Progress made and promised in the reduction of nuclear weapons is encouraging. The time when our existence as a nation could be held at risk may soon be behind us. Only nuclear weapons in the number available to the remnants of the former Soviet Union require a strategy dependent on mutually assured destruction (MAD).
Nuclear deterrence worked! Those awesome weapons in silos, in the belly of bombers on strip alert and roaming the seas in nuclear submarines, coupled with the clear understanding that we bad the determination to use them, held the formidable destructive powers of the Soviet Union in check. From Korea to Vietnam to Iraq, president after president exercised appropriate restraint even when faced with difficult national security situations that involved the risk of large numbers of U.S. casualties.
With the prospect of nuclear destruction of the American homeland diminishing, some consider complete elimination of the United Sates as a nuclear power to be the next sensible step. “Sophisticated advanced conventional weapons can defeat any Third World leader,” has become the commonly beard refrain . It is conceivable that the dedication of sufficient resources, money, equipment, and life, can bring down any despot. The question that must be answered is the acceptability of the employment of nuclear weapons by a renegade without the constraining value realized by the threat of commensurate retaliatory action.
The deterrent significance of nuclear weapons has been proven for half a century. The value of the United States’ nuclear arsenal has been in the guarded control by responsible leadership rather than through actual utilization. The same level of restraint cannot be assumed of regional powers armed with weapons of mass destruction (WMD}. Proliferation of WMD continues at an alarming rate. We have witnessed the limited use of WMD in the Iran/Iraq war. Much of the world looks to the United States to provide an environment that accommodates their quest for economical stability and growing democracy. Elimination of our nuclear capability, combined with our long-standing aversion to placing people at risk, could encourage potential aggressors to test our democratic and humanitarian resolve. situation would be created where they could take holocaust-like action realizing that the response of the world community would be limited to the dedication and loss of human resources on par with world wars of the past. Our National Command Authority should have every option available to deter rouge action. Those options should span diplomatic warning, sanctions, isolation and intervention, to permanent resolution without excessive loss of U.S. life.