Author Archives: Zbigniew Mazurak

What military capabilities will be crucial in the years ahead

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Although it’s hard to predict what the world will look like ten or twenty years from now, we can say with certainty that it will be even more dangerous than it is today and that the existing threats to US national security – Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, etc. – will grow even worse over time.

That being the case, it is time to completely cancel and reverse the sequestration of the US defense budget, to fund the US military properly, and to think what capabilities (and thus weapon systems, as well as skills for personnel) will it need in the future.

These capabilities cannot be chosen in a vacuum; they need to be oriented towards defeating the potential adversaries of the US: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and the various terrorist organizations they support.

#1: Nuclear deterrence; and #2, ballistic missile defense

The biggest threat to US national security by far is that of a nuclear, chemical, biological, or ballistic missile attack by a peer adversary (Russia, China) or a rogue state (North Korea, Iran), because the consequences of failing to deter and prevent such an attack would be far graver than any other kind of attack. Even one nuclear warhead detonating over an American city or major military base would be worse than the sinking of 10 US warships.

Russia alone has 434 ICBMs, 251 intercontinental bombers, and 13 ballistic missile subs. The submarines alone can deliver over 2,000 warheads to the CONUS, while its ICBMs can deliver 1,684. China also has a large nuclear arsenal: between 1,600 and 3,000 warheads, as well as at least 87 ICBMs, 120-160 strategic bombers, and 6 ballistic missile subs. China can deliver hundreds of warheads to the US, and would gladly nuke American cities and major military bases if it could get away with it without American retaliation, as official Chinese media have recently noted. Deterring these adversaries, and providing a nuclear umbrella to over 30 allies of the US, requires a large nuclear arsenal; a small one will not suffice.

As for ballistic missiles, over 30 countries possess them today, and these missiles’ accuracy, range, and payload – especially in China’s Iran’s, and North Korea’s case – is growing fast.

Accordingly, defending against these threats must be the US government’s #1 priority. This requires maintaining the US nuclear arsenal at NO LESS than its current size and modernizing all three legs of the nuclear triad (bombers, ICBMs, submarines) as well as the supporting plutonium- and uranium-producing facilities.

Additionally, it requires deploying a comprehensive missile defense system to protect the homeland and US bases overseas from ballistic missile attack. If you can’t protect the homeland, you are out of the power-projection game, period.

#3: Long-range strike

Although ballistic missiles and their payloads are a significant threat in and of themselves, they are but a part of America’s adversaries anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) arsenals of weapons designed to keep the US military out of crucial world regions (such as the Pacific Rim and the Middle East) – to prevent the US military from even being present, let alone operating and winning battles, there.

Ballistic (and cruise) missiles, as well as enemy strike aircraft, pose a large threat to US forward bases abroad, including in those regions (and to American carrier battle groups) – and the US is currently heavily dependend on these. The US must therefore dramatically reduce its dependence on overseas bases (and on theater-range platforms operating from them, such as tactical strike aircraft) and begin to quickly develop and deploy a family of long-range strike systems.

These must include a stealthy long-range bomber, a new tanker, conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) weapons (preferrably missiles), the Virginia Payload Module for Virginia class submarines, and stealthy-long range jammer and naval strike aircraft (preferrably unmanned).

The centerpiece of this must be the long-range strike bomber, of which at least 100, and preferrably 200 or more, should be built.

#4:  Anti-submarine warfare

America’s potential adversaries around the world all operate a large number of submarines. Russia has 43, China has 63-64, and Iran has at least three. North Korea operates a large fleet of midget submarines that could perform suicide, intelligence, or commando infiltration/exfiltration missions. Russia’s, China’s, and Iran’s submarines can launch a wide range of weapons, including, and most worryingly, SS-N-27 Sizzler anti-ship missiles.

Yet, the USN’s anti-sub warfare capabilities have declined dramatically since 9/11. All S-3 Viking ASW aircraft have been retired, the number and condition of P-3 Orions has declined badly, and P-8 Poseidons are just beignning to tnter service. USN personnel’s skills have also plummeted. In recent years, the USN has held ASW exercises with numerous allied nations bringing their quiet diesel-electric subs to bear.  The USN FAILED to find these subs in EACH exercise.

If those exercises had been real combat, all USN aircraft carriers would’ve been at the bottom of the sea right now.

ASW must start being treated as a priority, not as an afterthought. More submarines and more P-8 aircraft must be built, P-3 Orions’ service lives must be extended or zero-timed, enough spares should be brought in from AMARC, and USN personnel must be trained properly in ASW.

#5: Demining

China alone has about 100,000 naval mines; North Korea, Iran, and Russia have further thousands. Iran could easily close the Strait of Hormuz simply by mining it. Yet, demining has been an afterthought for the USN until recently, with the US relying on allies to do most of the work.

As a result, the much smaller French Navy has only two demining vessels fewer (11) than the USN (13), and the (also much smaller) UK Royal Navy has 15 – more than the USN! While the US should continue to ensure that allies continue to provide these crucial assets when need be, it also needs its own, proper demining ship fleet with personnel specialized in this kind of work. This would be cheap, and could easily be paid for by cancelling the LCS program.

#6: Air superiority

Air superiority is and will continue to be crucial for winning wars. If you don’t control the skies, you’ll lose. Additionally, it is much better to kill the archer than the arrows – to shoot down a missile-launching plane than try to intercept the missiles.

To do that, the USAF needs a dedicated air superiority platform. The best choice by far would be resuming F-22 Raptor production, prematurely terminated for purely political purposes 2009 at a paltry 187 aircraft. Alternatively, the USAF could procure several hundred F-15SE Silent Eagles, a new variant of the F-15 Eagle. This (and all other capabilities listed herein) could easily paid for by cancelling the ridiculous, egregiously over budget F-35 Junk Strike Fighter program. Additionally, the USAF should train with, and fly simulated combat against, Su-30 operators such as India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, as this is the mainstay fighter of the Russian and Chinese air force.

Conclusion

Because the sequester will likely remain the law for several years to come, and thus resources will be ever more scarce, the DOD won’t be able to get everything it wants or needs. Tradeoffs are inevitable.

It is therefore important to make the right tradeoffs – to maintain and even increase investments in the crucial capabilities, weapon systems, and human skills listed above, while scaling back those that will be less relevant in future threat environments. Nuclear deterrence must remain the first priority, because the nuclear threat to the US and its allies will only grow in the years and decades ahead, but several other key capabilities also receive priority status to prevail over the most dangerous threats of the 21st century.

Rebuttal of WSJ’s lies on defense spending

On December 3rd, the Wall Street Journal published a “Review and Outlook” article which was essentially a litany of lies on defense spending and American politics based on utterly false budget numbers. In it, the WSJ urged defense conservatives in Congress and House Appropriators not to break the Budget Control Act’s extremely low caps on defense spending and to keep the sequester mechanism, even though it is gutting the US military.

The WSJ falsely claims:

“The main obstacle to GOP political gains in 2014 would be another stupid, futile budget standoff—and Republicans are just the party to try.

This time the insurrection isn’t coming from the Heritage Foundation-tea party caucus, but from defense hawks and appropriators who want to break the annual spending caps in current law. This would be another act of political masochism, handing budget leverage to Senate Democrats and frustrating the GOP’s fiscal conservative base.

The defense rebellion is led by Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, who wants Congress to cancel the $20 billion Pentagon spending cut for fiscal 2014. Many of the 34 Republicans on his committee are threatening to vote against a fiscal 2014 budget that keeps the caps and automatic sequester in place. (…)

Republicans would be wiser to stick to the Budget and Control Act’s spending caps, which have been highly effective in controlling discretionary spending. (…) The appropriators and defense hawks exaggerate how severe the cuts are. The budget caps forced deep cutbacks in fiscal 2012 and 2013, but those were off the inflated spending baselines from Mr. Obama’s first two years in office. The nearby table shows that after 2014 the caps start to rise again and merely require slower than usual spending increases. Domestic spending increases by $88 billion, or 19%, from 2014 to 2021. Defense spending in particular takes a hit in 2014 but increases in 2015 and keeps rising by $92 billion to $590 billion, or 18%, in 2021.”

All of the WSJ’s claims are blatant lies.

Firstly, contrary to their utterly false claims, under sequestration defense spending will NOT rise to $590 bn, or anything close to that, in FY2021, or at any point in the next few decades for that matter. They’re using utterly false nominal dollar figures, i.e. ones NOT adjusted for inflation – which renders these figures utterly false and meaningless. Inflation is a serious problem in the US (mainly thanks to the Fed’s “Quantitative Easing”), and it erodes the dollar’s value over time.

(What’s worse, the WSJ uses the liberal “Committee for a Reponsible Federal Budget”, a far-left group, as a source.)

In REAL TERMS, i.e. inflation-adjusted dollars, defense spending won’t even reach $500 bn by FY2021, nor for several years afterwards! By FY2022, it will still be at a very low $493 bn in real terms. (Figures from the CBO’s July 11th, 2012 on the nation’s fiscal outlook and the sequester’s fiscal consequences.)

I repeat: in FY2022, eight years from now, defense spending will STILL be below $500 – and nowhere close to $590 bn – at a paltry $493 bn. (See the graph below.)

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And the defense spending cuts that occurred in 2012 and 2013 were NOT, by any means, cuts from an “inflated baseline” – they were real-term spending cuts. In FY2013, virtually overnight, the DOD had to cut its budget from $525 bn to $469 bn, i.e. by $66 bn (this was later softened to $37 bn by Congress). This fiscal year, because of sequestration, the DOD has to cut its budget all the way down to $475 bn. These cuts ARE very severe, and they amount to far more than the mere $20 bn the WSJ claims.

By the way, the WSJ is completely contradicting itself. It falsely claims that the sequester’s cuts are merely cuts to federal spending growth and further claims that “Mr. Obama calls this overall spending increase of about $800 billion a “cut” because of the annual automatic baseline increases that Washington invented to ensure that spending always rises.”

But just a few paragraphs earlier, the WSJ says (this time correctly) that the sequester is a real spending cut:

“Federal outlays declined to $3.45 trillion and 20.8% of GDP in fiscal 2013 from $3.6 trillion and 24.1% of GDP in 2011. In 2010 discretionary spending peaked at 9.4% of GDP, but in 2013 it was down to 7.6% and in 2014 will fall to 7%.”

So which is it, WSJ editors? Is the sequester a real spending cut or not? You can’t have it both ways.

And these are NOT the first cuts to defense under Barack Obama. He targeted defense for big cuts as soon as he took office. In 2009 and 2010, his first SECDEF, Robert Gates (one of the worst Defense Secretaries in US history), killed over 50 crucial weapon programs, including the F-22 fighter, the MKV and KEI missile defense programs, the Airborne Laser, the Zumwalt class of DDGs, and C-17 production.

In 2011, he instituted $178 bn worth of further cuts and “efficiencies.” And later in 2011, under the first tranche of cuts (pre-sequester) required by the Budget Control Act, the DOD was required to cut $487 bn from its budget from then until FY2021.

The sequester is not the first or even the second, but the FIFTH series of defense cuts under President Obama.

And the sequester IS gutting the US military. Entire squadrons are grounded, training has been cut, dozens of ships and hundreds of aircraft are inactive and awaiting maintenance that has been delayed by the sequester, and pilots are leaving the military in droves – despite record bonuses – because their birds are grounded for a lack of funding.

Eventually, if the sequester persists, the DOD will have to dramatically cut force structure AND cancel key modernization programs, a finding that the DOD and all non-leftist think-tanks agree on. The CSBA, for example, proposes accepting a deep cut in readiness and force structure to fund modernization, while the AEI and Heritage think all three will inevitably have to be cut.

Those are VERY severe cuts, coming on the heels of previous recent defense cuts totalling $1 trillion, contrary to the WSJ’s lies.

Indeed, the WSJ itself says:

“Mr. McKeon is sincere in his concern for U.S. national security, and in normal budget times we would support his priorities. It speaks volumes about Mr. Obama’s priorities that he devised a sequester that requires 50% of total cuts to come from national security that is 17% of the budget, but no cuts from income-transfer programs that account for well over half the budget.”

Excuse me? In normal times? Now is the worst possible time to make dramatic cuts to defense spending (this would be foolish at anytime, but especially now). Russia and China, two hostile superpowers, are arming themselves to the teeth and behaving aggressively – Russia in Europe, China in the Pacific. Both have already equalled or surpassed the US in most military capabilities. Moscow is also conducting a huge nuclear arsenal buildup. Iran is marching steadily towards nuclear weapons. North Korea has miniaturized warheads and ICBMs able to reach the US, and is building a new missile site.

Yet, the US military still has to use hopelessly obsolete and worn-out equipment dating back to the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Washington has been on a procurement holiday since 1989. Decades of that procurement holiday, of underinvestment in defense, are taking a heavy toll and the bill for them is now due.

Now is the worst time ever to underfund America’s defense.

The WSJ says, for its part, that

“But budgeting is a political act, and at the current moment the caps and automatic sequester cuts are the only negotiating leverage Republicans have with Democrats.”

It also claims, several paragraphs earlier, that “the Budget and Control Act’s spending caps, which have been highly effective in controlling discretionary spending.” But controlling discretionary spending is utterly meaningless if you can’t control and reduce mandatory (entitlement + debt interest) spending – and that, the BCA’s sequester utterly fails to do, because mandatory spending is completely exempt from its budget caps, including the sequester’s.

Without dramatic reforms, entitlement programs (mandatory spending) will completely overcrowd and cut into discretionary spending, eventually eliminating it completely. That’s right: absent entitlement reform, in a few decades there will be NO money for defense, airport and border security, the postal service, or any other discretionary federal program.  And the national debt will balloon to over 200% of GDP as Baby Boomer retirement causes a tsunami of entitlement (mandatory) spending.

Even with the sequester, the federal budget deficit stands at $680 bn this fiscal year – and will only grow each year as more Baby Boomers retire.

So the sequester’s cuts are very destructive to America’s defense and completely useless in balancing the federal budget.

Last but not least, the sequester was NEVER intended to be policy. It was NEVER intended to be implemented. It was designed to scare the Supercommittee (does anyone else still remember it?) into reaching an agreement.

The WSJ is completely wrong on all counts. Republicans should not “stick” to the sequester – they should scrap it completely.

Shame on the WSJ for lying so blatantly and for supporting such deep, destructive cuts to America’s defense.

Tell Congress: Stop the TAFTA!

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The Obama administration recently commenced (unconstitutionally, and thus illegally) negotiations with the European Union on the subject of a Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA).

Although it is being presented by Obama propaganda media as a win-win for the US and the EU, the fact is that it will be yet another act of unilateral disarmament by the United States to yet another trade partner, as all free trade agreements historically have been.

In parallel, Obama has also proposed a similar free trade agreement for the Pacific, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Both of these “free trade agreements” must be stopped dead in their tracks NOW. Here’s why.

CDN readers know that for a long time, I have been warning against unilateral disarmament by the US, because, quite simply, it dismantles America’s defenses and thus leaves America open to aggression.

So-called “free trade” and the unilateral abolition of tariffs, subsidies, and other protective barriers to foreign imports is also unilateral disarmament – in the trade arena. And just as unilateral disarmament in the military arena is a supremely stupid, suicidal policy, so is unilateral disarmament (i.e. “free trade”) in the trade arena.

Since the 1960s, the US has dramatically cut its tariffs, subsidies for domestic producers, and other barriers to foreign imports, has turned a blind eye to currency manipulation by foreign countries, and has signed numerous free trade agreements. The result has been an economic disaster for the US.

Let the facts speak for themselves:

A country that was once the world’s industrial powerhouse, the economic and industrial envy of the world, the world’s largest producer of goods, a fully self-sufficient country producing everything it (and its foreign customers) needed, is now heavily dependent on foreign countries for virtually everything it buys and uses – the clothes and shoes Americans wear, the cars they drive, the computers and TVs they use, etc.

Real median wages of US workers have not risen at all since the mid-1970s and have been stagnant for over 40 years now.

Since 2000 alone, over 6 million well-paying manufacturing jobs and over 55,000 factories have been lost, shipped to China, India, and other “developing countries” by US companies allowed to outsource jobs because of “free trade agreements” that allow them to produce all kinds of stuff abroad and then ship it back, free of any tariff or duty, back to the US. This drives those companies that chose to stay in the US out of business.

Since signing “free trade agreements”, the US has begun to run massive trade deficits with its trade partners. Last year, the US had the following annual trade deficits with the following countries:

  • $20 bn with crisis-stricken Italy, $25 bn with crisis-stricken Ireland, and $60 bn with that exporting economic powerhouse, Germany; $125 bn with the entire European Union as a whole;
  • $32 bn with Canada;
  • $61 bn with Mexico;
  • $76 bn with Japan;
  • $16.6 bn with South Korea;
  • $315 bn with China.

