Michael KreponCold Warriors and High Quality Deterrence

President Obama’s pursuit of a follow-on strategic arms reduction treaty with Moscow and ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has prompted echoes of past treaty debates. So let’s delve into the shoe boxes to reminisce about “high quality deterrence.”

Paul Nitze explained what he meant by high quality deterrence in Atoms, Strategy and Policy (Foreign Affairs, January 1956). He argued that. “It is quite possible that in a general nuclear war one side or the other could ‘win’ decisively.” Nitze rejected the absolutist view “that the destruction in an all-out nuclear war would be so great that nothing would remain, that life on this planet would be impossible, and that there would be no one left to ‘win.’” This scenario was predicated, he argued, on a nuclear war being fought “in an entirely irrational way.”

If, on the other hand, a nuclear war were fought “with some degree of reason,” Nitze argued that comparative advantage mattered greatly, since “the victor will be in a position to issue orders to the loser and the loser will have to obey them or face complete chaos or extinction. The victor will then go on to organize what remains of the world as best he can.”

It followed, in Nitze’s analysis, that the West must maintain “a sufficient margin of superior capability so that if general war were to occur we could ‘win’… The greater the margin (and the more clearly the Communists understand that we have a margin), the less likely it is that nuclear war will ever occur. The greater that margin, the greater are our chances of seeing to it that nuclear war, if it does come, is fought rationally and that the resulting destruction is kept to the lowest levels feasible.”

Nitze therefore advocated “that the West maintain indefinitely a position of nuclear attack-defense superiority” – high quality deterrence. He therefore strenuously opposed the Eisenhower administration’s nuclear posture and the Carter administration’s approach to strategic arms control.

Nitze’s views were reflected in the “Team A/Team B” critique of U.S. intelligence estimates of Soviet strategic forces which was issued shortly before the Carter administration took office. The Chairman of Team B, Harvard historian Richard Pipes, argued in Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Could Fight and Win a Nuclear War (Commentary,July 1977). that American and Soviet nuclear doctrines were “starkly at odds.” Arms controllers and CIA analysts were guilty of “mirror imaging” their absolutist views of nuclear warfare onto the Kremlin. The Soviet Union, Team B argued, wasn’t playing for a tie in nuclear exchanges with the United States; it was planning to win. The irony of Team B’s critique of mirror imaging was that its prescriptions called for mirror imaging the Kremlin’s war-winning nuclear posture.

Colin S. Gray and Keith Payne clarified these requirements in their 1980 article, Victory is Possible (Foreign Policy Summer 1980). Their argument included the following passages:

The West needs to devise ways in which it can employ strategic nuclear forces coercively, while minimizing the potentially paralyzing impact of self-deterrence.

The United States must possess the ability to wage nuclear war rationally.

The United States should plan to defeat the Soviet Union and to do so at a cost that would not prohibit U.S. recovery.

An adequate U.S. deterrent posture is one that denies the Soviet Union any plausible hope of success at any level of strategic conflict; offers a likely prospect of Soviet defeat; and offers a reasonable chance of limiting damage to the United States.

Nitze’s views changed radically when the Cold War was ending: He came to believe that high quality deterrence could be achieved with conventional U.S. military capabilities, and that damage limitation strategies of nuclear deterrence were a relic of the past. Keith Payne went on to play a key role in devising the George W. Bush administration’s nuclear posture. The absence of a peer competitor to the United States seemed to make Nitze’s old play book more feasible – but this game plan was stymied by Congressional opposition and lack of public support. Now Payne and other devotees of high quality nuclear deterrence are trying to turn the tables to stymie the Obama administration’s agenda.

Comments

  1. FSB

    I realize that this is the shoebox post, but it is singularly unhelpful to even consider Cold War analyses in the same sentence as today’s dialog with Russia.

    Who are our enemies against whom we would consider using nukes? Russia? China?

    No, they are our economic competitors and our friends, opinions of the neocon fearmongering think-tanks notwithstanding.

    We finance our houses and cars by the Chinese. We need them. They need us.

    Yes, we may require about 20 nukes to deter N. Korea and other such small-fry states.

    That’s all.

    It’s not complicated.

  2. David Clark (History)

    I suppose this is as good a time as any to renew my semiannual plea for more aggressive moderation of ACW.

