Part of the problem with getting slip shod and thinking that the world has changed is that those who are determined and know it hasn’t changed can steal a march on you – China is doing this. From the Washington Times:
China is expanding its nuclear forces with a new multiwarhead mobile missile and keeps its strategic stockpiles in deep underground bunkers, the Pentagon disclosed in its annual report to Congress on the Chinese military.
China is thought to have up to 75 long-range nuclear missiles, including hard-to-find, road-mobile DF-31 and DF-31A intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), according to the report, which was released Wednesday. China also has 120 intermediate- and medium-range missiles…
The additional information that China has developed a massive underground network to protect its nuclear force indicates that China is reaching for a first class nuclear force – something which will give China the strategic ability to start wars, and then retreat behind a nuclear umbrella if the war does not go in China’s favor. While the United States maintains sufficient nuclear force to destroy the Chinese population, we may lack means to strike hard a China’s nuclear force. And massacring Chinese is not making war – no decent American government would ever contemplate doing that except in the extremity of the Chinese government massacring the American people via nuclear war.
While China is building a 21st century nuclear force, the United States has not produced a nuclear weapon in 20 years – and recent (asinine) nuclear agreements require us to reduce our aging force to 2,200 warheads or less – none of which, I’ll bet, are capable of penetrating China’s very hardened nuclear sites. While the Strategic Defense Initiative will increasingly protect us from an “out of the blue” nuclear strike, the fact that we lack “first strike” capability (ie, the ability to hit it so hard that any response would be suicidal on China’s part) gives China immense strategic flexibility.
They can use this flexibility to start wars – on their own or via proxies like North Korea – with impunity. If we fight and lose, China is happy – if we fight and win, we can’t fight it to a finish because China can retreat behind a nuclear umbrella and threaten a massive attack against the United States if we go for total victory. We must redress this strategic balance.
First and foremost must come the most aggressive possible deployment of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Technology is advancing so fast that we may soon have the capability even of thwarting a massed attack upon the United States. This will go far towards curbing any Chinese nuclear-armed ambitions. But crucial to a balanced nuclear strategy is the ability to wipe out all or most of China’s nuclear force in a first strike. This will take new types of warheads designed for deep penetration, as well as the most advanced targeting systems to ensure we hit the target squarely.
It is time to wake up from the 1991 false hope that strategic nuclear thinking was obsolete. We live in a world of nuclear weapons, and those weapons are simply going to spread, and more and more nations will develope the capability of hitting the United States. As in all things military, the safety of the United States lays in maintaining an overwhelming qualitative edge. In 1991, we easily had that over China – we very likely still do, but we won’t have it for long, if we don’t start rebuilding our nuclear force. This is not a plea, necessarily, for more warheads than we have now but, instead, a plea that the warheads we have be of the latest technology, and fitting for our needs…and our need right now is to be able to destroy deeply buried nuclear sites (and not just in China – Iran and North Korea also deeply bury their nuclear forces).
The real world goes on, whether we will or no…time get back in to it as far as nuclear weapons are concerned.