Brookings Institution: Surrender now to the growing China-Russia nuclear arsenal

by WorldTribune Staff, October 6, 2022

The Washington, D.C.-based think tank Brookings Institution is essentially recommending that Team Biden refrain from issuing a firm commitment to defend Taiwan.

“Credible nuclear threats on behalf of allies and partners, or extended deterrence, will be hard to achieve in a world where China’s nuclear weapons pose an increasingly robust threat to the U.S. homeland,” Michael O’Hanlon, Melanie Sisson, and Caitlin Talmadge write for Brookings in “Managing the Risks of U.S.-China War: Implementing a Strategy of Integrated Deterrence.”

China is rapidly building up its nuclear arsenal while the U.S. is not. / PLA photo

“In fact, China may believe that its more robust nuclear arsenal endows it with greater freedom to engage in aggression as its conventional capabilities also continue to grow, knowing that the United States’ long-standing nuclear trump card is likely off the table,” they write.

The Brookings trio is urging the Biden administration in a conflict over Taiwan “to abandon decades-old — and successful — nuclear weapons policy, thereby effectively accepting capitulation to Beijing’s threats to use tactical nuclear weapons,” Gordon G. Chang noted in an Oct. 5 analysis for Newsweek.

In the post-Cold War period, the United States is facing the prospect of a combined Russia/China nuclear threat, Richard Fisher of the International Assessment and Strategy Center and a contributing editor for, told Newsweek.

Currently, the U.S. is obligated under the New START agreement to limit the number of deployed nuclear warheads and launchers. The pact is effective through Feb. 4, 2026.

The Brookings report does not recommend that the U.S. pull out of New START, saying withdrawal would not be in line with Team Biden’s nuclear policy.

The Biden policy “is deeply misguided because, among other reasons, China is not a party to New START but is effectively in an alliance with Russia,” Chang noted.

In declaring their “no-limits” partnership in a 5,300-word joint statement on Feb. 4 of this year, China and Russia immediately obtained a substantial advantage in warhead count. China also continues to rapidly build up its nuclear arsenal while the U.S. is not.

The Brookings report’s failure to recommend an immediate withdrawal from New START to permit a buildup of the American arsenal, Fisher notes, is “myopic.”

For decades, the communist regime in Beijing has been warning that it was prepared to use nuclear weapons to take Taiwan, “and it has been ramping up such threats since July of last year, when it began making veiled and not-so-veiled statements about incinerating Japan, Australia, and any party coming to the aid of Taiwan,” Chang noted.

The primary deterrent to a Chinese first strike with tactical nuclear weapons is the threat of a second strike with American nukes.

“U.S. nukes, however, are not much of a deterrent to China. It’s true that America has low-yield theater nuclear weapons, in the form of bombs delivered by plane,” Chang wrote, adding that “not one of the bombs is based in the Indo-Pacific theater, however. Therefore, these weapons can be destroyed in transit. Furthermore, once in theater they can be destroyed on the ground. Any bombs that survive have to be flown through contested airspace to reach their intended targets.”

The United States can launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), “but as a practical matter these missiles are not a credible deterrent in this case, either,” Chang wrote.

ICBMs could completely destroy China, but not many believe Joe Biden “would risk the destruction of the American homeland to impose costs on China for its use of low-yield weapons,” Chang wrote.

“In short, the U.S. needs to base in the Indo-Pacific tactical nuclear weapons delivered by cruise missile — the only class of weapons that, as a practical matter, can deter a strike by China’s cruise missile-delivered nukes,” Chang added.

As Fisher points out, “The Brookings authors fail to mention that a robust theater nuclear capability, as it did for the U.S. during the Cold War, can go far to sustain both strategic- and theater-level deterrence.”

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