Are Nuclear Weapons Strategically Obsolete?

2186 Words Jan 26th, 2013 9 Pages
Are Nuclear Weapons Strategically Obsolete? Why or Why not?

The ongoing debate of whether or not nuclear weapons are obsolete or not is a very complex one. Numerous studies have purported that nuclear weapons no longer serve an important strategic purpose for countries such as the United States of America and Great Britain. Clausewitz stated that war and politics were inextricably linked. So the distinction between “political” and “military” viability of nuclear weapons is one without meaning. Essentially this implies that deterrence theory still works, at least between state actors. After all, no nuclear power has ever been attacked by another state, and the same can’t be said about attacks by nuclear powers on non-nuclear states.
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Today the United States of America still possess approximately 1,300 tactical nuclear weapons, including about 480 bombs deployed on NATO military bases deployed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In response Russia is estimated to possess at least 3,000 of these generally smaller, portable, but still devastating weapons. It only takes a fifteen-minute alert and the decision by one human being at the touch of the button in the U.S. to deploy hundreds of nuclear warheads. Surely with still such a large number of nuclear weapons still easily accessible, they cannot be strategically obsolete. Robert McNamara says, “It was luck that prevented nuclear war”. He continues: “At the end we lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war.... Rational individuals came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today. The major lesson of the Cuban missile crisis is this: the indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will destroy nations”. In the end maybe it was deterrence theory that won out, but from McNamara’s perspective this was not the case. McNamara mentioned in his Fog of War Interview that if it hadn’t have been for John F
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