Peter Pry: December 7, 2020

Dec. 7  marks the 79th anniversary of Imperial Japan’s 1941 surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, beginning America’s desperate struggle to survive and win World War II. A nuclear “Pearl Harbor” may begin, and end, World War III. Like the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1941, most U.S. nuclear forces today are “sitting ducks.” Bombers are not nuclear-armed or maintained on strip alert, and most missile submarines (SSBNs) typically are in port. A surprise attack on just three bomber bases and two submarine ports could destroy about two-thirds of the U.S. nuclear deterrent — now within the capability of North Korea. Hypersonic warheads being deployed by Russia and China, because of their great speed, accuracy and ability to evade radar, could surprise and destroy America’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. ICBMs, always on high alert, are the chief deterrent against surprise attack. The Department of Defense is working on new space-based sensors and improved strategic command-control-communications intelligence (C3I) systems to defeat a surprise attack. But the best C3I in the world cannot compensate for the biggest U.S. vulnerability — a strategic culture inhabited by Washington elites who, although informed by the most sophisticated intelligence apparatus in human history, through stupidity, incompetence and ideological blindness are consistently surprised. 

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