Editor’s Note: The business end of Nuclear Deterrence, the airmen, missilemen and sailors who work hard every day at the readiness required, know what Nuclear Deterrence means to them. There are others, however, who have a very different concept of what is necessary and their arguments are heard frequently and in high places. Their’sis a concept of Minimum Deterrence to put that concept in context the author states here:
“Minimum Deterrence is reflected in the many, many proposals that have been around since the ‘50s that suggest that U.S. force posture adequacy can be defined by anywhere from several nuclear weapons to up to about 1,000—several to up to about 1,000….
Minimum Deterrence puts a very tight box around the types of forces the United States should have. They shouldn’t be numerous, they shouldn’t be counter force, they shouldn’t provide damage limitation capability, they shouldn’t look like they’re for war fighting purposes; and they should be effective at retaliating against societal targets. So that’s essentially what Minimum Deterrence is.”
MR. PETER HUESSY:This is the first presentation on a new publication that Keith and NIPP have done which has chapters from people such as General C. Robert Kehler, USAF, Ret.and ADM Richard Mies, USN, Ret.and others.
Today we’re very privileged to have Keith Payne and Ambassador Bob Joseph, who is coming from an Emmy award-winning presentation before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday.
Keith, as you know, is President of NIPP, formerly in the Department of Defense.Bob, as you know, was a top arms control, counter-proliferation expert in the Department of State, was at the White House.I still think Bob is kind of the inventor of the Proliferation Security Initiative, and one of the great accomplishments, of course, was the ending of the nuclear program in Libya.
They’re going to talk about basically their new report that looks at if we don’t do minimal deterrence, what should we do?And they’re going to go through that and it is on the record.I will be getting a transcript and making that available to you.
I want to thank our sponsors.I want to thank our Air Force colleagues for being here.In particular, I want to thank Jeff and Tom Colin, both of whom helped put this together on short notice.We’re going to first hear from Keith, and then Bob.
Would you give a warm welcome to Dr. Keith Payne?
DR. KEITH PAYNE:Thank you, it’s great to be here this morning.Thanks to Peter,who does such a great job with these events.My appreciation to Peter for all that effort.
What I’d like to introduce this morning is a new study that literally is just out today.This is the draft copy that we have of it, essentially the galley copy.And apparently the first shipment of the publication will arrive today.
This new study is a sequel to this 2013 report.This is the study that came out in 2013, the title of which was, Minimum Deterrence: Examining the Evidence.The new 2014 study is entitled, Nuclear Force Adaptability for Deterrence and Assurance:A Prudent Alternative to Minimum Deterrence.
The contributors to each of these studies are important because in this town what is said is important, but also who is behind the saying of it is very important.So I’ll just mention the contributors.The senior review group for the first study, the 2013 study, included the late Dr. Jim Schlesinger, who was the head of the senior review group.The senior review group included folks who many of you know, some of you worked with, I’m sure: Gen. Don Alston, Gen. Roger Burg, Gen. Kevin Chilton, Ambassador Courtney, Ambassador Edelman, Dr. John Foster, Prof. Colin Gray, Ambassador Joseph, Admiral Mies, the Honorable Frank Miller, Senator Charles Robb, Dr. Bill Schneider, General Welch and the Honorable Jim Woolsey.
That was the group that was behind the first study.And the study was endorsed by Senator Kyl and Senator Lieberman.So what we had was a very bipartisan group that included civilians, retired military, technical folks, spelling majors, the whole gamut.
The second 2014 report, the sequel that has just come out, has a very similar group of folks who have contributed to it, although we added to that in a couple of ways.We added General Robert Kehler, who just came off of being commander of STRATCOM, as you all know.In addition, we invited Dr. John Harvey, recently out of the Obama administration at DOD, and Dr. Brad Roberts, also recently out of the Obama administration at DOD.So what we’ve tried to do is put together again a continuing group, very bipartisan, having a diversity of folks involved.
Let me go through briefly what the goal was of these two studies taken together, because in some ways they really need to be taken together.The first 2013 publication, as I said, the title is Minimum Deterrence: Examining the Evidence, was to hold up Minimum Deterrence to a critique of:what does evidence tell us about its claims?Never-mind the usual narrative of theory, but what does evidence actually tell us?
And when I say Minimum Deterrence, bear in mind what I’m referring to.I’ll do it in shorthand.Minimum Deterrence is reflected in the many, many proposals that have been around since the ‘50s that suggest that U.S. force posture adequacy can be defined by anywhere from several nuclear weapons to up to about 1,000—several to up to about 1,000.And the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons should be to deter other nuclear weapons; the United States should have a very constrained type of force posture in that the nuclear forces should be designed largely to target large soft areas.This goes back to McNamara’s urban industrial targeting.In other words, counter force is not a good and defensive capabilities, whether offensive or defensive, are not a good idea for a couple of reasons.