    The comments on this site add a great deal to its worth. The value of this blog is that it provides a peerless opportunity for experts and professionals to educate the public by giving us a window into their technical reasoning. There are literally tens of thousands of alternate online forums, where miscellaneous internet people can hold forth on trivial political matters.

    Aggressive moderation will preserve that which makes ACW unique. Please consider it.

  3. yousaf (History)

    just fyi, Mr. Schlesinger missing the good old days of the Cold War, and advocating for RRWs under Congress’ radar.

    “Give it a new name, he seems to be suggesting, and try again to get Congress to fund it.”

    Nice — let’s trick the American people into funding our ill-considered pet projects.

    Ends by mentioning nuclear terrorism for which regular deterrence will not work.

  4. yousaf
  5. FSB

    David,
    I disagree that ACW ought to be narrowly technical.

    In fact, in matters of deterrence, techno-wonks are not the best equipped to offer good solutions. We need input from a wide audience and a variety of political views. e.g. ask any economist familiar with the globalized economy and he/she will tell you that it is absurd to even consider nuking China or Russia. (Or the reverse).

    Alternatively, it would be simple for you to start your blog if you are unsatisfied with the moderating here.

  6. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    David & FSB:

    Regarding comments policy:

    I’ve vacillated between a tight comments policy and a much looser approach that only rejects outright obscenity.

    Part of that reflects my own ambivalence and lack of time.

    And, of course, each poster has his or her own judgment that I try to respect when it comes to approving comments.

    But it might make sense to develop, as a community, as sense of mission for the comments, as well as standards to preserve and support that mission.

    If folks are interested in such an endeavor, you have my full support.

    What do you all think?

    Jeffrey

  7. James (History)

    Arms control is not a narrowly technical enterprise. It includes strategy and politics and economics and innumerable other soft sciences. To restrict the blog comments to technical disputes leaves us discussing arms control solely as a matter of enforcement rather than policy.

    Politics is not trivial. It is simply how things get done, how they have always gotten done, in every country and at every time. Even North Korea has internal politics that greatly influence its foreign policy.

    Not everything need be viewed through the lens of politics at all times, but everything must pass through the political gauntlet before it becomes policy. For ACW to have relevance beyond the esoteric, it must allow for the give-and-take and occasional sniping of public discourse.

  8. yousaf

    Fully agree w/ James above.

    Coming back to the topic of the post, I am not sure there is need to qualify deterrence (e.g. “high-quality” deterrence), if one is very specific about what actions, and by whom, one is interested in deterring in the first place. Then there either is or is not (plain vanilla) deterrence.

    In that regard, I find Ivan Oelrich’s comments on the difference between the Cold War and now pertinent: “The basic nature of deterrence is that you might try to seize something of value from me, and I must be able to plausibly threaten to impose costs on you that are great enough to make the prize not worth the fight. If I have a million dollars on my desk and I threaten to rap you on the knuckles with a ruler if you take it, you might not be deterred; if I have an apple on my desk, the same threat might be effective. . . . If the prize one side is trying to seize is the future of the world, that is, the prize is everything, then one must threaten near total pain to make seizing that prize not worthwhile. The most basic difference between the Cold War and the world of today is not the lower levels of tension between the United States and Russia (or the Soviet Union) but the much lower stakes involved. When we talk about U.S. nuclear deterrent forces, we have to address what prize might some nation try to seize, even in theory, that is going to take a retaliation of more than 5,000 warheads to make it seem like a bad deal.”

    Frankly, even a prize worth the likely reprisal of “just” tens of warheads equivalent to millions of tons of TNT yield is unimaginable.

    Ultimately, I’ll go with Jeffrey view: …beyond a certain point, all of this is crazy talk, and the technical details don’t matter very much at all. The balance of terror is anything but delicate. An enemy who can be deterred, will be deterred by the prospect of a counterattack, even if it consists of only a few nuclear weapons. Beyond that minimum threshold, nuclear weapons provide little additional deterrent benefit.

    We also have to remember that the risks and consequences of accidental, mistaken, or unauthorized nuclear attack scale with the number and potency of nuclear weapons available worldwide. e.g. see the paper by Martin Hellman.

    Any additional warheads over and above the minimum are not risk- nor cost-free.

    There’s no real reason that an immediate reduction to tens of (very reliable) uranium-based devices in the stockpiles of the main nuclear weapons states couldn’t be negotiated within a year — these weapons would be a sufficient hedge against unpredictable states like North Korea. Even during the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in a matter of days, nearly agreed on abolishing nuclear weapons altogether.

