Someone is actually reading my blog! Aside from my mom. Well, probably not even my mom. But, I did get a very nice letter from Mr Cecil Turner, Major, USMC (Ret.) who raised a critique of my recent alarmed post about Israel's nuclear submarines. Before I get into it though, I'd like to thank Major Turner (and all military personnel, by proxy) for their service to this country. I have a personal philosophy of pacifism, but I recognize with admiration that my right to express that worldview is safeguarded by people like Major Turner. The sacrifices of our military servicemen and women is not something I take for granted. It's also a source of much frustration for me when I see self-sacrifice on such noble scale abused by the powers in charge. I'll write more on this later, but I think our military has been used as an instrument of political and economic convenience instead of a force for freedom in this world, consistently by each president dating back to Nixon, with the possible exception of Carter. End rant. Begin Letter:
Good blog--especially the political analysis of the Palestinian poll. Also, I would be
very interested if you could expand on the cycle of violence feeding terrorist support,
especially if there is some polling or similar data to support the conclusions.
You missed the boat on one of your statements, however--I had missed the nuclear
missiles on submarines story, and was envisioning an SSBN from your: "However, nuclear
submarines are not regional-defensive, they are globally-offensive." The link pointed out
they were talking about diesel submarines with cruise missiles. A diesel submarine has a
limited range (and no ability to travel stealthily, as snorkeling is the equivalent of
hanging a "shoot me" sign among submarines), and sub-launched cruise missiles are very
short-ranged, especially if they have to be launched from standard torpedo tubes (I rather
doubt the 900 mile range quoted in the story). There is no way to characterize this
combination as a global threat--in fact, it will probably have to relocate to ensure
complete coverage of the different countries in the MidEast. Strategically, this weapon
makes good sense as a hedge against Israel's nuclear forces being overrun or taken out in
a first strike, and is a stabilizing regional force.
Major, USMC (Ret)
get it? I missed the boat? :)
Please note that I am mechanically illiterate. The Ha'aretz article did explicitly say that these were DIESEL submarines. Implying a combustion engine. Implying a need for oxygen. Implying a need for AIR. As Major Turner points out, this requires a snorkel, and the sub is basically limited to surface operations most of the time. So my initial alarm at Israel having stealth submarine capability is cimpletely unfounded. To that end, I have to retract my concerns.
To be absolutely clear in my own thinking, let me resummarize what I have learned here - a submarine that can launch nuclear missiles is not a nuclear submarine. A nuclear submarine is a submarine powered by nuclear fission. Any submarine can theoretically launch nuclear missiles (assuming you actually have them which Israel does). But stealth mode - ie, nuclear powered so you can survive under water for extremely long periods of time - is an offensive ability, not a defensive one. Just ask the poor Federation redshirts on the receiving end of a cloaked Warbird's plasma device. A diesel submarine - armed with nuclear missiles, sticks and stone, whatever - is just a floating weapons platform.
However, I am still nervous. Israel now has ICBM capability. Let me rephrase my question then - why exactly does Israel need the capability to launch a nuclear weapon to any place on the face of the earth?
to avenge themelves on the French, perhaps?