Published in Cape Breton Observer, 7 March 2018
On February 2, the United States released its first Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) since the 2010 study commissioned by President Barack Obama. The Obama NPR disappointed many disarmament advocates in its doctrinal timidity – its failure to declare the US would never use nuclear weapons first, and only ever use them in response to a nuclear attack on itself or its allies – and its strategic conservatism – its recommitment to a ‘triad’ of land-, sea- and air-launched long-range weapons. It did, though, seek to both diminish the number of warheads in the American arsenal (and, through arms control negotiations, the arsenals of the other nuclear-armed states) and limit the role of such monstrously indiscriminate ‘weapons’ to always and only deterring war.
In stark contrast, the Trump NPR seeks, at immense cost, new ways to make nuclear war more thinkable, ‘practical’, and ‘winnable’, including deploying new, ‘low-yield’ systems blurring the lines between conventional and nuclear conflict, and lowering the ‘threshold’ at which their use becomes ‘acceptable’. While building on Obama’s ill-conceived, 30-year $1.2 trillion modernization of the triad, the Trump blueprint has been widely denounced (by both champions and critics of deterrence) as a defence of the indefensible, nuclear war as a legitimate exercise of military power, at a time of heightened nuclear danger in the Korean peninsula and beyond.
Read More (external link, Cape Breton Spectator, 7 Mar 2018)