the free world’s ONLY deterrent against nuclear, chemical, ballistic missile, or large-scale conventional attack; effectively, the free world’s only meaningful deterrent against aggression and coercion. Everyday, they keep the free world safe from two major nuclear adversaries – Russia and China – as well as North Korea and Iran. Their mission – nuclear deterrence – is more important now than ever.

Shame on Burns for lying so blatantly yet again, and shame on the Associated Press for publishing, and on military.com for republishing, his litany of blatant lies.

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