More Nuclear Nonsense
The "amusing" and "pitiful" nuclear warrior
3:45 PM, Jan 12, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
I mentioned in an earlier post that there's an abundance -- perhaps over abundance -- of opinions about U.S. nuclear forces, but a shortage of expertise. In an exquisitely timed op-ed, James Carroll makes my point for me:
So am I to read this as America's nuclear warriors being "figures of amusement and pity?" One thing's for certain, you'd be hard pressed to find any sailors in the "launch tubes of submarines."
I can't really fault the Boston Globe, like I mentioned earlier, most Americans don't really understand the importance of the deterrence mission. Since the Cold War ended, our nuclear forces are increasingly seen as too violent, too anachronistic, too uncivilized for the 21st century. To someone who isn't staring at daily threat and intelligence briefings, it's easy enough to say "let's just be done with nukes."
That's around the point when wishful thinking becomes reality. Carroll's justification for killing our strategic forces are way off target. The nuclear force remains relatively cheap to sustain. "Turf wars" haven't been an issue since the days of Curt LeMay, all those greedy politicians with bellies full of Pentagon pork have ratified three disarmament treaties while aiding the Pentagon in two decades of steady, sustained cuts to our nuclear forces. And as for all those "demonic structures" of the Cold War? They're down to roughly 20% of their mid-1980s strength.
So perhaps it's in the realm of possibility that nuclear weapons still perform a valuable function when it comes to our nation's defense? Perhaps they do indeed play a role in deterring potentially aggressive nations, many of which are either developing nuclear weapons of their own or drastically upgrading their strategic forces and delivery systems? And maybe, after all those years standing nose to nose with the Soviets, nuclear weapons played some small part in ensuring that a third World War never transpired?
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