Moving Beyond “Strong Sanctions” To Shape A Realistic Response to North Korea

U.S., Japanese, and South Korean diplomats are pushing Russia and China to adopt a hardline in response to the recent DPRK nuclear and missile tests.

This pursuit is likely to be in vain, though fortunately Seoul and Washington have more direct options that they can pursue.

North Korea has carried out four nuclear tests in the past.

Experts believe that Pyongyang could increase its stockpile to anywhere between 20 and roughly 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.

The U.S. government has repeatedly called on North Korea to commit to denuclearization as a condition of any future negotiations, but Pyongyang has steadily dismissed such an idea, demanding to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state.

People watch TV reporting North Korea's short-range missile test at Seoul Railway Station earlier this month Photo: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

People watch TV reporting North Korea’s short-range missile test at Seoul Railway Station earlier this month Photo: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

The growing nuclear arsenal poses a serious strategic challenge for the United States, which will find itself under threat of a DPRK nuclear attack through a long-range missile launch unless the DPRK program is halted in its tracks.

Among other challenges, East Asian allies will come to doubt U.S. commitments to come to their defense if exercising these extended deterrence threats could expose CONUS to a DPRK nuclear strike.

Following the latest Security Council consultations, Japanese Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa called the test an “outrage” and a clear violation of the past Security Council resolutions. Yoshikawa claimed that, “There was… unity on the members of the Security Council that, in response to the DPRK, business as usual will no longer apply.”

South Korean Ambassador Oh Joon observed that, “North Korea’s recent provocations have clearly demonstrated two points: first, the efforts to achieve denuclearization through dialogue so far have only resulted in allowing North Korea to buy time to advance these nuclear capabilities.

Second, given that North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons under previous UN sanctions, it has become clear by now that the current level of sanctions cannot put a break on North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.”

He reached the persuasive conclusion that: “Therefore, the lesson is clear: the only way to stop North Korea from going further down the nuclear path is to make it crystal clear to the regime that it has no option but to change.

It is therefore an urgent task before the Security Council to adopt a significant and robust Security Council resolution that exceeds all North Korea’s expectations and sends a firm message that the international community will never tolerate its nuclear weapons development.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power confirmed that the nuclear and missile tests “undermines regional stability and violates the DPRK’s obligations under four separate Security Council resolutions, demonstrating yet again that the DPRK will continue to escalate tensions in the absence of a strong and forceful response from the international community.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un praised the test as a "miraculous achievement," according to KCNA.5/9/15

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un praised the test as a “miraculous achievement,” according to KCNA.5/9/15

She added that, “The accelerated development of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program poses a serious threat to international peace and security – to the peace and security not just of North Korea’s neighbors, but the peace and security of the entire world.”

She explained that, “With each one of these actions, the DPRK moves one step closer to its declared goal of developing nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, and we cannot and will not allow this to happen. the Security Council must take decisive action, and to do so with urgency.”

In particular, Ambassador Power saw “robust sanctions [as] a tool to alter a government’s dangerous nuclear ambitions [since they] can affect a cost-benefit calculus that a government acting in defiance of international norms may be making.

However, while China and Russia have both opposed North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, they have resisted international initiatives that they believe could create chaos on the Korean peninsula.

They remain more concerned about the potential immediate collapse of the DPRK than about its government’s intransigence regarding its nuclear or missile development programs.

Chinese and Russian representatives profess to believe that the DPRK’s disintegration could induce widespread economic disruptions in East Asia, generate large refugee flows across their borders, weaken their influence in the Koreas by reducing their bargaining leverage, and potentially remove a buffer zone separating their territories from U.S. ground forces based in South Korea.

At worst, they claim to fear that North Korea’s demise could precipitate a military conflict on the peninsula, which could spill across into Chinese and Russian territory.

China and Russia may call for denuclearization, but they are adamant about regime preservation.

If Kim Jong-un were to be more flexible about negotiations with the ostensible goal of denuclearization, he could count on Chinese and Russian support for other goals. But if he stubbornly rejects diplomacy, neither Moscow nor Beijing is willing to confront him in any comprehensive manner.

South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press)

South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press)

Following North Korea’s January 6, 2016, in which the DPRK claimed that it had tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, Russia, China and the U.S. government representatives called on Pyongyang to cease such tests and fulfill its nuclear disarmament obligations.

The three countries joined others in unanimously agreeing in the UN Security Council to denounce North Korea’s violations of earlier UN resolutions.

However, Russia and China are again resisting adopting significantly more effective sanctions on North Korea.

Fortunately, the U.S. and ROK governments have launched formal negotiations to enhance U.S. missile defenses in northeast Asia.

The ROK’s acquisition of F-35s will also enhance the allies’ ability to detect and destroy DPRK missiles, whether in retaliation or preemptively.

Their new “4D Operational Concept” envisages how the allies would “detect, defend, disrupt and destroy” the DPRK’s nuclear systems.

The intended capacity is to be able to detect a DPRK missile launch within a minute, identify a target and appropriate counter-weapon within 1-3 minutes, and then strike and destroy the target.

North Korean Tests and the Second Nuclear Age

Seeing North Korea again test an atomic bomb and long range missile is like watching a movie you’ve seen before.

The UN Security Council will meet. New sanctions will be put on North Korea. China will condemn the events.

And nothing, really, will happen.

The White House will do a review of its policy toward North Korea by asking staffers for new ideas.

There won’t be any, at least within the box of the “no escalation” premise that has confined US policy for years.

Yet it would be a mistake to think that this “same old, same old” policy is playing out again.

In my book on The Second Nuclear Age (Times Books, 2012) I emphasized the importance of looking at strategic problems both from a short term point of view, and from a longer term multi-year perspective.

Some security challenges are best thought of as what can be termed “important, but not necessarily urgent.”

North Korea said the rocket it launched on the morning of 7 February was to put a satellite into orbit around the earth. Credit: BBC

North Korea said the rocket it launched on the morning of 7 February was to put a satellite into orbit around the earth. Credit: BBC

They can go on for a long time and nothing dire happens.

But they contain the seeds of larger issues that strengthen — and ultimately make the problem impossible to ignore in a much more deadly way.

The likelihood of a North Korean attack on South Korea or Japan does not appear any greater today than it did one year ago, or five years ago. We could be wrong about this. But it seems reasonable to believe that while North Korea’s nuclear missile build up isn’t a good thing, it also isn’t urgent. It can be passed on to the next Administration, or kicked down the road beyond that.

This is the common view in Washington decision making circles.

Urgent problems in the Middle East push North Korea off the agenda.