  9. Anon

    Just which uranium-based devices in the U.S. stockpiles are you referring to or are you suggesting we build new uranium-based weapons that might require underground testing?

  10. bradley laing (History)

    To: Anon., July 11

    They didn’t have to test “Little Boy”, the first Uranium bomb. They knew it would explode.

    So long as everyone can be gauranteed a consistent minimum sized explosion, you do not have to test it to refine the design.

  11. yousaf

    Anon,
    any of the previously tested (e.g. implosion type) U devices would suffice, in my opinion.

    In any case, that was obviously not my main point — the point is that low-yield weapons (previously tested, pick your favourite flavour) would suffice for post-Cold War deterrence needs. There is no need for complex 2-stage weapons.

    There’s certainly no need for new untested weapons which would reduce the credibility of our deterrent, and encourage our allies to build more of their own previously-tested weapons.

    And, no, I’m not suggesting unilateral reductions in number and potency of our weapons — I’m arguing we should initiate discussions with our friends — and economic partners — Russia, China etc. on getting down to ten’s of low-yield nukes.

    The triad should also be buried, but that’s another post.

    Not sure you are the same “Anon” but perhaps we may save readers some time by referring to our earlier discussions on why RRW is an intellectually sub-critical idea.

  12. Anon

    “any of the previously tested (e.g. implosion type) U devices would suffice, in my opinion.”

    Let me think – where did we store that old melt & cast capability?

  13. yousaf

    Anon,
    admirably tenacious of you to seize upon this minor point in the discussion — as I mention above:

    “In any case, that was obviously not my main point — the point is that low-yield weapons (previously tested, pick your favourite flavour) would suffice for post-Cold War deterrence needs. There is no need for complex 2-stage weapons.”

    I understand it be would oh-so-embarrassing to go to less sexy lower yield weapons that can only destroy entire small cities. (How would we ever show our faces at the annual LANL bar-b-q?)

    This techno-weapon-porn is part of the problem.

    What is considered cool by the weaponeers is irrelevant — it is these very “cool” complex 2-stage boosted devices that are built close to their margins.

    Shall we perhaps return to discussing who we are trying to deter and from what actions, post-cold-war, and how many — if any — nuclear devices are even needed?

    e.g. What of Nitze’s view that conventional weapons would suffice for deterrence post-cold-war?

  14. Anon

    “…less sexy lower yield weapons that can only destroy entire small cities.”

    Some have argued this would increase the risk of nuclear proliferation, and make use of nuclear weapons more likely – political deterrent, being transformed into a battlefield instrument.

  15. Azr@el (History)

    The Ulam-Teller configuaration provides more benefits than being “kewl” for it’s designers. Utilizing less fissile material has not been an economic argument for nearly half a century. But reducing the fissile content of the device increases the lifespan of the device by reducing material radio-fatigue, precludes premature detonation by stray neutron burst and allows for a much less accident prone device. The move towards u-235 or u-233 pits in an Ulam-teller would help alleviate the radio-fatigue caused by Pu-239. A purely fission uranium device, or a boosted uranium device would on the other hand needlessly revisit problems the French, Soviets and Brits experienced in their respective programs. Again teething of these problems would have issues for the credibility of deterrence equal if not greater to that of the RRW.

  16. yousaf

    One of the existing — or recently existing/tested — low-yield weapons could be used (e.g. the 10kT or 45kT versions of MK/B 61 Mod 4, others?).

    My proposal of low-yield U devices was more a rhetorical tool to question the use of complex 2-stage boosted weapons of >100kT post-Cold-War, than to specifically insist on U.

    If US, Russia and China etc. can agree to ~30 low-yield existing Pu weapons each, that is also fine by me. In fact, even if they can agree to ~30 nukes of high-yield that, too, is fine by me.

    Since we appear to be fixating on this detail, I take it that we are in general agreement on the bigger picture that no more than 30 nukes in the arsenals of US, Russia, China etc. is a desirable aim.

  17. FSB

    I think there would be no credibility issues with Uranium devices. Noone who can be deterred in the first place, will ever take the risk that your nuclear weapon may be dysfunctional.

    Any aging problems in a small stockpile could be addressed by remanufacturing them from time to time.

    Safety issues are overstated.

