|Anthony Freda Art|
By Joshua Krause
Normally, when you hear the term “think tank” you assume that the people within the organization are there to actually think. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
During the course of trying to find “outside the box” solutions to national and international problems, sometimes think tanks come up with ideas that are patently absurd. Such is the case with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and their plan to arm America with numerous small, tactical nukes.
The United States should develop new low–yield, tactical nuclear weapons to deter countries from seeking nuclear weapons of their own, a new think-tank report says. It also argues that the U.S. should base more nuclear weapons around the world to better deter attacks.
“Forward deploying a robust set of discriminate nuclear response options conveys the message that the United States will ‘respond in kind’ and proportionately to nuclear attacks on its allies,” wrote Clark Murdock, a former Pentagon policy official who is now a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
CSIS’ “Project Atom” report, provided to Defense One in advance of its June 22 release, was produced by Murdock and eight co-authors as a “zero-based, blue-sky” look at American’s nuclear arsenal. It challenges the Obama administration’s policy of seeking to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national strategy, and argues for new bombs, missiles, and delivery platforms to replace the ones that have been around since the Cold War.
Boy, where I do start?
First off, since when did building nuclear missiles prevent other countries from doing the same? Doesn’t it have the opposite effect? I thought that was the Cold War in a nutshell. We built a few, then they built a few, and then we kept going back and forth with the Russians like that, until they went bankrupt. Now the planet is littered with thousands of these weapons in several different countries. Also, haven’t the war hawks in Washington been telling us for years that the Iranians want to build nuclear weapons, in part because they want to counter Israel’s nukes?
And another thing, does spreading your nuclear arsenal around the world really keep your enemies from attacking you, or does it only serve to antagonize them? Does “Cuban Missile Crisis” ring a bell?
And, finally, arming ourselves with small-yield nuclear weapons is just an all around terrible idea. In fact, we’ve done it before. Meet the Davy Crockett:
2,100 of these nukes were produced in the late ’50s, and they were deployed to conventional forces between 1961 and 1971. There were several different versions that had an explosive yield of between 10 tons, and 1 kiloton. Franz Josef Strauss, the former defense minister of West Germany, was obsessed with this weapon and desperately wanted the Americans to give them to the German Army. His request was repeatedly denied.
Why? Because it practically guaranteed that any ground war with the Soviets would inevitably escalate into a nuclear war. If you considered using high-yield strategic nukes, you’re talking about the end of the world as we know it. But these tiny devices don’t carry the same psychological weight. It’s easier to pull the trigger on something that would only level a few acres.
Hell, I’m sure there’s a few conventional bombs that are capable of the same thing. But at the end of the day, a nuke is a nuke, and there’s only one way a military power would respond to being nuked. They will start using some of their tactical nukes as well. This will escalate between the two forces, until the larger strategic nukes are deployed.
The other problem with tactical nukes is that for them to be effective, you need to place them in the hands of mid-level commanders. Our numerous ICBM’s are in the hands of a select few, which includes the President and some of his staff. But tactical nukes can’t be useful to a division commander if he has to call the President and ask for permission to use them. If he’s dealing with a formidable conventional army, like the Russians are known for, his army may be overwhelmed by enemy forces before he can pull the trigger; at which point, he would basically be nuking his own lines.
So for tactical nukes to be effective, you have to take the higher command out of the loop. Now nuclear war is no longer in the hands of a few politicians in Washington. It’s now in hundreds of hands across the planet, thus increasing the chances of an unnecessary nuclear conflagration.
And, finally, what happens to the nukes when they’re no longer needed? For many years after the Soviet Union fell, the West was terrified of Russia’s low-yield “suitcase nukes,” because it wasn’t at all clear if the Russians had kept track of these weapons, or if they had been stolen and sold on the black market. Any weapon that is small enough to fit in a truck or be carried by a single soldier, runs the risk of slipping through the cracks at some point.
So all in all, this think tank’s plan for maintaining America’s military dominance, is probably one of the worst ideas anyone has ever come up with. It reads like a how-to guide for starting a nuclear war.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple, where this article first appeared. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.