Review: Brad Roberts, ‘The Case for Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century’
Upon entering office and throughout his presidency, President Barack Obama in various pronouncements made clear his intention to overturn this link between foreign and military policy. During a visit to Hiroshima, Japan in May, the president intoned that there needed to be a “moral revolution” to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Obama’s perspective coincides with an era in which the United States is fighting “small wars” against adversaries incapable of inflicting the type of catastrophic damage against the United States or its allies that guided U.S. nuclear policy in the Cold War era.
While Obama may have concluded that historical trends have removed much of the justification for U.S. nuclear forces, Brad Roberts’s timely and insightful work on the rationale for maintaining a nuclear weapons capability in the our century merits close attention as the nation prepares to elect a new commander in chief. For Roberts, “the United States is entering a period of renewed debate about nuclear deterrence.”
Three factors account for this. The first is what the author terms “regional threats,” such as those posed by North Korea and possibly Iran. The second is the “profound change” in Russian foreign policy since 2014 and the “significant progress” China is making in deploying secure nuclear retaliatory forces.
On Russia he writes, “Russian military planning remains centrally focused on the possibility of war with the West, while the West has only begun … to rethink the basic premises that have led it to set aside Russia as a military problem.”
Finally, there is a gridlocked Congress, which has funded continued nuclear force operations but has ducked decisions on nuclear force modernization or replacement issues.
Full article: America Needs Nuclear Weapons—and the World Needs Us to Have Them (Washington Free Beacon)