US considering implications of nuclear decline
The mighty U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons, midwived by World War II and nurtured by the Cold War, is declining in power and purpose while the military’s competence in handling the world’s most dangerous arms has eroded. At the same time, international efforts to contain the spread of such weapons look ineffective.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for one, wants the next president to think about what nuclear middle-age and decline means for national security.
Gates joins a growing debate about the reliability and future credibility of the American arsenal with his first extensive speech on nuclear arms Tuesday. The debate is attracting increasing attention inside the Pentagon even as the military is preoccupied with fighting insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The unconventional tools of war there include covert commandos, but not nuclear weapons.
For my part, that is a great error. Even if you’re not going to use it, your ennemies know you have that weapon and it can surely serve as a deterrent in case someone wants to attack you.