Bring Back the Nuclear Tomahawks | U.S. Naval Institute

The West has been frustrated since 2012 over Russia’s decision to violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by testing a new ground-launched cruise missile. The treaty, which eliminated nearly 2,700 missiles on both sides, prohibits production or flight test of any such missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. According to public reports, the Russians now have gone beyond testing and deployed the missile, further violating the treaty.

It is now time to stop scolding and up the ante. There is no reason for Russia to deploy these missiles. The Russians face no serious threat from west, east, or south—no nation on the planet wants to attack Russia. While diplomacy should not be abandoned, it will have to be backed by the only type of power Russia really understands: principled strength. In fact, the treaty itself originated from the use of such power: President Ronald Reagan deployed nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles and Pershing II ballistic missiles to Europe in response to a previous Russian deployment. This U.S. deployment laid the groundwork for successful negotiation of the INF Treaty.

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An especially elegant use of such power would avoid a tit-for-tat violation of or, worse, a withdrawal from the treaty. Rather, Russia should feel the pinch from a capability that lies well within international agreements (and a capability Russia itself possesses): a sea-based nuclear-armed cruise missile. This would require restoration of the Navy’s nuclear capability on Tomahawk cruise missiles in what was known as TLAM-Ns—Tomahawk land-attack missile-nuclear.

Bring Back the Nuclear Tomahawks | U.S. Naval Institute

If you knew there were going to be a nuclear war with Russia in one year, what should the military do? More nuclear weapons would be nice. Not to make the rubble bounce, but rather to allow more strikes over several years. That way anybody surviving in a fallout shelter will eventually die when they come out.