Say No to Nuclear Rearmament

Our Democratic congressional delegation can either rubber stamp a dangerous escalation of the nuclear arms race that pushes us to the brink of world annihilation or in the interest of human survival reject President Biden’s suggested appropriation of billions of dollars for nuclear rearmament.

To date, few have questioned President Biden’s recommended down payment on the $1.7 trillion program for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), 600 underground Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM’s) to be tested at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base and installed underground over the next decades to replace 400 Minuteman III missiles in Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and Nebraska.

The Minuteman III ICBM weapons should not be upgraded or replaced but removed entirely, as these land-based nuclear missiles would be sitting ducks in a nuclear attack, killing millions of Americans in a flash. Because of their vulnerability, ICBM’s are placed on hair-trigger alert, increasing the frightening possibility of an accidental nuclear launch.

Additionally, Biden’s recommended funding for low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, the nuclear-tipped Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N) and the B-21 Stealth bomber, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons, makes it that much more likely the Pentagon would launch a 1st Nuclear Strike against China or Russia in the event of a conflict over the Taiwan Strait or Ukraine.

If this possibility sounds far-fetched, note that in a recent New York Times interview Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg shared classified documents revealing the Pentagon seriously considered launching a first nuclear strike against China in 1958 over control of the Taiwan Strait. Military Generals were not discouraged by the thought of Russia, China’s ally, retaliating with a nuclear attack that would kill millions of Americans.

Recently, the Democratic congressional delegation voted for the U.S. Strategic Innovation and Competition Act, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s bill, that in addition to pumping over a hundred billion dollars into technology commits the United States to the military defense of Taiwan (sec. 3222) as a priority. This commitment marks a departure from the United States’ 50-year one-China policy characterized by ambiguity toward Taiwan, once part of mainland China.

Supporters of nuclear rearmament, euphemistically labeled nuclear modernization, argue the U.S. must maintain nuclear superiority to deter Russia or China from attacking us with their own nuclear arsenals.

Let us be reminded that the United States is the only country in the world that has actually used atomic weapons. In 1945, at the close of World War II, President Truman ordered the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, incinerating an estimated 200,000 Japanese in the span of three days.

Let us also take note that as recently as 2019 the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a document on nuclear operations that flirted with “nuclear integration” or first use of nuclear weapons in a conventional war. The document reads, “A nuclear weapon could be brought into the campaign as a result of perceived failure in a conventional campaign, potential loss of control or regime, or to escalate the conflict to sue for peace on more-favorable terms.” The document bears the stamp of approval from the Joint Chiefs, one of whom was General Mark Milley, then Chief of Staff of the Army, now current Chair of the 8-member Joint Chiefs of Staff.

According to the Arms Control Association, the START treaty, which President Biden extended for another five years, limits the United States and Russia to 1,350 deployed nuclear warheads. The treaty, however, fails to restrict the number of tactical nuclear warheads, those considered more likely to be used in a conventional war.

To continue funding the “nuclear modernization” program, not only jeopardizes global security, but also undermines our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which we became a signatory in 1968. The NPT’s Article VI states, “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

To willfully violate the NPT is tantamount to declaring the U.S. an international outlaw and rogue state.

This omnicidal nuclear modernization drive, rejected by former Defense Secretary William Perry and questioned by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker, pushes us to the brink of nuclear war with China and Russia, two nuclear armed nations.

At a time when 86 countries have signed on to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons declaring nuclear weapons illegal, and at a time when the U.S. is negotiating with Iran to prohibit Iran’s development of a nuclear arsenal, it is unconscionable for the United States to design, develop and produce new nuclear weapons. In so doing, the U.S. encourages non-nuclear states to pursue weapons of mass destruction and further escalates the arms race with nuclear-armed nations.

For the sake of present and future generations, Democrats in Congress must summon the courage to say no to nuclear modernization or rearmament, even if it means challenging a Democratic president with a tenuous hold on power.

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Co-Founder, Progressive Caucus, California Democratic Party; blogger at LA Progressive

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Marcy Winograd

Marcy Winograd

Co-Founder, Progressive Caucus, California Democratic Party; blogger at LA Progressive

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