Peace Is Possible
13 June 2021
As Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes…. because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Luke 19:42, 44
Stop the New Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
adapted from Diana Ohlbaum, FCNL May/June 2021
The United States currently fields 400 nuclear-tipped Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in underground silos in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado. Despite a recently-completed, multibillion-dollar, decade-long program to extend these missiles’ service life, the Air Force is moving ahead with plans to develop a new, replacement ICBM—the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD).
The country’s struggle to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the urgent need to rethink national security and budget priorities, including this costly, dangerous, and unnecessary new weapon.
In September 2020, the Air Force awarded a $13.3 billion sole-source contract to Northrop Grumman for the engineering and manufacturing development of the GBSD with only one bidder. Lockheed Martin was excluded from the competition and Boeing dropped out. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (WA) called the decision to move forward with the contract with only one bidder “very troubling.”
The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent should be stopped because:
A new ICBM is costly. An independent Pentagon study estimated that GBSD procurement will eventually cost $85-$150 billion, with total program costs around $260 billion. The lack of contract competition will likely escalate total costs even further. Each of the planned 400 deployed missiles would cost $250 million—all to sit mutely in their silos for decades or vaporize human beings by the millions.
A new ICBM is unnecessary. As the accuracy of sea-based ballistic missiles has improved, ICBMs have become obsolete. And the current missiles could be refurbished at a much lower cost.
A new ICBM is dangerous. Land-based ICBMs are always on high-alert status, putting extreme pressure on the president to quickly order a launch if there are indications of an incoming adversary strike against the missiles’ vulnerable silos. Land-based ICBMs not only increase the likelihood of sliding into nuclear war over a false alarm, but they also explicitly invite adversaries to consider a nuclear first strike against the American heartland—a dangerous strategic rationale that endangers both American lives and the survival of the planet.
Win Without War reports that each of the proposed new weapons will have twenty times the destructive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In addition to the GBSD, the $1.6 trillion 30-year nuclear upgrade includes bombers, submarines, and air-launch cruise missiles. WWW assesses that the administration’s willingness to proceed with this unwise, unnecessary project has much to do with the $117 million in campaign donations made in 2020 by the nuclear weapons industry.
If the point of having nuclear weapons is to prevent them from ever being used, then we have a national security responsibility—as well as a moral obligation—to ensure that they reduce the likelihood of nuclear war. The U.S. ICBM force does the opposite. Instead of spending billions of dollars on replacing ICBMs, Congress should prioritize efforts to address existential threats like climate change and global pandemics.
Sen. Todd Young 400 Russell Senate Off. Bldg. Washington, DC 20510
Sen. Mike Braun 374 Russell Senate Off. Bldg. Washington, DC 20510
Rep. Greg Pence 222 Cannon HOB Washington, DC 20515
Sen. ______________, Rep. Pence:
As Congress considers budget and appropriations bills this spring and summer, I urge you to co-sponsor the ICBM Act (S. 982 / H.R. 2227) to avoid wasting tens of billions of dollars replacing an unnecessary, expensive, and dangerous Cold War nuclear missile.
As a Quaker follower of Christ, I applaud Pres. Biden’s pledge “to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.” That is a wise goal, especially since the coronavirus and climate change pose such immediate, costly threats to our country. Already, hundreds of Cold War intercontinental ballistic missiles remain poised to strike within minutes, posing a huge risk of blundering into nuclear war. The new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent under development will cost nearly $100 billion to acquire and $260 billion over its service life, money that can be far better used to help people and save lives.
I don’t want my tax dollars to be spent on expensive, destabilizing nuclear weapons. Cutting billions in wasteful ICBM spending will reduce the risk of nuclear war and enable Congress to tackle the real problems of our time, such as pandemics and climate change. Please support the ICBM Act (S.982 / H.R.2227), or explain to me why you will not do so.