The advocates of America’s unilateral nuclear disarmament are at it again. They’ve launched yet another attack on the US nuclear arsenal – the only thing that is deterring Russia, China, and North Korea from attacking the US with nuclear weapons.
But fear not, Dear Reader. The pro-disarmament-crowd’s latest media attack on the US nuke deterrent is yet another litany of blatant lies that don’t even pass the laugh test. They are the same old tired lies that the treasonous pro-disarmament crowd has been peddling for many years. Evidently, like their intellectual godfather, Joseph Goebbels, they believe that repeating a lie a hundred times makes it true.
But it doesn’t.
The New York Times ran a story this week about the Defense Department’s nuclear arsenal modernization plan. America’s current ballistic missile submarines, nuclear-capable bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and associated nuclear warheads – built during the 1970s and 1980s – are aging out and will need to be replaced soon.
Not wanting to miss an opportunity to disarm America unilaterally, the anti-nuclear Left – led by the NYT and pro-unilateral-disarmament groups – is conducting a propaganda campaign falsely claiming that the modernization/replacement effort will cost $1 trillion, that nuclear weapons are supposedly useless, that this conflicts with Barack Obama’s pledge to seek a “world without nuclear weapons”, etc.
Needless to say, all of their claims are blatant lies.
The Cost Of Nuclear Modernization
Firstly, the $1 trillion figure comes from an anti-nuclear propaganda pamphlet cooked up at the extremely-leftist, anti-nuclear Monterrey Institute for International Studies and was personally rigged by well-known anti-nuclear hacks such as Jeffrey Lewis (who has been proven wrong on many issues, including the range of China’s ballistic missiles and the size of China’s nuclear arsenal).
To say it very politely, Lewis is not an authority on nuclear weapons or defense spending.
Wildly exaggerating the costs of nuclear modernization is an old tactic of unilateral disarmament advocates, dating back decades. It’s nothing new. The anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund has been caught doing so. It’s no surprise the liberal MIIS is now lying so blatantly as well.
And even if the $1 trillion figure were correct – which it isn’t – it refers to planned spending on nuclear modernization over the span of THREE DECADES. That is, MIIS claims the US will spend $1 trillion over a span of 30 years on nuclear modernization.
Simple math tells us that $1 trillion divided by thirty is around $33 bn per year. That works out to around 5-6% of the DOD’s annual budget (around $600 bn per year).
It is ridiculous to claim that a Department that has an annual budget of around $600 bn – larger than the GDP of most countries in the world – can’t afford to spend a meagre 5-6% of its budget on modernizing and preserving America’s nuclear deterrent.
Therefore, the claims of dinosaur politicians like former Clinton Defense Sec. William Perry and anti-nuclear hacks such as ex-Gen. James Cartwright (Obama’s “favorite general”) that the Obama administration’s modernization plans are “unaffordable” are completely false prima facie.
In fact, over the next 30 years, the DOD is poised to spend $20 trillion on all sorts of military things. $1 trillion is a tiny fraction (5%) out of that figure.
Moreover, if the DOD’s nuclear modernization plans are “unaffordable” (which they are not), the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program to develop and procure 2,443 short range fighters is even more so unaffordable, with a price tag of $400 bn to develop and procure and an additional $1 trillion to operate over 50 years! $1.4 trillion for a fleet of far less capable systems!
Compared to this, nuclear weapons are cheap.
Anti-nuclear hacks such as those on the “National Defense Panel” also falsely claim that also falsely claim that nuclear modernization spending will siphon lots of money from America’s conventional forces.
But that is also a blatant lie. As stated above, nuclear modernization will cost only 5% of the DOD budget over the next 30 years.
Moreover, nuclear modernization programs aren’t the costliest ones in the DOD’s budget plans. Not even close. A recently released “Weapon Systems Factbook” by the CSBA documents this.
CSBA’s “Factbook” says the DOD will need to invest $73 bn to develop and build 100 stealthy bombers and $90 bn to build replacements for America’s current, obsolete, noisy, and ageing ballistic missile subs (SSBNs). (The bomber program will, in fact, cost only $55 bn, not the $73 bn that the CSBA claims.)