    In fact, as long as you do not inform your adversaries, you can replace all your warheads with dark chocolate and leave deterrence unpeturbed. The point is not to make a big public fuss about the reliability and credibility of your weapons — as many of our leading patriotic “thinkers” appear to be doing in various newspapers and reports.

    The main thing that undermines the credibility of your nuclear weapons is people wringing their hands and talking (or writing) about it.

    I think even less than 30 nukes each for the NWSs is a good step on the way to a possible eventual conventional deterrence.

  18. Azr@el (History)

    Russia may one day choose, for economic and rational strategic reasons, to drop to parity with the minimum ~200 devices deterrence crowd; the PRC, France, Britain. On the other hand as far as Washington is concerned, this planet is ours; lock, stock and barrel. As such we need a huge stick in the basement should anyone vigorously object to Pax Americana and thus we will never drop our arsenal to the rational level of ~200 let alone a token force of ~30. Irrespective of who sits in the white house, the euphoria of 1945 is just too deeply ingrained in the collective conscious of policy makers across the spectrum, I mean with straight faces we can pen books about how history has ended and everyone is progressing towards their “presumed” dream of becoming sort of American.

  19. Distiller (History)

    Remark: Fascinated by the continued failure to clearly talk of either strategic or tactical.

    There is either strategic deterrence, or there is not. Either you trust in your capability, or you don’t. What is “high quality” capability? It’s binary. More of enough is a waste. “High quality” is as empty as “upload capability” or “hedging”.

    What could be gained by a strategic nuclear strike? I don’t know. But we are beyond that question for a couple of decades already. Strategic systems exist, and the only way to make sure they are not used is the threat of a counterstrike with maximized human harm. Strategic MAD works!

    Survivability of the own complex is the most important aspect. Then targeting should be openly against population centers (all in all around 250 to 300 potential Russian and Chinese targets). With the number of warheads not higher than what is needed to reliably do that job (it’s not ten, but might be as low as 1200 – including reserves and spares). The number of launch platforms and delivery vehicles, the issues of BMD, penetration aids, &c flow from the above.

    All these thoughts about strategic warfare with tactical yields (anti-military, or anti-industry) are just watering down the danger, the threat and increase instability by making politicos and military speculate if they could perhaps ride it out. Dangerous nonsense.

    Strategic deterrence should be pure, deadly, without room for doubts, speculations, or other ambiguities.

    The tactical side (including terrorism, ragnarök fanatics, and state loons) is a different game, but this post is already too long.

  20. FSB

    Distiller,
    Strategic deterrence, uh, OK — deterring what actions and by whom? Russia? A massive first-strike? Which century are we talking about?

    Then I agree it is time to take down the whole charade (zero strategic nukes) as, apparently, our nuclear weapons are making enemies out of thin air where none exist. Russia is our strategic, capitalist friend.

    I like the quote by Yousaf above:

    In that regard, I find Ivan Oelrich’s comments on the difference between the Cold War and now pertinent: “The basic nature of deterrence is that you might try to seize something of value from me, and I must be able to plausibly threaten to impose costs on you that are great enough to make the prize not worth the fight. If I have a million dollars on my desk and I threaten to rap you on the knuckles with a ruler if you take it, you might not be deterred; if I have an apple on my desk, the same threat might be effective. . . . If the prize one side is trying to seize is the future of the world, that is, the prize is everything, then one must threaten near total pain to make seizing that prize not worthwhile. The most basic difference between the Cold War and the world of today is not the lower levels of tension between the United States and Russia (or the Soviet Union) but the much lower stakes involved. When we talk about U.S. nuclear deterrent forces, we have to address what prize might some nation try to seize, even in theory, that is going to take a retaliation of more than 5,000 warheads to make it seem like a bad deal.”

    Dangerous nonsense is MAD has kept us safe — it has not — we have only been lucky that no accidental, inadvertent, or mistaken massive strikes have not happened. And we have come to the brink too often.

    Dangerous nonsense is calling for strategic “deterrence” against enemies who no longer exist.

  21. J House (History)

    Nuclear weapons may continue to deter a nuclear response from a rational nation-state actor, but they do little to stop agression…consider the effort by Iranian proxies to kill Americans at will in Iraq. What has nuclear deterrence done to prevent the low intensity conflict with Iran for the past 30 yrs?
    They also fail to deter sub-national groups that may obtain WMD from attacking their foe. Given the lack of a ‘return address’ and the nihilistic beliefs of groups like AQ, the MAD equation is ‘so yesterday’.

