May 1, 2021
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“The US nuclear deterrence strategy is outdated and needs adjustment”

The US nuclear deterrent strategy is outdated and needs to be revised, as within its framework, Washington pays too much attention to parrying a surprise attack from Russia and China and too little to the option of exacerbating a conventional conflict, writes The Washington Times, citing the opinion of a professor of political science at Yale University Paul Bracken. At the same time, according to him, the United States incorrectly evaluates China’s nuclear policy, and must also prepare for the fact that the growth of Beijing’s nuclear arsenal will add fuel to the fire of world tension.

The US nuclear deterrent strategy is outdated and needs to be adjusted to suit more likely scenarios such as a nuclear conflict, which unfolds as a continuation of a conventional war with China or Russia, writes The Washington Times, citing the opinion of the professor of political science at Yale University Paul Bracken.

In particular, during hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee, Bracken said that the United States is paying too much attention to those scenarios of nuclear war that seem the least likely. According to him, about 90% of all efforts in the strategic sphere are currently directed by the military to deter a sudden nuclear attack from China or Russia, while only 10% of attention is paid to the option with an accidental conflict.

I would say that we generally have too much containment versus surprise attack.– explained the professor. – Therefore, I would not object to a decrease in the degree of this containment in favor of an emphasis on other contexts and scenarios. Considering that the United States can literally fight on the doorstep of states that have nuclear weapons … this is a real problem of deterrence“.

Meanwhile, the danger of a nuclear conflict has increased, given that the confrontation between Washington and Moscow is now complicated both by the fact that China is actively building up its nuclear arsenal, and by the emergence of new exotic strategic weapons from Russia. At the same time, a number of other powers are also increasing their nuclear potential.

We are now living in a multipolar nuclear worldBracken said. – The bomb is no longer only in Russia. China is working to double its nuclear arsenal, according to the director of national intelligence. In 10 years Pakistan may have 300 nuclear weapons. If China and Pakistan build up their arsenals, it is highly unlikely that India will not reciprocate in kind.“.

As for Russia, it has created an underwater drone that carries a 100-megaton warhead capable of creating tsunamis that can wipe out cities and ports. Moscow and Beijing are also working to build large arsenals of short- and medium-range nuclear missiles, suggesting that they are preparing for a scenario in which a conventional conflict could escalate into a nuclear war.

In this context, Bracken believes that China’s nuclear forces will become the most significant source of strategic tension as Beijing develops its own nuclear triad of missiles, submarines and bombers. At the same time, in his opinion, American experts incorrectly assess both the danger posed by China’s relatively small nuclear arsenal and its policy, within which Beijing refuses the first nuclear strike.

Such a narrow formulation of the problem needs serious correction.“, – the professor emphasized.

Bracken said it is currently unclear whether China has developed a doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons. It is also unclear whether he will use it in the event of a conflict in Taiwan or the Korean Peninsula.

After reading the Chinese nuclear doctrine, I, as already said, was convinced that they had not thought it through to the end., – he thinks. – China’s declared nuclear doctrine does not cover a wide range of options that go beyond its narrow scope“.

Nevertheless, the build-up of nuclear power gives the Chinese Communist Party new opportunities in terms of political pressure and blackmail.

This potential can be aimed at deterring non-nuclear US intervention by using the risks of using nuclear weapons, which can neutralize the effect of new American technologies such as cyberattacks and precision strikes.“- said Bracken.

At the same time, according to Andrew Erickson, professor of strategy at the Naval War College, over the next 10 years, the United States and China will conduct an increasingly active dive, which, however, will not reach the level of a real clash. In particular, Beijing is already conducting large-scale operations in the so-called gray zone, which mainly affect the maritime territories on the periphery of China, which is leading to increased tensions.

Fortunately, the United States, its allies and partners, will likely be able to avoid a war with China.– says Erickson. – Instead, we are likely to live in what might be called the “Decade of Peril” over the next few years – an era of friction, tension and even crisis.“.

Conflicts in the “gray zone” are reflected in China’s desire to realize its ambitions in the South China and East China Seas, as well as a desire to undermine the interests of regional states. Operations in the “gray zone” are necessary in order to avoid a full-scale military conflict.

Photo: Reuters

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