Friday, June 1, 2012

Washington Perspective -- May Madness

AFA members, I’d ask that you take the time to really digest this note … as it presents perhaps the most important national security issue for our future survival.  I’ll warn you in advance that to digest this note and its links will take some time. 
In May, a group call the Global Zero US Nuclear Policy Commission came out with a report.  You can see by the title where the end-game of the report is heading.  Global Zero advocates for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.  The Commission was chaired by Gen (Ret) James Cartwright, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Its members included Ambassador Richard Burt, Senator Chuck Hagel, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, and Gen (Ret) Jack Sheehan.
In the report, the Commission advocates a reduction of our nuclear weapons to a total of 900 – to include both tactical and strategic weapons.  450 of these would be deployed and 450 held in reserve.  They further argue we – as a part of our negotiations with Russia – eliminate our ICBM force, reduce our nuclear submarines to a total of 10, and keep them 24-72 hours away from their launch windows.  They state that “9-11 exposed the lack of efficacy – indeed, the irrelevance – of nuclear forces in dealing with 21st century threats.”
Before you (out-of-hand) dismiss this report, you should read it … and think about it.  You can find the report at:
Secondly, there have been a few articles criticizing the commission report.  The best one, in my view, is by Keith Payne.  Mr. Payne is the head of the Graduate Department of Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.  In his piece, he disagrees with the Commission report … and states that Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen Norton A. Schwartz, does also. 
A quote from the critique to interest you:
“For example, while the report calls for a realistic understanding of the post-Cold War security situation, it begins with, “Security is mainly a state of mind, not a physical condition.”  Why this fatuous statement?  Because if security is just a state of mind, old-fashioned security concerns can be banished easily by new thinking.  But security is not mainly a state of mind.  It often is predominantly a physical condition.  Nations usually feel insecure because they are under threat or attack.  Just ask the survivors of invasion, various genocidal campaigns and aerial bombardment or the folks in Syria who must dodge government attacks to survive.  Real threats often underlie fears, and they require real solutions.  Those who chalk this all up to “mainly a state of mind” and resist real solutions to real security problems often later are called “victims.””
Next, at an AFA, NDIA, and ROA sponsored breakfast, Gen (Ret) Larry Welch expressed his views on the Commission’s report.  General Welch, as many of you will recall, was – before he was Chief of Staff of the Air Force – the Commander of the Strategic Air Command.  He, too, is critical of the Global Zero Commission report.  A quote from his talk to interest you: 
“The first obstacle is in our heads —or at least the heads of some people. It is this vision that somehow, if we dismantle our strategic nuclear deterrent, other nations would follow our lead and the world would then be a safer place. In this vein, a May 2012 report by the Global Zero calls for (1) eliminating nearly 80% of our current nuclear force; (2) “de-alerting” the remaining deployed U.S. nuclear deterrent, and (3) entirely eliminating the ICBM leg of the triad, the most stabilizing part of the current nuclear deterrent triad.
The only basis for the idea that drastically reducing the number of nukes we have would magically make us safer and help eliminate other nuclear dangers is hope. But hope is not a plan, and hope is not a basis for security. Hope does not defend us. I would ask who would be willing to rely on hope for the safety and security of their family? No one would do that. The answer is nobody. Then why would anyone then rely on hope for the safety and security of this country and of more than 30 countries that depend on our extended deterrent?”
A second very thoughtful quote from Gen Welch:
“Regarding the role of nuclear weapons in the 21st century, we have heard comments to the effect that these are old Cold War weapons that have not been used, will never be used, and therefore serve no purpose. The primary role of U.S. nuclear weapons for well over half a century has been to prevent their use. To that end, we have used them every second of every day since the first deterrent systems were deployed. They have worked perfectly. The nuclear deterrent is the only weapons system I know of that has worked perfectly without fail, exactly as intended, for their entire life span. And because they have been so successful, then there may be some who have forgotten why we need them.”
As many of you know, I seldom express my personal views in these notes.  This issue is an exception – because of its criticality to the security of the United States.  You can find my views in a previous note:
Finally, I’d ask that – after you have read all the material in this Perspective, you give me your feedback.
For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn

Air Force Association
“The only thing more expensive than a first-rate Air Force is … a second-rate Air Force.”  --  Senate staff member

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