“Nuclear weapons are not likely to have a role in anything we do in 99.999999% of the time and perhaps even 100% of the time. But they take resources away from capabilities and forces that are necessary for 99.99999% and even 100% of the time.” - Ivo Daalder, former U.S. ambassador to NATO
Prioritize 21st Century Threats Over Cold War Relics
The Cold War is over. Soviet tanks and artillery lie rusting in bone yards and America’s troops need the training and equipment to confront 21st century threats of terrorism, tyrannical regimes, and regional destabilization. But anyone looking at our Defense spending would think we’re still living in the 1950s.
The world and threats we face have changed, but the size of our nuclear arsenal is still based on our ability to survive and then retaliate against a pre-emptive Soviet attack. Our bloated nuclear weapons program is taking precious resources we should be using to protect our troops and help them overcome current and future threats. We didn’t use a nuclear warhead to kill Osama bin Laden, and we can maintain a dominant nuclear deterrent without wasting $700 Billion on a nuclear weapons system designed for Cold War threats.
With deficits forcing Defense cuts, lawmakers must decide: Either cut pork-barrel nuclear projects or cut the weapons and support our troops need to face 21st century threats.
Record deficits are forcing cuts to every aspect of the federal budget, with nearly a trillion dollars in Defense cuts slated for the next 10 years. Our military leaders and leading national security experts have been arguing we need to reevaluate our nuclear posture and security spending priorities to ensure our country is prepared to meet 21st century challenges.
Yet some in Congress still want to spend over $700 billion on pork-barrel nuclear programs, knowing full well this would require major cuts to programs our troops need for the threats we currently face. For example, proposed plans for new ballistic nuclear submarines alone will cost over $350 billion. Not only is that a record amount for a new military weapons system, but these subs are designed for the outdated strategic necessity of guaranteeing we could retaliate against a preemptive Soviet nuclear attack that destroyed all our land and air forces. And this program comes at a real cost to our current defense needs. For the cost of just one new ballistic nuclear submarine we could:
· provide body armor for all our troops overseas,
· up-armor all their Humvees to protect against roadside bombs,
· buy 200 new Predator drones, which the CIA says are our most effective weapon against al Qaeda,
· house and treat every homeless U.S. veteran in the country,
· increase the Wounded, Ill, and Injured veterans budget by a third for each of the next ten years,
· and still have over $15 billion to pay down the debt.
We could do all of these things for the cost of just 1 sub, and some in Congress want to build 12! Deficits, common sense, the responsibility we have to our troops should make the choice clear. Our troops need help fighting terrorists, not Soviets. It’s time our Defense budget started reflecting that reality.