Before NAFTA was signed, the US had trade surpluses with Mexico and Canada; now it has huge annual trade deficits with them – to the tune of $32 bn with Canada and $61 bn with Mexico.

In 2012 alone, the first year under the Korea-US free trade agreement, America’s trade deficit with South Korea skyrocketed by 25%. In April 2012, the first full month under that agreement, the trade gap with Seoul increased by 33%!

With Japan, it’s even worse: America’s trade deficit with that country last year was $76 bn, the largest ever between the two countries. (But that’s not good enough for Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, who has successfully pressured the Bank of Japan into devaluing the yen to boost Japanese exports further.)

Last year, America’s annual trade deficit with China was the largest ever between ANY two countries in recorded human history: $315 bn. That’s the largest trade gap not just between the US and China, but between ANY two countries in human history!

Such are the disastrous results that the geniuses advocating free trade – politicians from both parties, pro-free-trade think tanks, and their corporate bundlers – have achieved.

But free trade is actually good for their corporate sugar daddies. Which is why it was implemented in the first place.

You see, while “free trade agreements” have resulted in over 55,000 US factories being closed and over 6 mn Americans losing their manufacturing jobs – forced into unemployment or tedious jobs – it has allowed multinational corporations to ship jobs and factories overseas (e.g. to China), produce stuff there, and then ship it back to the US – free from any US tariffs, duties, or laws – sell them in the US, and pocket all the resulting profit increases.

And who exactly pockets these higher profits? Their CEOs, who get seven- and eight-digit annual salaries after throwing off US workers into unemployment and hiring Chinese workers for $2/hour.

And who enabled these multinational corporations to do that? Politicians of both parties… but mostly Republicans.

Some of them have simply been fooled by the dogmatic theology of free trade being spread by these corporations themselves and think-tanks sponsored by them (e.g. the Heritage Foundation, the CATO Institute, the Mercatus Center – all of them funded generously by corporate sugar daddies).

But many Republicans, and the party as a whole, did that for a more sinister reason: to get lavish campaign contributions from these multinational, outsourcing corporations.

You see, there’s a good reason why the GOP is called “the party of the rich”, “the party of big corporations”, and “the party that cares only about rich people and big corporations”: it’s true.

The GOP cares ONLY about them. If you’re not rich or a multinational corporation, the GOP doesn’t give a rat’s turd about you, if you pardon my language.

This explains why tens of millions of Americans, including the Reagan Democrats, have deserted the GOP, and why the Party has lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections.

Everytime it came down to choosing between Corporate America and ordinary Americans, Republicans sided with Corporate America. They have always chosen K Street over Main Street. They allowed Corporate America to outsource millions of jobs overseas.

So the working class – Reagan Democrats – left the GOP, which betrayed them. And without them, the GOP will never win any election ever again.

But today’s Democrats are not much better. Few of them care about the US industry or US workers. Most of them, including Barack Obama, are in the pockets of big corporations and rich people, too. (How do you think Obama amassed so much money for both presidential campaigns, and why do you think is he so cozy with wealthy CEOs like Jeffrey Immelt?)

Hence why both parties support the idiocy of “free trade”, despite Gallup telling us that 64% of Americans would prefer to buy American-made goods, EVEN if it meant paying more than for foreign-made goods.

The only way politicians will start listening to the people is if they’re told, in no uncertain terms, that they WILL be voted out of office if they continue to disarm America unilaterally – in the trade or military arena – no matter how much money they get from their corporate sugar daddies.

Folks, please call your Congressman and both of your Senators and tell them you will NEVER vote for them EVER AGAIN if they vote for any new free trade agreements.

Rebuttal of anti-nuke hacks’ lies about US nuclear weapons spending

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The leftist “National Defense Magazine”, which has often published utterly false propaganda screeds on defense issues, has recently published yet another one of this kind: an article that falsely claims US nuclear weapons spending is poised to skyrocket and is exempt from sequester.

Even worse, that garbage screed uncritically repeats the lies of several extremely leftist anti-nuclear activists and organizations, such as the Council for a Livable World’s Kingston Reif, the CATO Institute, and POGO.

The screed repeats Kingston Reif’s blatant lies that nuclear weapons spending is supposedly poised to “soar” at a time when the rest of the military budget is declining fast, that such spending will increasingly crowd out funding for conventional weapons, that it will force the DOD into very difficult between nuclear and conventional arms, that deeply and unilaterally cutting the nuclear arsenal would still leave the US with a “devastating deterrent”, etc.

All of these claims are blatant lies borrowed uncritically from leftist groups and activists. Here are THE FACTS:

1) Nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are NOT, have not been, and will not be in any way spared or shielded from the sequester. There is NO provision in the Budget Control Act (BCA), which created the sequester, or in any other law, that would shield/ring-fence the nuclear arsenal from budget cuts. In fact, by the National Defense Magazine’s own admission, the sequester has recently cut the B61 warhead modernization program’s budget by $30 mn.

And in 2012, then-SECDEF Panetta said that if sequestration persists, the DOD would have to eliminate the entire ICBM fleet, cut the bomber fleet by 2/3s, kill the NGB program, cut the SSBN fleet, and delay the SSBN replacement program.

So any claim that nuclear weapons spending is protected from the sequester, or is set to skyrocket, is a BLATANT LIE, meaning that the people making such claims are LIARS.

And no one should be fooled by Kingston Reif’s false concern for conventional weapon programs. His organization advocates, and has long advocated, deep cuts in America’s conventional and nuclear weapon programs like – in ALL categories of American military power. They simply want to gut America’s defense.

At present, the entire nuclear arsenal and its associated infrastructure cost only $31-32 bn per year, that is, a paltry 5% of the entire military budget. Therefore, Kingston Reif’s claim that nuclear weapons will force the DOD to choose between them and conventional weapons is a blatant lie. At just 5% of the military budget, US nuclear weapons spending is too low to have that effect.

Even cutting US nuclear weapons spending deeply, or even eliminating it entirely, would not come anywhere close to freeing up enough funding for (increasingly expensive) conventional weapon systems.

OTOH, terminating the useless F-35 program (whose cost is nearly $400 bn) and reforming the DOD’s grotesquely costly pay, personnel, and benefits schemes and its byzantine acqusitions system would yield huge savings that would allow significant investments in both nuclear and conventional programs.

Absent such reforms, however, there will not be enough money for any weapons – nuclear or conventional – because personnel costs will eat up an ever-larger share – and eventually the whole – of the US military budget! By FY2039, on present trends, there won’t be a single dollar for ANY weapon – nuclear or conventional – because 100% of the DOD budget will be spent on personnel and their benefits!

2) Kingston Reif is not an expert on anything, let alone nuclear weapons. He’s a far-left anti-nuclear activist. He has zero knowledge of nuclear weapons or US defense budgets. Calling him an “expert”, as the NDM has done, is ridiculous and an insult to every real expert on the subject.

3) Kingston Reif’s “estimate” of the costs of nuclear modernization ($300 bn/25 years) is a wild exaggeration designed to mislead the public and thus to get the public to abandon the program. It isn’t based on any sound sources. But even if his wildly exaggerated “estimate” were true – and it isn’t even CLOSE to being true – that would amount to only slightly more than $10 bn per year ($300 bn over a period of 25 years – a quarter of a century). That’s very much affordable.

That Reif and other anti-nuclear activists make such grossly exaggerated claims is not surprising – they want America to disarm itself unilaterally (and thus to open itself to attack by powers which these anti-nuke activists serve) by simply allowing its nuclear arsenal to decay and rust away without modernization.

4) Reif’s claim that the US could still have a “devastating” nuclear deterrent after cutting the planned new SSBN fleet from twelve to just eight boats and delaying the next-gen bomber program until the mid-2020s is likewise a blatant lie. Such actions would GUT the nuclear deterrent while saving only a pittance – according to the CBO’s grossly exaggerated estimate, $48 bn over two decades – and possibly inviting a Russian nuclear first strike on the US, since, after such deep cuts, the US would have only 4-5 boats and 450 ICBMs of any credible retaliatory power. (The rest of the boats would be in overhaul, and the USAF would lack bombers that could penetrate Russian airspace in retaliation.)

With just eight SSBNs, only four to five at most would be at sea at any given time (the rest would be in refit/overhaul). That’s a paltry number, and nowhere near enough to provide a sufficient nuclear retaliatory capability, even if all 4-5 SSBNs that would be at sea at any moment survived an enemy first strike… which would be highly unlikely, given that America’s enemies and allies alike have, in recent decades, REPEATEDLY detected, snuck upon, and scored goals against American (Ohio class) SSBNs.

Moreover, even if 4-5 SSBNs still survived, they would still be woefully inadequate to deliver a sufficiently devastating second strike, because they wouldn’t have enough missiles and warheads on these paltry 4-5 boats. A single future SSBN will have only 16 missiles, so 5*16=80 missiles, armed with, at best, 10 warheads each. That’s just 800 warheads compared to the over 1,400 (and growing) that Russia’s 13-strong SSBN fleet can deliver.

Nuclear deterrence is a numbers game. More nuclear weapons mean a stronger, more credible, more survivable nuclear deterrent.

The Navy did not take the planned number of new SSBNs (12) out of thin air; it arrived at that number after a careful, thorough analysis of how many subs are needed to provide deterrence after New START entered into force. The exact opposite of the “eight SSBNs” number proposed by the CBO and by pro-unilateral-disarmament groups like CLW, POGO, and others – which was taken out of thin air.

And make no mistake: these treasonous pro-unilateral-disarmament groups treat that as a mere step on the way to disarming America completely and unilaterally.

As for the next-gen bomber, it is urgently needed NOW and cannot be delayed any further. It is absolutely needed for both nuclear and conventional missions on which it would have to penetrate highly-defended airspace – Russian, Chinese, North Korean, Iranian, and Syrian airspace defended (or soon to be defended, in Iran’s and Syria’s case) by sophisticated, modern (excl. NK), highly capable long-range air defense systems like the S-300, S-400, S-500, HQ-9, and HQ-16 (not to mention any systems Moscow or Beijing may field in the next decade or two, like the S-500 currently in development).

Currently, America has only a handful of bombers able to penetrate such airspace – a paltry 20 B-2 bombers. That’s woefully inadequate. Moreover, even B-2 bombers may, in the early 2020s, lose ability to penetrate defended airspace (CSBA’s Mark Gunzinger, a REAL expert on bomber and nuke issues, says they will). This means the next-gen bomber is needed NOW and cannot be delayed any further. In fact, it was already delayed for way, way too long before the program was launched in 2011. Without it, the USAF will completely lose its ability to penetrate defended airspace by the 2020s.

The urgent need for this bomber, and for development to be conducted NOW, has been reaffirmed by the 2006 and 2010 QDR, by every SECDEF since at least Bob Gates, by every SECAF and USAF Chief of Staff since the Gates years (Wynne, Donley, Fanning, Gens. Moseley, Schwartz, and Welsh), by the USAF as a whole, and by numerous independent (outside the DOD) think-tanks from the Mitchell Institute to Heritage to the Lexington Institute to the CSBA, CNAS, and AEI, and to the Joint Force Quarterly publication. And just recently, both Gen. Welsh and (outgoing) Deputy SECDEF Ash Carter have STRONGLY reaffirmed the need for a next-gen bomber.

For more on why the NGB is needed, see here, here and here.

The need for the next-gen bomber is INDISPUTABLE. It’s an undebatable FACT.

The CBO’s “recommendations” should be ignored. The CBO only employs bean-counters who know nothing about defense issues.

5) POGO’s and others’ claim that the B61 nuclear bomb modernization’s cost is “out of control” and “unaffordable” is also a blatant lie. At $10 bn in total, over a span of 11 years, it works out to just $900 mn per year, a perfectly affordable cost – a fraction of one percent of the military budget (let alone the entire federal budget or GDP). Don’t tell me America can’t afford to spend one sixth of one percent of its military budget modernizing its most important nuclear warhead.

You know what’s really unaffordable? The federal government’s social spending, which now comprises over 60% of the federal budget. It – not defense spending – is driving America ever deeper into debt. That is to say nothing of the coming tsunami of Social Security and Medicare spending as the Baby Boomers retire.

6) POGO’s and others’ claim that the B61 bomb is not needed in Europe is likewise patently false. The B61 is VERY MUCH NEEDED in Europe to deter Russia, which has a huge tactical nuclear arsenal (4,000 tactical warheads and the means to deliver all of them by a wide range of systems), and just in the last 6 years has threatened to aim, or even use, its nuclear weapons against America or its allies at least FIFTEEN separate times. It has also repeatedly flown nuclear-armed bombers into or near European countries’ airspace and simulated nuclear strikes on them – even on neutral Sweden!

Putin’s Russia is an increasingly aggressive potential adversary and can only be deterred with strength, not unilateral disarmament like POGO advocates.

Moreover, as recently as the last NATO summit, NATO REAFFIRMED the need for US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, and America’s European (and Asian) allies have REPEATEDLY, in recent years, stressed the importance of America’s extended nuke deterrent which the B61 bomb constitutes.

The need for B61 modernization has recently been reaffirmed by top DOD, DOE, and NNSA officials, including STRATCOM commander Gen. Bob Kehler.

 

7) POGO is not a watchdog group. It is a treasonous, anti-American, pro-unilateral disarmament organization partially financed by George Soros.

8) Dianne Feinstein’s and others’ claim that the US has more nuclear weapons than it needs is also a blatant lie. The US barely has enough deployed weapons to deter Russia and China. Russia’s ICBM fleet (430 missiles in all) can deliver at least 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; Russia’s bomber fleet, over 2,000, and Russia’s SSBN fleet, over 1,400. Russia’s tactical submarines armed with cruise missiles can deliver further warheads. China, for its part, has between 1,600 and 3,000 nuclear weapons. A small nuclear arsenal, like Sen. Feinstein demands, could be easily destroyed by Russia or even China in a first strike. Cutting the US nuclear arsenal further will only invite such a strike eventually, and it will also leave America’s allies (esp. Japan, SK, and the Gulf states) with no choice but to build their own nuclear weapons. 66% of South Koreans already want to do so. South Korea and Japan are ready to do so within months if need be.

Thus, the end result of cutting the US nuclear arsenal would be a world with MORE nuclear weapons (outside the US) and more nuclear-armed states. In other words, nuclear proliferation would get much worse.

The US nuclear arsenal is BY FAR the most valuable counter-proliferation tool the US has at its disposal.

9) CATO’s claim that eliminating the ICBM and bomber legs of the nuclear triad would save $20 bn per year is a blatant lie as well. In fact, doing so would “save” only $2.6 bn per year. That’s how little it costs to maintain these two legs of the triad.

CATO’s claim that the triad came to exist only because of interservice rivalry is a blatant lie, too. If it were true, why weren’t the Army and the Marines given any nuclear role?

CATO’s claim that the triad is a Cold War relic is likewise a total falsehood. If it were true, why are the Russians, the Chinese, and the Israelis retaining, modernizing, and expanding their own nuclear triads?

Answer: because they know that a nuclear triad is BY FAR the most survivable nuclear deterrence arrangement.

In sum, not a single claim that CATO, POGO, or CLW anti-defense hacks like Reif make is true. Not a single one. All their claims on nuclear weapons are blatant lies. Shame on the NDM for publishing yet another litany of blatant lies and for uncritically repeating the blatant lies of anti-nuke activists who only seek to disarm America unilaterally and thus to expose it to great danger.

Rebuttal of Democrats’ and other anti-defense types’ blatant lies on DOD budget

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A new “supercommittee” of Republicans and Democrats met recently on Capitol Hill to discuss possible ways to solve the nation’s fiscal woes and, if possible, replace the sequester with other, more carefully designed, budget cuts.

In the opening of that meeting, the Democrats, specifically Sens. Ron Wyden and Bernie Sanders, stated some very blatant lies that need to be refuted, for we will undoubtely hear them many more times in the months ahead.

Ron Wyden falsely claimed that “we shouldn’t bail out the Defense Department while continuing to slash vital domestic programs.”

Excuse me? Bail out the DOD? Slashing “vital domestic programs”?

Nobody is talking about or proposing a bailout of the DOD. What most Republicans, and other people concerned about America’s security, are talking is sparing the DOD from the worst, deepest, and most mindless of the budget cuts it has had to endure for the last 5 years: sequestration, which has already been in effect for one fiscal year and has brought the defense budget down to just $469 bn, the lowest level since FY2013. In the one year in which it has been in effect so far, it has already done considerable damage to the US military. Continuing sequestration will completely gut the military – as previous rounds of post-war defense cuts did in the 1920s, 1940s, 1970s, and 1990s.