I want to argue that this is one way that North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile tests matter.

They expose a large failure in policy imagination: an inability to distinguish between urgent issues like ISIS, and issues that are important — but not necessarily urgent.

One danger of being the sole superpower is over extension.

But another is of overwhelm by immediate, urgent issues.

This focus means that important issues are repeatedly kicked down the road.

Policy is a mixture of the immediate tastes and intuitions of the moment when the urgent issue arrives.

Short term drives out the long term — every time.

This is what’s happened with North Korea.

Pyongyang has a nuclear ICBM program that either is capable of hitting South Korea, Japan, and the United States, or that soon will be. It has done this with safety and reliability features that would never be acceptable in the United States.

If North Korea ever launched this force, it might not work.

But then again, it might.

Talk about deterrence.

This is a very different kind of deterrent than anything seen before in nuclear diplomacy.

Here is another feature of the second nuclear age.

Strategy innovation that goes beyond the limits of our imagination and cultural appreciation.

Most of what is thought about nuclear strategy in the West still derives from a long term game between two industrial powers maneuvering for control of Europe and the developing war.

This was the cold war.

It has little to do with strategy innovations of the second nuclear age.

Can anyone seriously maintain the North Korea seeks security by possession of a secure second strike force?

Everything we know about this force points to a very different strategic concept than this.

The tendency in the United States is to see problems with a strong bias toward the urgent even in the way we break them down.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un watched the rocket launch from an secret planning room. Credit: AFP Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un watched the rocket launch from an secret planning room. Credit: AFP Getty Images

In game theory there’s something called the Colonel Blotto game. Two opponents allocate forces to several battlefields. They do this to build advantage so they can win the overall war, e.g. take two out of three battlefields.

Or they maneuver forces across battlefields to increase tensions to increase their opponent’s caution.

North Korea is a “battlefield,” a front, in the larger strategic competition between the United States and China.

Taiwan’s security, the new man-made islands in the South China Sea, and North Korea are the three fronts in this rivalry.

Think of these as three as a Colonel Blotto game.

The US tries to negotiate over them individually, in isolation from one another.

For example, the man made Chinese islands are handled with a B-52 flyover, a freedom of navigation (FONOP) operation naval patrol, and some unsuccessful maneuvering in ASEAN to get the problem on the agenda.

I could describe in similar manner how Taiwan’s security and North Korea’s nuclear missiles are treated, entirely in their own terms.

What the US approach overlooks is game theory’s central insight that connecting individual strategies across the fronts creates an altogether more effective approach.

Increasing tensions in the South China Sea keeps the United States from pressing too hard against North Korea. If the US could get China to play this game as if it were three independent issues this would clearly be to Washington’s gain.

But China sees that negotiating this three way shell game gives it a lot more than dealing with only one shell at a time. Should the US escalate — it can counter not only in the immediate front of contention, but in the others as well.

As long as the United States attends to each challenge in terms of its immediate urgency it will get whipsawed by such strategies.

If Washington, for example, continues its naval guerilla war in the South China Sea, Beijing will tolerate even more outrageous North Korean behavior.

It will build even more missiles against Taiwan — conventional and nuclear — to keep the United States off balance.

The biggest danger of focusing on the urgent is that it misses the bigger picture.

Understanding this picture was the reason the cold war didn’t turn hot.

The United States won because it understood the rules of the game.

New rules for a second nuclear age are forming now, right before our eyes.

It’s time to see that these are the important lessons of North Korea’s recent launch and tests.

Also, see the following:

Four Times A Charm? Moving Beyond “Strong Sanctions” To Deal with North Korea

North Korea Re-Enters the World Stage: Japan Prepares a Response

Diplomacy, Allies and Deterrence: Why Give Adversaries a Veto Power on Legitimate Allied Actions?

North Korea Re-Enters the World Stage: Japan Prepares a Response

The second nuclear age is such a troubling threat, that is seems better to try to forget about it, or hope that the Iranian “agreement” is a real means for attenuating the threat.

Enter North Korea which seems to not to understand the “acceptable” rules of behavior.

However rude an intruder, the North Koreans are seeking to redefine the global competition in their favor.

UN resolutions seem to have the same effect the League of Nations condemnations of Mussolini and Hitler, yet that is where the response comes.

That is, unless you are on the doorstep of the immediate threat.

The Japanese are not taking the North Korean threat lightly, and certainly they are pushing out their perimeter of defense, and will add the F-35 as quickly as possible as part of the sensor-shooter offensive-defensive system they are building to deal with North Korea.

Japanese pilots are coming to Luke AFB soon to train.

The following article written by Reii Yoshida and Ayako Mie and published in The Japan Times provides a good insight into Japanese concerns.

North Korea’s rocket launch Sunday has raised concerns among Japanese officials and experts that its grasp of missile technology is advancing at a worrying clip.

The latest rocket, which Seoul said flew about 5,500 km from the Dongchang-ri launchpad in North Korea before crashing into the Pacific Ocean, is believed to be significantly larger than the one test-fired in December 2012 and would require a more powerful propulsion system.

The test appeared to be largely successful, demonstrating Pyongyang’s considerable progress in its quest to master missile technology, experts interviewed by The Japan Times said.

“(The test-firing) could further advance the development of ballistic missiles,” Defense Minister Gen Nakatani told a session of the Lower House on Monday.

From the launch, the North may have learned more about multi-stage rocket technology, such as how to separate propulsion units and control the projectile’s bearing, Nakatani said.

Last year, South Korea’s Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported that the launch tower in Dongchang-ri had been modified to be more than 10 meters higher than it was in December 2012, when a variant of the Taepodong-2 ballistic missile was launched for the last time.

Such a tower could accommodate a larger rocket at the site, which has been regularly monitored by U.S. spy satellites. Indeed, experts said Sunday’s rocket was likely bigger than those of previous tests.

Akira Sawaoka, president of Daido University in Nagoya and an expert on rocket technology, pointed out that the latest rocket’s first stage separated several minutes earlier than that of the December 2012 launch.

This means the engine power was bolstered and the rocket flew faster than the previous one, Sawaoka told The Japan Times. It also means the rocket is able to carry a heavier payload.

“This is technological progress. Eventually a rocket would be able to carry something like a nuclear warhead” if the North succeeds in further improving the technology, Sawaoka said.

According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, the first stage exploded into more than 270 pieces after separating from the rocket at around 9:37 a.m. Sunday over the Yellow Sea west of the Korean Peninsula.