That’s $163 bn in total, per the CSBA “Factbook.”
By far the most expensive weapon program in the DOD’s current plans, and indeed in US history, is the conventional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, aiming to develop an aircraft that can do everything from air superiority to close air support, but which in reality will produce an aircraft mediocre at every task.
This program will in fact develop and procure a fleet of partially stealthy, short-ranged, slow, sluggish, unmaneuverable, underpowered, poorly armed, useless “strike fighters” designed for strikes against massive Soviet tank armies in Germany – a threat that no longer exists. It is now intended by the USAF to fight enemy aircraft and go into airspace protected by modern SAM systems – missions it is utterly incapable of performing.
The F-35 is also short-ranged, with a combat radius of about 1,800-1,900 kms at most, meaning that, like other US fighters, it would need to use bases close to potential adversary countries – bases that are well within the range of enemy medium range ballistic and cruise missiles. As Congressmen Randy Forbes and Chris Stewart explain here, cutting spending on bombers to protect short-range fighters would be a grave mistake.
Per CSBA’s Factbook, the F-35 has already cost taxpayers $100 bn and will cost another $251.3 bn in the coming years to complete the program.
That is $88.3 bn more than the cost of the long-range strike bomber and new ballistic missile submarine programs COMBINED! And that is using the CSBA’s grossly exaggerated estimate of the bomber program’s cost!
In other words, if the DOD cancelled the useless F-35 Junk Strike Fighter, it could pay the entire cost of both the new bomber and the new ballistic missile sub programs COMBINED and still make a saving of $88.3 bn!
“Oh, but other dastardly nuclear weapon programs will siphon more money”, anti-nuclear propagandists will claim.
No, they won’t. The other nuclear weapon programs the DOD has in store, the Trident II missile and the B61 nuclear bomb toolkit, will cost $5.6 bn and $1.2 bn, respectively, a total of $6.8 bn. Paying for them from savings generated by F-35 cancellation would still leave the DOD with a saving of $81.7 bn!
In fact, if the DOD simply cancelled the F-35 program, it could pay for upgrading F-15s and F-16s, prolonging their service lives by decades, building all the planned 100 stealthy long range bombers and 12 replacements for Ohio class submarines, for the Trident missile, for B61 modernization, for the KC-46 tanker, the V-22 Osprey, the Virginia class of attack submarines, and dozens of other weapon programs – and still have healthy savings left.
(Speaking of the V-22 Osprey, can’t the CH-46 do the job? Some naval aviators, such as Jack McCain, believe it can.)
So contrary to anti-nuke propagandists’ claims, no, the Long Range Strike Bomber and the Ohio class replacement will NOT crush conventional weapon programs. The F-35 Junk Strike Fighter will.
The proverbial elephant in the room is the F-35.
Furthermore, the DOD owns real estate collectively worth $800 billion, but doesn’t really need a good part of it and doesn’t even know what to do with a large chuck of that real estate. Selling only a quarter of it would raise $200 bn – more than enough to pay for the bomber, ballistic missile submarine, and warhead programs combined. Selling half of DOD’s real estate would raise $400 bn – the equivalent of the F-35 program’s cost. (Source: http://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2014/09/14/the_pentagons_800_billion_real_estate_problem_107438.html)
Moreover, the Long Range Strike Bomber will be as much a conventional weapon platform as a nuclear one. It is needed for both conventional and (if need be) nuclear strike. It is needed because America’s potential foes (Russia, China, Syria, Venezuela, and even Iran and North Korea) possess such sophisticated air defense systems (especially the first three countries) that America’s nonstealthy bombers (B-52s and B-1s) can’t go into their airspace, and B-2’s stealth technology is 1980s vintage. Moreover, the USAF has only 20 B-2s – way too little for any effective campaign against even a mid-sized adversary.
Unsurprisingly, the National Defense Panel, which the NY Slimes quotes so approvingly, strongly supports the Long Range Strike Bomber (p. 45):
“Whether the aircraft is designed to be manned, unmanned, or “optionally manned,” the need to bring such an aircraft into service by the mid-2020s, when modern air defenses will put the B-2 bomber increasingly at risk, is compelling. We are concerned that continued budget cuts and the resulting programmatic instability would jeopardize this critical investment.”
