Yonas - Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century (2)


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DRAFT Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century With the changes in recent history, the questions of whether nuclear weapons have outlived their usefulness, or if this is the dawn of a new age for the employment of nuclear weapons, need to be examined. This brief paper will consider nuclear weapons from the following points: ã ã ã ã ã Proportionate response of nuclear weapons, Nuclear weapons warfighting, The relationship between the current US conventional force and nuclear weapons, The mission space
  DRAFTNuclear Weapons in the 21 st Century With the changes in recent history, the questions of whether nuclear weapons haveoutlived their usefulness, or if this is the dawn of a new age for the employment of nuclear weapons, need to be examined. This brief paper will consider nuclear weaponsfrom the following points: ã Proportionate response of nuclear weapons, ã  Nuclear weapons warfighting, ã The relationship between the current US conventional force and nuclear weapons, ã The mission space of nuclear weapons, and ã The consequences of nuclear proliferation.Each of these issues will be discussed in terms of the previously stated polar views of elimination of nuclear weapons or a comprehensive application of the these weaponssystems. Proportionate Response  Nuclear weapons by their very nature are tremendously powerful, by weight, a milliontimes more powerful than the chemical analogue. The only near equivalent to nuclear weapons are other weapons of mass destruction, (e.g.,chemical, biological, or radiological weapons) and each of these due to a variety of reasons do not match theoverall destructive capabilities of nuclear systems. Very small nuclear weapons involvethe energy equivalent of dozens to hundreds of tons of chemical high explosive. Withinthe current collection of conventional munitions in the US inventory there is no capabilitythat approaches the smallest nuclear weapon. Nuclear weapons can be delivered withgreat accuracy, but they provide devastating effects on their targets and the facilities thatare near them.Some would say that very low yield weapons, accurately delivered, are just a naturalsmall step from the largest conventional capabilities, and that these nuclear weaponcapabilities add to our ability to provide an appropriate response to conventional attack or a replacement for conventional weaponry. Others might say that the development of small yield nuclear weapons makes the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the possibility of nuclear war, more likely. Nuclear weapons are unique compared to all other weaponry, conventional systems andeven other weapons of mass destruction in terms of destructive power, effectiveness, andreproducibility of effectiveness. Decision makers worldwide recognize the distinction between their capabilities and all other weaponry. Moralists consider the use of nuclear weapons as a violation of just war principles of proportionality and discrimination. Nuclear weapons are, almost without exception, the response to other nuclear weaponsuse only. DRAFT  DRAFTNuclear Warfighting During the Cold War the United States and its European allies used a calculus of flexibleresponse and thousands of so-called tactical and theater nuclear weapons to respond tothe threat of a massive conventional attack from Warsaw Pact forces in Eastern Europegoing west. These nuclear weapons and their associated doctrines of use were asubstitute for the required conventional forces to counter the opposing Warsaw Pactcapabilities. The weapons had limits on their yield but the numbers of such weaponsdeployed were huge. The flexible response meant these weapons would be targeted onthe warrior sons of the Soviet nations to stop their advance without triggering a massiveresponse from Mother Russia.It is clear that the NATO allies took a tremendous risk, abet a successful one, in the hopethat these weapons would serve to counter a Warsaw Pact attack without massive nuclear retaliation. How political and military decision makers thought they were going to stopan extended nuclear exchange once it began and the fog of a nuclear war enveloped their senses is a mystery in retrospect. Nuclear warfighting with nations that do not havenuclear weapons or a nuclear umbrella provided by an ally is not militarily risky, but suchwarfighting with a similarly armed adversary is fraught with risk to both parties and alltheir neighbors. Unless one’s national essence is at stake, the use of nuclear weaponsshould only be threatened, never implemented. US Conventional Forces and Nuclear Weapons Currently, the United States has an overwhelming advantage in conventional militarycapability. The US conventional force has proved itself in several direct militaryconfrontations in the last 20 years. Due to this capability and the end of the Cold War,some have thought that nuclear weapons are no longer necessary. Others have suggestedthat the maintenance of so powerful and expensive conventional force is too costly for our nation to sustain. They choose to think that the development of a more responsiveand capable nuclear force would be preferable to the conventional military.Replacing a preeminent conventional military force with nuclear weapons alone isinappropriate on at least three grounds. As in the discussion of nuclear warfighting,nuclear weapon employment is risky and should only be considered when the survival of the nation is at stake. Nuclear weapons use is so devastating and indiscriminate thatcontrol and restraint in a nuclear war would be impossible. Finally, the utility andmission coverage of our conventional force is more flexible, proportional, and precisethan any envisioned nuclear force, that the voluntary replacement of it by nuclear systemsis foolhardy, risky, and dangerous.On the other hand, there are missions that conventional forces cannot cover, so theelimination of nuclear capabilities would not be wise. Because the United States hassuch an incomparable conventional force, other adversary nations have only two ways of dealing with it: become allies of the United States, or develop their own nuclear weapons. DRAFT  DRAFT In order to counter other nations’ nuclear weapons, it is necessary to maintain our owndeterrent force. Nuclear Weapons Missions  Nuclear deterrence is built on the concept of holding another nation’s valuable assets atrisk. The ability to swiftly destroy another nation’s nuclear stockpile and associatedcommand/control and delivery means to limit damage to the United States is a keymission for our deterrent force.There are still nations that possess large numbers of nuclear weapons and there are anincreasing number of targets that cannot be held at risk by conventional weapons andsome of those targets cannot even be held at risk by weapons in the current stockpile.Modern designs could close some of these potential sanctuaries but additional work andthe willingness to add to our nuclear weapons capabilities are key policy impediments totheir resolution. Nuclear Proliferation The maintenance of our nuclear deterrent is viewed by some as a stumbling block tocontrolling nuclear weapons worldwide. This view holds that the US, as the only super  power, should provide an example to the rest of the world and eliminate nuclear weapons.This viewpoint holds that the other nations of the world fear us because of these weaponsand would follow our lead, thus removing these all powerful weapons from the earth.The United States provides a nuclear umbrella to most of Europe and many other nationsthroughout the world. The removal of such an umbrella would cause these allies to seek to develop and deploy their own nuclear weapons. For most of these nations thedevelopment and deployment would not take very long as they have the materials andtechnical know-how in hand. The elimination of the US deterrent would cause greater  proliferation worldwide than simply maintaining a nuclear capability for ourselves andour allies. Finally, many believe nations develop nuclear weapons for their own self-interest, not based on the example of another. Removal of our deterrent would have no benefit and a great deal of negative consequence. DRAFT
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