But the North may have intentionally destroyed the section because Seoul retrieved the 2012 rocket’s first stage from the sea for analysis, said Hideshi Takesada, a professor and noted Korean affairs expert at Takushoku University’s graduate school in Tokyo.

“You can’t say (the test-firing) was a failure just because the first stage exploded,” Takesada said.

The test-firing was “largely successful” because the rocket was reportedly able to send an object into Earth orbit, he said.

The developments came as Pyongyang works to eventually develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can strike Washington or New York on the U.S. East Coast, Takesada said.

According to the Defense Ministry’s 2015 white paper, a successfully developed variant of the Taepodong-2 ballistic missile could fly more than 10,000 km with a warhead weighing less than a ton. Such a range would put most of Western Europe, Asia and the Western U.S. within striking distance.

Using what it learned in the test launches, the North’s long-range ballistic “missiles could have ranges that potentially reach the central, western and other areas of the U.S. mainland,” the Defense Ministry concluded in the white paper.

Currently, the Taepodong-2 is believed to still be in the experimental stages. Experts say the North faces a number of technological hurdles before it is able to develop a functioning ICBM as well as master the miniaturization process needed to mount a warhead on the missile.

Takesada noted that one key hurdle is to develop heat-resistant materials that allow warheads to endure the intense heat generated upon re-entry from space.

It also faces an uphill battle in making a missile that can be launched at the drop of a hat.

The Taepodong-2 uses liquid — not solid — fuels, which make it almost impossible for Pyongyang to have the missile on stand-by for immediate launch.

According to Japanese government sources, a liquid-fuel rocket such as the Taepodong-2 would need to be launched within a few days — possibly a week at the most — once the fuel is injected because its strong acidic properties would badly damage the fuel tank.

Experts appear to be split over whether Pyongyang has already succeeded in developing a miniaturized nuclear warhead.

In May last year, Pyongyang claimed it has succeeded in creating a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on the tip of a ballistic missile.

In response, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell disputed Pyongyang’s claim.

“Our assessment of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities has not changed,” he said in a statement at the time, according to CNN. “We do not think that they have that capacity,” he was quoted as saying.

However, the Defense Ministry, in its 2015 white paper, refused to rule out the possibility that the North had already mastered that critical technology.

“In general, miniaturizing a nuclear weapon small enough to be mounted on a ballistic missile requires a considerably high degree of technological capacity,” the paper said.

“However, considering that the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France and China succeeded in acquiring such technology by as early as the 1960s … the possibility that North Korea has achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has acquired nuclear warheads cannot be ruled out,” the paper read.

However advanced the North’s nuclear and missile technologies may actually be, Sunday’s launch has posed a serious security challenge for Japan and its key allies, the U.S. and South Korea.

Masao Okonogi, a professor and Korean affairs expert at Kyushu University, said that the Taepodong-2 is being developed not to target Japan or South Korea, but to put the U.S. mainland in its cross hairs, given its long range.

Pyongyang has already developed other types of shorter-range ballistic missiles, he said, including the Rodong variations and Scud-type missiles, which pose a direct threat to Japan.

According to Okonogi, Pyongyang believes that if it acquires the capability to stage a direct nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland, Washington would scrap its treaty commitments and no longer protect Tokyo or Seoul.

The thinking in Pyongyang, Okonogi said, is that such a scenario would not only help the North defend itself but also, in the long run, aid Pyongyang in its quest to re-unify the two Koreas on its own terms.

One of the responses which Japan must consider if North Korea continues its advance without a clear and forceful allied response, is to become a nuclear power itself.

This option was part of our analysis in our book on Pacific strategy.

Richard Weitz has provided a thoughtful look at the nuclear option for Japan in a piece published in October 2012.

Japan probably has the scientific, economic, and technological infrastructure to develop a nuclear arsenal should its government decide to do so. The country possesses a large and very advanced civilian nuclear power industry that would allow it to construct nuclear explosive devices without much difficulty.

A secret study that Japan conducted in 1967 concluded that the country could produce an atomic bomb by extracting plutonium from its civilian nuclear power plants. Japan’s nuclear energy program, the world’s third largest in terms of power output, has generated an enormous surplus of separated reactor-grade plutonium, sufficient to manufacture hundreds of nuclear weapons. The Japanese could also produce weapons-grade plutonium or weapons-grade uranium through standard enrichment techniques.

In addition, Japanese scientists would not find it difficult to develop reliable nuclear warheads even without testing them. They have extensive experience and capabilities with nuclear materials and supercomputing.

Furthermore, Japanese petroleum engineers have developed complex detonation devices to extract oil. Japanese technical experts have had to study nuclear weapons design issues in order to assess the nuclear weapons programs of China and North Korea.

Finally, Japan could draw on its civilian space launch program to develop long-range ballistic missiles.

Japanese space rockets have launched a number of commercial, research, and recently reconnaissance satellites (which could assist with target selection). Several of these launchers could serve as the basis for nuclear-armed ICBMs. Common estimates project that Japan could test a nuclear device in less than a year—and that it would not require much additional time to develop a comprehensive nuclear arsenal, which would include nuclear delivery vehicles (e.g., ballistic missiles or warplanes) as well as an adequate command-and-control infrastructure.

The growing nuclear threat from the DPRK, the rising power of the PRC, and the Obama administration’s policy of generally de-emphasizing the role of nuclear weapons in world politics has led some Japanese security experts to question the credibility of U.S. extended security guarantees to defend Japan from external threats by whatever means necessary.

The backbone of these security guarantees, manifested most visibly in the deployment of sizeable U.S. conventional forces in Japan as well as the bilateral mutual defense treaty between Tokyo and Washington, is the U.S. commitment to defend Japan with nuclear weapons if necessary.

The F-35 and Its Critics: CAB Looks at the F-35 Program and Corrects the Record

In a very useful overview on the F-35 program as well as a look at a number of its core capabilities, the C.A.B Show released a video on December 20, 2015.

The video is the most comprehensive facts based narrative of the development of the F-35 and its evolving capabilities ever put together.

The video is built around dealing with the continual barrage of criticism from Pierre Sprey and the team decides to take off the gloves and ask the question: Who is the real turkey: The F-35 or Pierre Sprey?

The video does a good job of ending the free ride for at least one of the critics, but does so in terms of looking at the capabilities the F-35 is bringing to 21st century air-enabled combat.

Credit: The CAB Show


Season 1 Episode 5 

In the latest episode of The CAB Show, Everythingman987 refutes the ridiculous claims made by supposed “jet designer,” and F-35 critic, Pierre Sprey. 

