- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 10, 2009


In his Op-Ed (“Decision time on deterrence,” Opinion, Thursday), retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert R. Monroe overstates his case on the poor condition of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Mr. Monroe rightly says that we need to revitalize our nuclear-weapons capability and recruit new personnel if we are to maintain our deterrent posture well into the future. Yet he fails to explain how we can, in his words, “convince the world that future enforcement [of nonproliferation] must be in the hands of responsible states with nuclear weapons.”

He also fails to mention how we retain security in this proliferated environment while we undertake the complex task of getting Russia and China as well as Britain and France to cooperate in a program that could lead to using military force to prevent further proliferation.

The situation is far more complex than the admiral describes, and the solutions will take considerable time to develop. In the meantime, we have to maintain and enhance our defenses, including missile defense, to repulse an attack.

We also need to rethink very carefully the meaning and effectiveness of deterrence in this new environment. During the Cold War, deterrence was a procedure devised to ensure nuclear weapons would not be used. Now, with both totalitarian regimes and nonstate actors actively seeking nuclear weapons, we could be heading toward a situation where their use becomes far more likely.





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