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Opinions

Nuclear weapons are the


U.S.s instruments of peace
By Robert Spalding October 4, 2013

RobertSpaldingisamilitaryfellowattheCouncilonForeignRelations.

TheU.S.rebalanceorpivottotheAsiaPacificmustbepeacefulandaffordable.Unfortunately,ourcountryneglectsthe
oneaspectofnationaldefensethatcandeliverthisoutcome:nuclearweapons.

AsIenteredactivedutyasabomberpilotattheendoftheColdWar,Iwasamongthosewhoquestionedthecontinued
relevanceofnuclearweapons.TheColdWarwasoverand,thankfully,wehadescapednucleararmageddon.Ibelieveditwas
timetoputawaythebombandfocusonmorerelevantconventionalcapabilities.Lately,however,Ihavebecomekeenlyaware
oftheneedforournuclearforce.

TheUnitedStateswontheColdWarbymaintainingacrediblenuclearforcetostandinoppositiontotheSovietUnion.U.S.
nuclearweaponsdefendedEuropeagainstanumericallysuperiorconventionalforce.Missileequippedsubmarinesandthe
bombersandintercontinentalballisticmissilesofStrategicAirCommandwerethenucleartriadthatdeterredtheSovietsfrom
attacking.Theseforceswereattheforefrontofourdefensestrategyandreceivedpriorityinbothrhetoricandf unding.

TheU.S.nuclearforceexiststokeepathresholdonthelevelofviolence.Thisisespeciallyimportantwhendisagreements
betweennuclearpowersmovebeyonddialogue.WhilenumeroussmallerwarsexistedinproxystatesduringtheColdWar,
directconflictbetweennuclearpowersalwaysdeescalatedbacktodialogue.Itispossiblethattheinternationalbodypolitic
thataroseafterWorldWarIIisthereasonwehavenotwitnessedathirdworldwar.Yetitisalsopossiblethathasnotoccurred
becausethethreatofnuclearholocaustistoomenacing.Morelikely,itisacombinationofthetwo.

Tobecredible,nuclearweaponsmustbeakeycomponentunderpinningrelevantU.S.foreignpolicy.Iterodesmoraleand
encouragesperpetuallylowfundingwhentheNuclearPostureReviewaddsaslongasnuclearweaponsexisttothephrase
safe,secureandeffective,asifitisaforegoneconclusionthattheseweaponswillbeeliminated.Russia,China,India,
Pakistan,Israel,France,BritainandNorthKoreaalltreatnuclearweaponsasakeycomponentintheirnationsstrategy,and
theyaremodernizingweaponsand/ordeliverysystems.

Nuclearweaponsareinstrumentsofpeace.Airmenandsailorsnoblyensurethatnuclearconflictwillbedeterredbybeing
readytousethem.Americansmayfeelguiltyforpossessingsuchterriblecapacitytodestroylife.Despitetheirdistastefulness,
however,nuclearweaponsprobablyhavesavedlives.AnewdaydawnedonAug.6,1945.ManywhoworkedontheManhattan
Projectbelievedthattheyhadcondemnedtheworld.Theycouldnothaveknownthattheymighthaveliberatedit.SinceAug.
9,1945,approximately7millionto10millionpeoplehavediedfromconflict.Beforetheintroductionofnuclearweapons,two
worldwarsaloneledtothedeathsof70millionto100millionadifferenceofadecimalpoint.

Nuclearweaponsareanaffordabledeterrent.Thecostofthetriadrepresentslessthan3percentofthe$526billionDefense
Departmentbudget.In2012,theU.S.PostalServicelostabout$16billion,orthreetimestheamountitcostU.S.taxpayersfor
intercontinentalballisticmissilesandbombers,twothirdsofthetriad.Althoughthenuclearbudgetneedstorisetooffsetthe
morethan20yearsofneglectinmodernization,amodestincreasewouldbarelyregisterintheoveralldefensebudget.

Aperceivedmarchtowardcompletenucleardisarmament,evidentinphraseslikeaslongasnuclearweaponsexist,weakens
theverythingthatensuresapeacefulfuture.Theideathatsuchweaponsarehereonlyuntilwecanfigureouthowtogetridof
themgnawsatthemoraleofeveryairmanandsailortaskedwiththisawesomeresponsibility.Asconventionalforces
modernize,nuclearweaponsfundingdwindles,andweaponssystemsage.Theironyisdistressing:Wearefundingweapons
thatkillonadailybasistothedetrimentoftheweaponsthatexisttopreventwar.

Thesensiblepathtopeacestartswiththerealizationthatpeacecanbesecuredonlythroughstrength.Nuclearweapons
representthatstrength.Wemustembraceitthroughfundingandrhetoric.Thetroopstaskedwithensuringourpeaceful
futuremusthearthattheyareimportant,andtheymustseeandfeelitaswell.Weneednewweaponsanddeliverysystems,
but,mostimportant,weneedanewstrategythatrecognizestheimportanceofnuclearweaponstoapeacefulfuture.

RichardClarkeandSteveAndreasen:Anewthreatdoesntjustifynewdeterrencepolicy

EricEdelmanandRobertJoseph:TheObamaadministrationsriskydisarmamentagenda

HenryKissingerandBrentScowcroft:Nuclearweaponsreductionmustbestrategic

DouglasFeithandothers:Obamasnuclearzerorhetoricisdangerous

ThePostsView:TheGOPiswrongtosayObamacutnuclearweaponsbudget