The rational behind Rubio’s spectacular increase in defense spending, an additional $1 Trillion over the next ten years, rests on the assumption that another trillion will make America safer.
But let’s see what has happened over the last 60 years with nuclear weapons.
The Russians did not have the capability to attack the mainland US with a nuclear tipped missile until about 1960. People forget that one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the West was the day in 1962 when America’s leadership asked itself, “Should we use nuclear weapons against Russia?”
The fact that Russia had nuclear missiles aimed at America tipped the scale. There was a limit to how much force America would use even thought the threat was only 90 miles away. It was the true beginning of the nuclear missile age.
In 1964 Barry Goldwater suggested America should consider using nuclear weapons to stop China from supporting North Vietnam. China could not have attacked America with nuclear weapons. Today it can. China announced that it’s nuclear submarine represents a second strike capability against America.
So America had the capability to out spend both China and Russia, and did in fact outspend both by billions of dollar during he entire 60 year period. But there is no question that America is more vulnerable than it was 60 years ago. Rubio and the other neoconservatives do not deal with the reality that America’s vulnerability has dramatically increased since 1955 and 1963.
The key to understanding why the U.S. is vulnerable today in a way that it was not half a century ago is that nuclear weapon are not expensive enough to keep America safe. What would be most beneficial for the U.S. is to have nuclear weapons carry the kind of cost structure that a carrier fleet has. No other country could make a realistic threat against U.S. carrier fleets.
First, no other country has the economic strength to match the sheer number of ships that the U.S. could produce. Second, the point of a carrier fleet is to defeat the enemy’s armament, It isn’t meant to threaten the lives of a civilian population,
North Korea is much poorer than The U.S.,, Russia or China, yet North Korea may soon have the ability to kill millions of Americans. Because North Korea has gifted engineers.
Now, Rubio’s response might be to say that a disproportionate use of the trillion dollars will be used to create a defense against nuclear threats. What is my response?
If Rubio believes that there is a realistic chance an enemy might fire a missile at the U.S., it is reasonable for him to take whatever measures that would make the U.S. safer.
The problem is that a policy that may make sense against North Korea. may be catastrophic if extended to Russia or China. Let’s posit that economic realities would constrain the North Korean threat to a very few missiles. The threat of a U.S. defensive system would not cause any meaningful change in the threat level that North Korea could pose.
The situation is very different with both China and Russia. They could be counted on to do their best to ensure that they do not become more vulnerable than they are now. Consequently they would have to respond with either more missiles, or a new class of missiles with greater defensive capabilities.
The result might be that the more advanced technological countries would continue to erode the time margin from what is today to a matter of minutes. One response to an American defensive system could well be a Russian or Chinese system platformed in space with the capability to overwhelm the defensive system by limiting its redundancies.
What then? Is their any level of risk that the neoconservative would not push on the world?