Making Nuclear Weapons Menacing Again


This op-ed originally appeared in The Nation, Mar. 21, 2019.

“There is no higher priority for national defense,” the Pentagon declared last year, than for the United States to “replace its strategic nuclear triad and sustain the warheads it carries.” In plain English, this means spending an estimated $1.7 trillion to rebuild every component of the US nuclear arsenal: the entire three-legged strategic “triad” of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and long-range bombers. Military officials claim the existing force has become obsolete and inflexible, and thus unable to deter potential adversaries. In order to eliminate any doubt that America has the will and the capacity to wreak catastrophic retribution, they argue, we need to replace our current atomic weapons with even more terrifying ones. “To remain effective [as a deterrent force],” explained then–Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis in February 2018, “we must recapitalize our Cold War legacy nuclear forces.”

Read the full op-ed in The Nation, Mar. 21, 2019.