The US Ought to Pursue Nuclear First Strike Capability
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Resolution: The US ought to pursue nuclear first strike capability.
Nuclear first strike capability. From Encyclopedia Britannica: "First strike, also known as preemptive nuclear strike, attack on an enemy’s nuclear arsenal that effectively prevents retaliation against the attacker. A successful first strike would cripple enemy missiles that are ready to launch and would prevent the opponent from readying others for a counterstrike by targeting the enemy’s nuclear stockpiles and launch facilities." In simple terms, first strike capability means you can disarm the enemy's nuclear arsenal by launching first. This might be achieved through excellent counterforce targeting strategies and technologies, along with sufficiently effective ballistic missile defense systems.
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In the real world of real political leaders... a decision that would bring even one hydrogen bomb on one city of one's own country would be recognized in advance as a catastrophic blunder
The only program designed to protect the entire United States homeland from a long-range missile attack is the Ground-based Midcourse (GMD) program. GMD has a failing test record: a success rate of just 50 percent in highly scripted tests, including three misses in the last five tries.
Even a small nuclear war between India and Pakistan, with each country detonating 50 Hiroshima-size atom bombs... could produce so much smoke that temperatures would fall below those of the Little Ice Age of the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries, shortening the growing season around the world and threatening the global food supply. Furthermore, there would be massive ozone depletion, allowing more ultraviolet radiation to reach Earth's surface.
“Since August 1945 when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, about seven to 10 million people have died from conflict. Compare this to the two world wars that caused about 70 to 100 million deaths prior to the creation of nuclear weapons.”
According to the Human Security Report in 2013,
“What Pinker describes as the “most interesting statistic since 1945” does not lend itself well to being displayed in a chart. This is because it is a single number—zero. Zero is the number that applies to an astonishing collection of categories of war during the two-thirds of a century that has elapsed since the end of the deadliest war of all time. “Zero” refers to the use of nuclear weapons in war; to the number of wars between the two Cold War superpowers; to the number of great-power wars since 1953; and to the number of interstate wars in Western Europe or between major developed powers.”
Indeed: while proxy wars and civil conflicts have happened here and there, conflict between the great powers of the world has ceased, and all of them have nuclear weapons.
“We have heard some new voices calling to ‘build a nuclear force appropriate for a great power.’
As China has deployed first the road-mobile DF-31, then DF-31A and now JL-2 (a submarine-launched nuclear weapon), China’s nuclear strategy has moved from “assured retaliation” to what one may term “completely assured retaliation.”
“DF-41, which will finally provide China with the capability to launch missiles from north central China and hit all targets in the U.S. (except Florida).”
“states tend to avoid posing clearly dangerous threats against targets that could effectively eliminate them by striking first.”
Further, if there is strength in numbers, than further deterrence can be achieved through the use of NATO nuclear sharing. Currently, the US holds hundreds of nuclear weapons in NATO countries to guard against threats, and if each country is equipped with the ability to strike first, then the incentive of threatening the US and our allies diminishes exponentially for aggressive nations like China. This is achievable, as the US frequently modernizes European nuclear stock.
“Say a president received intelligence reports that the North Koreans were planning either a nuclear attack themselves, or to sell some of their weapons to hostile terrorist groups. Assume also that a direct ground invasion was infeasible (likely) and that bunker-buster bombs would not suffice to take out the regime (also likely). In that situation, the U.S. might well entertain the notion of a limited nuclear strike on North Korea, if only to forestall an even greater catastrophe… Or, if you prefer, take a hypothetical from history. Say Nazi Germany still was fighting World War II when the Manhattan Project succeeded in building a few nuclear bombs. If the Germans were on the verge of getting their own nuclear weapon, would you have wanted America to have the freedom to take out the Nazi bomb?It is hard to see why the U.S. should voluntarily surrender this capability.”
“launching the anticipatory attack will dramatically reduce the expected costs of the war. If offense is dominant in the relationship—if attacking promises great success while defense is unpromising—the first-strike advantage will tend to be large,”
China is expected to surpass the US's absolute GDP by 2030, and from 1996 to 2015, China increased its military spending by 620%... continued development of Chinese nuclear capabilities are inevitable.This is why we need first strike capability. The threat of being able to preemptively strike and disable the nuclear arsenal of a threatening nation such as China deters them from acting aggressively in the first place.
The threat of being able to preemptively strike and disable the nuclear arsenal of a threatening nation such as China deters them from acting aggressively in the first place.
pre-emptive strike reduces the costs of wars that are already imminent, so why not use this capability?
- I have shown that first strike capability does not necessarily reduce the number of nuclear crises the US would experience.
- More importantly, when crises do break out, US possession of first strike capability would make nuclear war far more likely than under MAD.
- Even though a disarming nuclear first strike would be preferable to suffering nuclear strikes on the homeland, possessing first strike capability would likely force us to exercise this option, which would not be conducive to US interests.
- It is far more preferable to exist in a state of MAD, in which the risk of nuclear war is far lower.