January 8, 2013
By Rebeccah Heinrichs
Last May, the Global Zero U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission released a bombshell of a report. The nuclear disarmament group called for draconian cuts to the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Many defense experts, including the current head of Strategic Command, General C. Robert Kehler, flat-out disagreed with that report. So why give it another thought? Because President Obama’s nominee to lead the Pentagon, former Senator Chuck Hagel, is a co-author.
The administration is expected to unveil its proposal for further reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal soon. But it will doubtless want to postpone the unveiling of that proposal until after the next secretary of defense is confirmed. That way, the nominee can’t be asked questions relating to the proposal.
But the premises and conclusions in the Global Zero report provide ample information to dig deeper into how Chuck Hagel would advise the president regarding America’s nuclear weapons. Perhaps no other subject is more vital to American security. Here are four questions that should be raised at the confirmation hearings:
Current and future decisions about the appropriate number and quality of nuclear weapons in the American arsenal should be driven by U.S. security needs, not by ideological opposition to nuclear weapons. If Chuck Hagel cannot satisfactorily answer the questions raised here, it will suggest that he and the other co-authors of the Global Zero report believe the world can be made safer with fewer nuclear weapons, even if it means America is altogether weaker and more vulnerable. The next secretary of defense must be convinced of the opposite.
-Rebeccah Heinrichs, an expert on nuclear deterrence and missile defense, is a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).
First appeared in The Daily Caller.
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