Sprey has been the highlight of the movement against the JSF program, being credited as an “expert” by many news media outlets and is well known for referring to the F-35 as a “turkey.” 

Is this man all that he’s cracked up to be? Is he the person that he claims he is? 

In this video, we will go over the history of both the F-35 program and Pierre Sprey.



Diplomacy, Allies and Deterrence: Why Give Adversaries a Veto Power on Legitimate Allied Actions?

In our book on The Rebuilding of American Military Power in the Pacific, we shaped a way to shape an interactive strategy with allies and partners. And we did so from the standpoint of how evolving US and allied military capabilities might work effectively with one another to provide for deterrence in depth.

And we have done a number of interviews which have pursued the deterrence in depth strategy.

A key ally in the Pacific, which is enhancing its capabilities to provide for perimeter defense, is Japan. And clearly the Japanese are doing so to deal with the Chinese trying to shape an agenda which pushes their power out into the region and beyond.

The Japanese government has been very clear with regard to their approach and the US has been quite PUBLICALLY supportive of their evolving strategy.

Allowing China at the table to veto allied actions in the legitimate defense of their interest’s undercuts deterrence, not strengthen it.

Thanks to the revelations rolling out from Secretary Clinton’s private email survey we are becoming privy to the Administration’s strategy of doing just that!


An architect of such an approach apparently was Clinton’s key aide on Asia, Kurt Campbell.

A recent article published in The Japan Times provides insight into the let China at the table to veto an allied approach strategy.

The United States urged Japan to consult with China before its provocative Senkaku Islands purchase in 2012, a declassified email forwarded to then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has revealed. 

In the email, dated Sept. 3, 2012 — roughly a week before the Japanese government bought three islets in the chain from their private Japanese owner — then-U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said he had urged Japan via Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s vice foreign minister at the time, to “consult and advise Beijing on their plans.” 

Campbell said he had requested Japan’s prior consultation with China when he met with Sasae on Aug. 7, 2012, in Tokyo. At that time, the Japanese government had “just concluded a round of deliberations and apparently their PRC (People’s Republic of China) counterparts were irate,” he said in the email. 

“Sasae however believes that China actually understands the necessity of these actions and will accept them. (I’m not so sure.),” Campbell said in the message sent to senior State Department officials. 

The Japanese government, which administers the Senkakus, purchased three of the five main islets on Sept. 11, 2012, effectively nationalizing the uninhabited chain, which lies in the East China Sea. The action stoked widespread anger in China and sparked a wave of anti-Japanese protests across the nation. 

The email, entitled “Sasae call,” was written shortly after the vice foreign minister conveyed to Washington over the phone that the central government had intended to nationalize the Senkakus. 

It was declassified Friday by the State Department in connection with Clinton’s risky use of a private email server during her recent stint as America’s top diplomat. Republicans are focusing on the unfolding security issue to criticize Clinton’s presidential bid. 

In the message, Campbell also said that although the government and the owner of the islands had agreed on a price, then-Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, a nationalist who kicked off the whole issue by raising funds for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s bid for the uninhabited islands, was “unlikely to consent” to the central government’s interference.

This is not just a bad precedent but also perhaps an expression of policy beyond that of Campbell himself.



Is India Shaping a Strategic Culture?

Over two decades ago George K Tanham, a RAND researcher from the US, stirred a hornet’s nest by obliquely pronouncing that India lacked a strategic culture to support its emerging geopolitical ambitions. In his monograph ‘Indian Strategic Thought: An Interpretive Essay’, he argued that India’s values, cultural diversity, recent historical legacy and non-alignment as a state policy, stymied the proliferation of strategic thought and could result in sub-optimal responses to challenges faced on multiple fronts, particularly in areas related to national security.

Written primarily as a policy primer for a US political leadership that was tentatively looking at scaling up relations with India, it faced considerable flak from Indian strategic thinkers like K Subrahmanyam, who blasted it for its myopic and jaundiced view of higher national security decision making.

While George Tanham used the elite as a benchmark for evaluating strategic culture, it is time to evaluate strategic culture from a common citizen’s perspective. With higher levels of education, a rising middle class that is becoming increasingly aware of its rights, the proliferation of social media and multiple tools for knowledge, national interest is gradually seeping into the consciousness of the common citizen.

Today, good articles on national security elicit diverse and nuanced responses from a wide cross-section of readers, something that was absent during the years when Subrahmanyam wrote extensively. Fingerprinting a young and evolving nation’s strategic culture at a time when Tanham did was bound to result in a skewed analysis. It is when a large chunk of citizens become active stakeholders in charting the course of their nation’s history that the study of strategic culture assumes significance.

Does education play a pivotal role in the development of a strategic culture? If the answer is in the affirmative, the next step is to identify how and when this development takes place and whether ‘strategic culture’ is a focussed by-product of a rigid education system, or whether it is the natural flowering of ideas, thoughts and writing that emerge from a liberal and broad-based system.

Nations where primary and secondary education revolve around ideology, theology, excessively structured syllabi and distorted history have seen the development of strategic cultures that are rigid and run the risk of being consumed by change, or destroyed from within. Soviet Russia and Pakistan are extreme examples of such manifestations.

The Indian education system was stuck for years in a colonial trap that alternated between rote and an obsession with ‘white collar possibilities’. It was only a few of the elite who were exposed to multi-disciplinary education that is so necessary for the creation of a robust strategic culture. As a result, Indian strategic culture in the post-Independence era did not reflect the culture of the majority and suffered from the infirmities of few ideas.

I do not acknowledge that contemporary Western strategic culture, typified by Pax Americana or Pax Britannica, are ideal ones. However their longevity was and is a result of a robust multi-disciplinary education system that focussed on the spirit of enquiry, innovation and reflection.

What of contemporary Chinese strategic culture? Rising from the ashes of centuries of colonial exploitation and rigid communist influences, contemporary Chinese strategic culture would have met the same fate as Soviet strategic culture but for the vision of Deng Xiaoping. Retaining much of the rigidity of the existing system, Deng complemented that framework with ideas that emerged from Chinese intellectuals, economists, scientists and historians educated in the West to create a hybrid strategic culture that has emerged as a strong challenger to the West.

We must adopt a bottomsup multidisciplinary approach from the lowest rungs of education to the highest pillars of our strategic edifice to develop a strategic culture that is not only robust and flexible, but widely inclusive. Just as China in the last decade has shown clear signs of emergence as an assertive nation with revisionist aspirations, India in its seventh decade as an independent nation-state is poised to shape its own strategic culture in its image. We would do well to look at education as a key driver of strategic culture.

