"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war."
Einstein was a smart guy and all, but he was wrong about that one. For more than four decades, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union prepared and planned for all out nuclear war against each other. During that period, both nations greatly expanded and improved their arsenals. Their military strategists deliberated countless war scenarios. Not only was nuclear war prevented (admittedly with some close calls), but so was a major "conventional" war, which, considering the lethality of modern non-nuclear weaponry, would have had been far more catastrophic than World War 2, with its 50 million dead and widespread destruction.
In an op-ed in Thursday's WSJ, Warren Kozak explained the strategy and psychology behind our nuclear deterrence policy as understood by Air Force General Curtis LeMay. According to Kozak, LeMay sincerely believed (and helped coin) the Strategic Air Command (SAC) motto, "Peace Is Our Profession".
LeMay believed that the real purpose of having nuclear weapons was not to use them but to threaten to use them. He wanted to so terrify adversaries that they would never even consider a move against the U.S.
...In the Pacific theater during World War II, LeMay leveled scores of Japanese cities with incendiary bombs, and he finished the war by dropping two atomic bombs. The Soviets knew he wouldn't hesitate for a second to bomb them too if necessary. LeMay knew that they knew.
When LeMay took command of SAC in 1948, he transformed it into the most efficient and deadliest military organization the world had ever seen. Huge B-52 bombers were constantly in the air within striking distance of the Soviet Union. Each bomber carried a strike potential many times greater than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima—but the real threat was that the man behind it all was Curtis LeMay.
The logic behind SAC and the entire U.S. nuclear strategy was straight out of the schoolyard—if you try to inflict pain on us, we will inflict 10 times the amount of pain on you. It fit perfectly with LeMay's world view: Always negotiate from a position of strength; do not bother anyone, but if bothered don't be bullied.
Rather than a muscular deterrence policy, President Obama prefers words on paper and the power of conversation to maintain the peace. Witness the fault-ridden new START treaty he just negotiated with the Russians, which actually weakens the Bush-Putin 2002 START deal (link to NRO's analysis below), and the recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit attended by 46 world leaders. Obama is patting himself on the back (as he is prone to do) for arranging meaningless nuclear non-proliferation agreements. Meanwhile, as Mark Steyn points out, millions are being killed in places like Sudan and the Congo with weapons as primitive as machetes. It's not weapons of mass destruction in the hands of reasonable and responsible people that's imperils world peace. Appeasing the deranged and the depraved does the trick quite nicely. And when "psycho nations" (in Steyn's words) acquire WMDs, the danger increases exponentially. North Korea has gone nuclear and Iran is about to, yet Obama's get together failed to address those issues at all.
Charles Krauthammer and Steyn both commented on the announcement of enriched uranium reductions.
So what was the major breakthrough announced by Obama at the end of the two-day conference? That Ukraine, Chile, Mexico, and Canada will be getting rid of various amounts of enriched uranium.
What a relief. I don’t know about you, but I lie awake nights worrying about Canadian uranium. I know these people. I grew up there. You have no idea what they’re capable of doing. If Sidney Crosby hadn’t scored that goal to win the Olympic gold medal, there’s no telling what might have ensued.
The Obama Happy Fairyland Security Summit was posited on the principle that there’s no difference between a Swiss nuke and a Syrian nuke. If you believe that, you’ll be thrilled by the big breakthrough agreement of the summit: Canada, Chile, Mexico, and Ukraine have agreed to reduce their stocks of enriched uranium. Peace in our time!
...In a characteristic display of his now famous modesty, President Obama reacted to the hostility of the Tax Day tea parties by saying, “You would think they should be saying ‘thank you’” — for all he’s done for them. Right now, the fellows saying “thank you” are the mullahs, the Politburo, Tsar Putin, and others hostile to U.S. interests who’ve figured out they now have the run of the planet.
And as a confirmation that they do, there's this in Saturday's NY Post.
Two weeks ago, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry visited Damascus to deliver a warning from President Obama that Syria must stop arming terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad promptly sent his reply -- by shipping long-range Scud missiles to the Lebanese Shiite group.
One particularly dangerous and silly policy change was announced by the Obama administration the other week. Krauthammer explains its ramifications.
Under President Obama’s new policy, ...if the state that has just attacked us with biological or chemical weapons is “in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” explained (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates, then “the U.S. pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against it.”
Imagine the scenario: Hundreds of thousands are lying dead in the streets of Boston after a massive anthrax or nerve-gas attack. The president immediately calls in the lawyers to determine whether the attacking state is in compliance with the NPT. If it turns out that the attacker is up to date with its latest IAEA inspections, well, it gets immunity from nuclear retaliation. Our response is then restricted to bullets, bombs, and other conventional munitions.