But sequestration is hardly the first round of budget cuts the DOD has had to endure in the last 5 years. In fact, the Obama administration targeted defense for deep cuts as soon as it had taken office. In 2009, they (and a compliant Congress) killed over 30 crucial weapon programs, including, and most disastrously, the F-22 Raptor. In 2010, they killed several more programs, and in 2011, they found another $178 bn in “efficiency savings.” By Obama’s own admission, they had already cut $400 bn from defense budgets by April 2011.

After that, Congress passed, in August 2011, the Budget Control Act, which mandates two new rounds of defense cuts. The first round took effect in FY2012 and requires $487 bn in defense budget cuts from then until FY2022, which then-Secretary Panetta duly found – at the cost of retiring hundreds of aircraft and 9 ships early, as well as killing further weapon programs.

Almost nobody is calling for the reversal of these previous rounds of defense cuts.

What most Republicans and other defense conservatives calling for is the cancellation of sequestration – the newest round of defense cuts which, if implemented fully through FY2022, will slash another $550 bn from the base defense budget – ON TOP OF all defense cuts previously implemented or programmed.

That would hardly be a bailout of the DOD; rather, it would mean sparing it from excessive, disproportionate, destructive budget cuts coming on top of several rounds of already deep budget reductions.

Yes, disproportionate – because a full 60% of all budget cuts under the BCA – both the BCA’s first tier and sequestration – comes exclusively from the defense budget, and only 40% from discretionary domestic programs. (Mandatory programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are completely shielded from any budget reductions.)

And the cuts to domestic programs (40% of the sequester) are spread over a myriad of such programs and agencies, while all defense cuts (60% of the sequester) fall exclusively on one agency: the DOD.

So Sen. Wyden and his staffers are blatantly lying when they claim that “we continue to cut vital domestic programs” – no “vital domestic programs” are receiving any meaningful cuts, and certainly do not “continue” to be cut, because the sequester is the first time that any of them are being cut! And even under sequestration, entitlement programs are completely exempt from any cuts!

And what “vital domestic programs” are you talking about, Senator? Under the Constitution, the vast majority of domestic issues – from education to healthcare to the environment – are OFF LIMITS to the federal government and are reserved to the states and the people. They are NONE of the federal government’s business.

Defense, OTOH, is the highest Constitutional DUTY of the federal government.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-admitted socialist from Vermont, for his part, falsely claims that the US can afford to cut its defense budget because “We’re not fighting the Soviet Union, we’re fighting Al Qaeda.”

But there are several much bigger threats to US national security besides al-Qaeda: a resurgent KGB-governed Russia with a huge nuclear arsenal and a large and increasingly modern conventional force; a rapidly ascendant and aggressive China arming itself to the teeth; a nuclear-armed North Korea capable of delivering nuclear weapons to the US; a theocratic-governed Iran that could shut the Straits of Hormuz down in an afternoon and will, in a month, have enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear warhead.

Considering these, and many other, threats to US national security, America cannot afford to cut its defense budget – already dramatically reduced – any further. And what the US currently spends is a pittance: 4% of GDP and just 17% of the total federal budget, as opposed to 9% of GDP and almost 50% of the federal budget at the Vietnam War’s peak.

Larry Korb, a propagandist working for the George-Soros-funded “Center for American Progress” (an organization that wants to institute socialism in the US), falsely claims that the sequester will not be damaging at all, can be paid for solely by cutting waste, and  that it will cut defense spending only to FY2007 levels. He and other anti-defense hacks accuse the military’s service chiefs – distinguished men who collectively have more military experience than this nation has years of existence – of scaremongering the public and resisting needed reforms.

Those are blatant lies as well. The sequester has cut defense spending down to the lowest level since FY2003 – $469 bn, lower than $473 bn in FY2003 (in constant dollars). And it cannot be paid for solely by cutting “waste”, for waste, contrary to public misconceptions, accounts for only a small part of the defense budget. There isn’t much genuine waste there. Sen. Tom Coburn, for example, for all his decrying of “waste” in the DOD budget, could find only $7 bn per year of “waste” in it.

Any deep defense spending cuts, such as sequestration, will unavoidably mean killing dozens of crucial weapon programs and deeply cutting the force structure – as successive Defense Secretaries, Service Secretaries, and Service Chiefs have warned. Multiple think-tanks from the center and the right – including the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Center for a New American Security, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the AEI, and the Heritage Foundation – have done their own studies and/or budget exercises and have reached largely the same conclusion: sequestration will force the DOD, even at maximum efficiency, to deeply cut funding for either the force structure and readiness or modernization – or both.

That will mean a severely weakened military. There is no way around that fact.

And as for anti-defense hacks’ accusation that the Service Chiefs are blocking and resisting badly needed reforms that could save the DOD much money – balderdash! The Service Chiefs (and their predecessors), as well as the current Defense Secretary (and his predecessors going back to at least Donald Rumsfeld) have been AT THE FOREFRONT of fighting FOR badly needed DOD reforms, especially in the areas of personnel pay&benefits, military healthcare programs, closing unneeded bases, slashing bureaucracies, retiring unneeded aircraft, and reforming acquisition processes and programs. Yet, at every turn, Congress has BLOCKED these reforms (except those related to acquisition*), AGAINST the pleas from all of the Joint Chiefs and all Service Secretaries plus a succession of Defense Secretaries.

It is the sole fault of the CONGRESS that these vital reforms have not been enacted yet. But even if they had, that still wouldn’t have come up with nearly enough savings to pay for sequestration – as the CSBA budget exercise earlier this year showed (it was built on the assumption that these reforms would be passed).

There’s simply not enough waste and inefficiency in the defense budget to make enough savings through “efficiencies” to pay for sequestration. The sequester will inevitably result in deep cuts in the military’s force structure, readiness, and/or modernization programs.

And remember: as I said at the beginning, the sequester, itself a $55 bn annual cut, is coming ON TOP OF all the defense cuts previously scheduled and implemented by Obama since 2009: the killing of over 50 weapon programs in 2009 and 2010, the Gates Efficiencies Initiative of 2011 ($178 bn in further cuts), and the pre-sequester BCA-mandated budget cuts ($487 bn over a decade). The sequester is yet another, and even deeper, round of defense cuts under the Obama administration.

The military has been cut so badly, and been required to cut its budget so deeply, that there is little genuine “waste” remaining, so any further cuts will have to bite force structure, readiness, and modernization. There is no way around that fact.

Shame on Sens. Wyden and Sanders, on Larry Korb, and on everyone else who lies about US defense spending and seeks to cut it further.

Stupid Senators Suckered By Obama On Nuke Deterrence

 

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URGENT PLEA: A number of Senators have introduced amendments to the NDAA that would bar Obama from cutting the nuclear deterrent unilaterally, scrapping any ICBM squadrons, or honoring arms reduction agreements that no one abides by. Dear Readers, please call your Senators (and other states’ Senators) and tell them to vote for ALL of these amendments.

Over three years ago, way back in 2010, well before the treasonous New START treaty had even been ratified by the Senate, I warned the Senators and the public to reject that dangerous treaty, as it would unilaterally reduce and undermine America’s nuclear deterrent while permitting an unrestrained Russian nuclear buildup.

Nonetheless, 13 Republican Senators voted for the treaty, because Obama promised that in exchange for the Senate’s consent to ratification, he would fully modernize all three legs of the nuclear triad, as well as the warheads and its supporting facilities, and implement all four Phases of his so-called “European Phased Adaptive Approach” to missile defense (EPAA).

I warned publicly that Obama’s promises were not to believed or trusted, that Obama was blatantly lying just to obtain Senate ratification and would never keep his promises, and that once New START would be ratified, the cuts to America’s deterrent would be deep and immediate, while the promised modernization of what’s left would not occur or be defunded and delayed ad infinitum.

Everything that has happened since then has proven me right.

Since New START’s ratification, Obama has delayed the construction of the vital Nuclear Metallurgy Research and Replacement Center by five years; delayed the ballistic missile submarine and bomber replacement programs; has unilaterally retired and scrapped all W80 warheads for Tomahawk cruise missiles; and has, to date, failed to initiate any replacement program for the USAF’s air-launched cruise missiles and silo-based ICBMs. He has also cancelled the fourth phase of his EPAA.

But Obama has decided to go even further. He has now decided to reduce America’s arsenal unilaterally further by retiring the powerful bunker-busting B83 bomb and by eliminating an entire ICBM squadron with 50 missiles.

It is not yet known which squadron at which base will be eliminated – whether in Wyoming (Francis E. Warren AFB), Montana (Malmstrom AFB), or North Dakota (Grand Forks AFB). What is certain is that not only will the missiles themselves be scrapped, but their siloes will be destroyed so that no future President could reuse them and deploy ICBMs in them if he needed to (which a future President WILL need to do, given the relentless growth of Russia’s and China’s nuclear arsenals).

And what is also certain is that this act of unilateral disarmament will significantly undermine America’s nuclear deterrent and thus the security of the US and all of its allies.

As a result, the US will have FIFTY fewer missiles with which to deliver nuclear warheads if retaliation against an aggressor is necessary, and a significantly smaller (and thus less survivable) nuclear deterrent.

Russia, by contrast, is GROWING the number of ICBMs (and bombers) it has. It currently wields 434 ICBMs (58 SS-18s, 136 SS-19s, 171 SS-25s, 78 SS-27s, 18 SS-29s) capable of delivering at least 1,684 warheads to the CONUS. On top of that, Russia’s bomber fleet can deliver over 1,700, and Russia’s ballistic missile submarine fleet another 1,400 warheads to the CONUS.

The smaller a nuclear arsenal is, the less survivable and less credible it is, and thus the less secure its owner nation is. Cutting America’s nuclear arsenal only makes the US (and all of its allies) LESS secure, not more.

Such deep cuts will also prod some of America’s allies to develop their own nuclear arsenals, because that of the US wll no longer be credible. 66.5% of South Koreans ALREADY want to do so, and Saudi Arabia has already ordered nuclear weapons in Pakistan, according to the BBC. Japan has recently opened a facility that could produce enough fissile material for 3,600 nuclear warheads in a matter of months if need be.

You see, Washington’s best-kept secret is that America’s nuclear arsenal, far from being a part of the proliferation problem, is actually America’s best tool for confronting and limiting it. It protects over 30 allies of the US, thus making it unnecessary for them to develop their own nukes, and deters all potential troublemakers, thus significantly limiting the proliferation problem.

Continually cutting the US nuclear deterrent will only AGGRAVATE that problem.

Indeed, since 1991, while the US has cut its arsenal by over 75%, China, India, and Israel have significantly increased theirs, Russia has begun rebuilding its own, and two new members have joined the nuclear club: Pakistan (1998) and North Korea (2006). Iran and Saudi Arabia are well on their way there – and they are racing to get there first.

So cutting the US nuclear arsenal deeply, by over 75% since the Cold War’s end, and signing a plethora of arms control treaties, has UTTERLY FAILED to solve or even slow down the problem of nuclear proliferation.

Indeed, all arms control treaties signed to date by the US have done nothing but dramatically REDUCE the security of the US and all of its allies while emboldening America’s enemies. Over twenty years of continually cutting and refusing to modernize the US nuclear arsenal have utterly failed to convince other states to give up their nukes, to stop them from modernizing their arsenals, or even to prevent the emergence of new nuclear powers.

Arms control treaties have resulted in ONLY the US (and for a while, Russia) significantly cutting its nuclear arsenal. They do nothing but gravely UNDERMINE US and allied security. This is especially true of the New START treaty, which obligates ONLY the US (not Russia) to cut its nuclear arsenal. God forbid that Obama have any opportunity to sign more treaties like that!

Arms control treaties serve NO purpose but to hog-tie and disarm the West unilaterally. As Ronald Reagan rightly said, “We honor our arms control treaty obligations. Those who wish to do us harm don’t.”

The Obama administration claims that it needs to dismantle those ICBMs in order to comply with New START.

This is utterly false: under New START, it doesn’t have to destroy any siloes, just warhead delivery systems like ICBMs. Even then, it doesn’t have to dismantle as many as 50, or instead of dismantling ICBMs it could simply disable some missile tubes on the Navy’s ballistic missile subs.

Most importantly, New START is a treasonous treaty which is only UNDERMINING America’s nuclear deterrent and national security. It should’ve never been signed, let alone ratified. The US should immediately WITHDRAW from that treaty.

In addition, Russia has, this year, flagrantly violated another arms control accord – the INF treaty – by testing intermediate range ballistic missiles, which is strictly prohibited by that treaty. Why should the US comply with arms control treaties when Russia never does?

But Obama isn’t merely content with disarming America unilaterally. He’s going even further and will make it much easier for Russian missiles to target the US.

The Obama State Department, led by John Kerry, has just approved Russia’s request to build a network of signalling stations for Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation system (their version of GPS) in the United States. The Obama State Department approved this without even telling the DOD and the Intelligence Community – both of which are reportedly angry about it.

This is, of course, yet another part of a long list of unilateral Obama administration concessions to the Russians in the name of his utterly failed “reset” policy with Russia.

So not only is Obama unilaterally and deeply cutting America’s own nuclear deterrent – to make America unable to deter and if need be retaliate for a Russian nuclear first strike – he’s also allowing the Russians to build satellite navigation ground stations in the US to help make such a strike more likely and more accurate! What is this, if not treason?

Congress – and by that, I mean BOTH the House AND the Senate – must act IMMEDIATELY to protect America’s nuclear deterrent, and in particular, the ICBM fleet. This means they must:

  1. Pass a National Defense Authorization Act containing a firm PROHIBITION on the retirement of any ICBMs below the treshold of 420, the elimination of any ICBM siloes, or the construction of any Russian sat nav stations in the US.
  2. Fully fund, and direct the Obama administration to dramatically speed up, the modernization of America’s entire nuclear deterrent, in particular, the bomber and submarine replacement programs, the construction of the metallurgy center, and the development and deployment of a new ICBM and air-launched cruise missile. Set firm target dates.
  3. Prohibit the use of any funding for the implementation of New START or the dismantlement of any elements of the US nuclear triad, or for the retirement of the B83 bomb.

This must be done THIS YEAR, not a year from now when 1/3 of Senators will be busy running for reelection.

In addition, all Democrat Senators running for reelection next year – including Mary Landrieu (LA), Kay Hagan (NC), Mark Begich (AK), and Mark Pryor (AR) – must be punished for voting for the treasonous New START treaty, which has enabled Obama to conduct this process of unilateral disarmament in the first place. They ABSOLUTELY must be voted out of office. This means supporting whichever Republican has the best chance of beating them in a general election. No ifs, no buts. In Lousiania, that Republican is Bill Cassidy; in Alaska, Mark Begich; in AR, Tom Cotton; in North Carolina, this is yet to be seen, though it currently appears to be Greg Brannon.

Landrieu, Hagan, Begich, and Pryor are not “moderate Democrats”; they are strident liberals, loyal footsoldiers of Obama and Reid. They must not be allowed to hide behind their utterly false mask of “moderate Democrats”; they must be exposed for whom they really are. They, in fact, loyally vote with Harry Reid over 90% of the time.

In 2010, they cast two fateful votes for leftist policies. The first was for Obamacare. The second was for New START. They must be voted out of office for both. 

UPDATE: A number of Republican Senators have introduced amendments which would effectively prevent Obama from scrapping any ICBM squadron, cutting America’s nuclear deterrent while treaty-noncompliant nations do not, or giving aid to any country developing ballistic missiles capable of hitting the US. See here.

Sun Tzu predicted Romney’s and Republicans’ defeat two and a half millennia ago

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Since Mitt Romney’s and Republicans’ calamitous defeat in the presidential and Congressional elections of 2012, explanations of that fiasco have abounded from all quarters. But the best explanation can be found in a text written over 2,500 years ago: Sun Tzu’s Art of War. If you read that masterwork, you will see how Sun Tzu predicted Mitt Romney’s and Republicans’ loss two and a half millennia earlier.

Republicans lost the election because they ignored not one, but several of Master Sun’s teachings. As a consequence, an election that was already going to be extremely hard to win became a guaranteed defeat. For that is precisely what will happen if you ignore Sun Tzu’s advice: you will most assuredly lose.

Before I continue, I’d like to stress that everyone in the GOP and the Tea Party is to blame for this – partially Mitt Romney himself, partially his campaign staff and advisors, partially fellow Republican politicians and operatives, and partially the Republican base and the Tea Party. Everyone in the GOP and the Tea Party is to blame for last year’s defeat.

