[quote author=“Salerio”][quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]During the Cuban Missile crisis, it was Khrushchev’s stark realization and belief that Kennedy was prepared to preemptively use nuclear weapons to take out the Soviet Missiles in Cuba that caused him to back down.
I disagree with your assertion that a primary US Cold War strategy was the threat of a preemptive strike against the Soviets. The US didn’t threaten to strike the Soviet homeland preemptively during the Cuban crisis.
[quote author=“Conservative Atheist”]A significant part of the credibility of that threat was the fact the we had bomber crews in the cockpits of nuclear loaded and armed aircraft sitting at the end of runways all over the US and especially in the south east.
Sure. This gets to the second strike strategy - it was not a pre-emptive stance against the Soviet homeland.
I am afraid that you misread my post. I never said that Kennedy threatened to strike at the Soviet homeland during the Cuban Missile crisis. I clearly stated that the threat was against the missiles in Cuba.
Also, I never stated, asserted or implied that the primary (or secondary) US cold war policy or plans contemplated a first strike on the USSR.
Not only was that not our policy or plan but, the Soviets knew that it was not and never seriously feared such an attack as evidenced by the relatively relaxed day-to-day alert posture of their Strategic Rocket Forces, their warning systems, and their strategic command and control.
[quote author=“Salerio”]From wiki: Ballistic missile submarines established a second strike capability through their stealth and by the number fielded by each Cold War adversary - it was highly unlikely that all of them could be targeted and preemptively destroyed (in contrast to, for example, a missile bunker with a fixed location that could be targeted during a first strike). Given their long range, high survivability and ability to carry many medium- and long-range nuclear missiles, submarines were a credible means for retaliation even after a massive first strike.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union truly developed an understanding of the effectiveness of the U.S. ballistic missile submarine forces and work on Soviet ballistic missile submarines began in earnest. For the remainder of the Cold War, although official positions on MAD changed in the United States, the consequences of the second strike from ballistic missile submarines was never in doubt.
What the Soviets understood and feared both before and after the Cuban missile crisis was the second strike capabilities of the US bomber force. Even by the end of the cold war, the preponderance of US deliverable nuclear megatonage was still carried by the bombers.
Rather than developing and deploying their SLBM force as a deterrent, the Soviets built and positioned them as a means of destroying the US bomber force on the ground before they could be launched and deliver a second strike on the USSR. Presumably this was to occur in conjunction with a Soviet preemptive ICBM strike on the US. That is why their SLBMs were consistently deployed within 1500 miles of the US coast and within an 8 to 10 minute flight to any SAC bomber base in the country. They were, in effect, an alternative to having missiles in Cuba but served the same purpose…….to neutralize the US bombers.
In contrast, I agree that the US SLBMs were developed as a highly survivable MAD deterrent as part of a “triad” of forces that included ICBMs, SLBMs and bombers each of which with a unique but complementary role to play in the US deterrence and war fighting strategies.
[quote author=“Salerio”]But this administration is not thinking in terms of stark consequences. What specific behavior on the part of NK or Iran will lead to our preemptive use of WMD? It seems ambiguous to me. Worse, a straight-forward reading makes it seem as if Iran and NK could face attack today by nukes. This is exactly the stance that the Soviets used through much of the Cold War. Our rational response was to insure a second strike capability. This will no doubt be the response of our adversaries. Stealth, hair triggers, and survivability will be the rational outcome to a preemptive threat by an adversary. It’s what we did. This is a reckless use of brinkmanship that is unwarranted. We have just increased the value of clandestine nukes and made our strategy more ambiguous. I believe it makes the world more dangerous and our citizens less safe.
I think that we need to look at this draft policy as a single “phrase” or “sentence” in much larger, complex, long-term and explicit overall US diplomatic and military “messages” to the bad guys. I suspect that additional parts of the messages are being delivered by other means and through different channels. Also, that message and the deterrent objectives are no doubt somewhat different for North Korea than for Iran.
The Joint Chiefs are not going to unambiguously lay out the exact conditions that would cause their commanders to request the preemptive use of these weapons. Rather, they are going to establish the overall policy and procedures that would allow it to happen if necessary.
The primary objective of US policy is to deter the development and deployment of a FIRST strike capability by these folks and to deter nuclear proliferation.
The world and our citizens will be much safer if that policy succeeds.