New Roles for Nuclear Weapons

Issues in Science and Technology, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

New Roles for Nuclear Weapons


In "A 21st-Century Role for Nuclear Weapons" (Issues, Spring 2004), William Schneider, Jr. endorses the nuclear weapons policy of the current administration as promulgated in its Nuclear Posture Review and National Defense Strategy papers. He describes the primary motive for these policies to be "dissuasion" of presently unknown adversaries from accumulating weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Schneider asserts that if all hostile WMD stocks were held "at risk" by various means, then potential proliferators would be dissuaded from acquiring WMD, emphasizing that he distinguishes "dissuasion" from "deterrence." Yet deterrence continues to play a central role in the U.S. nuclear posture. Any state, including a socalled "rogue," would be deterred, as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War, from using nuclear weapons, by realizing that the very existence of the state was at stake. However, should nuclear weapons or weapons-usable materials reach the hands of sub-state terrorists, deterrence has little value against those who believe that life in heaven is preferable to life on Earth.

The implementation of Schneider's dissuasion is to target all sites of storage or deployment of potentially hostile WMD. But can we know precisely where they are? Before 9/11, our intelligence agencies failed to provide the government information deemed to be actionable to prevent that attack. Conversely, initiation of the war against Iraq was supported by interpretation of intelligence provided to the administration concerning WMD whose very existence after 1991, let alone location, remains unsubstantiated today. Thus, I agree that intelligence collection, dissemination, and interpretation need improvement, but Schneider does not indicate how such an upgrade could be achieved to a degree sufficient to dissuade a WMD proliferator from pursuing his quest. Schneider's statement that "confidence in the inspection provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obscured efforts to obtain knowledge of clandestine WMD programs" hardly explains why those inspections provided information superior to that provided by U.S. intelligence.

Schneider downplays the value of international agreements, which he seriously misrepresents. He wrongly and repeatedly describes the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as having been terminated by "mutual consent" of the United States and Russia. The U.S. withdrawal was a unilateral act taken over the strong objections of all interested states, including Russia. In fact, Russia in response withdrew from the previously signed START II Treaty. Schneider also errs in stating that the Bush administration "reached a bilateral agreement with Russia to institutionalize a reciprocal reduction in numbers of nuclear delivery systems and their associated nuclear payloads." Neither is true. The termination of START II removed previously agreed limits on delivery systems, and the Moscow Treaty of May 2002 does not restrict the numbers of nuclear weapons beyond those "operationally deployed" on strategic systems. Even if it did, this treaty provides no mechanism for verification.

The NPT entered into force in 1970, with continued support by all U.S. administrations, including the current one. The 1995 Review Conference converted that treaty to one of indefinite duration: In that review, the United States agreed to ensure the irreversibility of international arms control agreements. That commitment was violated by the unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.

Schneider states that "proliferation of WMD was stimulated as an unintended consequence of a U.S. failure to invest in technologies such as ballistic missile defense that could have dissuaded nations from investing in such weapons." But the United States has invested $130 billion in technologies to intercept ballistic missiles, which remain the least likely means by which a hostile actor would deliver nuclear weapons to U.S. soil.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

New Roles for Nuclear Weapons
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.