Here are the teachings of Sun Tzu which Republicans ignored, and an explanation of how they did that and how it cost them.

1) Sun Tzu wrote:

“When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength. 

Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain. 

Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. ” – The Art of War, Chapter II, verses 2-6

“Sun Tzu said: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted. ” – Ch. VI, v. 1

In this case, the “nation” is the Republican Party. No party has ever benefitted from internecine, civil wars, especially not from prolonged ones. yet this is exactly what the 2011-2012 Republican nominating process was: a bloody, prolonged, internecine, suicidal circular firing squad which only benefitted the Democrats.

Not only that, but that civil war was fought among several candidates who, more or less, advocated similar if not the same policies and came from similar schools of thinking. All advocated cutting taxes and spending, reducing the size of government and abolishing entire agencies, reforming the tax code, appointing strict constructionist judges, traditional moral values (except Ron Paul, of course), and most importantly, repealing Obamacare. All opposed abortion and gay marriage, yet all except Santorum also believed these matters should be reserved to the states.

Yet, instead of them attacking Barack Obama, the RNC allowed liberal media journalists to moderate Republican debates and incite Republican candidates to attack each other – which they did for many, many months. The result – as some wise people predicted at the time – was that Republicans needlessly damaged each other’s public image and the eventual Republican nominee emerged bloodied, battered, and weakened for the general election – exactly what Obama and the Democrats wanted. (And this would’ve been true whoever would’ve been the nominee.)

But even more deadly, throughout all that time, the eventual Republican nominee had to waste his time and money finishing off unserious GOP presidential candidates who had no business running for President (incl. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum). These clowns continued their hopeless fight for so long that the eventual GOP nominee (Romney) did not clinch the GOP nomination until May 30th, 2012 – by which time Obama negatively defined him and tarred his image in key battleground states, especially Ohio, with utterly false ads. Some political analysts, such as Myra Adams and Dan Balz (the author of a decent book on that election) believe that May, not November, 2012 was the month Romney lost the election – precisely for the above reasons.

In other words, Obama won the general election before it even begun – because the Republican primary contest was such a prolonged travelling circus and circular firing squad.

2) Sun Tzu wrote:

“The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determinthe conditions obtaining in the field. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.” – Ch. I, v. 3-6.

As I wrote in my previous article on Sun Tzu, this ancient Chinese strategist understood that in war, rulers – even despotic, dictatorial rulers like those of Chinese kingdoms during his time – must be supported by their people in order to win. This has been true throughout history, even in dictatorial states like the Soviet Union, when the growing fiscal and human costs of the Afghan War (1979-1989) forced Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachyov to withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan. US presidents have repeatedly had to bend to popular opinion to withdraw US troops from Vietnam (1973), Lebanon (1983), Iraq (2011), and now, Afghanistan.

To win elections, it is even more important – indeed, of paramount importance – to be backed by the people, since it is them who elect their leaders (in countries with representative governments, such as the US). It is THEM whom candidates are supposed to be courting and winning their votes. It is them who collectively hold the key to the White House.

Yet, Republicans have, for the last 4+ years, been doing everything they can to alienate large swathes of the American electorate that could otherwise be amenable to voting Republican.

They still support a total ban on abortion with no exceptions (it’s official party policy, written into the party platform), gay marriage, and restoring DADT; have advocated immigration policies that Latinos consider hostile to them and have added insult to injury by using insulting, derogatory language about Latinos (vide e.g. Herman Cain’s proposal of an electric fence on the US-Mexican border… with warning signs in Spanish and English); have spoken in very insulting words about women, contraception, and rape victims; and just recently, shut the federal government down and toyed with the idea of letting the US default on its debt. Some Republican Senate candidates have even claimed that pregnancy resulting from rape is “something God intended to happen” and that women lie about rape.

Mitt Romney avoided most of these errors (except on immigration – he outdid every other Republican candidate as the toughest hombre on that issue), but was unfairly tied by the Dems to other Republicans who said these and other stupid things, and he also made the stupid “47%” remark.

According to an exit poll conducted on Election Day 2012, while Romney was considered by Americans to be by far the better visionary, more likely to share their values, and the stronger leader of the two main candidates, only 19% of Americans said “he cares about people like me.” 81% of Americans said that of Obama. So leadership qualities and economic competence lost to empathy – and Romney thus lost the votes of most Americans. As Art Kelly succintly explains:

“Those horrible results doomed his candidacy. While Romney is undoubtedly impressive in board rooms and other business meetings, that kind of upper-class authority figure is unlikely to win presidential elections.”

Moreover, in a recent poll, when asked what qualities LEAST describe the GOP, young Americans said “open-minded” (35%), “tolerant” (25%), “caring” (22%), and “cooperative” (21%).”

The problem is simple: Republicans are seen as close-minded, intolerant, uncaring, uncooperative, extremist, and out-of-touch, and Mitt Romney was personally seen as uncaring about ordinary people, unempathetic, and hostile to Latinos. This doomed the Party, and Romney himself, in 2012.

3) Sun Tzu wrote:

“Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:– 

(1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law? (2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (5) Which army is stronger? (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?” – Ch. I, v. 12-13

Factors #2, 5, and 6 merit particular attention here. Obama is, alas, a much better campaigner than Mitt Romney – campaigning is all he can do, he’s totally incompetent at everything else, he’s a disastrously bad president, but campaigning is the one thing he does very well. This is, after all, the guy who snatched the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination from Hillary Clinton – nomination that was hers to lose – and from her powerful political machine. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is the guy who lost to the guy who lost to Obama in 2008.

Of course, Obama would’ve never won anything by himself. The real “generals” that won his two presidential elections were his campaign managers, notably David Axelrod and David Plouffe – and as much as I loathe these liberals, their campaign talent is second to none. They, together with other Obama campaign staffers, built a flawless organization that won two consecutive presidential elections by landslide margins – which also shows Obama’s “army” (campaign staff) was stronger than Romney’s, and its officers and men were better trained.

4) Sun Tzu wrote:

“You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended.You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.” – Ch. VI, v. 7

“Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. ” – Ch. V, v. 29-30

“Now an army may be likened to water, for just as flowing water avoids the heights and hastens to the lowlands, so an army avoids strength and strikes weakness.” Ch. VI, v. 27 in the Griffith translation*

What Sun Tzu is saying here is that you should attack the enemy’s weak points, not strong – i.e. strike where the enemy is relatively weak, not where he’s strong.

Unfortunately, during the 2012 general election campaign, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan wasted a lot of time in the last several weeks of the campaign trying to win blue states like Wisconsin and Michigan – some people even boldly claimed that these states would turn red in 2012. Some people predicted this would happen because their populations are overwhelmingly white.

But they didn’t turn red – they rested solidly Democratic: Wisconsin voted for Obama by 7 pp, and Michigan by 9.5 pp. Meanwhile, the vote in traditional swing states was very close: Ohio voted for Obama by just 2.88 pp, Virginia by just 3.87 pp, and Florida by the tiniest of margins, 0.88 pp.

Colorado voted Democratic by just 5.37 pp. Had Romney won these four states – or the former three and any other state, such as New Hampshire (5.58 pp) or Pennsylvania (5.39 pp) – he would’ve won the election. He should’ve reserved ALL, and by that I mean ALL, his resources to strike at these soft targets, not at Democratic bastions like Wisconsin and Michigan (the former elected a strident liberal, Tammy Baldwin, as its newest Senator in 2012).

Romney could’ve won Colorado (as well as FL and VA) by not alienating Latinos, and Pennsylvania by choosing someone from that state – e.g. Sen. Pat Toomey, as his running mate. That running mate could’ve treated the 2012 election as just another Pennsylvania statewide race, crisscrossing the Commonwealth and visiting county after county.

But Romney and Republicans did not exploit these possibilities and foolishly chased Wisconsin and Michigan, thus wasting time and money there.

5) Sun Tzu wrote:

“Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”

Sun Tzu loved to hold out baits to entice the enemy, to lull the enemy and then to attack him unexpectedly from another side. This is what Republicans (though not Romney himself) did en masse in 2012: Obama threw them a bait (the contraception mandate), knowing full well it would prod Republicans to declare their staunch opposition to contraception and personal liberties in general, and to say offensive things on the subject. Liberals also threw the traditional abortion bait at Republicans, and the GOPers again took it, passing extremist anti-abortion measures (e.g. vaginal ultrasounds) and thus giving credence to the Democrats theme of a Republican “War on women.”

Two Republicans, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock” also took the hook offered them by the liberal media regarding pregnancy resulting from rape: they called it “something God intended to happen” and said raped women should bear the children of their rapists. Akin even said rape victims may lie about the crime. Some Republicans, including Reps. Steve King (IA), Paul Broun (GA), and Phil Gingrey (GA), defended Akin!

And Mitt Romney? Through no fault of his own, he was tied by the liberal media and by Barack Obama to these extremists.

6) Sun Tzu wrote:

“Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy.Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.” – Ch. IV, v. 13-15

As Master Sun wrote, the vast majority, if not all, military victories in history occurred because the conditions needed for achieving those victories were obtained before actual fighting began. That is, the victors in most if not all instances ensured BEFORE actual fighting they’d win. This essentially means most battles throughout history, if decisive, were won by the victors before they even began.

For if you obtain all the conditions required for victory, you’ve already defeated the enemy before the battle has even begun.

And that is what Obama and his campaign staff – indeed, Dem party operatives over the last few decades – did. By attacking and negatively defining Romney in Americans’ eyes before he even won the GOP nomination; by disseminating their own propaganda in all 50 states before the 2012 race even began; by controlling the media, schools, and the academia for decades; by throwing out lots of goodies to tens of millions of Americans who now depend on the government for their livelihood; by building a flawless campaign organization; and by courting key voter demographics over several decades, the Democrats made their victory in 2012 certain and Republicans’ victory impossible – no matter who would’ve been the nominee.

Few generals are able to do this. But Dem operatives and Obama campaign staffers did that. They ensured that the election was over before it began.

These are the real reasons why Mitt Romney, and the whole Republican Party, lost disastrously in 2012. Republicans paid a heavy price that year for ignoring Sun Tzu’s treatise, and they will suffer dreadfully in the future if they continue to ignore his wise advice.

Let Sun Tzu have the last word here, across 2,500 years of time:

“The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:–let such a one be dismissed!”

*The Lionel Giles translation, available for free here, was used for this article unless otherwise stated.

Rebuttal of Friedman’s and Preble’s blatant lies about US nuclear weapons

nukeexplosion

On November 14th, the NY Slimes newspaper published a litany of blatant lies about the US nuclear arsenal,written by Cato’s Benjamin Friedman and Christopher Preble, two anti-defense hacks employed by CATO. In it, Friedman and Preble falsely claim that:

  1. The US nuclear arsenal is “bloated” and amounts to overkill;
  2. Nuclear weapons and the nuclear triad are relics of the Cold War and have been irrelevant in America’s recent wars;
  3. The US doesn’t need a nuclear triad; a monad, specifically a submarine fleet, would be enough;
  4. The number of targets for US nuclear weapons is growing scarcer; Russia allegedly can no longer afford nuclear parity, China has only a few long-range missiles, and NK struggles to deploy even as much (they completely omitted Iran);
  5. A nuclear triad was created and retained solely for bureaucratic reasons to keep both the USAF and the USN happy; and
  6. America retains conventional superiority which, together with missile defense, can substitute for nuclear weapons.

All of these claims are blatant lies. Not even one of them is true. Not even one. Here’s why.

Ad. 1. and 4. The US nuclear arsenal is not bloated nor an overkill at all; in fact, it is barely adequate. Why? Because America’s principal nuclear adversaries – Russia and China – both have large nuclear arsenals and would gladly use them in a first strike if they could get away with it. Surviving a possible Russian or Chinese nuclear first strike and thus providing a credible deterrent requires a LARGE nuclear arsenal; a small one will not suffice. Nuclear deterrence is above all a numbers game – and who has the most nuclear weapons wins. A small nuclear arsenal could be very easily destroyed by both Moscow and Beijing.

Russia currently has:

  • around 415-430 ICBMs collectively capable of delivering at least 1,684 nuclear warheads to the CONUS;
  • 251 strategic bombers, each capable of delivering 6-12 nuclear warheads (typically, 6 cruise missile warheads and one freefall bomb), i.e. 1,700 warheads between them;
  • 13 ballistic missile submarines collectively capable of delivering between 1,400 and 2,000 warheads to the US;
  • at least 4,000 tactical nuclear weapons and a wide variety of means to deliver them (short-range ballistic missiles, theater aircraft, artillery pieces, surface ships, submarines, submarine-launched cruise missiles, etc.).

Russia is now building up and rapidly modernizing its entire nuclear arsenal, including its strategic nuclear triad. It is developing, or already deploying:

  • a new strategic intercontinental bomber, the PAK DA, to replace the Tu-95 strategic bomber;
  • a new ballistic missile submarine class (the Borei class) with two new ballistic missile types (the R-29RMU2 Liner and the RSM-56 Bulava);
  • several new ICBM types (the RS-24 Yars, the “Avangard”, the “Rubezh”, a rail-mobile ICBM, and the “Son of Satan” missile to replace the SS-18 heavy ICBM that can carry 10 warheads and 38 penetration aids);
  • 400 new ICBMs in total, which will be complemented by keeping in service and modernizing some of Russia’s older ICBMs to keep the ICBM fleet above 400 missiles;
  • new warheads; and
  • a full panoply of new tactical delivery systems, including new nuclear-capable cruise and short-range ballistic missiles and theater nuclear strike aircraft (e.g. the Su-34 Fullback).

By 2016, 80%, and by 2021, all of Russia’s ICBMs will be new, post-Cold-War, 5th generation modern ICBMs – the Topol-M (deployed in 1997), the Yars (first deployed in 2010), and even newer missiles. Altogether, by the 2020s, Russia’s nuclear arsenal, especially its nuclear triad, will be even larger and much more lethal and survivable than they are today.

The claim that Russia can no longer retain nuclear parity is also utterly false. Russia is, as demonstrated above, fully modernizing its entire nuclear arsenal, replacing old missiles, submarines, and aircraft with new ones, and is expanding it. And according to CATO’s own Nikolas Gvosdef (backed up by United Press International), Russia will, by 2016, DOUBLE its spending on nuclear weapons from today’s levels.

Russia can easily afford to do so, thanks to high oil and gas prices (oil prices have been very high for years, are currently above $100/barrel and will stay there for a good period of time). Thanks to huge oil and gas revenues and its near-monopoly on gas deliveries to Europe, Russia has a virtually endless stream of revenue for its huge nuclear modernization and expansion program.

Not only that, but Russia is willing to use nuclear weapons first if Moscow thinks it get can away with it. In the last 6 years alone, Moscow has threatened to aim or even launch its nuclear weapons at the US or its allies at least 15 times. This year, it has twice conducted large-scale nuclear exercises simulating a Russian nuclear first strike. Not only that, but Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first in its war doctrine and considers its nuclear arsenal “sacred.”

Also, Russia has, within the last 18 months, simulated a nuclear bomber strike on the US or its close ally Japan several times, including in May 2012 and July 2012 (the Fourth of July, to be precise). When asked in June 2012 by the world media about what they were doing simulating an attack on Alaska, the Russians said they were “practicing attacking the enemy.”

So the Russians consider America their enemy – and have simulated attacking it several times. And they have a huge nuclear arsenal to do so if they ever want to try. America’s nuclear deterrent is the ONLY thing that is preventing them from doing so.

China also has a large nuclear arsenal, though not as large as Russia’s. Nonetheless, it is large, contrary to the false claims of American arms reduction advocates. Former Russian Strategic Missile Force Chief of Staff Gen. Viktor Yesin estimates it at 1,600-1,800 warheads, while Georgetown University Professor Philip Karber (the DOD’s former chief nuclear strategist) puts the figure at up to 3,000 warheads. This analyst, for his part, did his own study on the subject last year and estimated that China has at the very least 1,274 warheads, not including the warheads for the 500 nuclear-armed ground-launched cruise missiles that the DOD warns about.

Specifically, China has:

  • ICBMs: 36 DF-5 heavy ICBMs capable of carrying up to 10 warheads each, over 30 DF-31/31A ICBMs (4 warheads each), at least one DF-41 missile (10 warheads each), 20 DF-4 missiles (3 warheads each), for a total of 550 warheads for ICBMs – all deliverable to the US, though DF-4s can only reach Alaska;
  • 120 medium range ballistic missiles: 100 DF-21s and 20 DF-3s (1 warhead each), for a total of 120 MRBM-attributed warheads;
  • 500 warheads for short-range ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles;
  • 440 nuclear bombs for the PLAAF’s delivery-capable aircraft (440 H-6s, JH-7s, and Q-5s);
  • an unknown number of warheads for the PLAAF’s cruise missiles carried on H-6K bombers;
  • six ballistic missile submarines: one Xia class boat carrying 12 single-warhead missiles and five Jin class boats each carrying 12 JL-2 missiles with 4 warheads each; note that future JL-2 missile variants will be capable of carrying 12 warheads each, over a distance of 14,000 kms.

