Nuclear Deterrence: An Outdated Concept?

As another nation prepares to join the nuclear club, hard questions are being asked about the current state of the American nuclear stockpile. The Department of Defense has already said they will require as much as $270 billion to keep the current weapons viable.

“We’ve developed a plan to transition our aging system. Carrying out this plan will be an expensive proposition. It is projected to cost DOD an average of $18 billion a year from 2021 through 2035,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work to the House Armed Services Committee. “The only existential threat to our nation is a nuclear attack. Nuclear weapons remain the most important mission we have.”

That plan, however, does nothing to increase or improve the weapons. It maintains parity with our current levels, even as other countries, including Russia and China, continue to improve their nuclear arsenals.

To maintain our current advantage, which includes replacing the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, developing the Air Force’s Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) and creating a new mobile launcher for land-based nuclear missiles, will cost upwards of $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000) over the next 50 years.

NuclearAlthough that is a massive amount of money, maintaining our nuclear capabilities may be the only way that the United States can continue to influence global political situations without constant threat of nuclear attack by other countries.

“Continued emphasis on the reduced role of nuclear weapons could cause adversaries and allies to misjudge the seriousness of U.S. intent and capability to respond in kind,” states Project Atom, A Competitive Strategies Approach to Defining U.S. Nuclear Strategy and Posture for 2025–2050. “Specifically, they may believe that the nuclear taboo and the historical precedent of nonuse would cause a U.S. president to be self-deterred from responding to nuclear use in kind, and perhaps even to back down.”

The United States has been the only country to use nuclear weapons against another country while at war. In the intervening 70 years, the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) has prevented any country to use nuclear weapons against an opponent.  MAD works. Not only against other major countries, but also against minor countries that have acquired nuclear capabilities. As the prevalence of these weapons becomes wider, the United States cannot afford to shirk the responsibility it took upon itself after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Our country opened the Pandora’s Box of atomic warfare and it remains our duty and responsibility to ensure they are never used again. If a rogue state believes that if they use nuclear weapons without repercussions, then we – as a country – have failed in our duty. The only way to maintain that threat is to have the capability to destroy any user of nuclear weapons.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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