There are five countries that matter in this world.
These five countries just happen to be the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council. These countries are the five main victors of the Second World War, and the Security Council is their tool for ruling the world that they conquered. These five countries have also conveniently written themselves into the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty as “recognized nuclear powers”. They are allowed to have nuclear weapons, but no one else is.
The reason for all this is that no one can stop them, because they have strategic nuclear weapons.
All these countries have massively cut their nuclear arsenals. Britain and France have eliminated two legs of their strategic triad, relying entirely on submarine-based missiles. The United States and Russia have shrunk their strategic bomber forces down to very small levels but still maintain extensive missile and submarine forces. China has a modest strategic nuclear capability.
However, these nations all maintain the ability to deliver nuclear weapons to anywhere in the world. And they aren’t going to give that up anytime soon, because with nuclear weapons comes power. When you have the ability to wipe another country off the face of the earth, they listen to you. Even if they don’t think you will wipe them off the face of the earth, they still listen.
Power at its most basic definition is the ability to do work, that is, the ability to use force to transfer energy. Nuclear weapons transfer more energy than any other thing in the world. When you are extraordinarily powerful, people listen.
Yes, there are other countries which are trying to gain power. India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea have all gained nuclear weapons. But none of these nations has yet attained the ability to deliver their weapons anywhere in the world. Their nuclear weapons are mounted on short and intermediate range missiles. These nations are regional powers, but they do not have the worldwide clout of the Permanent Five. Other nations such as Iran and Syria are trying to develop nuclear and missile technology, so they can gain power too.
And this is what so many people do not understand about national missile defense. We are only deploying a few missiles, nowhere near enough to counter the Russian nuclear arsenal. Many question whether North Korea would attack the US with a handful of missiles that could be intercepted by our few dozen interceptor missiles.
But that’s not the issue. Nuclear weapons gain a country power, even if they don’t use them. If we know North Korea has the power to take out Los Angeles, we treat them differently. But, if we know we have the power to shoot down North Korean missiles on their way to Los Angeles, all of a sudden the North Korean nuclear threat is neutralized. We no longer have to give rogue states such as North Korea or Iran such wide berths. Without us or the North Koreans ever firing a shot, we have restored the power differential back to where it was before North Korea developed nuclear weapons.
World power centers around nuclear weapons. Regardless of treaties, principles and agreements, world power is maintained through dominance in nuclear weapons. This might not sound very nice, but that’s the way it is.