On nuclear deterrent capability

by Wm. Robert Johnston
6 November 1999

Dear Editor:

Last Friday the Herald ran an editorial by William Hartung of the World Policy Institute. This editorial is remarkable because, with a straight face, Hartung advocates a policy that would surely win the endorsement of Saddam Hussein, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and Kim Jong Il.

Hartung claims that the U.S. no longer needs nuclear weapons because the Soviet Union no longer exists. Never mind that Russia, still teetering on the brink of civil war, has 23,000 nuclear weapons, including 6,000 pointed at the U.S. right now. Never mind that Communist China threatened to nuke Los Angeles in 1995. Never mind that North Korea tested a missile into waters near Alaska last year, and has plutonium for six nuclear warheads or more.

The U.S. must maintain a nuclear arsenal to deter existing and future nuclear nations. The eight other nations that have nuclear weapons include some unfriendly ones and some with unstable governments. Diplomacy and sanctions didn't prevent World War II, and they are not going to insure that petty dictators won't "push the button" if they have it.

The Cold War ended not through the mindless idealism of the nuclear disarmament movement, but through Reagan's steadfast commitment to be as strong as it took to remain free. With nuclear weapons easier than ever for nations to produce and use, the U.S. must more than ever insure that no nation can gain by using them. This doesn't mean sanctions. This means the capability to retaliate. This means we deploy a defense against missiles--a defense that doesn't exist now thanks to Hartung and his political cronies in Washington.

I don't think Hartung would argue that Americans would be safer if we make police officers give up their guns and bullet-proof vests. He shouldn't ask the nation to do the same in an increasingly nuclear-armed world.

(printed in The Brownsville Herald 11 November 1999)

© 1999, 2003 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 8 March 2003.
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