Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A pledge to emasculate our country

So the president doesn't like nuclear weapons.  No-one does.    I grew up next to missile and bomber bases.  B-52's used to use my elementary school as a notional target because the land around it resembled their actual wartime targets.  We had at least two 'civil defense' drills every year, which is code for 'nuclear war' drills.  We knew that if the balloon ever went up for real, our city was a first strike target, and there wasn't much sense in planning for the aftermath.

Nukes are weapons of mass destruction.  They kill and destroy without regard to age, sex, or military designation.  They are really only good against large targets such as cities, unless we choose to use a small arsenal of penetrator warheads to hit underground bunkers, and even then the lingering after effects of radiation will hurt the surrounding population for generations.

However, the understood threat that our large nuclear arsenal would be unleashed against any power, nation state or otherwise, that used any weapon of mass destruction against us, has been around longer than I have been alive.  A biological weapon is a chemical weapon is a nuclear weapon.  A mass nerve gas attack against Baltimore would be treated as if someone had fired an ICBM into the harbor.

Also, the knowledge that we were willing, in very limited circumstances, to use nuclear weapons to defend western Europe and other allies kept the Soviet bear at bay long enough that he crumbled from the inside.  Without this umbrella of menace that we stretched across the Fulda Gap, it is hard to imagine the Soviets not taking advantage of their local superiority to take over Europe. 

So even though the use of nuclear weapons is horrific and probably immoral, their threatened use if we or our allies are attacked has been and is a strong deterrent against the portions of the world that wish us ill.

So now the president has made a public pledge to not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear nations.  Instead a threat of massive conventional retaliation takes the place of a nuclear deterrent.  So if a country decides to gas one of our cities, or releases a biological agent into our food system, we promise to bomb them with HE.  Sure, we'll do a lot of damage, but if someone is planning an attack like that, they will make sure the parts of their country they need protected from a conventional attack are either buried or dispersed.  Nuclear weapons can, through the use of penetrators or just their large explosive power make burying of assets useless.  And their large blast radii can make dispersal of a countries military into the hinterlands less effective. 

In addition, the president has pledged to stop development and improvement of our aging stockpile.  So even if he decides to use these weapons, there is no guarantee that they will work.  Imagine what will happen if a multi-megaton warhead fails to go off over its target.  Think the target will be saturated with second strikes to not only destroy the target but keep an example of American nuclear technology from being picked apart and studied?  Think the warhead would be paraded through the streets of a capital as a symbol of American impotence?  You have to do maintenance and testing of any system that you plan on ever using.  By stopping testing and development of our deterrent, the president puts us in danger.

Also, I don't believe the president.  In the heat of the moment, if our homeland has been attacked with a weapon of mass destruction and the president is watching some people die and others cry out for revenge on CNN, I think his emotions will override his pledge.  He will lash out out of fear and anger.  And his fear of political retaliation will drive him to make a politically expedient choice.  He will lay waste to another nation so that he can continue to be the "leader" of this nation.

So, the president has made a pledge that I feel makes us less secure in a world that is looking for openings to harm us.  His pledge will embolden those who want to attack the American homeland. And it means nothing when coming from an administration that will forget it in the name of political expediency when a poll of eligible voters shows they want blood to run in the streets of whatever country attacked us.

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