The CATO anti-nuclear hacks’ claim that China has only a few long-range missiles is a blatant lie (like the rest of what they write); in fact, China has at least 87 (and probably many more, due to continuing DF-31A production) ICBMs and 72 SLBMs. And that number will only grow in the future.

In total, China, by this writer’s calculations based on Chinese ballistic missile, aircraft, and SSBN inventories and on DOD’s data on Chinese SRBMs and cruise missiles, has at least 1,862 warheads, including 802 deliverable to the US (though not all of them to the CONUS). Here’s a map of Chinese ICBM ranges.

PLA_ballistic_missiles_range

Not only that, but Chinese state media have recently boasted of how many ICBMs they can launch at the US and how devastating a first strike they could conduct!

Note that China’s nuclear arsenal, like Russia’s, is not at a standstill and will only get larger, more survivable, and more lethal in the future. China is increasing its inventory of ballistic missile subs, ICBMs, MRBMs, SRBMs, cruise missiles, and is developing:

  • a rail-mobile ICBM;
  • a stealthy intercontinental bomber that will be capable of striking the CONUS with nuclear weapons;
  • new variants of the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile that will be capable of carrying 12 warheads over a distance of 14,000 kms (i.e. striking the CONUS from Chinese ports and territorial waters); and
  • a new ballistic missile submarine class, the Tang class.

And remember: the US needs to deter not only the nuclear-armed adversaries of today, but also those of tomorrow. And tomorrow, America’s adversaries will have more nuclear weapons and delivery systems than today.

On top of that, the US must provide a nuclear umbrella not only to itself, but to over 30 allies who depend on it for their security and their very existence. If it fails to do so – if it continues to cut its nuclear arsenal – they will develop their own atomic weapons, and thus, the nucler proliferation problem will become that much worse. This is not a theoretical concern: already 66.5% of South Koreans want their country to “go nuclear”, and Japan has recently opened a facility allowing it to produce enough material for 3,600 nuclear warheads in a matter of months if need be. Saudi Arabia has reportedly ordered nuclear weapons from Pakistan (to counter Iran), according to the BBC.

Thus, the US nuclear arsenal is by far the most valuable counter-proliferation tool the US has at its disposal. And a large, diverse, survivable nuclear umbrella is absolutely necessary to reassure those allies – and to protect America itself.

And the number of targets for US nuclear weapons is not becoming any scarcer; on the contrary, it is growing in number and striking difficulty.

Russia and China not only have all of the missiles, submarines, and bombers that I’ve listed, but also missile, submarine, and aircraft bases; nuclear warhead, material, and missile production facilities; all tactical nuclear warheads, facilities, and delivery systems (to prevent US allies and troops abroad from being nuked); and, in China’s case, numerous ports and caverns along its coast to hide submarines and 3,000 miles of tunnels to hide land-based missiles.

And as Russia’s and China’s nuclear arsenals grow, the number of targets for American nukes to destroy will grow even further.

All of these Russian and Chinese military assets would need to be destroyed if credible deterrence is to be provided; just destroying enemy missiles is not enough. Not even close.

Why? Because to provide credible deterrence, you have to be able to first survive the enemy’s first strike, then, in your retaliatory strike, destroy the vast majority (if not all) of his military, economic, and strategic assets, so that he can never repeat a strike against you and the consequences of attacking you will be way, way too devastating for him to contemplate such a preemptive strike on you in the first place. THAT is the definition of credible deterrence – and it can be provided for ONLY with a large nuclear arsenal; a small one will never suffice, for it will neither be survivable (too small to survive) nor will it have enough warheads to inflict sufficient punishment on the aggressor.

And if the US cuts its nuclear deterrent significantly further, it will become too small to survive a Russian or Chinese first strike, let alone to deliver a sufficiently painful retaliation against Russia or China, especially given the large number of targets to be hit. And as Russia’s and China’s nuclear arsenals and military establishments grow, the list of targets the US will need to wipe out will only grow over time.

So no, America’s nuclear arsenal is not bloated nor an overkill at all. On the contrary, it is barely adequate today.

Ad. 2. While US nuclear weapons have not been used in any wars since WW2, including America’s most recent wars, that doesn’t mean they’re useless or militarily irrelevant – far from it. They perform THE most important mission of the US military – deterring and thus preventing a catastrophic (nuclear, chemical, or biological) attack on the US and its allies. And they’ve performed that mission flawlessly, without failure, ever since 1945. That is by far the military’s most important mission – and contribution to national security.

The ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu, the author of the Art of War, famously wrote that “to win one hundred battles is not the acme of skill; to subdue the enemy without fighting is.” The corrollary to Master Sun’s saying is that a weapon that deters and subdues the enemy without fighting is worth a hundred times more than a weapon that is actually used in war.

Nuclear weapons deter America’s adversaries without firing a shot. And have successfully done so continously since 1945. No other weapon in America’s inventory has a record that even comes close.

And regarding the wars which America has recently fought: what have these wars done to increase America’s national security or advance its national interests? Absolutely nothing – and they have cost a lot of money (over $100 bn per year) and over 6,000 US troops’ lives – all for no gain whatsoever.

By contrast, nuclear weapons have protected America against the gravest threats to its security, including Russia, China, and North Korea, throughout all that time and still do today, at a cost of just $31 bn per year (5% of the military budget and a fraction of the total federal budget). Far better would it be to continue investing in them than in useless wars.

The implication by Friedman and Preble that nuclear weapons are Cold War relics is also utterly false. The need for nuclear deterrence – and indeed, for a LARGE US nuclear arsenal, is only growing, not shrinking. The US now has to deter three hostile nuclear powers (Russia, China, North Korea, the first two wielding atomic arsenals), soon to be joined by Iran, and to reassure over 30 allies who depend on the American atomic umbrella for their survival. The need for, and the importance of, a large US nuclear arsenal is only growing, not shrinking.

Ad. 3 and 5. The claim that ballistic missile submarines alone would be enough, and that a nuclear triad of subs, ICBMs, and bombers is unneeded, is completely false. A nuclear triad is by far the most survivable deterrence arrangement and is based on rational thinking: never put all your eggs into one basked. No sane person does this; every sane person (not just savvy investors) diversifies their portfolios of assets.

Cutting down to a monad would leave America’s adversaries with only one, simple, one-dimensional problem: how to detect America’s SSBNs?

Should the US ever simplify this issue so much for its enemies, they’ll solve the problem – they’ll invest sufficient resources in solving it. According to recent news, China’s and Russia’s ASW capabilities are woefully underappreciated in the West, Admiral Greenert’s boasting that “we totally own the undersea domain” notwithstanding. And US intel has been taken completely by surprise by America’s enemies’ capabilities and actions so many times that it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t know China and/or Russia had potent ASW capabilities. US intel is ignorant of many things it should know.

In fact, as Canadian Professor Roger Thompson revealed in his article several years ago, during the Cold War Soviet submarines detected American SSBNs on numerous occassions. For example, in 1985, the Soviet submarine K-324 snuck up to and detected American ballistic missile subs on three different occassions! Meanwhile, another Soviet sub tailed another American SSBN for FIVE DAYS! And in the late 1980s, an obsolete, noisy USN attack submarine was able to sneek up to and hunt down yet another American SSBN; a Canadian submarine repeated that feat in 1992.

So much for Preble’s and Friedman’s myth that America’s ballistic missile subs are undetectable and no enemy could ever detect them. What a human hand has built, a human hand can built the equipment to detect and sink. One more time to remember NEVER to put all your eggs into one basket.

As Robert D. Kaplan rightly says, “never give your opponent too few problems to solve because if you do, he’ll solve them.” You can be sure as hell Moscow and Beijing would quickly solve the singular problem of how to hunt down American SSBNs if the question of attacking America were reduced just to that problem.

Friedman’s and Preble’s claim that the nuclear triad arose from bureaucratic politics (keeping both the USAF and the USN happy by giving both a nuclear role) is also a blatant lie, like the rest of what they write. If it were true, why hasn’t Washington also given the Army and the Marines a nuclear role? Answer: because Friedman’s and Preble’s claim is a lie.

In reality, Washington created a nuclear triad of ICBMs, bombers, and submarines because that is by far the most survivable arrangement – far more than relying on any one leg. It greatly complicates the enemy’s planning, for he would have to target not just the subs but also the bombers (and shoot down any that would be airborne) and all US ICBMs.

And for that reason – NOT because of interservice rivalry – every administration since the 1950s has reaffirmed the nuclear triad as the most survivable form of deterrence.

If a nuclear triad is an obsolete Cold War arrangement, why do the Russians, the Chinese, and the Israelis all retain, modernize, and expand their nuclear triads?

Answer: because they know it’s by far the most survivable deterrence arrangement.

Finally, Ad. 6.: the claim that alleged US conventional superiority and missile defense improvements can replace nuclear weapons.

In fact, US conventional superiority is history, thanks to successive administrations’ neglect of defense issues and especially conventional forces and weapons, due first to post-Cold-War defense cuts (1989-2001) and then to an opinion spurred by 9/11 that conventional forces and weapons were irrelevant. As a result, the US has already lost its conventional edge; to speak of any US conventional warfare advantage is utter idiocy.

For example, while the US has foolishly killed F-22 fighter production at just 187 aircraft, Russia’s and China’s 5th generation stealthy fighters are proceeding smoothly, and both countries will eventually field hundreds of such aircraft. China’s newest Type 052 destroyers are superior to all USN surface combatants except the USS Zumwalt. The US Navy’s anti-submarine warfare skills have atrophied so badly that in numerous exercises with foreign navies involving their diesel-electric subs it never succeeded in detecting these subs.

Had those exercises been real combat, ALL carriers of the US Navy would’ve been at the bottom of the ocean. So much for America’s much-vaunted carriers.

As for missile defense, it is still in its infancy, and questions abound about such systems’ ability to intercept targets and to discriminate real warheads from decoys. Moreover, missile defense can be easily overwhelmed by any enemy with sheer numbers of offensive missiles – which cost much less than the interceptors intended to shoot them down.

No, conventional weapons and missile defense can NEVER substitute for nuclear weapons – as Gen. Kevin Chilton warned in 2011 when he was commander of the Strategic Command.

In sum, all of Friedman’s and Preble’s claims are blatant lies. No, the US nuclear arsenal is not oversized, bloated, nor an “overkill.” A large nuclear deterrent is STILL needed, and will be for the foreseeable future – to deter Russia, China, and North Korea, and to reassure over 30 US allies to depend on it. A small nuclear arsenal will not suffice – it would be way too easy to destroy in a first strike.

And in nuclear deterrence, what matters is how many weapons you’d have AFTER an enemy first strike – not before.

Endnote: A nuclear triad is a Cold War relic? Oops, someone forgot to tell that to the Russians, the Chinese, and the Israelis! :)

UPDATE: Friedman and Preble will hold a pro-unilateral disarmament propaganda event on Capitol Hill on Monday, Nov. 25th.

Rebuttal of political admiral’s false claims about Chinese submarines

Hainan-full

On Saturday, during the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Reagan Presidential Library, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, a political admiral whom President Obama appointed Chief of Naval Operations in 2011, dismissed China’s entire ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) fleet as not being credible. He furthermore said:

“For a submarine-launched ballistic missile to be effective it has to be accurate, and you have to be stealthy, and survivable and I’ll leave it at that.”

This wasn’t the first time that a senior DOD official dismissed the military threat posed by China, nor will it be the last, I suspect. But throughout all human history, underestimating and dismissing the enemy has ALWAYS cost dearly those who did so – including the US. China is, militarily, far stronger than any US official and most think-tankers and journalists are prepared to admit – it is, in fact, already almost as strong as the US. Dismissing the Chinese threat will lull the American people into a false sense of security and cause America to be unprepared for this threat.

And specifically, dismissing the JL-2 missile and the Jin class of SSBNs is a particularly foolish and disqualifying error.

As far as accuracy goes, the JL-2 is pretty accurate – with a circular error probable (CEP) of just 300 meters, similar to modern Western missiles. CEP is the measure used by virtually all military men and defense analysts to measure ballistic missile accuracy.

As far as stealthiness and survivability goes, this is also no problem for the Chinese navy. While some have claimed that Jin class submarines are noisy, so are the US Navy’s Ohio class ballistic missile submarines – probably even more so  because they are obsolete 1970s’ technology, while the Jin class is a 21st century class of submarines.

Moreover, the basic JL-2 variant (the one currently in service) has a range of 8,000 kms, which means it can strike any target on the West Coast while being just east of Japan, at 150E. If it sails a little further to the east, towards 160E, it can strike any target in the CONUS with nuclear weapons. Indeed, as recently as 2008 the DOD itself admitted that the JL-2 had an 8,000 km range and the ability to hit most of the CONUS. See the map below, from the 2008 DOD report on China’s military power.

PLA_ballistic_missiles_range

(GlobalSecurity.org says the basic JL-2 variant may even have a range of 9,000 kms.)

While many Sinophile Chinese threat understaters, including DOD bureaucrats, have falsely claimed that the JL-2’s range is just 7,000-7,400 kms, the truth is that the missile’s range is actually 8,000 kms, putting the entire West Coast within its range if launched from just east of Japan, at 150E.

And survivability? That of the Jin class is good, no matter where it deploys. If it operates within the First Island Chain – the waters between China and Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia – it will be able to evade detection quite easily, because these waters are congested and noisy. If the Jin class deploys outside the First Island Chain, in the open ocean, it is also highly likely to survive due to the vast swathes of that ocean.

The facts remain the facts. No matter what China’s friends and Obama’s political appointees, including Admiral Greenert, say to dismiss the Chinese threat, the fact remains that this threat is huge and growing every day. No amount of lies by political appointees like Admiral Greenert will change that fact.

The “we don’t need so many warheads” lie

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Among the many lies being repeated by the Left in defense of Obama’s plan to further deeply cut America’s nuclear deterrent is the blatant lie that America can safely afford to continue cutting its deterrent indefinitely and could maintain deterrence even with a significantly reduced arsenal. Obama made that blatant lie himself during his infamous June 19th speech in Berlin, and the White House trots out that lie in its pseudo-“fact sheet” about Obama’s plan.

But they’re blatantly lying. America’s nuclear deterrent is already barely adequate (as well as old and in need of modernization). It cannot be cut indefinitely. In fact, it cannot be safely cut any further.

Here’s why.

To provide credible nuclear deterrence, you need to:

1) Be able to threaten the vast majority of all of your adversaries’ military, economic, and other strategic assets with destruction (threatening only some, or half, or 55%, of them is woefully inadequate because the other half or 45% will survive), and to threaten all the assets of Russia or China you need THOUSANDS of warheads; and

2) A small nuclear arsenal would not be survivable – it would be easy for an enemy to destroy in a first strike. The smaller it is, the less survivable and easier to destroy in a first strike it is. A few submarines and a few bomber bases would be far easier to destroy in a surprising first strike than 14 submarines, several bomber bases, and 450 ICBMs in hardened siloes.

These two interrelated factors are extremely important because what determines your deterring ability – or the lack thereof – is how many warheads and delivery systems you have left after a possible enemy first strike. If you have a large number of these left to unleash a devastating second strike on your enemy, he won’t attack in the first place. But it has to be a large number – huge enough to devastate his entire country, economy, and military. This is a numbers game. Here, numbers reign supreme.

—————–

What are the nuclear capabilities of America’s potential adversaries? Who are the adversaries America must deter?

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 1,700 warheads to the middle of America.

Russia’s strategic nuclear triad consists of:

  • 251 intercontinental bombers (64 Tu-95s, 16 Tu-160s, 171 Tu-22Ms), each capable of carrying 6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and one free-fall nuclear bomb;
  • 75 SS-18 Satan heavy ICBMs (up to 10 warheads and 38 penetration aids each);
  • 136 SS-19 Stilletto ICBMs (up to 6 warheads each);
  • 171 SS-25 Sickle single-warhead ICBMs;
  • 75 SS-27 Stalin single-warhead ICBMs;
  • 18 RS-24 Yars ICBMs (4 warheads each);
  • 13 ballistic missile subs capable of carrying 16 SLBMs and one (the Dmitry Donskoi) capable of carrying 20 SLBMs; each sub-launched ballistic missile, in turn, can carry 4, 10, or 12 warheads depending on the type (R-29RMU Sinyeva, RSM-56 Bulava, or R-29RMU2 Liner, respectively). Russia has ordered hundreds of these SLBMs.

