Some educated people who read about the Navy’s planning for the next generation of ballistic-missile submarine (SSBN) pause to ask if all of this is really necessary. After all, the Cold War is long since over, the trajectory on our nuclear weapons inventory is downward, and our budget is under pressure.
“Is it necessary?” The answer—without hesitation—is a resolute “Yes.” A strong U.S. nuclear deterrent anchored by a survivable SSBN force is necessary today, and it will be necessary tomorrow. It will be necessary the day after tomorrow. It will be necessary for decades. It will be necessary for generations.
Idealism vs. Realism
Global Zero and other organizations talk about the world reaching zero nuclear weapons in 20 or 30 years.1 Such timelines are not remotely realistic. Pretending that it is possible for the world to achieve zero nuclear weapons within a few decades is not only unrealistic, but it also has the destructive effect of undermining our resolve to take the steps necessary to preserve a stable and secure nuclear future.