Regarding the second ICBM test from Vandenberg within a week, it has become tedious to read time after time that the tests “are a visible reminder to both our adversaries and our allies of the readiness and capabilities of the Minuteman III weapon system.”
We certainly know by now that these missiles, when armed with nuclear weapons, can destroy cities and, in a nuclear war, contribute to human extinction. We also know that nuclear deterrence is only a hypothesis about human behavior that has not and cannot be proven to be effective. In the 70 years of the Nuclear Age there have been many close calls when nuclear deterrence came close to failing.
General Lee Butler, a former commander-in-chief of the US Strategic Command, who was once in charge of all US strategic nuclear weapons, has said, “Nuclear deterrence was and remains a slippery intellectual construct that translates very poorly into the real world of spontaneous crises, inexplicable motivations, incomplete intelligence and fragile human relationships.”
General Butler’s wisdom makes the colonels from Vandenberg who are quoted sound like naïve school children. Of course, these officers are only doing their job and repeating a simplistic message about the value of nuclear deterrence. Unfortunately, their perspective endangers the lives of all school children, and the rest of us, now and in the future.
There are more reasons to oppose ICBM tests from Vandenberg than that they are too expensive and violate treaty agreements, although these are certainly valid. The tests are a waste of resources and they violate US obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date.
Other reasons include: attempting to justify the “use them or lose them” nature of the Minuteman III missile force; the incentives for proliferation that US missile testing provide; the dangers to Santa Barbara County due to the proximity of Vandenberg; and the immorality of threatening to use nuclear-armed missiles that together could result in billions of deaths of humans and other forms of life.
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has a new booklet entitled, “15 Moral Reasons to Abolish Nuclear Weapons,” available on its website.
David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org).