Bush Favors Nuclear Modernization with Abolition Aspiration

Will Thomas on January 23, 2016
Jeb Bush agrees that the goal of nuclear weapons abolition through multi-lateral negotiations is a worthy aspiration. But in the short term, he favors modernizing the nuclear triad and dealing with the dangers of nuclear proliferation.

Will mentioned the plan to spend a trillion dollars on a new generation of nuclear weapons commended Jeb Bush for past statements favoring abolition of nuclear weapons as a goal. 

"The good news is that I know that the triad is," Bush responded to laughter from the audience.   

Will continued, "Do believe it is so important to invest in moderizing all three legs of the triad that you would do so at the expense of cybersecurity, conventional forces, diplomatic initiatives, and domestic priorities such as repairing our crumbling public infustructure?"

"Great question," Bush responded,  noting he's heard the trillion dollar figure before.  

"Here’s what I believe," he said.  "The aspirational goal of eliminating nuclear weapons off the face of the earth is a worthy aspiration for sure.  But we can’t do that by unilaterally, you know, just eliminating the nuclear triad, and not modernizing it.

"We have to, you have to create a deterrent effect," Bush went on.  "And so there should be, there needs to be some investment in that regard.   Because we have an aging delivery system that is quite dangerous.  And so the modernization is good for our own security and it creates a pressure to be able to negotiate ultimately towards that aspiration.  But that’s going to be a long way off. That is not something that we unilaterally do."

"Ronald Reagan believed in the elimination of nuclear weapons as well.  This is not a wacky idea.  It’s an important aspiration but we have to do that with a deterrent effect along the way.  And now we have a bigger challenge than just the Cold War challenge of mutually assured destruction. That kind of created some stability that both sides knew that we would obliterate each other off the face of the earth, and that created that deterrent effect," he said. 

"Now we have the proliferation of nuclear weapons that is maybe even more dangerous.  You have North Korea.  People laugh when they, you talk about the dictator, because he dresses funny and all that, he’s an unusual guy, but they’re making an effort to have long-range missile capabilities, to launch conventional and nuclear weapons to hit our coast.  It is their aspiration do this, so that, not just to get our attention.  It is a challenge for us," the Florida ex-governor emphasized.  "You have Pakistan, you have Iran now being a nuclear threshold country.  Likely that the Persian Gulf countries seeing the threat of Iran may follow suit."

"This is a dangerous world.  The United States both diplomatically and militarily needs to engage.  So, I don’t think my answer has changed.  I do think there should be an aspiration for the elimination of nukes.  But you can’t do that by unilaterally doing this.  That would be an unmitigated disaster for us," he concluded.

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