Minimum Deterrence puts a very tight box around the types of forces the United States should have.They shouldn’t be numerous, they shouldn’t be counter force, they shouldn’t provide damage limitation capability, they shouldn’t look like they’re for war fighting purposes; and they should be effective at retaliating against societal targets.So that’s essentially what Minimum Deterrence is.And the numbers, as I said, depending on the proposals you read, range from several—literally several nuclear weapons are adequate for the U.S. force posture, up to about 1,000.Depending on which proposal you read, you’ll see the numbers in there are somewhere—100 is a frequent number, 500 is a frequent number, but they range from several up to about 1,000.
As I said, the goal of the 2013 study was to assess this Mini-mum Deterrence narrative against actual evidence and logic.The conclusions that we came to, that this group came to, was that by and large the Minimum Deterrence narrative is contrary to evidence that is available with regard to how you might put together a methodology for force sizing.It’s contrary to evidence and it has internal logical problems.In other words, it’s self-contradictory in many ways.Other than that, it’s a brilliant piece of work.
So that was the conclusion of the first study.Many of you have it.If you don’t, let us know and we can make sure we get you a copy, or Peter can make sure you get a copy.
We started working on the 2014 study while this one was being briefed.What we wanted to do with this sequel was address the question:if not Minimum Deterrence then what?It’s not enough just to drive a stake through the heart of Minimum Deterrence—an approach that has zombie-like resilience.It comes back every decade, sometimes by a different cast of characters, sometimes by the same cast of characters that was presenting it in the ‘60s.It’s not enough just to put a stake through the heart of Minimum Deterrence, we need to provide an alternative. So the study coming out today is subtitled, “A Prudent Alternative to Minimum Deterrence.”
And so let me suggest just two things, and I’m not going to take much more time here.The first is, why do this?And, why go about this?
As far as I can see there is nothing comparable to these two studies.If it exists somewhere, it exists in great secrecy.I can’t find anything that actually does this work anywhere, including my old, old dusty archives of work at Hudson Institute work.
I thought if somebody has done this work before, it must have been the late, great Herman Kahn. But, I couldn’t find it.It’s amazing, given the longevity and the political salience of Minimum Deterrence, that no one, as far as I can tell, has subjected it systematically to the light of evidence.
My colleagues and I decided to fill this gap in the debate.So the question is, Why do it now?
I think the answer is because in many, perhaps most quarters in this town, the Minimum Deterrence narrative, just as I described it, dominates thinking.It dominates what is thought to be a post-Cold War thinker; in fact, the mocking criticism of anything that’s outside of the Minimum Deterrence narrative is that it is Cold War thinking.So what we wanted to do was take a close look at this powerful narrative with regard to U.S. strategic weapons, nuclear weapons and policy and arms control.
I think it’s fair to say that Minimum Deterrence has been increasingly powerful for about the last two decades.Despite the best efforts of a relatively small group of people, some of whom are in this room right now, this particular approach to thinking about nuclear force policies is winning the competition of ideas.In fact, I’m always surprised that people are surprised when developments that are consistent with Minimum Deterrence emerge.In each case, the question is, how did that happen?
What’s a reflection of this?Well, RNEP gets killed.How did that happen?Prompt global strike gets killed or downplayed.How did that happen ? RRW gets killed.How did that happen? The future of the triad is extremely questionable.How does that happen?We give up TLAM-N unilaterally.How did that happen?We put enormous limits on missile defense even though the ABM Treaty is gone.How does that happen?
We have popular Minimum Deterrence proposals for declaratory policies that are ridiculous.For example, the sole purpose declaratory policy is a ridiculous declaratory policy.How does that happen?What it says is that U.S. nuclear weapons are only useful for deterring nuclear weapons, and that’s how we should plan.
But, what about biological weapons?What about chemical weapons?Do we deter those threats with fairy dust?Sole purpose sounds so nice, so balanced.But, it corresponds to acquisition policies that are equally ridiculous in the current environment.For example, the current policy of No new capabilities. Really?No new capabilities?What does that come from?We have no idea what the threats are going to be two years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now.Nevertheless, we’re going to stay with legacy nuclear capabilities from the ‘60s and ‘70s for deterrence essentially forevermore, because somehow we know that those are the capabilities that will be necessary to deter enemies and assure allies 10 years from now?
