When a part of the nuclear triad comes up for modernization or replacement, nuclear-deterrence critics ooze up with their tried and failed arguments against U.S. nuclear security. They are at it again, and Liberty Nation is on top of the issue. There is a new bill in Congress that would terminate the development of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) in favor of funding coronavirus prevention. The Democrats call their bill “Investing in Cures Before Missiles” or ICBM. Clever, eh? Some liberal staff member must have taken the better part of an afternoon to come up with that.
The liberal lawmakers’ approach is the argument that is typical regardless of the issue. Democrats offer a “false choice,” a logical fallacy.
There are only two polar views, at opposite ends of the spectrum. Former President Barack Obama was famous for this type of argument. Americans have only the Affordable Care Act or no healthcare. In this case, Americans can have a vaccine that prevents coronavirus or the GBSD program.
But the liberals’ efforts end up trivializing both U.S. nuclear security and the need to protect Americans’ health.
According to Julian Borger of The Guardian, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) explained the choice this way: “The United States should invest in a vaccine of mass prevention before another new land-based weapon of mass destruction.” The choice is posed as vaccines or mass destruction, reminiscent of the Eddie Izzard sketch where the options were “cake or death.” This logic is ridiculous, as is the argument used by backers of the ICBM bill.
Keep in mind that $1 trillion of COVID relief money has yet to be spent. The Hill’s Niv Elis, quoting Representative Jason Smith (R-MO), minority leader on the House Budget Committee, verified, “It is estimated that approximately $1 trillion in existing COVID-19 funding has yet to be spent.” Just spit-balling here, but why not take whatever is necessary from the unspent, authorized, and appropriated, funds to “invest in a vaccine of mass prevention.”
The opponents of the GBSD program are formidable. As Abraham Mahshie for The Washington Examiner tells us:
“Influential Democratic members such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith [D-WA] have again zeroed in on long-overdue nuclear modernization efforts, despite China and Russia possessing new weapons.”
According to Mahshie, “Warren told lawmakers China’s nuclear warheads in the low 200s are still far fewer than the approximately 3,800 in the U.S. active stockpile. She instead argued for investing in conventional deterrence over nuclear deterrence.” Again, the liberal reliance on either modernizing the nuclear force or relying on conventional deterrence.
And in this case, Warren is wrong. The faux Native American is about three arrows short of a full quiver about the number of Chinese nuclear warheads. Defense News correspondent Kelsey Reichmann reports that “China has an estimated 290 nuclear warheads. Though China is working to expand its nuclear forces, the report notes, it has said it’s committed to a no-first-use policy.” It’s the part about “expand its nuclear forces” that’s worrisome.
The GBSD program is not about more but rather about replacing and modernizing existing strategic ballistic Minuteman III missiles. Detractors of the GBSD program suggest that a service life extension to 2050 is a suitable alternative.
However, as Valerie Insinna in Defense News tells us, Admiral Charles Richard, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, refuted this notion to a Defense Writers Group: “You cannot life-extend Minuteman III [the current U.S. ballistic missile]. It is getting past the point of [where] it’s not cost-effective to life-extend Minuteman III. You’re quickly getting to the point you can’t do it at all.”
Space News reporter Sandra Erwin quoted Richard explaining “‘That thing is so old that in some cases the drawings don’t exist anymore. Any drawings that still exist are so old that the people who can understand them are not alive anymore,’ he said.” Richard went further with a sobering assessment of what the United States is up against:
“‘This nation has never before had to face the prospect of two peer, nuclear-capable adversaries who have to be deterred differently,’ he said, referring to Russia and China. ‘Actions done to deter one [country] have an impact on the other. This is way more complicated than it used to be. [GBSD] is an example of a capability we’re going to have to have to address threats like that.'”
All too often, the narrative offered to the American taxpayer is that the nuclear threat is Russia. On the contrary, Liberty Nation has written extensively that China must be in the nuclear calculus. Admiral Richard provides a dose of reality. He’s the commander that Congress confirmed to be in charge of U.S. nuclear forces, and it would be wise to listen to him.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
Read more from Dave Patterson.
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