Stephen Colbert's plan to string a microscopically thin razor along our entire border is brutal, indiscriminate, dangerous... and smarter than the nuclear defense we now have.
Here is how I learned of his secret plan to defend America. A few weeks ago, I was a guest on his show, The Colbert Report. I came away convinced that Stephen Colbert is as smart as he looks.
He described his plan to me in graphic detail. It is best appreciated by watching his presentation, but here is how the conversation went:
COLBERT: So you're against all weapons?
COLBERT: What about a microscopically thin razor wire that is erected at neck level all around the United States? So as our enemies try to come in - "Like, there's no one guarding the border! Let's run in!" But the razor wire just goes [makes choking noise and pantomimes garroting of enemy].
CIRINCIONE: That absurd, brutal defense is actually more rational than what we do now.
Really? Killing thousands of innocents at the border is more rational than what we do now? Yes.
The Colbert National Defense Posture
Colbert was straight-faced when he proposed his micro-wire defense, so let's indulge his strategy for a second. Say we spend $20 billion to string up the wire defense around the United States. The wire cannot discriminate between innocents and evildoers, and instead kills tens of thousands of men, women and children. Terrorists simply find an easy way around the wire to attack the United States. As a result of our "defense," thousands of innocents have died, our strategy is directly responsible for their gruesome deaths, and the U.S. gets attacked anyway.
The United States' Nuclear Defense Posture
The United States spends at least $52.4 billion a year maintaining a nuclear arsenal of some 10,000 nuclear weapons. 2000 of these hydrogen bombs are poised on the tips of long-range missiles and bombers ready to launch at a moment's notice. One miscalculation or accident with just one of our bombs would destroy a city, killing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.
Worse, Russia could make the same error with their 13,000 nuclear weapons. If one of their missiles is fired our way, or if terrorists get and use just one of these weapons, an American city is obliterated.
Wait, it gets worse. What if Russia makes another early warning blunder like they did in 1995? Then, Russian military officials mistook a Norwegian weather rocket for a US submarine-launched ballistic missile with 8 nuclear warheads. They thought they were under attack. For the first time in the atomic era, the Russian military opened up the "nuclear football" -- the remote control for Russia's thousands of nuclear warheads -- and told then-President Boris Yeltsin to push the button.
Fortunately, Yeltsin did not believe them. But what if that same mistake repeats again, and this time, with relations tense, the Russians launch even a fraction of their arsenal? Goodbye Colbert Nation.
Postures in Review
Both the Colbert strategy and the current U.S. nuclear strategy are insane. Both are immoral, expensive, and dangerous to American security. At least the dreamt-up Colbert strategy would kill a lot less innocent people.
This is why a growing bipartisan group of national security experts see nuclear weapons as a security liability, not an asset. (I doubt they considered the Colbert strategy.)
Put Nukes on Notice
Colbert agrees. In his interview with me, he agreed to reduce from today's 23,000 weapons to a little over one hundred:
COLBERT: Okay, so let's get it down to only being able to destroy the world once. I think anything above that you're being greedy.
CIRINCIONE: I will take that deal.
COLBERT: Good, at least we agree on one thing - to destroy the world once.
Previously on his show, Stephen promised Jordan's Queen Noor to support the Global Zero plan to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Reducing the roles, missions, and numbers of existing arsenals is a step in the right direction.
Stephen should now harness the power of the Colbert Nation to put nuclear weapons on notice. He should list nukes on his "On Notice Board" alongside such malicious forces as grizzly bears and, arguably, above Canadian Iceholes. Bring this threat down.