It’s Time to Change America’s Nuclear Strategy
A U.S. Naval War College professor says the Pentagon should consider new ideas
Every week, War Is Boring and Reuters sit down to discuss the stories behind the front lines. It’s War College and this week Thomas Nichols helps us understand America’s current nuclear strategy … or lack thereof.
This August marked the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Seven decades later, Washington and the Kremlin control more than 7,000 nuclear warheads … each. Not all of those weapons are active. The two nations have deployed some, stockpiled more and disarmed far too few. And those numbers are down from where they were just a few years ago.
Which is good because nuclear arms are the most terrifying weapons ever created. But with Russia and the United States sitting on so many potential Armageddons — not to mention other nuclear states such as China, India and Pakistan — and so many warheads unused for decades, it begs the question: just what are nuclear weapons good for?
The logic of the Cold War dictated that both the Soviet Union and the United States keep active nuclear weapons just in case the other side fired first. For half a century the world stood on the precipice of annihilation. But the “war” ended without either side firing an atomic shot.
According to Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, American nuclear strategy is in transition. The Pentagon has reviewed its nuclear force three times, always asking why it still maintains the weapons and it has come up with the same answer every time … deterrence.
But it’s not 1970 anymore. The Soviet Union is long gone and the world is a different place. It’s long past time the world’s nuclear powers reconsidered the best use of their most dangerous weapons.
“The Cold War is gone,” Nichols explains. “But we still have a Cold War force and a Cold War strategy that’s left over from 40 years ago.”