EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
On Friday, the Pentagon released its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Its debut demands more attention, because it announced a renewed round in the nuclear-arms race, one inevitably bringing us ever closer to the unthinkable—a nuclear war of catastrophic consequences.
The review clearly seeks to calm fears about President Trump’s finger on the nuclear trigger. Ignoring the many accidents and close calls during the Cold War, the review asserts that the United States has “measures and protocols” to ensure that intercontinental ballistic missiles are “safe, secure and under constant control.” Furthermore, the Pentagon says that “any U.S. decision to employ nuclear weapons would follow a deliberative process.” Despite these assurances, the review’s plans for the nuclear arsenal and nuclear strategy should rouse alarms and spark congressional hearings and public debate.
The United States has an active stockpile of more than 4,000 nuclear weapons, arrayed in the triad of land-based launch sites, nuclear submarines, and strategic bombers, including nuclear-armed ICBMs, air- and sea-launched cruise missiles, and gravity bombs. More than enough to destroy the world several times over, the arsenal’s “credibility” is not in issue. Yet the review reaffirms the Obama administration’s commitment to a new generation of missiles, nuclear submarines, strategic bombers, and nuclear bombs. It warns of a “rapid deterioration of the threat environment,” making it imperative not to “delay modernization of our nuclear forces if we are to preserve a credible nuclear deterrent.”
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.