The 'World without Nuclear Weapons' Fiction

Many politicians -- not just overt leftists, but also self-professed "right-wingers" and "centrists" like Robert Gates and John McCain -- say they want a "world without nuclear weapons."  This is a childish fantasy, and it's time for the U.S. to stop pursuing it.

During the Cold War, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union both assembled large nuclear arsenals and the related delivery systems, presidents of both parties (including Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy), and practically the entire left, began to dream about a world without nuclear weapons.  This unrealistic goal later became a credo for presidents and most foreign policy officials of both parties.  In 1961, President Kennedy even created an Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), whose objective is to disarm the U.S. and the rest of the world completely, and signed the misguided "Freedom from the Scourge of War Act," which created that agency.

This was lunacy already during the Cold War because neither the Soviet Union nor Communist China (which acquired nuclear weapons in 1964) was ever willing to give up its nuclear weapons.  Nonetheless, blind American presidents continued to strive for a world without these weapons and even signed treaties compelling the U.S. to dramatically reduce its nuclear arsenal and its fleet of delivery systems.

The world without nuclear weapons became no more realistic after the Cold War, because new nuclear-armed states emerged during and after this struggle: India (1974), Pakistan (1998), and North Korea (2006).  These countries, like Russia and China, will never renounce nuclear weapons under any circumstances.  For Moscow, Beijing, and Pyongyang, nuclear weapons are very useful for threatening the West, blackmailing it, obtaining capitulations and concessions, and winning wars if need be.  The same incentives have convinced Iran to try to develop nuclear weapons, with which it will be able to blackmail its Persian Gulf neighbors and Israel (and ultimately the U.S. as well).

Nuclear disarmament will never work.  Furthermore, unilateral nuclear disarmament -- which Obama is already pursuing by not developing new nuclear weapons, allowing existing weapons to decay, and cutting the size of the American arsenal -- will not convince any other nuclear state to give up nuclear weapons, nor will it convince any aspirant to the nuclear weapon club to cease the development of such weapons.  In fact, unilateral disarmament will only expose America to grave danger.  Bilateral disarmament with Russia would also be utterly insane, as it would not only strip the U.S. military of its only real strategic deterrent, but also fail to address the nuclear arsenals of China and North Korea, both of which are aimed against the U.S.

Multilateral disarmament, even if joined by all nuclear weapon states, would also be ridiculous and wrong, because, as has been stated earlier, America's nuclear arsenal is this country's best and most effective strategic deterrent.  Missile defense can never replace it; in the best case, it can only serve as a complement.  (And it would cost huge sums of money to build the huge missile defense network that would be required to replace nuclear weapons.)

Nuclear weapons are needed to defend the civilized world.  Dictators such as Putin, Kim Jong-il, Ali Khamenei, and China's Communist leaders, understand only one thing: brute force.  It is the only thing that can deter them.  Dictators are respectful only to those who are stronger than them; they are scornful and merciless towards those who are weaker.

These dictators can never be America's partners, let alone friends, whatever President Obama and Robert Gates might claim.  No amount of conventional weapons can ever deter a dictator.  Armed with nuclear weapons, the rulers of Russia, China, and North Korea, probably to be joined by Iran within the next few years, can be deterred only with nuclear weapons and a firm promise to use them in the case of any aggression.

Nor have the New START and America's unilateral gestures (like refusing to develop new nuclear weapons or warhead variants) convinced anyone to back any serious sanctions against Iran or North Korea.  "Credibility on nuclear disarmament" and moral superiority are totally irrelevant.

When all else fails, disarmament proponents point to President Reagan and his numerous calls to eliminate all nuclear weapons in the world.  What is overlooked is that firstly, Reagan made these calls on the sincere (but mistaken) belief that missile defense could, one day, completely replace nuclear weapons, a belief he shared with the public in his SDI speech in March 1983.  And secondly, while talking about nuclear disarmament and negotiating the first START, Reagan also ordered the largest defense buildup since at least the 1960s, purchasing (inter alia) dozens of bombers, ballistic missile submarines, ICBMs, and cruise missiles, and also expanding America's nuclear arsenal and developing new nuclear weapons.

Not everything President Reagan said was right. And not everything he said was consistent with what he did.

It's time to change America's defense policy.  It's time to repeal all nuclear disarmament treaties, to dramatically increase America's nuclear arsenal and the arsenal of delivery systems (the former can be done at little cost to U.S. taxpayers, by refining plutonium from nuclear waste into weapons-grade plutonium and using it to produce warheads), and to say firmly to the world that the U.S. will never, ever give up nuclear weapons. Period.

The SALT treaties, START-2, the New START, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Treshold Test Ban Treaty, the "Freedom from the Scourge of War Act," and the ACDA belong in the dustbin of history, as do President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Secretary Gates.