The need for the LRSB has been irrefutably proven time and again.
The Need For Nuclear Modernization
Anti-nuclear hacks such as the CLW’s Kingston Reif – who has been proven wrong on every issue he’s written about – protest, however, that nuclear weapons are “useless” for countering any threats to US national security, so it doesn’t matter if they cost little. In a recent screed published by DefenseOne, Reif and his fellow CLW hack Angela Canterbury falsely claim:
“But the most explosive (literally) power tool has neither prevented nor will be useful in addressing any of today’s international security issues: nuclear weapons. The current U.S. arsenal of approximately 4,800 nuclear warheads is a Cold War anachronism. (…) The current modernization plan is geared towards building nuclear weapons that we don’t need and can’t afford. It’s time for Congress to insist on a new approach.”
They also falsely call the new National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund “a nuclear submarine slush fund”.
In another screed for DefenseOne, Rep. Mike Quigley, a liberal Democrat from Illinois, falsely claimed that:
“not every element of NATO’s power is useful in combating the Russian threat to European security. NATO’s nuclear weapons strategy in Europe is no longer relevant… (…) The nuclear weapons we deployed for the Cold War, which ended two decades ago, are simply not the same weapons we need for the “hot” war threat that our eastern NATO allies, and Ukraine, face today.”
But they are dead wrong, because nuclear weapons are of paramount importance to countering threats to America’s security. The gravest of these threats are the nuclear arsenals of Russia, China, and North Korea and Iran’s ambition to develop its own atomic weapons.
ONLY nuclear weapons can protect the US and its allies from these grave threats.
The nation’s second most senior military officer, Adm. James Winnefeld, understands this, which is why he said earlier this year at the Atlantic Council:
“If we consider that at the top of our list of national security interests is probably the survival of our nation, then at the top of the list of threats to that interest is a massive nuclear attack from Russia.”
Indeed, the Russian nuclear threat is the gravest of all. Russia’s nuclear arsenal is huge, numbering anywhere between 6,800 (per the FAS) and 8,000 (per the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists) nuclear weapons, deployed and nondeployed.
In early September, while NATO leaders were gathered in Wales for a NATO summit, Russian nuclear-armed bombers simulated (for the upteenth time since 2012) a nuclear strike on the US! Shortly thereafter, they tested the air defenses of northern European countries, again carrying deadly nuclear payloads… then practiced a strike on the US again, but the much-maligned F-22 Raptors intercepted them.
Since 2007, Russia has threatened to aim or use nuclear weapons against the US and its allies at least 15 times, including in recent months!
Russia’s nuclear triad numbers over 400 ICBMs (capable of delivering over 1,600 nukes to the continental US), 13 ballistic missile subs (boomers) capable of delivering over 2,000 warheads to America’s shores, and 251 strategic bombers capable of delivering another 1,400 nuclear warheads to the US. The Tu-95 bomber fleet alone can deliver over 700 warheads.
On top of that, Russia’s attack and cruise missile submarines can deliver further over 1,000 atomic warheads to the US on their cruise missiles.
And as Russia replaces older, single- or low-number-warhead missiles (like the Topol) with newer ones (e.g. Yars, Bulava, and Liner), capable of carrying more warheads, Russia’s nuclear arsenal will only grow.
Moscow has just announced that three more missile regiments will, by this year’s end, swap their single-warhead Topol missiles for 4-warhead Yars ICBMs.
Putin has also stated Russia will grow its atomic arsenal and develop new, “offensive” nuclear weapons.
So Russia’s nuclear arsenal will grow STILL FURTHER, with new, “offensive” nukes aimed against the US and NATO.
Even larger is Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal, estimated at 4,000 warheads and deliverable by a wide range of short- and medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles, surface ships, tactical aircraft, artillery pieces, and other systems.
