Do Away With Boomers?
From the New York Times, we find that the old "if we just get rid of nuclear weapons then everyone will love us and there won't be any more war" crowd is alive and still writing. Excerpts:
As the sea leg of the triad of nuclear deterrence, the Trident submarines provide “the nation’s most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability,” as stated by the Navy. Their mission is to launch a massive and final lethal blow in the event that the worst has happened: “nuclear combat toe-to-toe with the Ruskies,” in the memorable drawl of Major T. J. “King” Kong, the Slim Pickens character in “Dr. Strangelove.”While it's true that SSBNs wouldn't be much use against terrorists hiding in caves (or rather, would be extreme overkill) the theory that "the Russians or Chinese wouldn't try to wipe us out" doesn't pass the test of history. Sure, I'd be willing to say that a nuclear war between superpowers is very unlikely for the next 20 years, as the Ohio-class boats end their service lives. However, as Great Britain learned at their peril back in the '30s, you really can't base defense funding projections on a theory that "not much politically will change in the next few years". The lesson learned from WWII is that one must always prepare for a potential enemy's capabilities, vice intentions, as intentions can change relatively quickly. With this lesson in mind, it's obvious that we cannot unilaterally give up the most survivable leg of our nuclear deterrent while our potential adversaries maintain the capability to act against us with impunity.
MAD makes sense in a rational world: the Russians or Chinese would never try to wipe us out, because we would then wipe them out. They want to live well and prosper, as do we.
But MAD makes less sense at a time when the enemies of civilization are cave-dwelling religious fanatics who target cartoonists and kill innocent children at soccer telecasts and think, if they die in nuclear Armageddon, a sexual reward awaits them in heaven...
...Why not a much larger reset? The deterrence would still be there, even with a pair of submarines, let alone the dozen-plus out there now, not to mention the new class of extraordinarily costly submarines under construction.
These new submarines may cost about $8.2 billion each to build, the Congressional Budget Office reported a few months ago. The first one, always the most pricey, may run up to $13 billion, which would make it the most expensive Navy vessel ever built. In May, Defense Secretary Robert Gates questioned whether the cost of all these new ships was worth it in the big view of getting the most safety for the most buck.
His legitimate query was greeted by a collective ho-hum. MAD and all its budget-busting infrastructure is just so much a part of the scenery now.
What we will get for those billions are sleek new nuclear-armed behemoths to replace the sleek old nuclear-armed behemoths, all in service to a dinosaur policy. Once the subs are in use, they will likely perform the same tired mission, ready to fire the last shot in a world going down. Meanwhile, above the surface of the ocean, crazed religious leaders in tents and Flintstone huts plot murder against innocents using Radio Shack rejects.