  22. Distiller (History)

    FSB,

    during the Cold War CONUS was no more threatened by military invasion than it is today – nada, zero, nilch. The real invasion walks on two feet across the Rio Grande anyway.

    Btw, I’m living in Moscow for quite some time now, and the Russian political stance (elite and media, but also common folks) vis-a-vis the USA is far from friendly, even though on a purely personal level there’s a diametrically opposed attitude and the U.S. remains the big dream it was during the Cold War. Paranoia and schizophrenia, paired with erratic sociopathic behaviour is a core characteristic of post-Soviet Russia. Sad, confuding, and it makes dealing with Russia very complicated.

    And I’m not saying that Russia will launch a nuclear first strike against the U.S., for since Stalin’s death Russia converted back to its mostly passive self. But all that is actually not the point.

    The point is that since the invention of strategic weapon systems wishing them away just does not help, and “enemy” is a largely abstract political term that can change like the wind. If one side has “the bomb” and the other not, the one with the bomb calls the shots. Period. Be it Cold War or warm brotherhood. The very idea of becoming the victim of strategic blackmail is unacceptable for a sovereign people. And believing in human rationality without the fear of reprisal is for children – so much for trust and extreme arms reduction treaties or the Zero.

    People talk about the danger of non-state actors with nuclear weapons. What if two states agree to Zero and the leaders really want to do it, but a rogue faction within a state keeps/builds strategic systems in secrecy? Even a handful of bombs/delivery systems could create an unacceptable imbalance. Pandora opened her box – now you can’t put the idea back. Or remember the INF/SS-23 betrayal. There is NO way to be sure. That’s why in the end a strategic capability is needed, and one should not even try to go below a certain base capability. But I’m all for a formal statement about no first use of strategic systems.

    Again, the tactical side is different, but tactical systems are also needed to avoid salami tactics below the strategic threshold.

  23. Steven Dolley (History)

    Strategic MAD works!

    Why, because there’s never been a nuclear weapon exploded (other than testing) since Nagasaki? That’s correlation, not causality.

    Sort of like saying, “I’ve been crossing against the light for years and have never been hit. Jaywalking works!”

    Strategic nuclear doctrine is an intellectual construct, crafted after the fact to rationalize arsenals of fundamentally unusable weapons. The superpowers’ arsenals weren’t built up according to strategic doctrine. Rather, that doctrine was invented, and amended, each time a new technological capability came along. Up until the early 1970s no one had MIRVs. Just a few years later, Rand, Hudson Institute, et al. were expounding in lengthy monographs why we faced global disaster if SALT I restricted MIRVs.

    The counterthesis is: Maybe we’ve just been lucky. The work of Scott Sagan, Martin Hellman and others suggest that’s the case…and that we’ve just barely escaped catastrophe on many occasions.

  24. Azr@el (History)

    Low intensity warfare against superpowers flourishes not in spite of nuclear weapons but rather because of nuclear weapons. As far as Iran supplying Iraqi insurgents battling foreign troops on Iraqi soil, in the last 5+ years I’ve seen exactly zero evidence. I’ve seen releases made by top U.S. generals that Iran is supporting every habibi able to heft an RPG-7, but these releases are never followed by concrete proof such as actual Iranian weapons and it seems that most of these statements are made in the spirit of excuses for the failures of said respective generals. Afterall, the U.S. is blessed with the best equipped military in the world, but we’re cursed with the stupidest officer corp in creation.

    P.S. I had a massive snort moment about 2 years ago when the Army had a press conference to show off “captured” Iranian munitions. It was glorious, they had a member of the brain trust showing off the dates on the mortars labeled with the Gregorian calender showing them to be allegedly recent imports. Unfortuantely the Iranians don’t use Gregorian dates, which the Army realized within a day or two, so they quickly and privately showed photos of the crates to journalist showing equivalent dates from the Islamic Lunar calender. Strike two, the Iranians don’t use the Islamic Lunar calendar either; rather they use a solar calendar which runs 13 or 14 years faster than the Islamic Lunar calendar that has the same zero point…i.e. the fall of Mecca to the early Muslims. Which logically means that if the Iranians did ship these crates then they did so in the years immediately following the Iran-Iraq war. Suffice it to say the story started to fade until it was leaked that the mortars were actually Pakistani munitions that were part of a shipment to one of our esteemed Gulf allies. Instead of investigating this startling link, the Army quietly dropped the whole matter.

