From the no-a-thousand-times-no department, the Boston Journal asks why we cannot have a NATO focused on nuclear retaliation:
Thatâ€™s certainly the case when it comes to nuclear weapons. In a study last year for the Atlantic Council, Matthew Kroenig argued: â€œIn order to deter the Russian nuclear threat, NATO needs to realign its priorities by increasing the importance of its nuclear deterrence mission and considering possible modifications to its conventional and nuclear posture.â€ In his view, deterrence should return as the allianceâ€™s nuclear priority.
While Kroenigâ€™s discussion is about NATO infrastructure and doctrine, any additional weapons likely would be Americanâ€”Washington currently shares control over U.S. nukes with several alliance membersâ€”and the country most in Russiaâ€™s retaliatory sites would be America. Since two European nations possess nuclear weapons and others could develop them, why should the United States remain the country expected to bring GÃ¶tterdÃ¤mmerung to life?
Think this through. Nuclear weapons get used on two levels: strategic and tactical. NATO is already primed to use tactical nuclear and chemical weapons, which were called “weapons of mass destruction” until under the Obama-Bush years that term began to be used for anything the size of a hand grenade and larger. NATO is not ready to use nuclear weapons on a strategic level because it entrusts that to the United States.
This makes sense because the United States is thousands of miles away from Russia. That means that if one side detects a launch, it has a number of minutes to verify data in order to distinguish real attacks from false alarms, as happened many times during the Cold War. That builds in a layer of insulation against accidental nuclear warfare.
Europe, on the other hand, is mere hundreds of miles away from Russia and would have to make a response in a split second. This greatly increases the risk of a false trigger and resulting mushroom clouds blooming across the West and Eurasia. For this reason, the people of merely a generation ago — who apparently were biologically smarter than people now — did not empower NATO to be a strategic nuclear actor.