Previous posts on this website have explained, in detail, why unilateral disarmament, and other forms of arms reduction in general, are wrong, dangerous for America, and suicidal.
However, the Obama Administration now hints that they might not implement nuclear weapon cuts unilaterally, but rather as a part of a bilateral arms reduction pact with Russia. The question which thus arises, and which needs to be answered so that the American people will know the consequences of such policy is: “What is wrong with bilateral and multilateral weapon cuts? They’re not unilateral, so what’s wrong with them? Aren’t they safe and acceptable? Won’t they make America safer?”
The answer to all of these questions is a decisive “no”. Here’s why.
While it is true that bilateral arms reduction agreements, with Russia or another country, do not amount to unilateral cuts and obligate both sides to comply with a certain limit of weapons, they are still dangerous, extremely risky, detrimental to America’s security, and therefore unacceptable. The reason is the same as why unilateral disarmament is bad – minus the unilaterality of the cuts. Namely:
1) They weaken the US military, and deep weapon cuts weaken the US military greatly. That, by itself, makes America much less safe. Defense cuts, including reductions of weapon arsenals – especially steep ones – make the military weaker and the country less safe. They also embolden America’s enemies, who see an America disarming itself as an encouragement for aggression. This is especially foolish to do while North Korea and Iran are arming themselves with nuclear weapons and while Russia and China are aggressively modernizing their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems.
2) Cuts will ultimately bring the US arsenal down to a small size that will be, despite Assistant SECDEF James Miller’s empty promises, inadequate to deter America’s enemies, sustain the policy of nuclear deterrence, and reassure allies. I believe that the size authorized by the New START – 1,550 deployed strategic warheads – is already insufficient. Former SECDEF James Schlesinger and current US military leaders believe that this level is barely adequate and constitutes the absolute minimum required to deter enemies and reassure friends. Who do you think knows better – they or Obama and his band of civilian pro-disarmament theoretists?
3) Cuts below this “barely adequate” level will cause America’s allies to doubt in the reliability of the US nuclear umbrella and eventually force them to develop their own nuclear weapons, thus making the nuclear proliferation problem much worse. This is not a mere theoretical concern: America’s allies in the Persian Gulf are already considering doing so, as they are not sure if they can count on the US nuclear umbrella. Cutting it down to an inadequate size will force them to make the decision to develop nuclear arms.
4) Cuts to the US nuclear arsenal, while worrying America’s allies, will embolden America’s enemies to develop their own nuclear weapons or, if they already have them, increase their arsenals to reach nuclear parity with the US, a task that will become much easier if the US arsenal is reduced further significantly. If it is cut to 300 nuclear warheads as Obama plans to, any idiot will need to build only 300 nuclear warheads (China already has at least 350) and thus reach nuclear parity with the US, which will make the US even less secure and the proliferation problem even worse.
5) Cuts to the US arsenal, whether unilateral, bilateral, or multilateral, will significantly weaken America’s negotiating position and thus further imperil the US. At present, the US has 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads and 700 deployed delivery systems – not as much as I (and others) believe is needed, but still far more than any other country in the world except Russia, which, by treaty, is guaranteed a right to have the same amount of strategic weapons. Therefore, Russia is the only country in the world which can negotiate with the US as a true equal. No other country in the world can do that. And yet, this one country has stated such a long list of unpalatable demands (e.g. foregoing the deployment of any effective missile defense system in Europe, sharing BMD technology with Russia, etc.) that complying with them would be harmful for the US.
Now think about what would happen if the US were to cut its nuclear arsenal down to 600 or, even worse, 300-400 nuclear warheads. An entire crop of countries would suddenly become America’s equals, at least in military terms, and would be negotiating with the US as such: China, France, Israel, and within a decade, India and Pakistan as well. Indeed, as stated above, any idiot would need to produce (or buy from a proliferator like China) only 300 nuclear warheads and a bunch of delivery systems to reach nuclear parity with the US. It would be a nightmare. Any rational person can already imagine the long list of demands they would present to US officials as conditions of peace with the US.
One fact about the US military that is almost always ignored is that having a strong military that will be second to none is not only necessary for America to be secure, it’s also required in order to be able to conduct a strong, muscular, beneficial foreign policy, that is, one that benefits the US and its national interests. But for that to be possible, the US military has to be SECOND TO NONE – not just one of the many militaries in the world that has a few hundred nuclear weapons. A few hundred warheads are not enough – especially not when China has at least 350-400 and probably twice as many.
6) Bilateral arms reduction treaties with Russia (or any other country) are also dangerously flawed for the reason that only the US and Russia are parties to them. No one else is. Other countries, such as China and North Korea, are not obliged to obey by them (and have routinely violated the treaties that they have signed, including the NPT). Consequently, China is amassing a large and steadily growing arsenal of strategic weapons, including IRBMs. Bilateral arms reductions with Russia weaken the US and the Russian Federation vis-a-vis other countries, including China.
7) Finally, there’s one more dangerous problem with bilateral and multilateral disarmament policies and treaties. They are based on the basis of a dangerously and irredeemably flawed pacifist premise: that arms reduction and disarmament will somehow prevent war and make America and the world safer, and that everyone, including the bad guys, will comply with them. This is a foolish, false, incorrectibly flawed premise. It’s a fantasy. China, North Korea, India, and Pakistan will never give up their nuclear weapons under any circumstances. Iran will never freewillingly foreswear nuclear weapons, and many years of ever-tightening sanctions against it have not changed its desire in the slightest. In any case, arms reduction and disarmament won’t prevent war and won’t make America or the world safer. They will do the opposite: weaken the free world’s defenses, embolden aggressors, and cause war. A strong defense (including a large nuclear arsenal) does not cause war – it prevents war, as proven by the US nuclear deterrent’s unbroken, perfect record of protecting the US and PREVENTING nuclear war ever since its inception in 1945.
In short, bilateral and multilateral arms reductions – conventional and strategic alike – are based on a dangerously, irredeemably flawed premise and are therefore dangerous and unacceptable. There is no reason to pursue them. There is every reason NOT to do so, and to reverse them.