The writer is a faculty member at the National Defence College, New Delhi

This article originally appeared in The Times of India.

“The Arc of Steel”: Responding to Russian Strategy from the Arctic to the Mediterranean

In an article published by the French strategic and defense newsletter TTU on February 1, 2016, the evolving Russian strategy and the challenge for NATO and the United States is the focus of attention.

Entitled “The Arc of Steel and A2/AD,” the article identifies concerns with the evolution of Russian strategy and US responses to that strategy.

As a result of Russiaʼs surge in military strength in what a NATO admiral has called the “arc of steel” (from the Arctic to the eastern Mediterranean), the U.S. finds itself, on the short term, forced to review its global posture in terms of air and naval assets.

For the Pentagon, the challenge posed by anti-access/area denial strategies (A2/AD) is not only a concern with China in the Pacific. In the Atlantic, the eastern Mediterranean and the Arctic, Russia is deploying A2/AD means capable of hindering the operations of U.S. forces. At NATO, the issue is already on the agenda.


An inter-ministerial meeting in February will be devoted to the matter and several reports addressing it have already been produced.

For U.S. forces, the reinforcement of Russiaʼs military strongholds in the Far North, – bases, surface- to-air batteries, troops, etc. – has resulted in an unprecedented “anti- access/area denial” challenge, which neither the resources nor the current strategy of the U.S. are capable of countering.

On land, the situation is balanced, the U.S. army having a Stryker brigade in Alaska and a paratrooper   brigade   (soon   to   be   transformed   into   a   battalion)   deployable anywhere in the Arctic using a C-17 or C-130. However, these units lack operational preparedness (landing on icy runways, for example).

As for the regular army, it is neither prepared nor equipped for this type of environment, contrary to Russian troops. At sea, while the U.S. navy has focused its strategy on the use of submarines, it has largely neglected surface means, notably when it comes to crucial ice breakers.

Beneath the surface, these are a U.S. advantage, both qualitatively and quantitatively: Seawolf-class submarines, the worldʼs most advanced, regularly patrol beneath the polar ice caps in the Bering Strait—a very discreet way of reaffirming the U.S.ʼs action capabilities while gathering intelligence.

But only two of these submarines are operating in the Arctic, as the programme was suspended at the end of the Cold War for budgetary reasons. Above water, Russia has a clear advantage.

The U.S. Coast Guard, whose resources in Alaska are limited (2,000 men, 52 ships and 17 aircraft), has only two ageing ice breakers capable of operating in winter.

The Russian government, on the other hand, has access to a fleet of 22 ice breakers and has launched construction of 11 more. These are dispersed means that could be regrouped into a task force in the event of a crisis.

This U.S. capabilities shortfall restricts the margins of manoeuvre of the U.S. navyʼs surface vessels, which moreover have only limited operational expe- rience in the region (aside from submarines). The U.S. navyʼs roadmap for the Arctic, revised in 2014, does not take into account the events in Ukraine nor recent Russian movements in the North, and still stipulates that the Arctic is a “low-risk environment in which an inter-state conflict is very unlikely.” As a result, resources have remained the same.

It may not be enough to maintain the U.S.ʼs ambitious goals: to protect American sove- reignty, have naval forces capable of operating in the region and preserving navigational freedom…the U.S. navy has however responded to the increased Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean: Admiral Richardson, head of the navyʼs operations, announced that a reinforcement of U.S. naval assets wherever Russia is present is currently under discussion.

The fact that a specialised Russian ship showed strong interest in U.S. underwater cables not long ago is likely a factor…

At the White House, officials have announced plans to strengthen the U.S. ice breaker fleet.

But this will have to wait until 2025 at the earliest, and will require supplementary funding.

The current U.S. Coast Guard budget (nine billion dollars) cannot cover such an investment (around one billion per vessel). Anti-access/area denial is also an issue in the air over the entire arc of steel, all the way to the eastern Mediterranean.

The commander of U.S. air forces in Europe, General Frank Gorenc, recently sounded the alarm regarding the gradual disappearance of the Westʼs military advantage.

The threat does not come from the air, where NATOʼs superiority is real, but from the ground.

In the Arctic, in Kaliningrad, in Crimea and in Syria, Russia is capable of putting in place multi-layered A2/AD zones that are difficult to penetrate, thanks to less expensive surface-to-air batteries that are available in greater numbers than aircraft.

If the United States is working on adapted long-term technological solutions, on the shorter term, two solutions are available to America and its allies.

First, stealth aircraft, with the planned bolstering of their numbers in Alaska (F-22 and F-35) and in the U.K (British F-35 and two U.S. squadrons in 2020). Gorenc also plans to possibly deploy the F-22 in Europe.

According to him, the survivability of generation four and 4.5 aircraft (Rafale, Eurofighter…) will depend on the adoption of and training for tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) adapted to this threat.

Another avenue being considered, called RAPID X, aims to increase the mobility of allied aircraft through an extended network of NATO bases, in order to limit the impact of possible Russian strikes.

Putin’s New Role in the Middle East: Part of a Broader Obama Strategy?

Dr. Harald Malmgren brought this piece to our attention which looks at the evolving role of Russia in the Middle East and looks at how that evolution fits into the broader approach which the Obama Administration has taken with regard to the Middle East.

In an article by Michael Doran published in Mosaic entitled “Our Man in Moscow,” the question of how the Russians and Iranian resurgence is part of the Obama strategy is the focus of attention.

…..The Obama strategy has indeed been shaping the Syria crisis in myriad unseen ways, one of the most important of which has been to clear the path for Vladimir Putin to play a major role in the Middle East and, by extension, to present himself as the savior of Europe.

The rehabilitation of Putin, that is to say, is not occurring during a fit of absentmindedness in the White House; it is a direct consequence of Obama’s vision of global order.

To see why this is so, how it got to be so, and why, barring a truly radical reconsideration, it will almost certainly remain so for the rest of Obama’s tenure, we need to spool back all the way to the first months of his first term and then follow the threads forward to the multi-dimensional crisis now facing America in the Middle East—a crisis in whose unfolding the president’s strategy has played a deep and calamitous role.

In the beginning was the Russian “reset”: the effort, launched two months into the president’s first term, to repair relations between Washington and Moscow.

Those relations, Obama and his national-security team believed, had severely deteriorated under the presidency of George W. Bush, but a determined effort to start afresh would generate significant benefits in many areas of American concern. Throughout his first term, Obama and his inner circle regarded the Russian reset as a diplomatic masterstroke.

