Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Why Did 60 Minutes On CBS Tell Its Viewers That The U.S. Still Has A Nuclear Launch On Warning Policy?

B-52 bomber CBS NEWS

Peter Huessy, Real Clear Defense: The Nuclear Hair Trigger Breaks the 60 Minutes Clock

The American public could be forgiven for believing our nuclear deterrent is in a precarious “hair trigger status” and that our nuclear missiles are in danger of being mistakenly launched during the next crisis. Just this past week 60 Minutes told the American people the current administration has an official policy of launching our nuclear weapons upon just a warning of a nuclear attack.

Is this true?

In a crisis with Russia, for example, the United States wants very much to deter the use of force against us or our allies, especially the possible use of nuclear weapons. To do this, both nations have enough nuclear weapons to survive an attack and, if desired, deliberately retaliate with what is termed a “second strike”. That is how deterrence is maintained, even during a crisis.

Well, a former Secretary of Defense, Dr. William Perry, told 60 Minutes the United States wouldn’t wait. He said the U.S. actually has a dangerous policy today that we also had during the Cold War: “We still have launch on warning, the same policy we had then. We still have the same hair trigger response.” In short, he claims the U.S. actually relies on a launch on warning policy.

Read more ....

WNU Editor: The 60 Minutes report is here .... Risk of nuclear attack rises (60 Minutes). And no ....  the U.S. does not have a nuclear launch on warning policy.


Matthew Dupuis said...

Wow...telegraphing to an enemy that you can survive a nuclear first-strike and only retaliate AFTER the first detonation is like being proud that you are still willing to get into the ring after surviving a lobotomy!

The brunt of the 60 Min's piece (the way I heard it) was NOT the worry for wholesale nuclear war but the increased likelihood for the use of low yield tactical weapons. In this context, and given states like N Korea, MAD no longer applies. A single weapon destroying an infrastructure target like the Hoover dam or detonated in the atmosphere would reek unimaginable catastrophe in the U.S. That is the new worry for nukes, and that makes the debate over launch-on-site irrelevant.

B.Poster said...

MD: I see the point you are trying to make but very respectfully I'm not sure I agree with you at least on your first sentence.

While the US doe shave some formidable military capabilities, one of its major weaknesses is the inability to move or respond to anything quickly, however, once it does get started it can be a very formidable force. In contrast, countries like Russia, China, and many of the adversaries and potential adversaries have the ability to strike like lightning. Additionally everyone is aware of this weakness on the part of the American military, it's inability to get moving quickly.

As such, someone may be tempted to try a lightning fast first strike against the United States and its armed forces. Essentially the goal would be to destroy it's ability to retaliate before it can get started. Additionally many of adversaries especially Russia excel at this sort of thing.

Very respectfully I think the message he is trying to convey is "don't even think about attacking us with nuclear weapons. We will survive and retaliate in kind against you should you choose this course of action."

Matthew Dupuis said...

What I am saying is that MAD is no longer a viable deterrent because the mass use of nuclear weapons is no longer the threat. Launch-on-site then becomes a mute discussion because the threat of "use-em-or-lose-em" is no longer relevant when we are talking about small scale, low yield strikes. That will turn into tit-for-tat weapons use, which could turn full scale, but likely will not.

The most important word in my first sentence was "telegraphing" the idea that you are willing to wait until after the bombs go off before you retaliate...That may be a policy, but letting an enemy know that is stupid. The soviets (and I assume the Russians) believed they too could survive a first strike, but were did that leave us? It left us with MAD, and I'm saying that MAD is no longer the deterrent it once was because the threat from nuclear weapons has changed, and the available types of retaliation have changed along with it.