With the United States expanding its nuclear arsenal and developing so-called usable nukes, “the world will be on the edge of a nuclear apocalypse for years to come,” says Professor Dennis Etler, an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs.
Etler, a professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, made the remarks in an interview on Monday while commenting on reports which say the administration of US President Donald Trump is working on a new nuclear weapons policy that would end the post-Cold War disarmament and allow Washington to expand its arsenal.
Trump and his top national security advisers discussed the matter in September at the White House, where the first draft of the new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was prented.
Etler said these reports “should come as no surprise. During the Obama administration a program of nuclear modernization that would cost $1 trillion over 30 years was announced. That comes out to more than $30 billion per year. Enough to help make public higher education tuition free for the foreseeable future. It’s obvious that that amount of money could be put to many other constructive uses.”
“Forgetting about the cost of such a program, how does it enhance US national security? As it is, the US has near parity with Russia in nuclear warheads with about 7,000 each, far surpassing the number of the other nuclear powers combined. Both the US and Russia can destroy the world many times over with their current arsenal, modernized or not. So what purpose does the new nuclear buildup have?” he asked.
“For one, the Russians will feel that they have to respond in kind, initiating a new nuclear arms race which neither country can well afford. This makes the Military-Industrial Complex happy as they will be getting billions in new contracts, but the bill is being footed by the US taxpayer while the US national debt continues to rise at an ever accelerating pace,” he stated.
“But US politicians while decrying deficit spending indulge in it on an annual basis, as they can just print more money and sell more bonds to finance the debt that’s incurred. At least that’s how it has been financed to date. But more importantly there is a shift to a policy that will make the use of nuclear weapons more feasible. Smaller, low-yield, tactical nuclear warheads will be deployed that could be used for surgical nuclear attacks. Weapons of that sort could be used to take out an adversary mitigating the threat of an all-out nuclear exchange,” he added.
‘US won’t hesitate using nuclear weapons’
Professor Etler said the United States “has never hesitated to use or contemplate using nuclear weapons. The US has never pledged not to use nuclear weapons for a first strike capability. During the Obama administration the US said it would use nuclear weapons only in ‘extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.’”
“Given Trump’s rhetoric and temperament it can be assumed that he would be more willing than not to have a broad interpretation of what constitutes ‘ the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners,’” he said.
“A case in point is the volatile situation on the Korean Peninsula. The US either already has or will soon have the ability to use low-yield tactical nuclear weapons to take out the North Korean regime,” the analyst said.
“Given US nuclear doctrine that allows for a first strike capacity and proposals to enhance the capabilities of its nuclear arsenal, countries such as North Korea and Iran are under increased threat and have a sovereign right to defend themselves with a nuclear deterrent if they so decide,” he noted.
“It may be asked, what gives the US the right to defend and protect its vital national interests while denying it to others? As things now stand the world will be on the edge of a nuclear apocalypse for years to come,” the scholar concluded.