This is my entry to Hugh Hewitt’s First Virtual Symposium on nuclear bunker busters. Mr Hewitt asked, “My symposium questions: Did Kerry blunder in denouncing nuclear bunker busters? If so, why? If so, how great the damage to his candidacy?”
Here’s what Kerry said during the debate:
Mr. Lehrer New question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry. If you are elected president, what will you take to that office thinking is the single-most serious threat to the national security of the United States?
Mr. Kerry Nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation. There are some 600-plus tons of unsecured materials still in the former Soviet Union, in Russia. At the rate that the president is currently securing that it’ll take 13 years to get it.
I did a lot of work on this. I wrote a book about it several years ago, maybe six or seven years ago, called “The New War,” which saw the difficulties of this international criminal network.
And back then we intercepted a suitcase in a Middle Eastern country with nuclear materials in it. And the black market sale price was about $250 million.
Now there are terrorists trying to get their hands on that stuff today. And this president, I regret to say, has secured less nuclear material in the last two years, since 9/11, than we did in the two years preceding 9/11.
We have to do this job. And to do the job you can’t cut the money for it. The president actually cut the money for it. You have to put the money into it and the funding and the leadership.
And part of that leadership is sending the right message to places like North Korea. Right now the president is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons. The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons. It doesn’t make sense.
You talk about mixed messages: We’re telling other people you can’t have nuclear weapons but we’re pursuing a new nuclear weapons that we might even contemplate using.
Not this president. I’m going to shut that program down. And we’re going to make it clear to the world we’re serious about containing nuclear proliferation. And we’re going to get the job of containing all of that nuclear material in Russia done in four years. And we’re going to build the strongest international network to prevent nuclear proliferation.
This is the scale of what President Kennedy set out to do with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It’s our generation’s equivalent and I intend to get it done.
In his own manicured way, Kerry ignored several facts:
His book, The New War doesn’t deal with terrorism, it deals with international crime (and not very well at that: “While well intentioned, the book is short on specifics and contains no revelations about international crime”, said a Library Journal reviewer).
As the President stated, the current administration has increased funds for dealing with nuclear proliferation by 35%, and has started the proliferation security initiative, plus has gone a long way towards disarming Lybia. I guess Lybia doesn’t count.
But that’s not quite the point.
The point is, we are at war.
We are at war, and Kerry’s anti-military ideology keeps popping up.
In his view of the world, Kerry sees a moral equivalency between North Korea and the USA that simply doesn’t exist. This moral equivalency’s a central part of his anti-military ideology. He’s also engaging in wishful thinking. He believes that by saying he’ll “reduce All Nuclear Weapons and Materials In The Former Soviet Union, Complete a Global Cleanout Of Potential Bomb-Making Materials, establish global standards, and attempt to negotiate a new nuclear ban”, the entire world will happily go along: We won’t be at war.
Most importantly, Kerry contradicts himself: On the one hand, “All options must remain on the table”, on the other hand, he’s directly saying that he’s going to shut down the program for developing a defense weapon and a deterrent, the bunker buster (see How Bunker Busters Work), thus limiting America’s strategic options.
The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration backs bunker-buster bombs
“Whoever the next Saddam is, he is learning that if you put yourself in a bunker deep underground, the Americans can’t touch you,” he said. “The only way to deter people like that is to convince them there is nothing we can’t reach.”
The solution is the “nuclear earth penetrator,” a bomb that can penetrate through 6 or 7 feet of rock before exploding, Brooks said. Work on the nuclear earth penetrator began in the mid-1990s
. As you are well aware, our efforts to strengthen deterrence involve denying sanctuary to our adversaries. This may mean making our nuclear weapons more tailored to the target type, which is not equivalent to making them more likely to be used. Tailored weapons strengthen deterrence, which in turn makes them less likely to be used. Also, a robust nuclear earth penetrator is only one piece of the overall solution for targets contained in these types of structures. Other capabilities such as advanced conventional, information operations, and special operations capabilities must be developed as well. A full spectrum of capabilities strengthens deterrence and maintains the nuclear threshold by developing a range of options for the President to counter the growing hard and deeply buried target set.
Rather than reminisce about John Kennedy (who, it can arguably be said, let the bad guys – but then, to Kerry they weren’t the bad guys — call the shots during the Cuban missile crisis, a critical moment of the Cold War), Kerry might want to look at the president who won the Cold War
From the moment he took office, he made it clear what he believed: that America stood for a good idea, the Soviet Union for a bad one; that the notion of a balance of power between them—“mutually assured destruction”—was thus morally wrong; and that the Russians’ bulging military muscle had no real economic power behind it. Therefore he decided to pour money into America’s armed forces, and (pace the Greenham Common ladies) put medium-range nuclear missiles into Europe; that way, Europe’s defence would not need an American intercontinental strike. If a rearmed America stood nose-to-nose with its adversary, and firmly but politely refused to budge, he reckoned it would win the day. He was right. By the year Reagan left the White House, the Russians had lost eastern Europe; by the next year, they had abandoned communism.
Kerry has not given us any reason to believe he’d have America stand “nose-to-nose with its adversary, and firmly but politely refuse to budge”.
We’ve known war presidents, and Kerry’s no war president.