That’s an unthinking point of view.It says that you can predict the future and you know that what you’ve got now is just right.But, no one can predict that.You’d have to be omniscient to know that, but that’s U.S. policy.These are all reflections of Minimum Deterrence.
What about arms control policy, the New START Treaty, the recent administration proposal for deeper U.S. reductions down to 1,000, and then down ultimately to nuclear zero?This overarching drive to even-lower numbers is a reflection of the Minimum Deterrence narrative.When they happen individually in history we ask where did that come from?But, if you put them together, you know why they happened:they happened because the strategic debate in this country is dominated by the Minimum Deterrence narrative.If you get outside of it, you’re basically dismissed as a Cold War thinker by many.
So what we wanted to do in the first study was take a serious look at Minimum Deterrence and examine it in light of evidence and logic.And once you get beyond that, once you establish that it has problems with evidence and logic, where do you go next?That’s what we did with this new study, take a look at what policy direction actually is consistent with evidence, what actually has internal coherent logic.
We started out asking, “what are the U.S. priority goals?”The answer is, assuring allies and deterring enemies. What does the strategic environment look like in which we must pursue those goals and where does it look like it’s going?What characteristics does that tell you should be important to our force posture?And then the next step is, what does that tell us should actually be the nature of our forces, the nature of our arms control policy, the nature of our declaratory policy?That is the structure of this new study.
Let me tell you that the conclusions we reached do not look like Minimum Deterrence.Now, let me get off the stage here and turn it over to Ambassador Joseph.
Ambassador Joseph, I believe, is going to talk about where we ended up with regard to arms control and missile defense.But he’ll talk about whatever he’d like to talk about.
AMB. ROBERT JOSEPH:Good morning.Let me also thank Peter and all of the sponsors, Jeff and others.It was a privilege to be part of the study group for both of these studies.I am grateful that I was allowed to participate.
I think Keith has done a terrific job providing an overview of the studies, and particularly of the impact or influence of minimum deterrence on U.S. strategic thinking currently.What I’d like to do is scope down a bit, just take a few minutes and, as Keith said, talk about arms control and missile defense and how they can add to, or in the case of arms control, detract from the flexibility and resilience of U.S. strategic and theater nuclear forces.
With regard to arms control, it has long been a U.S. objective to limit the adversary’s counter force capabilities.Going back to SALT and then particularly the START days, one of our objectives was to limit and in fact ban heavy ICBMs.We did actually achieve that objective in START II.But unfortunately, as most of you undoubtedly know, that treaty was never ratified by Russia.
But the concept is sound, and that is by limiting the counter-force capabilities of your adversary you enhance the survivability of your own force, providing greater flexibility and greater resilience.Arms control can also contribute to flexibility and resilience by preserving options, preserving options for our own forces.And this is one of the reasons that in the 2002 Moscow Treaty we decided not to have any limit on launchers.It would provide us with more flexibility to deal with an uncertain future.
The NIPP report emphasizes the need to keep our options open in this regard, given Russia’s expansion and modernization of both its strategic forces as well as missile defenses, given the lack of transparency associated with Chinese strategic modernization, and of course given the fact that in the future we will be surprised. Strategic surprise is a given for the future.The report also sets out a number of specific arms control do’s and dont’s to guide policy, and let me just refer to a number of them.
In principle, U.S. arms control policy should help preserve U.S. force survivability across the board by constraining the deployment of the opponent’s counter force capabilities.Arms control should help preserve U.S. flexibility via freedom to mix and correspondingly avoid extensive sub-limits on U.S. systems in any future reductions.Arms control should avoid legally locking in reductions for long periods of time that would constrain the U.S. capacity to adapt to future changes in the threat environment.
Arms control should avoid limitations that would compel U.S. forces to rely for their survivability on practices that work against flexibility, such as launching ICBMs on warning or under attack, or ICBMs that must dash on warning in order to survive, a concept that was, as you know, explored in the context of MX deployment.Arms control should avoid further cuts in force structure until next-generation missiles and bombers are in production. Without operating facilities, further reductions would take many years to reverse and would limit resilience and flexibility.
And finally, arms control should avoid negotiated limits on non-nuclear capabilities that could particularly undercut adaptability, potentially including limits on ballistic missile defense and conventional capabilities such as prompt global strike.A number of these do’s and don’ts were violated in the context of New START, and we can certainly get into that if you like.
Finally on arms control, the report makes clear that policy makers need to be aware of the tradeoffs between U.S. arms control and nonproliferation objectives on the one hand and U.S. deterrent, including U.S. extended deterrence requirements, on the other hand.To put it directly, we need to resist going to very low numbers in the name of nonproliferation when the consequences would be a less flexible and less resilient, and therefore a less credible nuclear posture that could, in fact, lead to more proliferation rather than the stated objective of those who advocate going to very low numbers in the name of nonproliferation.