Then, in the second term, came the Snowden affair. In the summer of 2013, the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden stole and exposed details about the U.S. government’s surveillance programs and then managed to escape to Russia, where he eventually received asylum. It is an open question whether Russia had manipulated Snowden as he planned and executed his operation or was simply giving safe haven to a fugitive.

Either way, the incident damaged both the vaunted claims for the reset and America’s national security.

Things took an even worse turn in February 2014 when protestors in Ukraine overthrew President Viktor Yanukovych for scuttling an association agreement between that country and the European Union.

Yanukovych had acted in obvious deference to Putin, who as Russia’s president had strongly opposed Ukraine’s turn toward Europe. Following Yanukovych’s removal, Putin moved quickly to annex Crimea, an autonomous Ukrainian republic, and to foment unrest in eastern Ukraine, sparking a war between pro-Russian insurgents and the new government in Kiev.

From day one in the White House, Obama set out to create a new order: a club of nations that would work together to stabilize the Middle East. Central to that vision was Putin.

When Obama responded to Putin’s aggressive conduct by imposing sanctions on Russia, commentators were led to pronounce the reset a complete failure.

Yet the president, for his part, seems never to have skipped a beat. In his thinking, the reset was always intimately bound up with what he considered to be his greatest strategic challenge: namely, ending old wars and avoiding new ones.

In the Middle East, the old balance of power, resting as it did on the primacy of American military might, seemed to Obama like an invitation to never-ending conflict.

Needed instead was a new regional order—one that, beyond enabling a president to pull American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, would preclude the necessity of ever having to send them back in.

From day one in the White House, therefore, Obama aimed to create that new order.

His idea was a concert system: a club of nations that, united in their enmity to Sunni Islamic radicalism, would work together to stabilize the region by self-consciously maintaining a balance of power among themselves.

And central to that vision was Putin, who in Obama’s mind had been antagonized by the Bush administration’s war on terror and its foolish devotion to democracy promotion: policies that had caused Russia to react by withholding cooperation on matters of obvious mutual benefit like defeating al-Qaeda and containing Sunni radicalism.

The Russian reset had been Obama’s way of inviting Putin to join the new Middle East concert as a founding member.

To unlock the benefits of shared interest, America would take a step back and encourage Russia to take a step forward. Whatever obstacles Russian behavior might present along the way, the fundamental soundness of the strategy was not in question.

There were others to bring in as well—most notably, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Of course, in the midst of the controversy over Tehran’s nuclear program, it was impossible simply to issue an Iranian “reset.” But, the president’s thinking went, perhaps that controversy could be moved to one side or, rather, be made a means to a larger end.

Attaining an agreement on Iran’s nuclear ambitions—the prerequisite for any American opening to the regime in Tehran—would thus also become an avenue toward the prospect of Iran’s joining the envisioned concert system.

The Russian reset and the Iranian nuclear negotiations were thus two bright crimson threads in a single tapestry, and so they remain today.

For obvious reasons, the president has never described this vision in full; the American public, and America’s traditional allies in the Middle East, deeply distrust both Russia and Iran.

Instead, he has proceeded step by step, justifying each new step as an ad-hoc response to immediate developments while keeping his eye firmly fixed on the final goal…..

That’s where Syria comes in, and where the threads begin to merge.

A country of vital importance to both Russia and Iran (and of limited importance to America), Syria offered opportunities for showcasing Obama’s respect for Russian and Iranian interests. …..

For the rest of the article see the following:






Veterans are the Winners in the Iowa Campaign

As the first Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Public Affairs, one of my most important challenges was making sure the scammers, posers and criminals did not hide behind Veteran Charities.

It was difficult because any false charges could hurt well-meaning people.

Conversely if appropriate, due diligence was not done at the Secretary level then veterans, their loved ones and all Americans would be betrayed in the most profound way.

America has made a social binding contract with our protectors, that we as a nation will be there for them, when their military service is over, and we have been the envy of the world in meeting that obligation.

However, in today’s VA that safety net has been torn apart by a greedy criminal element that has cheated and gamed the system for their own benefit, leaving forgotten veterans and conscientious VA employees adrift in their wake.

In 1989 I entered a new Cabinet department filled with some of the most caring professionals I have ever met. They remain the rule today but all too often find themselves under attack by a relatively small number of criminals at VA who have gone unpunished for their actions.

The immortal words of President Lincoln in his second inaugural address which became the DVA motto must always be remembered:

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the Nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Sumner G. Whittier, a Veterans Administration Director appointed by President Eisenhower made those words the DVA motto, because Ike knew a lot about accountability:

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and has orphan.”

That paragraph sums up the philosophy that has guided Veterans Affairs, as well as its functional and organizational forerunners in dealing with veterans, especially those disabled from combat.

A part of that address adorns metal plaques on either side of the Vermont Avenue doors to VA Central Office in Washington, D.C.

VA Plaque

“To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and has orphan,” became the motto of VA in May, 1959, when the plaques were first put up.”

And how did Whittier match words with deeds?

The following was recorded in the 1967 edition of a VA medical history printed for the use of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, which was entitled, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle”:

“He worked no employee longer or harder than himself to make his personal credo the mission of the agency.

What was that credo? Simply the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.’

To indicate the mission of his agency’s employees, Mr. Whittier had plaques installed on either side of the main entrance.”

Mr. Whittier, who served as Administrator from December 1957 to January 1961, was a veteran of World War II.

He served in the Navy for three years and was discharged as a lieutenant.

He had held a number of public service positions from the age of 27, finally serving as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts from 1953 to 1956.

He joined the Veterans Administration as Director of Insurance in January 1957, and in December of that year was appointed Administrator.

We need to recover his sense of duty and performance for our veterans.

In this time of a nasty political campaign some , and many who should know better, in the main stream media raced to attack Donald Trump’s integrity and motivation in reaching out to have an event dedicated to raising money for worthy veterans organizations.

As often is the case with Donald Trump’s campaign, an attack comes, then the facts come out and he emerges even stronger.

So getting posters and agenda driven letterhead Veteran Organizations to attack Trump before the facts are known, and the fundraising results are in and most importantly, veterans organizations are vetted is just more evidence why respect for todays media is dwindling.

It is not about reporting facts or explaining situations; it is about asserting your personal preferences as if they were facts.

We are being befuddled by asserted facts journalism.

As the former Green Beret John Wayne Walding said with simple grace in Iowa :

“Thank you is a powerful statement” and he well earned his right to tell all watching what military service means.

Because If a man or a woman can face down the Taliban, come at them at your peril.”