China also has a large nuclear arsenal, estimated at between 1,600 (per General Viktor Yesin) and 3,000 (per Dr Philip Karber, the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist under President Reagan) warheads and the means to deliver many of them. It currently has at least 75 (and likely many more) ICBMs capable of reaching the US, including at least 55 multiple-warhead ICBMs (DF-5s, DF-31s, DF-41s) capable of striking the Continental US.
Moscow and Beijing are also both developing next-generation bombers.
Both Russia and China are rapidly growing, not cutting, their atomic arsenal. In these circumstances, it would be utterly suicidal for the US to cut – or neglect to modernize – its own nuclear deterrent. It would be an invitation of a nuclear first strike by Russia or China.
And that’s before mentioning North Korea, which already has miniaturized nuclear warheads it can mate to missiles, and ICBMs capable of delivering them to the US.
America’s Allies Get It; American Anti-Nuke Activists Don’t
Hardly surprising, then, that America’s European allies – especially those most threatened by Russia – have also once again underlined the importance of NATO’s nuclear deterrent. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated: “The current situation reaffirms the importance of NATO’s nuclear deterrence policy.”
Because America’s nuclear weapons also serve another vitally important function: reassuring them that they are protected by the US, safe from potential aggressors like Russia and China, and therefore don’t need to develop their own nukes.
But they will if the US continues to cut its arsenal. Already 66% of South Koreans want their country to “go nuclear”; Poland’s former President Lech Walesa has said his country should do the same; Saudi Arabia has already ordered nuclear warheads in Pakistan and DF-21 ballistic missiles in China; and Japan has opened a facility that can produce 3,600 nuclear warheads in a year if Tokyo ever decides to “go nuclear.”
And if America continues to cut its own arsenal, they won’t have any alternative. They cannot afford to bet their security and their very survival on American liberals’ fantasies of “a world without nuclear weapons”. They know that Reif’s and another anti-nuclear hacks’ claims that “nuclear weapons are useless” are patently false.
So if America continues to cut its nuclear arsenal, we will see MORE nuclear arms and MORE nuclear-weapon-wielding states in the world, not fewer. Potential enemies, emboldened by America’s disarmament, will arm themselves. Nervous allies, worried about their security, will also obtain nuclear weapons. 66% of South Koreans also want their country to do so. Japan is ready to do likewise the moment its Prime Minister decides to do so.
Therefore, no matter how much nuclear modernization will cost, it is a national security imperative – and even the anti-nuclear President Obama has realized it.
Forget About The “Nuke-Free World” Fantasy
Critics claim that by pursuing it, he’s violating his pledge to seek “a world without nuclear weapons.”
But he isn’t. There is nothing inconsistent with seeking a long-term goal of such a fantasy world (which will never exist) while modernizing the US nuclear arsenal to maintain it for the foreseeable future.
From the beginning of his first presidential campaign, Obama was saying explicitly that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the US will have to maintain a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear arsenal.
And let’s be honest: there will never be a world without nuclear weapons. There is zero chance of such a world existing. More and more countries are developing nuclear weapons or at least considering it and talking openly about it. The world is heading towards MORE nuclear arms and more nuclear weapon possessing states.
Obama’s “nuclear-free world” was always a totally unrealistic, childish fantasy. It should’ve never been pursued.
But when the NYT and anti-nuclear groups like the “Council for a Livable World” and the “Arms Control Association” complain that nuclear modernization plans impede the goal of “nuclear disarmament”, they are not talking about GLOBAL nuclear disarmament.
No, they are talking about their long-held goal of the nuclear disarmament of the United States. That is what they seek and have always sought.
Their goal is not to free the world from nuclear weapons. Their goal is to disarm the US unilaterally and to expose it to Russian and Chinese nuclear attack.
They must be stopped at all costs.
UPDATE: Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics (i.e. the Pentagon’s weapons buyer), Frank Kendall, has underlined the primordial importance of the US nuclear deterrent in the strongest words possible:
“[The nuclear mission] is our most important mission, period, simply because of the sheer destructive power that’s involved and because of the criticality of it to our national security. This is the very foundation of U.S. national security,” Kendall said. “No capability we maintain is more important than our nuclear deterrent.”