Why ‘arms control’ remains delusional

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The coronavirus has killed over 150,000 people globally, but many millions may be killed, and the United States utterly destroyed, by the great plague for decades crippling U.S. defense and foreign policy.

Anti-aircraft missile system are directed upwards against the background of sunset.

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Originally published by Newsmax

The coronavirus has killed over 150,000 people globally, but many millions may be killed, and the United States utterly destroyed, by the great plague for decades crippling U.S. defense and foreign policy.

It’s known as arms control.

Since Pope Urban II in 1097 unsuccessfully tried banning use of crossbows against Christians, indeed since Christ walked the Earth preaching nonviolence and love to fallen humankind, there have been those who would ban arms and armies, perpetually turning the other cheek, and trying tame the world’s wolves with the feather of international law.

Alas, Machiavelli’s “The Prince” (1532) has been a more realistic guide to personal and national survival than Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia”(1516), over which the latter (an idealist) literally lost his head.

But idealists and utopians never give up, even when confronted with the likes of Gernany’s Adolf Hitler, Italy’s Benito Mussolini, Japan’s Gen. Hideki Tojo, and Russia’s Josef Stalin.

Following World War I, the League of Nations, the Versailles Treaty, Washington and London Naval Conferences, and Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war, lulled western democracies into complacency; they were then ruthlessly violated by the future Axis powers. This contributed to World War II.

60 million died.

Today, the idealist intellectual tradition continues in “arms control” — a phrase invented by 1950s academics to describe a “new” solution to the existential threat posed by the problem of war in the nuclear missile age.

Arms control as taught in universities, propounded by experts, and practiced by policymakers, ignores, or gives short shrift to, its roots in the Christian faith.

Instead, arms control is a pseudo-science which argues — regardless of ideology, history, and strategic culture of hostile states — “the rational actor model” logically prefers “strategic stability” and will even latch on to policies such as “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD) in order to avoid costly arms racing and deter the existential threat of nuclear war.

Arms control as an intellectual discipline has evolved closer to Marx than to Christ.

Arms control “true believers” have imbibed deeply of the 1960s New Left interpretation of American history, a perspective widely taught at universities as gospel. It blames the West and the U.S. for the original sins of capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism; purportedly the corrupt foundations of an inherently unjust and racist world order, one dominated by the United States.

According to this “blame America first” view, the U.S. started the Cold War, and nuclear arms-racing is always provoked by U.S. nuclear forces modernization that, in arms control parlance, triggers an “action-reaction cycle” forcing “innocent” Russia to build more nuclear arms.

Perniciously, arms control and its acolytes are deeply embedded in U.S. and Western strategic culture. Policymakers in the White House, Congress, State and Defense Departments — even when they are arms control skeptics — tend to think and act reflexively as if the assumptions and concepts of arms control are true, so pervasive and influential is the arms control paradigm.

The State Department’s recently published report “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments” (April, 2020) finds that Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Burma are in violation (or noncompliance ) with various arms control commitments, including the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Presidential Nuclear Initiative, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty.

Thanks to arms control, by cheating on the Presidential Nuclear Initiative, Russia has at least a 10-to-1 advantage in tactical nuclear weapons.

Perhaps most disturbingly, the State Department reports Russia and China are violating the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the unratified Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Moscow and Beijing apparently have been conducting low-yield nuclear testing while the U.S. has observed a moratorium on nuclear tests for 28 years — since 1992.

By cheating on arms control, Russia and China have achieved a great leap forward in the design and sophistication of their nuclear weapons, while the U.S. lags far behind.

While Russia and China have modernized their nuclear forces, U.S. nuclear weapons and delivery systems are aging toward obsolescence.

The Arms Control Association, Federation of American Scientists, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Rebecca Hersman, former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction under President Obama, criticize the State Department report and defend Russia and China.

They believe the U.S. should continue no unilateral nuclear testing.

Washington prevailed in the Cold War by never allowing Moscow any militarily significant numerical or technological advantage in nuclear arms.

U.S. nuclear strength permitted indulging our arms control delusion, concluding treaties of dubious verifiability with a dishonest adversary.

We can no longer afford arms control that fails to deliver “strategic stability” while shifting the balance of power against the United States.

Moscow is pressing for renegotiating the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to further weaken America by constraining U.S. non-nuclear Global Strike forces and prohibiting the U.S. Space Force from “weaponizing space” with missile defenses.

It’s yet another arms control trap.

President Trump, before seeking an arms control “grand bargain” with Russia and China, please read my essay “The Case Against Arms Control” (RealClearDefense.com June 24, 2019). Also read an old, but perennially true, book by Sen. Malcolm Wallop and Angelo Codevilla “The Arms Control Delusion” (1987).

Peter Pry
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