Walding talks about the comrades he has lost: Your debt to the fallen is to live your life well. “That’s the best middle finger you can give to the Taliban; that’s to live great and live awesome.”

Walding talks about the comrades he has lost: Your debt to the fallen is to live your life well. “That’s the best middle finger you can give to the Taliban; that’s to live great and live awesome.”

During a battle in Shok Valley of Afghanistan, Walding and his teammates showed true bravery, bringing everyone off of the mountain despite the odds.

Because of their teamwork and camaraderie, the 10 members of ODA 3336 present that day all returned safely, and were each awarded the Silver Star, Dec. 12, 2008.

“When you become a Green Beret, you become part of a brotherhood that you get nowhere else,” Walding said.

As a point of full disclosure I am a life member of DAV.

However, in linking to the groups below that will receive donations from Donald Trump please review who they are and their specific focused mission and consider even now making a donation.

American Hero Adventures, Eugene, OR – Provides stress free, stress relieving and bonding activities to the combat wounded, duty-injured Hero and their families.

DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS (DAV) Charitable Service Trust, Cold Spring, KY

The Trust supports, programs ensuring quality health care for veterans, assistance to veterans suffering from PTSD, programs enhancing research and mobility for veterans with amputations, spinal cord injuries and more.


Fisher Houses provide military families housing close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.


Provide educations scholarships to the families of killed or disabled American military.


Homes for Our Troops is a privately funded nonprofit organization building specially adapted, mortgage free homes nationwide for the most severely injured Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. http:


Hope for the Warriors provides comprehensive support programs for service members, veterans, and military families that are focused on transition, health and wellness, peer engagement and connections, to community resources.


Honoring America’s Warriors serves veterans and service members of all eras in Oklahoma and surrounding states.. Our program provides long-term support and camaraderie for wounded service members and veterans through complimentary programs, events, discounted services, and an online community.

K9 FOR WARRIORS, Ponte Vedra, FL

K9s For Warriors is dedicated to providing service canines to our warriors suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disability, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma as a result of military service post 9/11. Our goal is to empower them to return to civilian life with dignity and independence.


For more than a decade, Liberty House in Manchester, NH has been providing a safe, supportive, substance-free housing community for American veterans transitioning out of homelessness. Since opening our doors in 2004, our dedicated team of staff and volunteers has helped more than 200 homeless veterans rejoin their communities and regain fulfilling, independent lives.


The Veterans Outreach Project works to end homelessness among Veterans by enhancing communication between the Veterans and service providers.



Operation Homefront wishes to be the provider of choice for short term and critical assistance, long term stability and recurring support programs to military families.


Partners for Patriots is a 501©(3) nonprofit corporation founded to obtain, train and provide service dogs to disabled veterans.


Projects for Patriots found a beginning through a need identified by the Home Builders Association of Siouxland. This caring group has banded together to improve living conditions through a variety of projects related to the needs of injured veterans and their families.

PUPPY JAKE, Des Moines, IA

Puppy Jake Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping military veterans through the assistance of well bread, socialized and professionally trained service dogs.


Racing for Heroes aims to fill the gap left by inadequate government resources to support our disabled veterans through, ADVOCACY, ENGAGEMENT and RACING.

The Navy SEAL Foundation provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare Community and its families.


The mission of Support Siouxland Soldiers is to honor and support all Veterans, Military families and active service members. We do this by providing free groceries, social and resource events, hot meals, care-packages, emergency financial assistance and gifts for the holidays.


The Foundation assists US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) service members and their families when a valid need is identified. Needs are verified two ways: one, through the unit command; two, through the US SOCOM Care Coalition. The Task Force Dagger Foundation responds to needs that are verified as quickly as possible.


The Green Beret Foundation provides direct and continuous support to Green Beret Communities and its Families.


The VAC provides free air transportation to post 9/11 combat wounded and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.


Provides support to our nation’s heroes and their families in the areas of recreational and social activities, scholarships, veteran suicide and mental health awareness, specifically PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Military Sexual Trauma and Combat Stress Reaction. We network with other organizations to connect these heroes with resources.

22Kill, Dallas, TX

22Kill is a global movement bridging the gap between veterans and like-minded individuals to build a community of support and understanding. 22Kill works to raise awareness to the suicide epidemic that is plaguing our country, and educate the public on mental health issues such as PTS.

Thank you Mr Trump for supporting these foundations and for providing visibility to the cause of aiding veterans!


Did Putin Miss the Perry-Weber Op Ed on Why Nuclear Cruise Missiles are Bad?

The Wall Street Journal has recently published an op-ed by former Clinton administration Defense Secretary William Perry and former DOD acquisition official Andy Weber calling for the scrapping of plans for a new nuclear-armed cruise missile for the USAF.

Such a missile is to complement the USAF’s planned Long Range Strike Bomber in the nuclear deterrence and possibly also the conventional strike role. The rationale is that the USAF cannot afford to put all of its eggs into one basket, for that would simplify America’s potential adversaries’ plans.

Thus, a new nuclear-tipped cruise missile is necessary to ensure the credibility of the airborne leg of the US nuclear triad, especially since the LRSB will not enter service until the mid-2020s at the earliest. The current, nonstealthy cruise missile borne by USAF bombers will have to be retired by 2030 at the latest.

If a new cruise missile is not fielded in that timeframe – between the mid-2020s and the year 2030 – the airborne leg of the US nuclear triad will be rendered ineffective and impotent in the face of the very potent, very modern air defense systems fielded by America’s potential adversaries – including Russia, China, Belarus, and Venezuela – with Iran set to join them.

Perry and Weber argue against new nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on several ground.

Firstly, they argue that “Because they can be launched without warning and come in both nuclear and conventional variants, cruise missiles are a uniquely destabilizing type of weapon.”

Yet Cruise missiles are no more destabilizing than any other kind of weapon. Dozens of countries around the world possess them – both conventional- and nuclear-armed cruise missiles – and have used the conventional variants on numerous occassions without any miscalculation or destabilization occurring. Most notably, the U.S. has used cruise missiles in combat, on a massive scale, in every major military intervention undertaken since 1991 – without anyone misreading America’s intentions.

Perry and Weber then go on to argue that “President Obama can lead the world to a stabler and safer future by canceling plans for a new U.S. nuclear-capable cruise missile. Moreover, taking such a step — which would not diminish the formidable U.S. nuclear deterrent in the least — could lay the foundation for a global ban on these dangerous weapons.”