In total, Russia’s ICBM fleet alone – to say nothing of its submarine or bomber fleet – can deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS. Russia’s bomber fleet could deliver over 1,700.

In recent years, while the US has been steadily cutting its arsenal unilaterally under New START, Russia has been growing its own, as it is allowed to do under the treaty. Also, the document contains no restrictions whatsoever on road- and rail-mobile ICBMs, treats every bomber as if it were carrying a single nuclear warhead, and doesn’t limit Russian ICBMs’ carriage capacity or throw-weight – which are huge loopholes that Russia is only too eager to exploit.

Russia is now developing a rail-mobile ICBM as well as replacements for Russia’s older ICBMs: a heavy ICBM called “Son of Satan” (designed to replace the SS-18 Satan) and a mid-weight ICBM called the Rubezh to replace the SS-19 and SS-25, while continuing RS-24 Yars production. Meanwhile, the US has no plans to develop a road- or rail-mobile ICBM (although the USAF is considering the rail-mobile version), and development of the next-generation ICBM – the replacement for America’s aging Minuteman ICBMs – has been delayed by many years for political reasons.

Moscow is also developing and testing an IRBM, the Yars-M (AKA Rubezh), in violation of the INF treaty – showing that arms control treaties signed with Russia are worthless pieces of paper.

On top of that, Russia has a huge tactical nuclear arsenal – much larger than America’s. Estimates of its size vary, but various sources say it numbers up to 4,000 warheads (all deliverable) – much more than America’s ca. 500. These 4,000 warheads can be delivered by a wide range of systems, from short-range ballistic missiles, to theater strike aircraft, to bombers, to torpedoes and surface ships, to cruise missiles, to artillery pieces, because they come in various forms: nuclear bombs, torpedo warheads, depth charges, artillery shells, cruise missile warheads, etc.

China, like Russia, has a large nuclear arsenal – far larger than the 240 warheads American arms control advocates claim. In fact, China has at least 1,600, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, most of them hidden in the 3,000 miles of tunnels it has built for its arsenal. The two estimates come from Gen. Viktor Yesin (Russian ICBM force CoS, ret.), and Professor Philip Karber, the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist during the Cold War. The existence and length of these tunnels is a confirmed fact.

To deliver its warheads, China has:

  • 36 DF-5 heavy ICBMs (up to 10 warheads each);
  • at least 30, and likely far more, DF-31 ICBMs (3-4 warheads each);
  • at least one DF-41 heavy ICBM (10 warheads);
  • 20 DF-4 IRBMs (3 warheads each);
  • 20 DF-3 single-warhead MRBMs;
  • 100 DF-21 MRBMs;
  • 500 DH-10, CJ-10, and Hongniao cruise missiles;
  • 440 nuclear-capable aircraft (Q-5, JH-7, H-6) each with at least one warhead attributed to them (the H-6K bomber variant can carry several nuclear- or conventional-tipped cruise missiles as well);
  • 1 Xia class SSBN with 12 single-warhead JL-1 missiles; and
  • 5 Jin class SSBNs with 12-24 4-warhead JL-2 missiles, with a sixth under construction to replace the Xia class boat.

On top of that, China has between 1,100 and 1,600, and possibly more, short-range ballistic missiles, though it isn’t known how many of these are armed with nuclear warheads.

 

China, of course, stubbornly refuses to reveal anything about its nuclear arsenal, while falsely claiming it pursues a “minimum nuclear deterrent” policy, even though it is evident to everyone except the willfully blind it has thousands, not mere hundreds, of warheads.

Over a year ago, this writer, based on very conservative estimates of China’s missile stocks and their warhead carriage capacity, estimated China had 1,274 nuclear warheads. This was calculated as follows:

I started with the 440 aircraft-deliverable nuclear bombs owned by the PLAAF and attributed to its H-6, Q-5, and JH-7 aircraft. Then, I added 10 warheads for each of China’s 36 DF-5 ICBMs, then, one DF-41 ICBM with 10 warheads, then, 40 DF-3 and DF-4 MRBMs, then 100 DF-21 MRBMs, then 90 warheads for China’s 30 DF-31 ICBMs, and finally, 12 warheads for China’s 12 JL-1 SLBMs and 240 warheads for its (at least) 60 JL-2 SLBMs (12 missiles per boat, 4 warheads per missile).

Keep in mind that the 4-warhead JL-2 is just the basic variant of the missile. China is already developing (if it hasn’t already deployed) two new variants of the JL-2:  Jia, capable of carrying 8 warheads over 12,000 kms, and Yi, capable of carrying 12 warheads over a distance of 14,000 kilometers. China is also building a sixth Jin class submarine to replace the sole Xia class boat.

So in the future, China will have even more ballistic missile subs, more SLBMs, and more nuclear warheads than it already has – which means the number of nukes required to deter China will only grow.

And I was so conservative in my estimates that I didn’t count a single Chinese SRBM or cruise missile as being nuclear-armed. If any such missile is armed – and the DOD says 500 such land-based missiles are – China’s nuclear arsenal – and the US arsenal required to deter Beijing – are even greater.

Besides Russia and China – two huge nuclear threats to US and allied security – the US also has to deter North Korea (which already has ICBMs capable of reaching the US) and Iran (which, within a month, may have enough HEU to build a nuclear warhead).

So the US currently has to deter three, soon to be four, hostile nuclear powers, two of whom have large, diverse, and very capable and survivable nuclear arsenals.

On top of that, the US has to provide a nuclear umbrella not only to itself, but also to over 30 allies, many of whom will have no choice but to develop their own nuclear weapons if the US continues to cut its umbrella. 66.5% of South Koreans already want to do this, and Japan has facilities enabling it to produce enough fissile material for 3,600 nuclear warheads if it chose to.

You see, while Russia and China are threats to many but protectors to nobody, the US is a protector of itself and 30 allies.

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 advocates of cutting America’s nuclear arsenal want the US not only to slavishly adhere to such treaties (while Russia doesn’t), but even cut its arsenal further deeply and unilaterally.

Then there’s North Korea with its nuclear arsenal (which it has recently announced it will grow its nuclear arsenal) 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 since WW2.

But if the nuclear arsenal is cut further, and America’s already deficient conventional capabilities continue to atrophy under sequestration, a large-scale conventional attack is inevitable.

The military and geopolitical reality is simple. If the US cuts its nuclear arsenal further deeply and unilaterally, a nuclear first strike by Russia or even China is virtually guaranteed – as is the acqusition of nuclear weapons by America’s allies in the Middle East and the Asia Pacific, none of whom can afford to bet their security, and their very existence, on the “less nukes will make us safer” and “a world without nukes” fantasies of Barack Obama and his pacifist friends in Western pro-disarmament organizations.

Rebuttal of the ridiculous Roll Call commentary

Putin KGB officer

Several weeks ago, the Roll Coll magazine published a ridiculous commentary by an anti-nuclear activist who seeks America’s unilateral disarmament and has launched yet another attack on the US nuclear deterrent – and more specifically, on the Navy’s ballistic missile submarine replacement program. He wants the Navy to cut the planned order from 12 to just 8 subs.

That commentary is a litany of blatant lies. There isn’t enough space here to refute all of these, but I will refute the most outrageous lies. (Dr Loren Thompson, who taught the subject of nuclear deterrence at Georgetown University for many years, has written his own rebuttal of the Roll Call piece.)

What’s wrong with that Roll Call piece? To start with, everything.

Because the author is an anti-nuclear activist seeking America’s nuclear disarmament, he wants to mislead the public into thinking that America’s nuclear deterrent can be safely reduced sharply and eventually scrapped. In order to mislead the public this way, he makes a number of utterly false claims.

For starters, he lies that “the Pentagon needs to resize its sub program based on the understanding that the U.S. can meet today’s security challenges with fewer nuclear weapons at less cost.” This is totally false.

In fact, the need for nuclear deterrence has not shrank at all since the end of the Cold War; if anything, that need has grown. During the Cold War, the US had to deter the Soviet Union, and on a lesser scale, China. Now it has to deter Russia and China – both of whom have large arsenals – as well as North Korea and Iran.

And while these countries are threats to many and protectors to nobody, the US has to provide a large nuclear umbrella not just for itself, but for over 30 of its allies – many of whom will “go nuclear” if the US continues to cut its own arsenal. 66% of South Koreans already want their country to do so.

Deterring Russia and China will require a nuclear arsenal of a size no smaller than the current one, and probably larger. Russia’s strategic nuclear triad consists of:

  • 251 intercontinental bombers (64 Tu-95s, 16 Tu-160s, 171 Tu-22Ms), each capable of carrying 6 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and one free-fall nuclear bomb;
  • 75 SS-18 Satan heavy ICBMs (up to 10 warheads and 38 penetration aids each);
  • 136 SS-19 Stilletto ICBMs (up to 6 warheads each);
  • 171 SS-25 Sickle single-warhead ICBMs (though recent reports claim they can carry multiple warheads);
  • 78 SS-27 Stalin single-warhead ICBMs;
  • 18 RS-24 Yars ICBMs (4 warheads each);
  • 13 ballistic missile subs capable of carrying 16 SLBMs and one (the Dmitry Donskoi) capable of carrying 20 SLBMs; each sub-launched ballistic missile, in turn, can carry 4, 10, or 12 warheads depending on the type (R-29RMU Sinyeva, RSM-56 Bulava, or R-29RMU2 Liner, respectively). Russia has ordered hundreds of these SLBMs.

In total, Russia’s ICBM fleet alone – to say nothing of its submarine or bomber fleet – can deliver 1,684 warheads to the CONUS. Russia’s bomber fleet could deliver over 1,700. Russia’s ballistic missile submarines could deliver between 1,500 and 2,000, depending on the types of missiles used.

A large, diverse nuclear arsenal – such as the one America has today – would be hard even for these thousands of warheads to destroy in a first strike. But a smaller one, such as a fleet of only eight SSBNs, only 4 of which would be at sea at any given moment, would be much easier to decapitate.

In recent years, while the US has been steadily cutting its arsenal unilaterally under New START, Russia has been growing its own, as it is allowed to do under the treaty. Also, the document contains no restrictions whatsoever on road- and rail-mobile ICBMs, treats every bomber as if it were carrying a single nuclear warhead, and doesn’t limit Russian ICBMs’ carriage capacity or throw-weight – which are huge loopholes that Russia is only too eager to exploit.

Russia is now developing a rail-mobile ICBM as well as replacements for Russia’s older ICBMs: a heavy ICBM called “Son of Satan” (designed to replace the SS-18 Satan) and a mid-weight ICBM called the Rubezh to replace the SS-19 and SS-25, while continuing RS-24 Yars production. Vladimir Putin announced last year that Moscow would order 400 new ICBMs for its strategic missile force. Meanwhile, the US has no plans to develop a road- or rail-mobile ICBM (although the USAF is considering the rail-mobile version), and development of the next-generation ICBM – the replacement for America’s aging Minuteman ICBMs – has been delayed by many years for political reasons.

Moscow is also developing and testing an IRBM, the Yars-M, in violation of the INF treaty – showing that arms control treaties signed with Russia are worthless pieces of paper.

On top of that, Russia has a huge tactical nuclear arsenal – much larger than America’s. Estimates of its size vary, but various sources say it numbers up to 4,000 warheads (all deliverable) – much more than America’s ca. 500. These 4,000 warheads can be delivered by a wide range of systems, from short-range ballistic missiles, to theater strike aircraft, to bombers, to torpedoes and surface ships, to cruise missiles, to artillery pieces, because they come in various forms: nuclear bombs, torpedo warheads, depth charges, artillery shells, cruise missile warheads, etc.

China, like Russia, has a large nuclear arsenal – far larger than the 240 warheads American arms control advocates claim. In fact, China has at least 1,600, and up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, most of them hidden in the 3,000 miles of tunnels it has built for its arsenal. The two estimates come from Gen. Viktor Yesin (Russian ICBM force CoS, ret.), and Professor Philip Karber, the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist during the Cold War. The existence and length of these tunnels is a confirmed fact.

To deliver its warheads, China has:

  • 36 DF-5 heavy ICBMs (up to 10 warheads each);
  • at least 30, and likely far more, DF-31 ICBMs (3-4 warheads each);
  • at least one DF-41 heavy ICBM (10 warheads);
  • 20 DF-4 IRBMs (3 warheads each);
  • 20 DF-3 single-warhead MRBMs;
  • 100 DF-21 MRBMs;
  • 500 DH-10, CJ-10, and Hongniao cruise missiles;
  • 440 nuclear-capable aircraft (Q-5, JH-7, H-6) each with at least one warhead attributed to them (the H-6K bomber variant can carry several nuclear- or conventional-tipped cruise missiles as well);
  • 1 Xia class SSBN with 12 single-warhead JL-1 missiles; and
  • 5 Jin class SSBNs with 12-24 four-warhead JL-2 missiles, with a sixth under construction to replace the Xia class boat.

On top of that, China has between 1,100 and 1,600, and possibly more, short-range ballistic missiles, though it isn’t known how many of these are armed with nuclear warheads.

China, of course, stubbornly refuses to reveal anything about its nuclear arsenal, while falsely claiming it pursues a “minimum nuclear deterrent” policy, even though it is evident to everyone except the willfully blind it has thousands, not mere hundreds, of warheads.

Over a year ago, this writer, based on very conservative estimates of China’s missile stocks and their warhead carriage capacity, estimated China had 1,274 nuclear warheads. This was calculated as follows:

I started with the 440 aircraft-deliverable nuclear bombs owned by the PLAAF and attributed to its H-6, Q-5, and JH-7 aircraft. Then, I added 10 warheads for each of China’s 36 DF-5 ICBMs, then, one DF-41 ICBM with 10 warheads, then, 40 DF-3 and DF-4 MRBMs, then 100 DF-21 MRBMs, then 90 warheads for China’s 30 DF-31 ICBMs, and finally, 12 warheads for China’s 12 JL-1 SLBMs and 240 warheads for its (at least) 60 JL-2 SLBMs (12 missiles per boat, 4 warheads per missile).

Keep in mind that the 4-warhead JL-2 is just the basic variant of the missile. China is already developing (if it hasn’t already deployed) two new variants of the JL-2:  Jia, capable of carrying 8 warheads over 12,000 kms, and Yi, capable of carrying 12 warheads over a distance of 14,000 kilometers. China is also building a sixth Jin class submarine to replace the sole Xia class boat.

So in the future, China will have even more ballistic missile subs, more SLBMs, and more nuclear warheads than it already has – which means the number of nukes required to deter China will only grow.

I was so conservative in my estimates that I didn’t count a single Chinese SRBM or cruise missile as being nuclear-armed. If any such missile is armed – and the DOD says 500 such land-based missiles are – China’s nuclear arsenal – and the US arsenal required to deter Beijing – are even greater.

Besides Russia and China – two huge nuclear threats to US and allied security – the US also has to deter North Korea (which already has ICBMs capable of reaching the US) and Iran (which, within a month, may have enough HEU to build a nuclear warhead).

So the US currently has to deter three, soon to be four, hostile nuclear powers, two of whom have large, diverse, and very capable and survivable nuclear arsenals.

On top of that, the US has to provide a nuclear umbrella not only to itself, but also to over 30 allies, many of whom will have no choice but to develop their own nuclear weapons if the US continues to cut its umbrella. 66.5% of South Koreans already want to do this, and Japan has facilities enabling it to produce enough fissile material for 3,600 nuclear warheads if it chose to.

You see, while Russia and China are threats to many but protectors to nobody, the US is a protector of itself and 30 allies.

Moreover, as Dr Thompson rightly observes in his own case for 12 SSBNs, the future submarine fleet will have to meet the security challenges of tomorrow, not today. And in the future, we will see Russia’s, China’s, and North Korea’s nuclear arsenals only grow, not shrink. That will be the consequence of continued cuts and neglect of America’s nuclear umbrella.

And why does the size of that umbrella matter? Because a nuclear arsenal HAS to be large in order to a) survive a possible enemy first strike, and b) be able to hold enough enemy assets (military bases, submarines, ICBM siloes and trains, industrial facilities, HQs, comm centers) at risk. A small arsenal would be woefully inadequate. And 8 ballistic missile subs would be woefully insufficient, as only about half of these eight boats would be at sea on patrol at any given time, the rest being in refit. Putting one’s eggs in so few baskets – only about four – is ridiculously dangerous, especially in the nuclear deterrence business, where there is ZERO permissible margin of error. In this business, it is far better to have more weapons than you need as opposed to not enough weapons.

