Saturday, January 28, 2006

Developing Buster Bunkers Still a Good Idea

Weapon systems are, in the end, about one of two things:

1) Creating a capability for your side, or extending a capability that already exists;

or

2) Removing or degrading a capability that the other side has.

It is possible for a weapon system to fill multiple slots in this capabilities analysis; submarines, for example, create a capability of sudden surprise strikes, while also degrading the enemy's capability to send surface shipping without military escort.

We can currently remove any dictator in the world by invading his country, marching to and encircling his capitol, and smashing his military to flinders - then it's just a matter of finding the spider hole. However, this form of combat is very intensive in terms of logistical deployments, in terms of straining alliances and diplomatic relations with other countries, in terms of time expended, and in terms of human lives lost. If the only goal of the war in Iraq had been to capture or kill Saddam Hussein, we could have done that - but it would have cost a couple hundred American and who knows how many thousand Iraqi lives.

Bunker-busters create a powerful capability for US forces. They will permit us to remove enemy leadership - bypassing his conventional military - without having to engage in ground combat. They permit us to strike rapidly, without a costly and vulnerable military build-up. They permit us to strike unilaterally, without begging the permission of neighboring countries to use their territory for staging.

They also remove a powerful enemy capability, albeit not one that is purely military. Right now, tyrants like North Korean's Kim Jong Il have the ability to hide behind their civilians. We could eliminate him in a week, after the necessary deployments; the cost would be horrific. Five or six South Korean or Japanese cities A-bombed during the lengthy buildup, thousands of American and South Korean soldiers killed in huge battles - it would not be pretty. It wouldn't be pretty to drop a bunker-buster on him, either, but it would be a lot better for Seoul and Tokyo.

More important than the use of such a weapon is the credible threat of its use. Right now, Kim Jong Il knows that we cannot remove him without unacceptably high collateral casualties, and so his diplomatic position is accordingly intransigient. With buster-bunkers in our arsenal, however, and a President who has shown that he will not flinch from military action, Kim's ability to bluster and stonewall are massively reduced.

In short, nuclear buster-bunker bombs add powerful capabilities to our arsenal, and greatly degrade the ability of our enemies to defy us. There is no reason not to avidly pursue their development.

[This "classic" post brought to you courtesy of my stacking deadlines.]

1 comment:

flint cordoroy said...

Interestingly enough, the only examples of the United States going in and kicking the shit out of other countries without those countries/former colonies descending into civil war or revolution soon after are Germany and Japan during World War II.