The US has already unilaterally scrapped its nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs). In their op-ed, Perry and Weber themselves approvingly recall that unilateral disarmament gesture of the elder President Bush. No other nuclear power has reciprocated it. Not even one.

Russia has not scrapped any of its SLCMs and has deployed new ones, called the Kalibr, whose range is 1,550 miles (2,480 kms). India and Israel have deployed nuclear-tipped missiles on their own submarines. China has procured nuclear-tipped air-launched cruise missiles and is developing such weapons for its submarines. Iran and North Korea are developing ground-launched types of cruise missiles.

President Bush’s unilateral gesture has not been reciprocated by anyone at all.

Perry and Weber also falsely claim that modernizing the B-2 stealth bomber and procuring the LRSB (B-3) stealth bomb truck will suffice to renew the airborne leg of the nuclear triad: “With these efforts, the B-2 and B61 will provide the core capability of the bomber leg of the strategic air-land-and-sea nuclear triad for decades to come. (…) With the updated B-2 and B61 expected to remain in service for many decades, and the planned deployment of new B-3 penetrating bombers with B61 bombs starting in 2025, there is scant justification for spending tens of billions of dollars on a new nuclear air-launched cruise missile and related warhead life-extension program. The old Cold War requirement for such a capability no longer exists. We can, and should, maintain an extremely effective bomber leg of the triad without it.”

Yet Russia and China are already working on “counter-stealth” radars to add to their air defense systems. If successfully developed and fielded in meaningful numbers, these radars could, one day, detect them and permit Russian/Chinese-supplied air defense systems to kill them. Such systems, if successfully developed, will be available to anyone able to pay for them, including Iran.

It would be sheer madness to put all of the USAF’s eggs into one basket and dramatically simplify the problem for America’s potential adversaries. Cruise missiles rely not on stealthiness but on their small size, shape, very low flight altitudes, and terrain masking to evade enemy air defenses and reach their targets.

Perry and Weber also argue that President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the INF Treaty because they supposedly “recognized the destabilizing nature of nuclear cruise missiles and prioritized the elimination of ground-launched versions in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.”

Ye President Reagan pushed for the INF Treaty because he was worried about 1,846 Soviet ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles aimed at targets in Western Europe, including US military bases. Therefore, he pushed for these Soviet missiles to be withdrawn – both the ballistic and the cruise missiles. He didn’t consider the cruise variety to be more destabilizing. He simply wanted Europe to live free of the threat of Soviet nuclear attack or blackmail.

But President Reagan was not initially sold on the idea of a “zero option.” He initially didn’t support scrapping all American ground-launched intermediate range missiles.

As Adam Lowther rightly notes in The National Interest:

“During the Oct. 13, 1981, National Security Council meeting, then-Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger suggested that the United States pursue a “zero option,” which would ban all intermediate range ballistic missiles and ground launched cruise missiles. President Reagan responded to this suggestion, “Do we really want a zero-option for the battlefield? Don’t we need these nuclear systems? Wouldn’t it be bad for us to give them up since we need them to handle Soviet conventional superiority?”

In the years that followed, President Reagan never came to see nuclear cruise missiles as destabilizing. He supported ratification of the INF Treaty (1987) because the United States was required to dismantle 846 weapons (Pershing II and GLCM) while the Soviet Union dismantled 1,846 weapons (SS-4, SS-5, SS-20). With the Soviets giving up better than two weapons to every one American weapon the INF Treaty was too good for the United States to pass up.”

As for Gorbachev, at the outset he wasn’t actually willing to withdraw any Soviet missiles at all. It was not until 1986 that he agreed to do so, and not until 1987 that he agreed to a verification regime.

And now, that landmark treaty is unravelling, as Russia continues to develop, test, and field ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles that violate the accord.

At the end of their article, Perry and Weber argue that the US can prompt other nuclear powers to scrap their own nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, and advance the cause of “a world without nuclear weapons”, if it unilaterally scraps its plans for the new missile:

“We therefore urge President Obama to cancel the current plan to develop and buy 1,000 to 1,100 new nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles. Such strong U.S. leadership, coupled with a challenge to the other major nuclear powers to eliminate or, in the cases of China and India, forgo deployment of this extremely destabilizing class of weapons, would reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use and be a historic practical step in the direction of a world without nuclear weapons.”

The reality is that “a world without nuclear weapons” will NEVER materialize – unless even more powerful and deadly weapons are developed and fielded.

Russia and China are rapidly modernizing and expanding their nuclear arsenals. They are developing and deploying, in increasing quantities, new warheads, ballistic missile submarines, cruise missile submarines, sea-launched ballistic and cruise missiles, rail- and road-launched multiple-warhead ICBMs, intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles, tactical strike aircraft, air-launched cruise missiles, and strategic bombers.

North Korea has managed to miniaturize its nuclear warheads and mate it with ICBMs. Top US military commanders, incl. Adm. William Gortney (the commander in charge of defending the US and Canada), have confirmed this and have warned that these ICBMs can now reach the Continental US.

Iran, despite the recently-concluded Vienna Agreement, continues to shape a way ahead for missile development which can accompany a nuclear arsenal.

India and Pakistan are both increasing their nuclear arsenals and deploying new warhead delivery systems – aircraft, ground-launched missiles (including ground-launched cruise missiles in Pakistan’s case and sea-launched ones on India’s part), and, in India’s case, developing ballistic missile submarines.

Israel continues to grow its atomic arsenal and now possesses, inter alia, 5 ultra-quiet submarines armed with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

France continues to field nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and is now developing their successor, the AS4NG, which will likely be hypersonic. France maintains its independent nuclear deterrent because it believes it cannot rely on the US to provide a reliable nuclear umbrella and doesn’t want to depend on America for its security.

Several other countries are now striving to join the nuclear club, most notably Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

There is ZERO chance of there ever being a world of nuclear weapons. In fact, the world is marching in the exactly opposite direction.

Over 25 years of deep cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal, and multiple unilateral disarmament gestures, have completely failed to convince anyone to follow suit.

The U.S. government needs to shape a realistic arsenal and appraoch to the evolving global situation and the second nuclear age, within which nuclear armed cruise missiles will be more, rather than less important.

Vladimir Putin certainly identified a way ahead in his view which has no relationship to the Perry-Weber appraoch.

Putin noted: “With regard to strikes from a submarine. We certainly need to analyse everything that is happening on the battlefield, how the weapons work.

Both the [Kalibr] missiles and the Kh-101 rockets are generally showing very good results.

We now see that these are new, modern and highly effective high-precision weapons that can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads.”

Perhaps he missed the Perry-Weber op-ed?