Americans need to start talking about the “N” word. In a provocatively titled article for The Hill, Adam Lowther and Colonel Eric Moore argue that it’s time the U.S. got serious about its nuclear weapons.
The authors call for immediate modernization and improvement of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and weapons systems. Furthermore, the authors argue that nuclear weapons are vital to our security and should not be disregarded. Simply ignoring their utility hardly makes for sound policy.
“For too long it has been taboo to speak of the benefits nuclear weapons offer within the halls of Congress,” Lowther and Moore state. “However, avoiding a robust debate concerning the future utility of the American nuclear arsenal is not good strategy, it is neglect.”
As Heritage’s Michaela Dodge put it, “U.S. nuclear weapons continue to serve critical national security objectives.… Decisions that the United States makes today will influence its strategic posture and modernization plans for years to come.” Treating the aged U.S. nuclear weapons complex as the “proverbial ‘red-headed stepchild’” only weakens the ability of the U.S. to respond during times of crisis. Rather, the U.S. should re-evaluate its nuclear weapons policy, starting with prompt modernization efforts.
Certainly, our adversaries do not share our apathy. All other nuclear nations are rapidly enhancing their nuclear stockpiles and weapon systems. Meanwhile, the U.S. has allowed its infrastructure to decay and its weapons development to stagnate. Lowther and Moore note that the current U.S. nuclear enterprise is in desperate need of support. In fact, many of the companies once responsible for manufacturing critical and unique parts are no longer in business.
Failure to remedy these dismal trends could significantly increase future insecurity, volatility, and proliferation. With a resurgent Russia, an aggressive China, and an unpredictable North Korea, the U.S. should stop sidestepping debates on its nuclear weapons policy and take seriously its security commitments to its citizens, allies, and forward-deployed troops. In other words, U.S. nuclear weapons deserve to be a priority.
Harrison Menke is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, pleaseclick here.