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Nuclear deterrence is weakened by the absence of diplomacy, and the demise of arms control. 

Trump’s Track Record Of Nuclear Deterrence Without Reassurance Is Dangerous, Forbes, Michael Krepon, 25 Nov 19,   The first time President Ronald Reagan announced that “A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought” was before the Japanese Diet on November 11, 1983. Reagan was sensitive to public concerns over the rocky state of U.S.-Soviet relations. His speech came nine days before the airing of an ABC movie, “The Day After,” depicting the impact on Lawrence, Kansas, of a nuclear strike against nearby Kansas City. The “Day After” was watched by 100 million viewers. Reagan had an advance screening. It’s hard to identify a television program that has had a more dramatic impact on public and presidential consciousness of nuclear danger.

Late in 1983, Reagan also began to appreciate how disturbed key Politburo members were by his rhetoric, aggressive U.S. air and naval exercises around the Soviet Union’s periphery, his nuclear build-up, arms reduction proposals that seemed designed to be rejected, and by his beloved Strategic Defense Initiative.
Even as he was speaking in Tokyo, U.S. and NATO authorities were engaged in a command post exercise practicing nuclear release procedures. This exercise, Able Archer 83, worried key members of the Politburo even more, including General Secretary Yuri Andropov. Soviet intelligence operatives were ordered to step up their surveillance of indicators that Washington might be preparing for a nuclear war. They looked for the number of lights on at the Pentagon late into the night and they checked activity at blood banks.
Reagan’s formulation before the Diet didn’t change anything. All good affirmations require repetition. He repeated it during his 1984 State of the Union address. Speaking directly to his audience in the Soviet Union, he said,

There is only one sane policy, for your country and mine, to preserve our civilization in this modern age: A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used.”

Reagan’s canonical statement was, in effect, a declaration of No Use. Saying this twice still wasn’t convincing because only a very few people then knew that Reagan was dead set against Armageddon on his watch and harbored abolitionist views.

When Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev jointly repeated this formulation at their Geneva summit in 1985, skeptics began to take notice. The canonical affirmation by then had congealed into “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” When Reagan and Gorbachev began to act in accordance with this belief, scales fell from before our eyes. Defenders of deterrence orthodoxy became alarmed. Both men meant what they said.

The affirmation of No Use lies at the heart of a norm-based global nuclear order. A safe global nuclear order requires no battlefield use, no nuclear tests, and no nuclear proliferation – vertical as well as horizontal. The first norm is now almost three-quarters of a century old. The second norm (with the exception of one outlier) is already more than two decades old. The third has yet to be put in place. Successful nonproliferation requires extending the first two……..
Deterrence is being dressed up at a cost of over one trillion dollars, while diplomacy is threadbare. The Trump administration has no evident skills in diplomacy and arms control. It has torn down the diplomatic and arms control achievements of its predecessors. It has great difficulty repeating Reagan and Gorbachev’s canonical affirmation that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
Why? Because to repeat these words might weaken deterrence. But deterrence isn’t undermined by the current state of U.S. nuclear forces; it is undermined by weak leadership, the absence of diplomacy, and the demise of arms control.

November 26, 2019 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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