âToday, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.â
-John F. Kennedy (JFK)
In an address before the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 25, 1961
President Kennedy knew the dangers of nuclear weapons as did Eisenhower, L.B.J. Reagan, Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Ever since President Truman let the genie out of the bottle during World War ll world leaders have been trying to get him back in. 11 treaties to control the development and use of nuclear weapons have been enacted and adhered to since 1961*. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) enacted in 1968 currently has 189 countries as signatories, including China, Russia and the United States. Clearly the world is concerned and has been trying to do something to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons for over 50 years.
But whole scale nuclear war is no longer the threat it used to be. Both Russia and China know such a war is not winnable. The real threat now is not nuclear war but nuclear attack from a terrorist group armed with a suitcase size nuclear device.
A report issued by the Combat Terrorist Center at West Point breaks it down like this;
âWithin the counterterrorism context, it may mean that the United States missiles have the capability of hitting small, hard to find targets. Ideally, nuclear weapons make the cost of offensive action unimaginable, but this may not be true for all terror groups. Far from being deterred by threats to use nuclear weapons, terrorist may view the cost of nuclear war as lower than the political costs of backing down from a deterred threat. These factors make the deterrence of terrorist groups problematic. 2â
The Council on Foreign Relations issued a report titled, âDeterring State Sponsorship of Nuclear Terrorism.â In that report they state:
âAnalysts have long argued that the central pillar of Cold War strategyâdeterring nuclear war by threat of overwhelming punishmentâis largely irrelevant in efforts to prevent the use of nuclear weapons by terrorist groups. They contend that the threat of retaliation is ineffective because bombs carried across borders or shipped in cargo containers lack the clear return addresses of warheads mounted on missiles, and terrorist groups, unlike states, do not present clear targets for retaliation.â
This would seem to be proven true by the 911 attack on the World Trade Center. Our nuclear weapons didnât seem to slow them down one bit.
Speaking about nuclear weapons letâs take a little closer look at our arsenal. According to the âOffice of the Deputy Assistance to the Secretary of Defense on Nuclear Mattersâ3 the majority of our ICBM arsenal is made up of Minute Man lllâs. The Minuteman lll was first deployed in 1969 and still employs a gimbaled inertial guidance system. Even with its new 5 Billion dollar upgrades itâs still hardly state of the art. This missile was designed to take out a city not a smaller target like the base of a terrorist organization making it impractical to use in the war on terrorism.
Most, if not all terrorists are prepared to die for their cause. And they are happy to take as many innocent people with them as they can. They could care less what the rest of the world does to their families or country. In their eyes the more people that die for their cause the greater the glory. So saying we will use nuclear weapons in retaliation to a large scale biological, chemical or nuclear attack on America by a non state sponsored terrorist group, and most are, is an empty threat at most.
This new treaty, âMeasures to Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Armsâ signed by President Obama and Russian President Medvedev simply builds on the foundations of all the past treaties. It also states several things in writing most of the world already knew. The United States will not strike any country first and will not use nuclear weapons against any country that does not have nuclear capabilities. The big exception to this rule is; said country must be a signatory of the Non Nuclear Proliferation Treaty. Both North Korea and Iran are not. This treaty also reduces US and Russian nuclear arsenals by 30%. That is a good thing.
Does this diminish our National Security? The military doesnât think so, they are behind it 100%. At the White House news conference, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said,
“Through the trust it engenders, the cuts it requires and the flexibility it preserves, this treaty enhances our ability to do that which we have been charged to do: protect and defend the citizens of the United States,” Mullen said. “I am as confident in its success as I am in its safeguards.”
Besides we still have plenty of nukes to go around. What this does do is take us a few steps further away from nuclear annihilation of the human race and should allow us all to sleep a little better. And as far as not trusting Barack Obama to do the right thing? Remember even a broken clock is right twice a day. This just might be one of those days.
Copyright 2010 by Ira Schwartz. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission