Trump Said the U.S. Should Expand Nuclear Weapons. He’s Right.
Matthew Kroenig | December 23, 2016
America needs to bolster its deterrence not to start a war, but to prevent one.
On Thursday, Donald Trump created controversy when he tweeted, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.
The backlash was swift and unanimous. Critics charged that there is no plausible reason to expand U.S. nuclear weapons, that Trump’s comments contradicted a decades-old bipartisan consensus on the need to reduce nuclear stockpiles, and that such reckless statements risk provoking a new nuclear arms race with Russia and China.
On this matter, however, Trump is right.
U.S. nuclear strategy cannot be static, but must take into account the nuclear strategy and capabilities of its adversaries
The potential threats are everywhere. Washington faces an increasing risk of conflict with a newly assertive, nuclear-armed China in the South China Sea. Beijing is expanding its nuclear forces and it is estimated that the number of Chinese warheads capable of reaching the U.S. homeland has more than trebled in the past decade and continues to grow. And Russia has become more aggressive in Europe and the Middle East and has engaged in explicit nuclear saber rattling the likes of which we have not seen since the 1980s.
The United States needs a robust nuclear force, therefore, not because anyone wants to fight a nuclear war, but rather, the opposite: to deter potential adversaries from attacking or coercing the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons of their own.
Under President Barack Obama, the United States mindlessly reduced its nuclear arsenal even as other nuclear powers went in the opposite direction, expanding and modernizing their nuclear forces. Such a path was unsustainable and Trump is correct to recognize that America’s aging nuclear arsenal is in need of some long overdue upgrades. (Read More)
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