  25. yousaf

    Distiller,
    no-one is “wishing away” nuclear weapons.

    I think what is being argued, cogently, by several people here — and elsewhere — is that drastic and immediate reductions (down to few tens of nukes per NWS) is possible without much affecting the (ill-defined) “deterrent” relationships between states.

    If you think that 30 nuclear weapons (say, distributed in 3 subs) is not a “strategic” enough deterrent please let me know which 30 (or even ten or even five) U.S. — or other NWS’ — cities you think are expendable and for what cause we or others may risk them? With whom would be battling, and to seize what prize that would be worth the possible destruction of tens of our — or their — cities?

    Arguably, there was such a cause during the Cold War — the future direction of the whole world: capitalist-democratic vs. communist-totalitarian. We “won”. That cause no longer exists. As of 2 decades ago.

    The whole “strategic deterrent” argument falls flat. All that is needed by the main NWSs are a few nukes to deter unpredictable nations, such as N. Korea — not use against each other.

    PS: BTW, what do you mean by “The real invasion walks on two feet across the Rio Grande anyway.” ?

  26. Mark Gubrud

    The problem with the paradigm of deterrence quoted above is that it assumes an objective assessment of what the “prize” is, how valuable or important it is, who is “seizing” or contemplating its seizure from whom, and what will happen if one does or does not attempt the seizure. By “objective assessment” I mean one shared by both, or more properly, all of many players (i.e. many internal players within one state) who may be involved. This is, of course, almost never the case.

    In general, different people (and often, the same people) have differing views on all of these matters, and it is almost never the case that everyone has the same view of a melodrama in which one guy is the villain who is thinking “I am such a splendid villain, maybe I can get away with this if I am sufficiently aggressive and treacherous.” It is almost always the case, in conflict, that both sides view their own actions and positions as reasonable and just, and those of the other side as aggressive, threatening, reckless and unjust.

    What is required for deterrence is that both sides are sufficiently terrified of the consequences of failing to resolve a dispute peacefully that they are unwilling to risk preemption and careful to avoid potentially escalatory moves and willing to think hard about the views of the other side and what might constitute an acceptable compromise – which means, by definition, that both sides accept less than what they believe is rightly theirs.

  27. yousaf

    Mark,
    you say, “What is required for deterrence is that both sides are sufficiently terrified of the consequences of failing to resolve a dispute peacefully that they are unwilling to risk preemption and careful to avoid potentially escalatory moves and willing to think hard about the views of the other side and what might constitute an acceptable compromise..”

    I agree, and I think 30 nukes per NWS is more than sufficiently terrible.

    Should it take the potential destruction of the same 30 cities 100 times over to achieve the same level of “deterrence”?

  28. Mark Gubrud

    Yousaf,

    I agree that 30 nukes (even “little” nukes) falling on 30 cities ought to be a sufficiently terrifying prospect to serve as a deterrent if any larger number of nukes would be. OTOH, there is something uniquely terrifying about a situation in which just about everyone, even the top leadership of a state, is very likely to die very soon if it hits the fan, and there would be little left on Earth to make the “war” worth surviving. I’m also not too sure about just 3 subs. In making such a prescription, I would worry about some people possibly thinking your 3 subs could all be taken out in one (non-nuclear) surprise strike, leaving the attacker in a position to blackmail the attackee. So I don’t think such a minimum deterrent posture, in itself, is plausible as a long-term solution, in the context of the same old thinking. Rather the goal needs to be abolition, which must also be accompanied by a phase change (which may already be taking place) in global relations such that “deterrence” is like the posts used to hold up a sapling, which are no longer needed when the tree matures.

  29. yousaf

    Mark,
    I agree, and I quite specifically did not propose 30 nukes in 3 subs as a “long-term solution”. I proposed it as an immediately achievable aim, which would be a huge step forward. (A simultaneous attack on 3 well-hidden subs at sea seems to me to be highly unlikely — and we can always go to 30 nukes in 6 subs if that is more comforting).

    The problem with the “Zero Nukes” proposal at this time is that it is too easily derided by various segments in various countries — properly or not — to be achievable, e.g., within even a few years.

    A pragmatic step towards Zero Nukes is to go to an immediate (~few years’ timeframe) intermediate step of a few nukes and not to insist on “Zero Nukes or no-deal”. That is a sure recipe to get no deal.

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