The major military threat to the United States is that of Soviet nuclear weapons aimed at missile and bomber bases inside the United States. From the Soviet point of view, the major military threat to the Soviet Union is that of US-based missiles aimed at Soviet missile and bomber bases inside the Soviet Union. These naturally generate surprise-attack thinking on the part of U.S. and Soviet military men.
Even though u.s. and Soviet leaders say they do not intend to launch a surprise attack, how can the other be sure? “Instant retaliation” or “launch under attack” would come too late to preserve and defend America. In evaluating the latest land-based MX proposal, Congress needs to know the complete and systematic cost to America of a surprise nuclear attack on US-based nuclear weapons with collateral damage on transportation, industries and population.
At this moment, the United States has within its own borders intercontinental missiles and bombers targeted around the clock on the Soviet Union. We continue to tell ourselves, “It can’t happen here because we have deterrence.”
The Pentagon claim that the u.s. can deliberately deploy nuclear weapons in a way that exposes the United States itself to surprise attack and then say we have “deterrence” simply hands to the opponent the freedom or action we should above all retain for ourselves.
Congress should review the shock and paralysis that gripped the American high command in the wake or other surprise attacks, such as the Pearl Harbor surprise in 1941, the North Korean surprise attack on South Korea in 1950, and Chinese surprise attack on U.S. forces in North Korea a few months later. Is Pentagon insistence on US-based nuclear missiles and bombers risking another surprise attack incalculably more devastating than Pearl Harbor?
Additions to the present U.S. nuclear posture must serve to reduce, rather than increase, vulnerability or the United States to any attack, including surprise. This means removing all nuclear missiles and bombers, and their command and control, from the United States itself and deploying them in ships and submarines at sea. It means compensating for the Soviet 2.5-to-1 superiority in land area and taking advantage or the more favorable u.s. access to the open oceans. Sea-based deployment would remove America from the line or tire or early strikes on strategic forces.
In 1967, the Defense Department STRAT – X Study round the surface ship-based missile system to be the most cost-effective deployment mode, virtually impossible to destroy by surprise attack. The submarine system was second most cost-effective, with the hard silo and land mobile systems third and fourth, at over twice the cost or the sea-based systems. Land-based bombers were eliminated early in the study because or vulnerability or the air bases. The foregoing calculations did not include the cost to America of a nuclear attack on each of the basing modes, in terms or blast, heat, fallout and radiation destruction or u.s. land, water, cities, industries, transportation and population. The study group agreed that with guidance technologies available then, missile accuracy in each of the four basing modes would be about the same.
Deployment or MX in submarines and ships at sea would be the least costly or all strategic forces basing modes, secure from surprise attack and protected by the U.S. Navy and Air Force.