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July 29, 2016
This Is How America Could Be Annihilated - If This '1st Strike' Happens, We May Not Be Capable Of Striking 2nd - An Open Letter To President Barack Obama
Story submitted To All News Pipeline By Dr. Peter Vincent Pry. Dr. Pry is Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum
Dear President Obama: Since you recently returned from a meeting of NATO in Warsaw, and there agreed to deploy 4,000 NATO troops to the Baltic states and Poland to serve as a "tripwire" to deter Russian aggression--now is not the time for your White House to adopt a policy of "no first use" of nuclear weapons!
No First Use?--NO!
Mr. President, do you not understand that the 4,000 NATO troops, that includes U.S. troops deploying to Poland and the Baltics, is wholly inadequate to defend these NATO frontline states against Russian aggression? Russia in military exercises has a demonstrated capability to mobilize 150,000 troops against Poland and the Baltics in a few days. Analysis by RAND and your own Defense Department warns that the Russian Army can overrun this part of NATO in 60 hours.
The 4,000 NATO troops cannot stop the Russian Army. They are merely symbolic. That is why they are called a "tripwire"--meaning that Russian aggression against them could trigger nuclear retaliation by NATO.
Mr. President, if you now declare that the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons to stop aggression by conventional forces, you will dangerously undermine the credibility of NATO. You will also cancel the credibility of other U.S. "tripwires" located in South Korea, Japan, and the Western Pacific, intended to deter aggression by North Korea and China.
Indeed, a U.S. nuclear "no first use" pledge will embolden Russia, China, and North Korea to continue the rapid modernization and expansion of their nuclear arsenals. These hostiles may reasonably conclude that a U.S. "no first use" pledge is prompted by fear of their recent nuclear threats and growing nuclear capabilities--and could tempt them into aggression.
Nuclear Forces Modernization?--YES!
Even more dangerous is talk coming out of your White House about breaking your promise to Congress to modernize the aged U.S. nuclear deterrent.
Mr. President, the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent is antique, perhaps obsolete, compared to the modern brand new strategic missiles being deployed by Russia and China. Russia and China also enjoy a virtual monopoly in tactical nuclear weapons, because the U.S. dismantled its tactical nuclear weapons unilaterally.
During the Cold War, allowing Russia or China to gain an advantage in strategic or tactical nuclear weapons would have been called ceding "escalation dominance"--meaning that in a crisis or conflict the U.S. would have to surrender, or risk defeat in a limited nuclear war that could escalate to utter annihilation.
Cyber and EMP First Strike
Mr. President, your failure to modernize the U.S. nuclear deterrent and to strengthen National Missile Defense is forcing your Defense Department to adopt plans for preventive warfare that are far riskier and more dangerous than the U.S. nuclear posture that has deterred World War III for over 70 years.
Earlier this year, on April 13, in a hearing before the U.S. Congress, senior Pentagon officials testified that, because nuclear missile threats from nations like North Korea might be able to overwhelm U.S. national missile defenses, the Defense Department is developing new cyber and electronic weapons, and new operational procedures, to attack enemy missiles before they launch.
During the Cold War this was known as "preemption" or "striking first."
The Pentagon also has a new euphemism for "striking first" calling it "left-of-launch" missile defense. "Left-of-launch" refers to the timeline for destroying a missile--"right-of-launch" means destroying the missile after it launches while "left-of-launch" means destroying the missile before launch.
As then Commander of North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD), Admiral William Gortney, explained to the Senate Subcommittee on Strategic Forces: "We need to augment our defensive posture with one that is designed to defeat ballistic missile threats in the boost phase as well as before they are launched, known as 'left-of-launch'."
Left-of-launch interception of enemy missiles, or more plainly striking first, would be accomplished by attacking enemy electronic systems--including missile electronics, command and control, and the power grid supporting military operations--to prevent the missile launch.
Brian McKeon, Principle Defense Undersecretary for Policy, testified to U.S. Congress that development of new cyber and electronic weapons to strike first against impending enemy missile launches is "underway."
According to ace defense reporter Bill Gertz in "Pentagon Developing Pre-Launch Cyber Attacks On Missiles" (Washington Examiner, April 14): "Defense officials familiar with the research said the new, non-kinetic missile defenses include the planned use of cyber attacks and other electronic warfare means, such as electromagnetic pulse attacks, against foreign command and control systems. An electromagnetic pulse is the force emitted from a nuclear blast that can disrupt all electronics over wide areas."
A nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack entails detonating the weapon at high-altitude (above 30 kilometers) outside the atmosphere, so no blast, thermal, radiation, or fallout effects lethal to people would be experienced on the ground--only the EMP, lethal to electronics.
An EMP attack would enable the U.S. to destroy mobile missiles, such as North Korea's KN-08 and KN-14 mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and their hundreds of medium-range missiles, before they launch. Mobile missiles operating in the field during a crisis may already have their launch codes and probably could not be stopped from launching by computer viruses or hacking.
An EMP attack could stop them.
The Pentagon's categorization of EMP as a non-kinetic weapon like cyber attack follows the lead of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, in whose military doctrines nuclear EMP attack is considered part of all-out cyber warfare.
Making Nuclear War More Likely
Mr. President, blurring the lines between nuclear warfare and cyber warfare, and the invention of new cyber weapons to attack nuclear missiles, is called "lowering the nuclear threshold"--meaning that the range of circumstances and likelihood for the use of nuclear weapons is increasing. Your contemplated nuclear "no first use" pledge will not change this fact.
Mr. President, deploying inadequate U.S. conventional forces to defend Eastern Europe and Pacific allies from aggression by Russia, China, and North Korea is creating "strategic instability"--meaning that U.S. weakness might invite aggression. Your contemplated nuclear "no first use" pledge will exacerbate the danger.
Except today, the level of "strategic instability" and "lowering the nuclear threshold" is unprecedented and far more dangerous than any circumstance faced during the Cold War.
Today, if U.S. "tripwires" and the United States itself are to be defended by striking first with cyber and EMP weapons--then potential adversaries will inevitably "lower the nuclear threshold" and launch their missiles at the first sign of a cyber or EMP threat. During the Cold War, the principle of striking first before an enemy could attack your missiles was called "use them or lose them."
And please do not make the mistake of thinking that U.S. high-tech conventional forces can substitute for nuclear forces. Our potential adversaries in Russia, China, and North Korea will certainly resort to nuclear weapons if that is necessary to prevail. The survival of these totalitarian and authoritarian regimes will be at stake in a war with the United States. Elites in Moscow, Beijing, and Pyongyang will fear that defeat and humiliation could result in their overthrow and execution by their own people. Since they will do whatever is necessary to win, including using the ultimate "shock and awe" of nuclear weapons, a U.S. nuclear "no first use" pledge is an open invitation to our potential adversaries to make a nuclear first strike.
If Russia, China, or even North Korea strikes first with a nuclear EMP attack--the United States may not be capable of striking second.
Mr. President, instead of declaring a nuclear "no first use" pledge that will look like weakness and be dangerous for world peace, let your legacy be really constructive:
The North American power grid can be attacked by Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran in a cyber and EMP first strike, perhaps now trying to be "quicker on the draw" than the Pentagon. The U.S. Congressional EMP Commission estimates that the resulting protracted North American blackout could kill up to 90 percent of the population through starvation and societal chaos.
Mr. President, since global "strategic instability" is already worse than during the Cold War, and worsening, and since even terrorists and non-state actors could potentially inflict a cyber or EMP apocalypse by blacking-out the North American power grid--it is urgent that the United States immediately protect its power grid by hardening against EMP and cyber attack.
Mr. President, modernizing the U.S. nuclear deterrent is necessary for world peace and for incentivizing Russia, China, and North Korea to engage in negotiations to reduce nuclear weapons. One of President Ronald Reagan's great legacies was the elimination of an entire class of nuclear weapons through the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the first reductions of strategic nuclear weapons--achieved because he modernized the U.S. nuclear deterrent, giving him credible forces to trade in arms control treaties.
Finally, there is a better way of defending North America and NATO than by striking first with cyber and EMP weapons. President Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, foolishly derided by the press as "Star Wars," invented a revolutionary new missile defense system called "Brilliant Pebbles" that would have worked, had SDI not been canceled by President Bill Clinton.
SDI technology has been proven, in peaceful applications, by NASA in Moon exploration and in the private sector space program.
SDI could make unnecessary the dangerous revolution in military technology now underway developing offensive cyber and EMP weapons for striking first. SDI could replace these destabilizing offensive technologies with stabilizing defensive technologies, and make the world a much safer place.
Mr. President, reviving the Strategic Defense Initiative is the only realistic way of making nuclear missiles obsolete and achieving the vision you shared with President Reagan of a world without nuclear weapons.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry is Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both Congressional Advisory Boards, and served on the Congressional EMP Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of Apocalypse Unknown: The Struggle To Protect America From An Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe and Electric Armageddon, both available from CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com. More from Dr. Pry here.