The Biden administration has delivered its National Defense Strategy (NDS) to Congress. It will remain mostly secret, but mirrors the defense goals of the previous administration. That is unfortunate, because it continues to favor a nuclear posture that relies solely on the threat of retaliation to prevent a large-scale nuclear attack on the American homeland from China or Russia. There is no provision for active defense against other major nuclear powers. This approach to addressing the sole existential threat to U.S. survival might make sense if every nuclear player for the foreseeable future was certain to be a rational, deliberative actor. But no such assurance exists, and there are easily imaginable crises with which a defense-less nuclear posture cannot cope. What if the adversary is irrational? What if he wrongly believes he is about to be attacked with nuclear weapons? What if a regional conflict escalates to nuclear exchanges? What if there are accidental, or unauthorized launches? Offensively-based deterrence is a fine starting point for averting nuclear Armageddon, but the nation needs a backup plan if deterrence fails. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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