Reader letters, March 8
Consider these facts about nuclear weapons
To the editor:
The recent guest columnist article on the next war contains several material misstatements of fact.
The U.S. and Russia do not have 1,700 warheads each, on ‘ready to launch” status, whatever that term is supposed to mean.
Vice President Biden announced in late 2016 that the U.S. has 4,018 warheads, 2,800 of which are retired and being dismantled. That leaves about 1,200. I don’t know what Russia has that are in that category, as I am no longer privy to that information, but 1,700 is probably on the high side.
The U.S. has 450 Minuteman ICBMs on alert, some with multiple warheads, a small number of Ballistic Missile Submarines with multiple warheads, and a strategic bomber alert force of about 100. That combination is the nuclear triad. Of the three legs of the triad, the ICBMs are the one that have rapid launch, no recall alert status.
I’m not sure who the “experts” are who say there’s no way to stop them once launched. The U.S. has several anti-missile systems deployed that can, in fact, destroy incoming warheads. The issue is whether those defenses would be overwhelmed by numbers. (That is a likely scenario).
Referring to faulty intelligence conclusions as deliberate falsehoods is, itself, an attempt to deceive. The fact is that Saddam Hussein had and used chemical weapons of mass destruction on his own people.
The general who carried out those attacks on Kurdish cities had the nickname “Chemical Ali.” Saddam Hussein deliberately spread disinformation about nuclear capability as part of his strategy to dominate the Middle East. Also, Israeli forces destroyed an Iraqi nuclear facility on June 7, 1981. It was reasonable to believe, at the time, that that capability existed.
The flock of geese that NORAD mistook for an attack happened in the 1950s, not “several years ago.”
Some facts were omitted from the column. The writer is correct that it was falsely claimed that U.S. ships were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin, but conveniently fails to point out that it was Lyndon B. Johnson, the Democratic President, who engineered that lie and convinced the Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that led to the debacle that was the Vietnam War.
The statement that the current administration is preparing for war by creating an atmosphere of fear is what we used to call a BUA: a Broad Unsubstantiated Assertion.
Although a TV series from a number of years ago perpetuated the myth of “Launch on warning,” no such policy exists. The actual policy states explicitly that U.S. nuclear forces will be employed only AFTER positive determination that an enemy nuclear device has been detonated on US soil.
I served as a Missile Combat Crew Commander, MCC Instructor, and Emergency War Order Instructor and have 35+ years of direct ICBM and Space launch experience and training, military and civilian. Nuclear weapons are a serious threat and a world without them is something we should work to achieve.
However, using half truths, innuendo, and ascribing motives to our duly elected representatives not only does not help that cause, it hampers it, in my opinion.
Robert I Recker Jr.
Travelers Rest, South Carolina