Monday, April 7, 2008

Peace Through Inferior Firepower

Buried in this article is a statement about the practicality of Nuclear Weapons for maintaining the peace in this post-Soviet world:

""We realize we are trying to deter the actions of non-state actors who don't have population centers, don't care about dying," Gration says, explaining why nuclear stockpiles have outlived their usefulness. "But these weapons can get into the wrong hands." Moreover, eliminating nukes would actually increase American military superiority. (We have a far more powerful conventional force than any other country on the planet.)"

It's very interesting, and I've argued peace through nukes perhaps a dozen times on this blog, so I'll have to give it more thought soon. For now I'll leave you with that, and with a brilliant article worth reading for its own merits.


baker said...

Your link doesn't seem to go to the article described, but based on the parts you quoted, the article seems to be working under the assumption that in five decades we'll still be fighting the same type of enemies we are now, which is not assured.

Also, the US's conventional millitary superiority is both extremely expensive (our navy, for instance, is way bigger than it needs to be unless we're secretly planning to fight every other nation at once)and chalangable, though no one is attempting to at the moment.

baker said...

Ah, I found it. Buried down in the article a ways.

Kelsey Atherton said...

Baker - first a thanks for the pointed criticism. The article linked does include that statement, towards the end. The article itself is about a new style of cabinet that would accompany an Obama presidency, and the quote is from a military adviser.

I've argued here (I'm pretty sure) for a nuclear military as a cheaper alternative to the expensive conventional force. Maintaining ready missiles and warheads has a far lower upkeep cost than all the logistics that goes into the state of the art and rather large standing US military. A nuclear deterrent is also less likely to be used as an immediate tool of foreign policy, as nukes exist to deter nuclear war or threaten mutually assured destruction, which is a terrifying and limited purpose.

As for fighting the same battles in 50 years, that too is a valid point. 50 years ago, the United States had not yet entered the Vietnam War and was operating under the assumption that a war with Russia was the imminent possibility. Yet in those past 50 years, the wars fought have been counter-insurgency in nature or have involved the US conventional military overwhelming the opposition. This becomes then an argument against nuclear disarmament, and it is a valid one to keep in mind.

good points...more will come later.