The Navy and the DOD have not taken the required number of 12 ballistic missile subs out of thin air. They arrived at it through a lengthy, rigorous analysis of enemy nuclear arsenals and of deterrence requirements. Anything less than 12 SSBNs will be utterly inadequate. No amount of lies by anti-nuclear activists will change these facts.

Why the modernization of the B61 nuclear bomb is absolutely necessary

nukeexplosion

A program to modernize the B61 nuclear bomb – the main nuclear munition of the bomber leg of the US nuclear triad – is underway. Predictably, the left – both Congressional Democrat and their friends in pro-unilateral-disarmament organizations (ACA, Ploughshares, the CLW, etc.) oppose this vital program (and all other US military modernization programs) and are spreading lies about it. Let me set the record straight, then.

The B61 warhead is the main nuclear weapon used both by the air leg of the US strategic triad (consisting of bombers, ICBMs, submarines) and by US and NATO theater strike aircraft. It has one, albeit very important, purpose: to provide nuclear deterrence.

The B61 does this in two ways, not just one. Half of these bombs are based in the US and attributed to B-2 and B-52 strategic bombers, thus providing a global nuclear umbrella for the US and all of its allies around the world. But the other half of the B61 bomb inventory (numbering 400 warheads in total) is deployed in Europe, providing a continous, visible tactical nuclear deterrent to America’s 29 European allies, present right there on European soil. Nothing builds American allies’ confidence in that deterrent, and in America’s credibility as its provider, better than the physical presence of US tactical weapons in Europe, the need for which was recently reaffirmed by NATO at its latest summit. NATO has also stated that nuclear deterrence is a “core competency” of the Alliance and that it will remain a nuclear-armed alliance “as long as nuclear weapons exist.”

The B61 warhead thus serves both to deter any aggressor, and reassure any ally, globally, and on a regional scale to provide a tactical nuclear deterrent in Europe against any aggressor – most likely Russia – who might attack America’s allies there. The B61 could also be deployed to the Asia-Pacific to reassure America’s allies there and to deter North Korea and China if need be. Indeed, over 70% of South Koreans WANT US tactical nuclear weapons to be brought back to the Korean Peninsula.

The B61 is therefore a weapon that the military and America’s allies want and need.

(BTW, anti-defense activists and organizations love to admonish us defense conservatives not to fund weapon programs that “the military doesn’t want” when a DOD official expresses doubts about a weapon program, but hypocritically, they NEVER listen to the military’s leaders when they express full support for a weapon – be it the B61 bomb or the Next Generation Bomber.)

At a recent hearing before the House Strategic Forces Subcomittee led by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), four Obama administration officials (yes, Obama admin officials) very strongly underlined the importance of the B61 modernization program and the above-mentioned reasons for pursuing it. These officials were: Gen. C. Robert Kehler, the commander of the US Strategic Command; Madelyn Creedon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategic Affairs; Donald L. Cook, Deputy Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration; and Paul J. Hommert, Director of Sandia National Laboratories.

You can read this excellent article by Bill Gertz, summarizing accurately their testimonies, here. They were all very outspoken about the need for modernizing this crucial warhead. General Kehler’s remarks deserve to be quoted in full here, however. The general said:

“Our requirement to deter nuclear attack is a military mission. This B-61 weapon arms the B-2. It will arm the future long-range strike platform. It arms the dual-capable aircraft that are forward stationed in Europe as well as those of our NATO allies.

It’s about deterring; it’s about assuring our allies of our extended deterrent commitment to them and from a military standpoint it’s about being able to offer the president a series of options that include nuclear options in extreme circumstances.

Equipping current and future nuclear bombers is a “necessary and crucial component of the triad and arming that force is a top priority.”

And the general is absolutely right. Even the best bombers, ICBMs, or SLBMs in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t have any nuclear warheads for them to deliver. The bomber (and theater strike aircraft) fleet’s principal nuclear bomb is the B61.

And the cost? The Ploughshares Fund falsely claims the B61 is a “nuclear budget buster.” That is a blatant lie. According to the Gertz article, modernizing those 400 B61 bombs will cost only $8.1 bn over 11 years. That is just $737 mn per year. Less than a billion dollars. Less than one sixth of one percent of the military budget.

Cancelling the modernization program of this bomb – or of America’s nuclear arsenal in general – would thus do absolutely nothing to help the military pay for the huge budget cuts mandated by the sequester ($55 bn per year), or America to cope with its budget woes.

Because the military is not the source of these woes. Entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) are. They account for over 60% of the entire federal budget.

THESE are the real budget busters.

The US urgently needs to modernize its B61 nuclear bombs – and, for that matter, all other warheads in its arsenal, as well as all three classes of delivery systems – ICBMs, submarines, and bombers. Failure to do so would mean de facto unilateral disarmament – and invite a nuclear first strike on the US or its allies by Russia or China.

http://freebeacon.com/pentagon-energy-department-moving-ahead-with-upgraded-precision-guided-nuclear-bomb/

UPDATE: Speaking recently for interviews with Agence France-Presse (who repeated their blatant lies uncritically), anti-nuclear activist Kingston Reif falsely claimed that the B61 upgrade is “unaffordable, unworkable, and unnecessary”, while ACA’s Tom Collina falsely claims that the B61 upgrade will impede arms reduction talks with Russia and cause Moscow to deploy new, more powerful, tactical nukes in Europe or elsewhere.

Their claims are blatant lies. Here’s why:

1) The truth is the exact opposite of what Kingston Reif and Tom Collina claim: the upgrade of the B61 is absolutely necessary, well affordable, and very much workable. It is affordable because even if it ultimately costs $10 bn, that’s just $732 million over the next 11 years (the duration of the works). That’s peanuts.

It is absolutely necessary, because while the US has removed thousands of tactical nukes from Europe, Russia still retains 4,000 tactical nukes (and a wide range of delivery systems for them) on the continent. Not only that, but Russia has reserved to itself the right to use nuclear weapons first, even against a non-nuclear state, and has threatened to use, or aim, its nuclear weapons against European countries at least 15 different times during the past 6 years. It is now growing and modernizing its nuclear arsenal (including the tactical portion, with new Iskander missiles and Su-34 tactical jets).

It would be utterly foolish, and indeed suicidal, to unilaterally disarm (by not modernizing the B61) in the face of such an aggressive potential adversary. In addition, the B61 is also needed to equip the bomber force for strategic deterrence and is also needed to deter China and North Korea in Asia. As General Bob Kehler, the commander of STRATCOM, has said, the B61 is the only US nuclear bomb that can serve both strategic and tactical deterrence purposes. (Nonetheless, the Obama administration is wrong to retire the B83 strategic bomb, the most powerful bomb in the US arsenal.)

2) Upgrading the B61 will NOT undermine prospects for further arms control treaties with Russia in any way, because there are already ZERO prospects for further such agreements. Immediately after Obama proposed a new round of nuclear arms cuts with Russia in June in Berlin, Moscow immediately rejected that proposal and continues to reject it (and to grow and modernize its nuclear arsenal). There is ZERO chance of any such treaty.

3) And that’s actually good, because all arms control treaties signed to date by the US have done nothing but dramatically REDUCE the security of the US and all of its allies while emboldening America’s enemies. Over twenty years of continually cutting and refusing to modernize the US nuclear arsenal have utterly failed to convince other states to give up their nukes, to stop them from modernizing their arsenals, or even to prevent the emergence of new nuclear powers. In fact, since 1991, while the US has cut its nuclear arsenal by 75%, two new states have joined the nuclear club: Pakistan in 1998 and North Korea in 2006. Two new entrants are well on their way: Iran and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has already bought nuclear weapons in Pakistan which are ready for delivery.

Arms control treaties have resulted in ONLY the US (and for a while, Russia) significantly cutting its nuclear arsenal. They do nothing but gravely UNDERMINE US and allied security. This is especially true of the New START treaty, which obligates ONLY the US (not Russia) to cut its nuclear arsenal. God forbid that Obama have any opportunity to sign more treaties like that!

Arms control treaties serve NO purpose but to hog-tie and disarm the West unilaterally. As Ronald Reagan rightly said, “We honor our arms control treaty obligations. Those who wish to do us harm don’t.”

In addition, Russia is blatantly violating the INF Treaty by testing intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which is prohibited by the treaty. Why rush to sign another pact with a country that flagrantly violates every arms reduction treaty it signs?

4) It is absolutely necessary to fully modernize the entire US nuclear arsenal in the face of the nuclear threats from Russia, but also China, North Korea, and Iran. This might prove expensive – but nowhere near as costly as allowing a nuclear attack on the US to be conducted successfully. Since 1945, US nuclear weapons have completely prevented any nuclear attack on the US or any of its allies – without any failure. No other weapon type has a record that even comes close. That alone makes investing in nuclear weapons and their modernization worthwhile.

The ancient military strategist Sun Tzu said that “To win 100 battles is not the acme of skill; to subdue the enemy without fighting is.” The corrollary to Sun Tzu’s saying is that weapons which prevent wars are worth a million times more than weapons which are actually used in wars.

Sun Tzu predicted Republicans’ and Tea Partiers’ defeat over 2,500 years ago

suntzusartofwar

Well before the government shutdown had begun, I knew it was a supremely stupid idea and a fight that would gain nothing for Republicans and the Tea Party (other than further damage of their image in the American people’s eyes), and I warned my friends on Facebook who thought it was a good idea they were wrong.

On October 11th, after 10 days of the shutdown, CDN published my article explaining, in detail, why the government shutdown was a foolish idea, why there was nothing to be gained from it, why it was impossible to repeal or defund Obamacare while Obama is still wielding a veto pen (and a 55-seat Senate majority), and why Republicans need to first win the argument, then win the vote, and only then make policy. I also predicted Republicans would eventually cave in.

I was right, and those who argued otherwise, including Tea Partiers, were dead wrong. But another man had predicted Republicans’ and Tea Partiers’ defeat much earlier – in fact, over 2,500 years ago. His name is Sun Tzu.

Yes, that Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese general and strategist who authored the world’s first military treatise, the Art of War, a masterpiece that inspired leaders as diverse as Emperor Qinshi Huangdi, Oda Nobunaga, Togo Heihachiro, Douglas MacArthur, Vo Nguyen Giap, and Stormin’ Norman Schwartzkopf.

Contained in this succint treatise that would fit on 13 pages of A4 paper today are the keys to victory in all competitive endeavors – war, business, sports… and politics.

And this masterwork, completed sometime in the 6th century or the early 5th century BC, explains nicely why various battles and wars throughout history have ended they way they have. Including Republicans’ and Tea Partiers’ recent Obamacare debacle.

Basically, in virtually every case in history, the losing side ignored at least one, if not more, of Sun Tzu’s teachings, or the winning side successfully utilized the principles he taught.

In this case, we can see that going into the government shutdown battle, Republicans and Tea Partiers cavalierly disregarded not one, not two, but SEVERAL of Master Sun’s teachings, to their detriment.

Sun Tzu wrote:

“Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.” – Chapter XII, verse 17

“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” – ch. III, v. 17

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must be not attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.” – ch. VIII, v. 3

Yet, Republicans started a battle they never had any chance of winning, a battle they were doomed to lose, at the wrong time and the wrong place against a much stronger, well-entrenched enemy, a battle from which there was nothing to be gained.

Intelligent people, such as Dr. Charles Krauthammer and this writer, warned Republicans even before the shutdown that there was no way they could’ve defunded Obamacare from one house of Congress, because the Senate would never pass, and Obama would never sign into law, a bill or resolution defunding his sole legislative “achievement” – so there was no way they’d agree to doing so even if the shutdown took place – which it did, and Obama still didn’t agree to defund Obamacare.

Indeed, Obama and the Democrats, not Republicans, were the only side that could’ve gained anything from the shutdown – an opportunity to portray Republicans as extremists who want to send the country into havoc.

Sun Tzu wrote:

“The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

These are:

(1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.

The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.” – Ch. I, v. 3-4.

These aqre the five constant factors governing warfare and determining who wins and loses. It is no coincidence that the first factor Sun Tzu lists is “Moral Law” – or, as translated by Samuel Griffith (I’m otherwise quoting the Lionel Giles translation here), “Moral Influence” – in other words, popular support, i.e. moral support from the general populace.

This is a crucial factor for victory in virtually every war, even for dictatorships – this is why America had to withdraw ignominiously from Vietnam and Iraq and is now withdrawing from Afghanistan – because the American people no longer support these wars. Even Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, under popular (and financial) pressure, had to withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1989 after 10 years of fruitless fighting.

Popular support is even more important for those fighting in the political arena, especially in democratic countries (i.e. those with democratically-elected governments). If Republicans want to ever retake the Senate and the White House, let alone enact their policies, they must enjoy thef support of a majority of Americans.

Yet, by starting the government shutdown, Republicans and Tea Partiers have only alienated large swathes of the American electorate, already largely unfriendly to them in 2012. Most Americans do oppose Obamacare in principle – but not to the point they want the federal government to shut down.

Moreover, according to Gallup, a significant majority of Americans wants Republicans and Democrats to compromise (yes, that dreaded c-word), and according to another poll (not by Gallup), 51% of Americans say Republicans should just “get over the fact that Obamacare is the law.” Also, according to Gallup polling, by far the biggest criticism levied by most Americans (and a plurality of Republicans) against the GOP is that it is too inflexible and too unwilling to compromise.

Sun Tzu wrote:

“If the enemy occupies high ground, do not attack him; with his back resting on hills, do not oppose him.” – ch. VII, v. 26 in the Griffith translation

Yet, Republicans have attacked a much stronger enemy who was occupying high ground – a President Obama wielding a veto pen and controlling the whole executive branch and a 55-seat Senate majority. In addition, the public opinion sided mostly with Obama on the government shutdown, even though it does not approve of Obamacare itself. Even before the shutdown, Obama had approval ratings much better than those of Congressional Republicans and the Tea Party, above 40%. Today, Obama still has approval ratings above 40% – at 43% according to Gallup. While these ratings are nothing to boast about (his disapproval ratings vary from the high forties to the low fifties), they are still way better than those of Congressional Republicans, their leaders, and the Tea Party.

Republicans made the same foolish mistake they made in 1995: they tried to implement a radical change (in this case, repeal or defunding of a newly-enacted major law) while controlling only the Congress, and without a veto-proof majority, while a Democratic president wielded a veto pen. This time the mistake was all the more foolish, because Republicans controlled only one chamber of Congress.

Republicans were hardly the first “army” to attack an enemy occupying high ground. The Union Army did so in 1862 at Fredericksburg and the Confederate Army at Gettysburg in 1863. That latter battle arguably, in the long run, cost the Confederates the war. The Confederacy is no more any longer. The same could very well happen to the GOP.

Sun Tzu wrote:

“When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is insubordination. ” – ch. X, v. 16.

“If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, then will be practically useless. If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be useless.

Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline. This is a certain road to victory.

If in training soldiers commands are habitually enforced, the army will be well-disciplined; if not, its discipline will be bad.

If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed, the gain will be mutual.” – ch. IX, v. 42-45.

“When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is insubordination. When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is collapse.

When the higher officers are angry and insubordinate, and on meeting the enemy give battle on their own account from a feeling of resentment, before the commander-in-chief can tell whether or not he is in a position to fight, the result is ruin.

When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization.” – ch. X, v. 16-18.

Clearly a big factor in Speaker Boehner’s and Leader McConnell’s defeat was the large, undisciplined, insubordinate contingent of radical Republicans (Tea Party Republicans) in Congress, led by Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz in the Senate and by Congressmen Raul Labrador, Justin Amash, and Mick Mulvaney in the House. With soldiers like that, no military commander, not even Sun Tzu, would’ve been able to win any battle.

These Congressmen and Senators – most of them very young and very inexperienced (Cruz has been in the Senate only since January, Paul since 2011) – are arrogant, overconfident, and very aggressive in their demands. Yet, despite their junior status, they have been able to hold the GOP Congressional Leadership hostage due to their large numbers. So in the Republican “Army”, the common soldiers are too strong and the officers are too weak. There is disunity in Republican ranks. The commanding generals – J0hn Boehner and Mitch McConnell – are weak and without authority within their contingents.

That is so because they – at least until recently – have failed to keep their troops “under control by means of iron discipline”, which, according to Sun Tzu, is “the certain road to victory.” They have failed to insist on the GOP’s leadership’s orders being enforced with stern discipline; they have failed, until recently, to punish those radical Republicans who aren’t team players, insist on unattainable non-negotiable demands, disrupt the work of the Congress, and don’t support the party’s agenda.

In January, the GOP House Caucus removed four such insubordinate, disruptive Republicans (including Justin Amash) from key committees. Conservative media hysterically called it a purge; in fact, it was a minor and long overdue correction. A purge would’ve meant removing all insubordinate and disruptive Congressmen from all key committees. Likewise, Mitch McConnell has only now belatedly begun to fight back against pseudo-conservative groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, the “Club for Growth”, and FreedomWorks by denying NRSC contracts to companies that also do business with these groups. These radical organizations claim to be conservative, but in reality, they only serve to get more Democrats elected and to advance their agenda by targeting mainstream-but-not-radical Republicans whom they don’t consider “pure enough” and by ensuring that totally unelectable fringe candidates (like Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Ken Buck) win GOP primaries and then lose general elections.

And yet, it was not until this month that McConnell began taking action against these groups.

One’s own soldiers must be treated humanely, but also kept under control by means of iron discipline, as Sun Tzu wrote.

Sun Tzu wrote:

“Sun Tzu said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. (…) Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.” – ch. IV, v. 1-2 and 15

Yet, Republicans started a battle before devising any plan to win it. They went into battle without any plan to win. Like all other vanquished armies in history, they first fought and then sought victory – exactly the wrong order.

Had Republicans and Tea Partiers been wise people, they would’ve first devised a plan for victory, then would’ve created the conditions for triumph (which would necessarily mean retaking the Senate and the WH), and only then would’ve fought.

Thus you can see why Republicans lost – and were doomed to lose – the government shutdown battle against Obama, and how Sun Tzu predicted their defeat over 2,500 years ago. Republicans and Tea Partiers will continue to suffer further defeats if they continue to recklessly ignore Sun Tzu’s wise advice.

Let Master Sun have the last word here, across 2,500 years of time:

“The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:–let such a one be dismissed!”

Rebuttal of Stratfor’s false claims on China’s ballistic missile subs

nukeexplosion

The open-sources-based Stratfor think-tank has recently published an article on China’s ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) that downplays the threat these submarines, and China in general, pose to the US. Because of this, and because it contains numerous factual errors, I’ve decided to pen this rebuttal.

The article begins by repeating the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s laughable understatement that China is merely “on the cusp of having a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent”, as opposed to already having one (which it does), and falsely claims that China “still lags considerably behind the leading powers, notably the US.”

Those are blatant lies which serve no purpose but to downplay the Chinese threat and mislead the American public about it.

China is not lagging behind the leading powers; it is among them and is keeping pace firmly with them.

The article first wrongly claims China has only “three or four” Jin class SSBNS in addition to its Xia class boat. In fact, China has five Jins already in commission and a sixth one under construction. Stratfor then wrongly claims that the Jins are more noisy than Russian Delta III class submarines. This is not true, but even if it were, remember that by today’s standards, the US Navy’s Ohio class SSBNs and Los Angeles class attack submarines are also quite noisy, too, and need to be replaced.

Stratfor also wrongly claims that the old JL-1 ballistic missiles are still the mainstay of the Chinese SSBN fleet, and further falsely claims that the newer JL-2 missile has not yet entered service, will not do so until next year, and will have a range of only 7,000-8,000 kms.

This is totally false. The basic variant of the JL-2 has already entered service and IT (the JL-2) is the main armament of China’s SSBN fleet – NOT the old JL-1 missile, deployed only on the single Xia class boat. Moreover, only the basic variant of the JL-2 missile has a range of 8,000 kms (quite a significant range, BTW).

China is now developing two new variants of the missile – the Jia and the Yi – which will have ranges of 12,000 and 14,000 kms, respectively, and will be able to carry up to 8 and 12 warheads, respectively. Source: DOD 2012 report to Congress on China’s military power.

Such a range – or even a range of just 10,000 kms, which both missile variants will greatly exceed – would allow Chinese SSBNs to target all of the US and Western Europe while staying in Chinese territorial waters or even in homeport.

And these newer variants of the JL-2 missile will enter service within the next few years, perhaps next year, so China’s nuclear striking power will grow significantly in the near future.

Thus, while Stratfor is technically correct – for now – that “”, that will cease to be true as soon as the JL-2 Jia variant, with its range of 12,000 kms, enters service. That will happen within the next few years.

And when it does, Chinese SSBNs will be able to target the US from their territorial waters or even their homebases – a capability the Soviet Navy did not achieve until the late 1980s.

But even now, Chinese ballistic missile subs and their JL-2 “Basic Variant” missiles, with a range of 8,000 kms, can reach virtually any target on the West Coast and anywhere in the northwestern CONUS. Keep in mind that China has FIVE submarines each armed with 12 such missiles – each missile, in turn, carrying 4 independently targetable warheads.

PLA_ballistic_missiles_range

Stratfor also falsely claims that for the near future, China will have to rely on its land-based missile force to deter the West.

That is patently false given all the facts about its SSBN fleet listed above, and given the fact that China’s bomber fleet is also very potent. With cruise missiles that have a range of 3,000 kms, it can obliterate any target in the First and Second Island Chain and well beyond them, including anywhere in Australia or Russia. China is also now developing a stealthy intercontinental bomber that will be capable of striking the CONUS.

But leaving all these facts aside, China’s land-based missile force is quite a potent one, and in some respects stronger than America’s. It consists of:

  • 36 DF-5 ICBMs (up to 10 warheads each), over 30 DF-31/31A ICBMs (4 warheads each), at least one DF-41 ICBM (10 warheads), and 20 DF-4 ICBMs/IRBMs (3 warheads each);
  • 100 DF-21 and 20 DF-3 MRBMs (one warhead per missile);
  • over 1,200 SRBMs; and
  • untold hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles, 500 of them nuclear armed.

By contrast, the US has no SRBMs, MRBMs, IRBMs, or ground-launched cruise missiles, and no plans to develop any. It is, moreover, barred from fielding any ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles of a range between 550 and 5,500 kms by the INF treaty. China, not being a party to the treaty, has a free hand in procuring such missiles.

China’s ICBMs alone could deliver 510 warheads to the US, including 490 to the CONUS alone. So China’s land-based missile force must not, on any account, be dismissed.

But, as I said earlier, China no longer needs to rely solely on its land-based missiles for deterring the West. Its SSBN and bomber fleets are already quite potent, and as their number and sophistication grow, their credibility will, as well. Within the next few years, when the JL-2 Jia missile enters service,  China’s SSBNs will be able to target any point in the US from their homeports. And that will be a gamechanger.

Rebuttal of Collina’s, Preble’s, and Fay’s leftist attacks on the US nuke deterrent

nukeexplosion

It seems that, in recent weeks, treasonous attacks of the pacifist Left on the US nuclear deterrent have intensified. It is not, and will never be, possible for us defense conservatives to respond to all such attacks, so I’ll respond to only two: one by ACA’s Tom Collina, and the other by CATO’s Chris Preble and a doctoral student called Matthew Fay.

Let’s start with Collina. In his most recent screed, for the DefenseOne website, he calls on the USAF to cancel plans for a nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), claiming it, and the warheads for it, will cost $32 bn and will not be necessary because, you know, the USAF has ICBMs and is developing a new stealthy bomber. He further claims that this, and other, nuclear modernization program will compete with conventional weapons for funding. He falsely claims that:

“Such trade-offs between nuclear and conventional weapons will become commonplace as the budget crisis deepens. With no new money to be found, projects must compete with each other. It’s a zero-sum game.”

No, it isn’t. Spending on nuclear weapons and on their delivery systems is and will remain so low that even ELIMINATING it COMPLETELY will not even come CLOSE to providing the necessary savings to pay for conventional weapon programs. Collina’s claim that nuclear modernization will cost $300 bn over the next few decades is totally false, a huge exaggeration, but even if it were true (which it is not), that is just $15 bn per year… out of a military budget of $600 bn per annum. In other words, just 2.5% of the total military budget. One quarter of one tenth.

And if a choice is to be made, it is far wiser to decide in favor of nuclear weapons – for they protect America, and over 30 US allies, against the most catastrophic, and very real, threats: a nuclear, chemical, biological, or ballistic missile attack by a major power (Russia, China) or a rogue state (North Korea, Iran).

And as the number of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems owned by these four hostile countries will only INCREASE in the future, the need for nuclear deterrence, and thus the required number of US nuclear weapons and delivery systems, will only GROW, not shrink. That is not “Cold War thinking”, that is the military and geopolitical reality of the 21st century.

Collina also falsely claims that “Similarly, the Air Force will have a hard time finding $70 billion to buy up to 100 new long-range bombers.”

That is also a blatant lie. Firstly, the program will not cost $70 bn – nowhere close to that. It will cost $55 bn at most, and that’s a very pessimistic estimate assuming the USAF will not exploit economies of scale or savings from using mature technologies and will bear 100% of the R&D cost. $70 bn is a wild exaggeration.

And the DOD can easily pay for the next generation bomber program (and many other crucial programs) by terminating the F-35 Junk Strike Fighter, AKA the Jet That Ate The Pentagon.

As for forgoing cruise missiles, there are NO reasons to do so – whether financial or security reasons. WRT money, Collina and his treasonous group have routinely and wildly exaggerated the cost of nuclear modernization programs, so nothing he says on the subject (or on any other subject, for that matter) is credible.

As for security considerations: NOTHING is worse for America’s security than nuclear disarmament, ESPECIALLY its unilateral variety. Even if the US forgoes replacing its current ALCMs, NOBODY in the world will reciprocate. Nobody will be impressed by such a unilateral American gesture. And the prospects of a global ban on cruise missiles  (which Collina fantasizes about) are NONE – especially given these weapons’ low cost, high speed, air defense evasion capabilities, and other attractive characteristics. If there were any chances of such a ban, there wouldn’t be so many nations possessing or developing such missiles.

Unilateral disarmament NEVER works. On the contrary, America’s enemies will only be too happy to take advantage of it. Russia is already developing a new bevy of nuclear-armed ALCMs and plans to increase their production 30-fold. France is already beginning to develop a new ALCM.

Collina is also lying when he claims that only the US, Russia, and France have nuclear-armed ALCMs. China also has them – the CJ-10A, the CJ-20, and the HN-3, and uses them to arm its H-6K bombers. India also already has such missiles, called the Brahmos. Pakistan will acquire such weapons before long.

And why are ALCMs needed when the USAF is developing a new stealthy bomber?

Because it is NEVER a good idea to put all your legs into one basket. As Robert D. Kaplan rightly says, NEVER give your enemy too few problems to solve because if you do, he’ll solve them. A US nuclear triad armed with 1) penetrating bombers 2) cruise missiles 3) ballistic missile subs and 4) ICBMs would pose a much bigger problem, a much more difficult target, and a much more credible deterrent force than a nuclear force armed with only one, two, or three kinds of these weapons. The triad’s diversity is as much a strength as its numbers. Smart managers NEVER put all their eggs into just one or two baskets.

And Collina has no credibility to invoke stealthy bombers, ICBMs, and ballistic missile submarines when he and his organization have repeatedly called for delaying the former and deeply cutting the latter! They’ve  even called on the USAF NOT to pursue any ICBM replacement!

Collina’s article is a litany of blatant lies – as is his every other screed. This is not surprising, because he works for a treasonous pro-unilateral disarmament organization which receives 100% of its funding from similar organizations, some of which may have ties to George Soros.

—————————————————————

Preble’s and Fay’s screed for DefenseOne is even more ridiculous. While, in his latest article, Collina called only for the ALCM to be cancelled, Preble and Fay went further and demanded that the ICBM and bomber legs of the nuclear triad be scrapped completely, which would mean utter and immediate suicide and an invitation for a nuclear first strike on the US.

They falsely claim that

“Eliminating the other two legs of the nuclear triad — intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, and nuclear bombers — would save American taxpayers around $20 billion a year.”

This is a blatant lie, meaning that people making such claims are LIARS.

In fact, completely eliminating the bomber and ICBM legs of the triad would save only a paltry $3.6 bn per year – close to nothing, and nowhere near enough to pay for the SSBNX program.

Last year, in response to similar suicidal proposals, the Air Force’s director for nuclear deterrence issues pointed out that the ICBM leg of the triad costs only $1.1 bn per year to maintain, and the bomber leg, only $2.5 bn per year. He also wrote a great article for AOLDefense (now BreakingDefense) on why the triad is necessary. The Air Force Magazine and CSBA’s defense budget analyst Todd Harrison have confirmed these small numbers.

So even eliminating ICBMs and bombers completely would “save” only $3.6 bn per year – a microscopic amount, and nowhere near enough to pay for SSBN replacement.

As for the authors’ claim that the nuclear triad is an obsolete and Cold War arrangement, nothing could be further from the truth. The nuclear triad is an absolutely necessary, proven, and and by far the most secure arrangement for America’s nuclear deterrence. It presents anyone who would wish to conduct a first strike on America with a multi-dimensional problem that is almost impossible to solve: how to eliminate all of America’s ICBMs AND bombers AND SSBNs in a single strike, before America can retaliate? Nobody has yet found any answer to that question – which is why there has never been a nuclear attack on the US or any of its allies to this very day. It is because of both the size and the diversity (triad) of the US nuclear umbrella.

The triad has, since its inception in the late 1950s, successfully prevented nuclear attack, and large-scale conventional attacks, on the US and on all allies to whom this umbrella has been extended – and it continues to prevent such attacks to this day. It has successfully deterred the Soviet Union, Putinist Russia, China, and even North Korea.

Oh, and one more thing: if the nuclear triad is such an obsolete and unaffordable Cold War era arrangement, why hasn’t anyone told that to the Russians and the Chinese? :) Both of them are building up and modernizing their own nuclear triads.

The Russians are now developing or deploying several new types of ICBMs, a new class of ballistic missile subs (the Borei class), two new SLBM types (Layner and Bulava) capable of carrying 10-12 warheads each, and are developing a next-generation bomber, the PAK DA. The Chinese are fielding two new ICBM types (DF-31A, DF-41), developing a rail-mobile ICBM and a stealthy intercontinental bomber capable of striking the US, and building two new classes of SSBNs while also fielding new JL-2 SLBMs to launch from these boats – missiles that will eventually have 14,000 km range and a 12-warhead payload.

A nuclear triad is obsolete, Cold War, and unaffordable? Someone ought to tell the Russians and the Chinese :)

You see, saving US taxpayers money or “moving away from Cold War thinking” is not what Preble, Fay, and other anti-nuclear, anti-defense hacks want. What they REALLY want is America’s unilateral disarmament. They’d love to see it disarmed and totally unable to defend itself. In their sick minds, America is evil and deserves to be decapitated.

The fact that even the anti-nuclear Obama administration, which is headed by an extremely-leftist nuclear disarmament activist, supports retaining the nuclear triad and wants to maintain all 3 of its components, should signal to everyone that the triad is really necessary. But not to ideologically blind leftist hacks like Preble and Fay.

There is a continued, and even GROWING, need for a large US nuclear arsenal and for the triad. Russia and China both have large nuclear arsenals; Russia’s ICBM fleet alone can deliver 1,684 warheads to the US and its bomber fleet can deliver over 1,700. China has 1,600-3,000 nuclear weapons and over 80 ICBMs (as well as six SSBNs) and is adding more. A small nuclear arsenal, or one based only on one type of delivery systems, will not suffice.

The authors’ claim that

“And yet, the Obama administration and other defenders of the status quo contend that all three delivery systems are necessary. Such claims do not bear scrutiny. For example, the administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review argues that the triad must be maintained as a “technical hedge” — in other words, don’t put all America’s nuclear eggs in one basket.”

It is YOUR utterly false claims, Messrs. Preble and Fay, that do not stand up to empirical scrutiny. The 2010 NPR was absolutely right to conclude that the US should not put all of its eggs into one basket. Not just because of the triad’s record of successfully preventing nuclear (and large-scale conventional) attacks since its inception, but also because cutting down to a monad would leave America’s adversaries with only one, simple, one-dimensional problem: how to detect America’s SSBNs?

Should the US ever simplify this issue so much for its enemies, they’ll solve the problem – they’ll invest sufficient resources in solving it. According to recent news, China’s and Russia’s ASW capabilities are woefully underappreciated in the West, ADM Greenert’s boasting that “we totally own the undersea domain” notwithstanding. And US intel has been taken completely by surprise by America’s enemies’ capabilities and actions so many times that it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t know China and/or Russia had potent ASW capabilities. US intel is ignorant of many things it should know.

In sum, this article, like other screeds that Messrs. Preble and Fay write, is utter garbage that belongs in the dustbin. No, America must NOT scrap ANY of the legs of its nuclear triad – and must not delude itself that doing so would save any meaningful amount of money. It wouldn’t.

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