On missile defense, the report provides a sound basis or launching point to examine how our missile defenses can be used to contribute to the flexibility and resilience of our offensive posture.Missile defense, for example, could provide the president with more options in a crisis.One example, if North Korea is seen assembling a long-range ICBM class missile in a time of heightened crisis, the president may think he has only two options.
One would be to preempt, the other would be to risk the destruction of an American city.Missile defense provides the president with more options, with more time, to deal with that crisis.In terms of providing greater resilience for our forces, missile defense through preferential defense of our offensive forces, could help avoid the need to take measures such as launch on warning or launch under attack.
I know we want to get to questions and answers and have an exchange.Let me conclude with characteristically one optimistic note. And my optimism has to deal with—I’m glad Peter is sitting down—arms control. I think arms control is dead. That’s my optimistic point.
I don’t believe that there is a chance that we will move for-ward in the near term with arms control negotiations, despite the hopes of high level office holders currently.I couldn’t help but think of the exquisite timing of the QDR. The 2014 QDR came out the same week in which Mr. Putin swallowed Crimea.The QDR emphasizes the need for more negotiations with Russia to reduce further our offensive capabilities.
I don’t think that’s going to happen.I think Russia has stated that it has no intention of negotiating on theater nuclear forces.Why should they? We have given them an eight or 10 to one advantage in that area.There’s nothing in it for them.And clearly, given their modernization and expansion of strategic forces, they have no interest in further limits on these systems.
That said, will they negotiate another agreement like New START that requires us to go down further and allows them to go up further ? Yes. But I don’t think even that is going to happen.But as Keith said, at some point arms control will arise from the ashes.There is no question.
One thing I’ve learned in over 30 years in Washington is that a bad idea in this town never goes away.You will see it return.And I think what this report does is provide a sensible guideline for future arms control policy.
With that, we will take questions and comments.
MR. HUESSY:I’d like you both to answer a question about, how does your report reinforce or address the issue of extended deterrence not only for our allies in Europe and NATO, but also in the Far East, particularly in Japan and Taiwan?
DR. PAYNE:Greatquestion.In fact, the report looks at that in some detail, both reports do.The question is, if the assurance of allies is a goal—and it is, what does it take to assure them?Up until a decade or so ago we generally decided that whatever we did ought to assure them, and if they weren’t smart enough to figure that out, then they should become smarter.
As I’ve said on occasion, when I spoke with a senior Japanese leader—had a chance to talk with him with regard to some of these issues, I said, how do you think the United States should go about things to best assure you in Asia?And he said, you know, no one has ever asked us that question before.I don’t know if that’s true, but that was certainly his impression.Many allies are paying much greater attentionat this point.
So the question is, how do you actually assure allies?And the first answer is, by understanding what they see as their vulnerabili-ties and concerns; and then, asking what can we do to help address those?Again, to be charitable, up until maybe a decade ago we tended to think as long as we met our own deterrence require-ments, allies ought to be assured.
Let me just suggest that assurance requirements sometimes can be extremely different from how we define deterrence requirements.The Healey theorem says it takes five percent credibility to deter—this is back in the Cold War—five percent credibility to deter the Soviets, but 95 percent credibility to assure the allies.It’s a different goal and to some extent a different set of requirements.There’s some overlap, but there also are unique capabilities and declaratory policies that are needed to assure the allies.
And so what the study says is, that assurance should be a self-conscious metric regarding how we put together our forces, not just anafter-thought or not something that’s a lesser included case.That’s why I point to the unilateral withdrawal of TLAM-N.That might have been a good idea for some reasons, but in terms of assuring allies, it was a terrible idea.
We now like to thinkthe Japanese are okay with that move now.Yes, I believe that some Japanese are; but I’ll tell you I still have chances to meet with senior Japanese leaders and they often comment unhappily about the unilateral drawdown of TLAM-N.So the point is, you put up assurance as a requirement of itself with its own set of metrics and then you work hard to figure out what that set of metrics requires.It may be completely outside of our notions of deterrence and what we should have for deterrence.But in a sense, that doesn’t matter if we want to assure the allies.
If we want to assure the allies we need to live up to those requirements.If we don’t want to assure the allies, then we can step back from them.But that’s the debate and the tradeoff.
AMB. JOSEPH:Just two points to add. One is on TLAM-N.Here is a case in which we took unilateral action in an environment in which—I’m talking about the theater nuclear imbalance that exists—Russia has an enormous advantage, 8 to 1, 10 to 1.What did we get for it?What did we get for this last unilateral step?
