The US Air Force gave its 341st Missile Wing an “unsatisfactory” rating on its most recent round of testing and evaluation. For obvious reasons the details are sketchy, but it’s not the kind of thing you want to hear about an organization that maintains 150 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Here’s an idea: Why not get rid of them? Or if not all of them, most of them?
In 2005, the General Accounting Office reported that even the US Department of Defense doesn’t know how much money it spends maintaining “America’s nuclear deterrent,” but the number is somewhere north of $18 billion per year (source: Nuclear Threat Institute).
If deficit hawks are looking for a place to cut spending, that’s a promising number … and given that the Cold War ended decades ago, it seems like even “defense” hawks should be willing to concede that maintaining such a large nuclear arsenal is financially silly, strategically unnecessary and politically more trouble than it’s worth.
Mutual Assured Destruction is passe for any number of reasons (including the non-state, not easily geographically targeted configuration of most of today’s boogie-men), and how many megatons could it take to destroy the geographically fixed strategic targets of any likely enemies? And on the foreign policy end, it seems just possible that drawing down the US nuclear force might result in a corresponding drawdown of anti-US edginess on the part of other governments.