However, if the lawyers tell the president that the attacking state is NPT noncompliant, we are free to blow the bastards to nuclear kingdom come.
This is quite insane. It’s like saying that if a terrorist deliberately uses his car to mow down a hundred people waiting at a bus stop, the decision as to whether he gets (a) hanged or (b) 100 hours of community service hinges entirely on whether his car had passed emissions inspections.
There are striking similarities between Obama’s policy of engagement with despots today and the reactions of French and British leaders to the growing threat of German fascism in the mid 1930s.
An instructive case in point is Germany’s remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936, an act in violation of the Versailles and Locarno treaties. (Unlike the Versailles treaty which was imposed on Germany, Germany was a signatory to Locarno). British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden had set the stage for the Allies' acquiescence by proposing to address Germany's "grievances" which included renegotiating Locarno. This was, in effect, a concession to an item on Hitler's agenda. When Hitler invaded the Rhineland, Britain could object only as to how the outcome was achieved rather than the outcome itself, to which it had already agreed in principle.
It was believed that reaching out to Hitler, engaging him, would result in a behavior change and improve the prospects for peace. This is precisely the reasoning behind Obama’s current deference towards the likes of Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Not seriously considered is that these tyrants, as did Hitler, have their own goals and values independent of and contrary to those of mainstream civilized nations.
France had financial reasons for not defending its back yard against the Nazis. The cost of mobilizing its military was cited as a primary factor preventing a response. These days liberals decry the high cost of military expeditions as diverting money from, what they believe are, necessary domestic programs. Yet even as major and complex an undertaking as the Iraq war, with its seven year commitment, has cost the country less in its entirety to date (roughly $700 billion) than just one year's (2010) worth of welfare payments under Obama ($888 billion). The Iraq war cost less than the "stimulus" package ($846 billion), which consists mostly of payoffs to Democratic benefactors. Over the next decade welfare payouts will exceed $10 trillion. Spending on defense, one of the few truly legitimate functions of the federal government, consumes only one-fifth of the total budget. And that proportion will certainly fall as the welfare state expands.
Any discussion of the costs of taking military action should include at least some speculation about the cost of not doing so. The financial cost of not stopping Hitler (and Hirohito) early, to the U.S. alone, was $296 billion. This is equivalent to $4.1 trillion in today's dollars. For the U.S. 1945 was the most expensive year of the war. That year 35.8% of GDP went to war spending and 37.5% to total defense spending. By way of comparison, during the most expensive year of the Iraq war (2008) we spent 1% of GDP on the war and 4.2% on total defense. We'll never know if, by taking action against Saddam Hussein in 2003, we prevented that savage from extracting considerably higher costs, both human and material.
There are other parallels between then and now. There was a school of thought that held that Germany had a right to do what it did. That the Rhineland had been historically part of Germany and other nations could not dictate the terms of its reoccupation. (G. B. Shaw, for one, held this view).
There were those who believed that Saddam Hussein was justified in invading Kuwait in 1990 since it and Iraq had been part of the same successive empires for hundreds of years. And that North Korea and Iran (and anyone else) have the right to nukes because we have them. (Obama seems to believe this. That’s one reason he wants to reduce our stockpile).
Following Germany’s action, expressions of outrage were scarce and there were no mass protests. There were, however, widespread “peace” rallies, urging a non-military response from Britain. Any aggression perpetrated by a tyrannical regime today generates an identical reaction from the “antiwar” left.
Had France and Britain intervened militarily when Hitler made his move in the Rhineland, his regime would have collapsed. A German general, Heinz Guderian, said after the war, "If you French had intervened in the Rhineland in 1936 we should have been sunk and Hitler would have fallen". Alas, there was no intervention and the last, best chance to avert the war was lost.
Similarly, we may have squandered our last, best chance at denying Iran nuclear weapons and overthrowing its regime. By “engaging” the mullahocracy instead of supporting the nation’s courageous dissident movement, we granted the former the legitimacy and the respect it craved and the time it needed. As Charles Krauthammer has said, it’s not that we wasted a year, it’s that we wasted this year.
Contrary to Einstein's view, planning and preparing for war is the most effective way for well meaning, civilized nations to prevent it. (Then again, Einstein also said, "If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." Advice since adopted by "climate change" advocates). Engagement and negotiation with repugnant regimes have their place but only when backed by a credible threat of force. For our sake, it is essential that Obama quickly learns this lesson.
NRO on the START treaty
Wikipedia entry on the Rhineland and Hitler