The following article by Mark Helprin is all of the above and more - and since many of you will not be able to access the full article at the website link below (though if you can and are interested please do) I will quote extensively from the introduction, the body and the conclusions.
"Even should nuclear brinkmanship not result in Armageddon, it can
lead to abject defeat and a complete reordering of the international
system. The extraordinarily complicated and consequential management of
American nuclear policy rests upon the shoulders of those we elevate to
the highest offices. Unfortunately, President Obama’s transparent
hostility to America’s foundational principles and defensive powers is
coupled with a dim and faddish understanding of nuclear realities. His
successor will be no less ill-equipped.
Hillary Clinton’s robotic compulsion to power renders her immune to either respect for truth or clearheaded consideration of urgent problems. Theodore Roosevelt’s
secretary of state once said that he was “pure act” (meaning action).
Hillary Clinton is “pure lie” (meaning lie), with whatever intellectual
power she possesses hopelessly enslaved to reflexive deviousness.
surprised that nuclear weapons are inappropriate to counterinsurgency,
has a long history of irrepressible urges and tropisms. Rather like the
crazy boy-emperors after the fall of the Roman Republic, he may have
problems with impulse control—and an uncontrolled, ill-formed,
perpetually fragmented mind.
of these perhaps three worst people in the Western Hemisphere, and few
of their deplorable underlings, are alive to the gravest danger. Which
is neither Islamic State, terrorism, the imprisoned economy, nor even
the erosion of our national character, though all are of crucial
The gravest danger we face is fast-approaching
nuclear instability. Many believe it is possible safely to arrive at
nuclear zero. It is not. Enough warheads to bring any country to its
knees can fit in a space volumetrically equivalent to a Manhattan studio
apartment. Try to find that in the vastness of Russia, China, or Iran.
Even ICBMs and their transporter-erector-launchers can easily be
concealed in warehouses, tunnels and caves. Nuclear weapons age out,
but, thanks to supercomputing, reliable replacements can be manufactured
with only minor physical testing. Unaccounted fissile material sloshing
around the world can, with admitted difficulty, be fashioned into
weapons. And when rogue states such as North Korea and Iran build their
bombs, our response has been either impotence or a ticket to ride.
do nuclear reductions lead to increased safety. Quite apart from
encouraging proliferation by enabling every medium power in the world to
aim for nuclear parity with the critically reduced U.S. arsenal,
reductions create instability. The fewer targets, the more possible a
(counter-force) first strike to eliminate an enemy’s retaliatory
capacity. Nuclear stability depends, inter alia, upon deep reserves that
make a successful first strike impossible to assure. The fewer warheads
and the higher the ratio of warheads to delivery vehicles, the more
dangerous and unstable...."
"...In a nuclear world, unsentimental and often counterintuitive analysis is
necessary. As the genie will not be forced back into the lamp, the
heart of the matter is balance and deterrence. But this successful
dynamic of 70 years is about to be destroyed. Those whom the French call
our “responsibles” have addressed the nuclear calculus—in terms of
sufficiency, control regimes, and foreign policy—only toward Russia, as
if China, a nuclear power for decades, did not exist. While it is true
that to begin with its nuclear arsenal was de minimis, in the past 15
years China has increased its land-based ICBMs by more than 300%, its
sea-based by more than 400%. Depending upon the configuration of its
missiles, China can rain up to several hundred warheads upon the U.S.
As we shrink our nuclear forces and fail to introduce new types, China
is doing the opposite, increasing them numerically and forging ahead of
us in various technologies (quantum communications, super computers,
maneuverable hypersonic re-entry vehicles), some of which we have
forsworn, such as road-mobile missiles, which in survivability and range
put to shame our Minuteman IIIs...."
"...Russia has 49 attack submarines, China 65, with which to track and
kill American nuclear missile subs under way. Were either to build or
cheat to 5,000 warheads (the U.S. once had more than 30,000) and
two-thirds reached their targets, four warheads could strike each aim
point, with 2,000 left to hold hostage American cities and industry.
China and Russia are far less dense and developed than the U.S., and it
would take more strikes for us to hold them at risk than vice versa, a
further indictment of reliance upon sufficiency calculations and
Russia dreams publicly of its former hold
on Eastern Europe and cannot but see opportunity in a disintegrating
European Union and faltering NATO. China annexes the South China Sea and
looks to South Korea, Japan and Australasia as future subordinates.
Given the degradation of U.S. and allied conventional forces previously
able to hold such ambitions in check, critical confrontations are bound
When they do occur, and if without American reaction, China or
Russia have continued to augment their strategic forces to the point of
vast superiority where one or both consider a first strike feasible, we
may see nuclear brinkmanship (or worse) in which the United
States—startled from sleep and suddenly disabused of the myth of
sufficiency—might have to capitulate, allowing totalitarian
dictatorships to dominate the world.
Current trajectories point
in exactly this direction, but in regard to such things Donald Trump
hasn’t the foggiest, and, frankly, Hillary Clinton, like the president,
doesn’t give a damn.
The way to avoid such a tragedy is to bring
China into a nuclear control regime or answer its refusal with our own
proportional increases and modernization. And to make sure that both our
nuclear and conventional forces are strong, up-to-date, and survivable
enough to deter the militant ambitions of the two great powers rising
with daring vengeance from what they regard as the shame of their
"Mark Helprin, at the Claremont
Institute, is the author of “Winter’s Tale,” “A Soldier of the Great
War” and the forthcoming novel “Paris in the Present Tense.”
From the article, The Gathering Nuclear Storm : Lulled to believe nuclear catastrophe died with the Cold War, America is blind to rising dragons.
If you can access the link, I encourage examining some of the comments by readers for additional insight.