We got nothing for it.And yet, there is a recognition in the arms control community that we have to address the imbalance with Russia.In fact, that’s one of the stipulations in the resolution of ratification of New START.Here you have a unilateral action that undercut the prospects, I would argue, for arms control succeeding in terms of achieving our objectives.
And another point I would make is, as in so many other areas, you have to avoid doing stupid things.And I think one of the things that we need to avoid doing is withdrawing the remaining B-61 bombs that we have in Europe.That would be just stupid because once out they’re never going back in.
Can you imagine a crisis situation after we’ve withdrawn these weaponsand we’re going to put them back in, which is one of the arguments, that we could re-deploy when we need to?I don’t think so.I mean, that’s just stupid on so many different levels.
And yet, you keep hearing reoccurring calls for taking the last of the weapons out.I think that would be highly detrimental to our extended deterrent in Europe; and, I think it would have a real impact elsewhere.I mean, actions in Asia reverberate in Europe and the same is true in reverse.
DR. PAYNE:Let me just add to that because there’s a little piece here we should mention.Bob talked about the drive to withdraw the DCA and the reality of pulling down TLAM-N.Most of the arguments along those lines had to do with military efficiency.I heard all of them for a long time.It always had to do with military efficiency.
And my comment, when I heard the arguments about military efficiency, was, what does military efficiency have to do with assurance?You’re conflating two different things.Assurance is a political goal, you get it?It’s to hold alliances together.Military efficiency alone may be a third order priority.If it provides assurance, then modernize it so it’s not so militarily inefficient.
The minimum deterrence approach conflates virtually every-thing.The basic presumption that if we can kill—you fill in the blank—number of civilians on the other side, we have deterrence conflates the physical effect of a nuclear weapon with the deterrent effect.Even if you understand the physical effects well, what has that got todo with deterrence?You haven’t told me anything about the deterrent effect.Do you have any idea what that is?
Minimum Deterrence says if you have X number of capabili-ties to destroy X number of societal targets on the other side, you’ve got deterrence.Really?Again, it’s a perfect microcosm of the Minimum Deterrence discussion that conflates things in ways that really are grossly misleading.
MS.:Dr. Payne and Dr. Joseph, the discussion is kind of very emotional because nuclear weapons are bad and it’s very hard to have kind of logical sound reasoning once you accept the premise.What are some of the most effective ways to talk about nuclear weapons issues and assurance and deterrence? That might be too long, so pick whatever you want.But what are some of the most effective ways to talk about these issues to kind of counter the religious belief in minimal deterrence?
DR. PAYNE:It’s a great question because by asking the question you’ve captured perfectly what Ambassador Joseph and I are talking about.Largely in the United States, but more exactly within the beltway, nuclear weapons are bad.It’s a cultural bumper sticker.
If you go to France, do you think that’s true?If you go to the Russian Federation, do you think that’s true?If you go to China,do you think that’s true?No.
Why?Because they have a different political consensus that isn’t captured by the Minimum Deterrence narrative.The Minimum Deterrence narrative says it’s the nuclear weapons that cause the danger. So the goal is to drive them down in number and put boxes around them, and eventually get rid of them, because they’re the problem. That is the Minimum Deterrence narrative.(Emphasis added by Editor).
By asking the question, you exactly describe the cultural context, the cultural milieu, that I’m talking about.But it doesn’t exist everywhere.It exists very strongly here but not in a lot of other places.
I remember I was watching, during one of the campaigns in India to elect a new leadership, and the person who eventually won was giving a speech.Behind him was a picture of a mushroom cloud.This was to boast about the accomplishments of this regime.You had a mushroom cloud picture.Can you imagine an American leader doing that?
So, that was a long-winded intro, I apologize, but the best way to talk about this is to stand back and ask, what is it that nuclear weapons do?Never mind Doctor Strangelove, On the Beach,all the cultural icons that inform this country about nuclear weapons.
What do they do?They prevent war.The first half of the last century, 100 million casualties—100 million casualties in just over 10 years of combat.
Look at the second half of the century.Admiral Mies has a chart based on a study that actually shows the percentage of deaths in combat.And what you see—I think he took it back about 600 years—what you see is with the nuclear age it drops down to a much lower percentage than the norm up until that point.
There were generally a high annual percentage of combatant casualties until it appears that nuclear deterrence drove that percentage down to the floor.
That’s what nuclear weapons do, and that’s the way I like to talk about them.If you put it in a medical analogy, they are akin to chemotherapy.They can be really dangerous, but if you don’t have them, where do you go?