Times have changed, but America’s nuclear defense strategy has not. Cato Institute scholars explain how America needs to respond.
U.S. power today makes the case for the triad more dubious. Survivability is no longer a feasible justification. No U.S. adversary has the capability to destroy all U.S. ballistic submarines, let alone all three legs, and there would be time to adjust if that changed. Nuclear weapons are essentially irrelevant in actual U.S. wars, which are against insurgents and weak states without nuclear arsenals. Nuclear threats have a bigger role in hypothetical U.S. wars with nuclear-armed powers. But cases where the success of deterrence hinges on the U.S. capability to destroy enemy nuclear forces are far-fetched. In any case, U.S. submarines and conventional forces can destroy those forces. Even hawkish policies do not require a triad. […]