While Dr. Henry Kissinger was attending the Moscow Summit in June, he declaimed to reporters: “One of the things we have to ask ourselves as a country is what in the name of God is strategic superiority? What is the significance of it, politically, militarily, operationally at these levels of numbers? What do you do with it?”
This may rank in history with Pontius Pilate’s question: “What is truth?” We expect high public officials to know the answers to such fundamental questions.
From 1945 to 1968, the United States had clear strategic superiority. This was known as the U.S. nuclear umbrella. It defended the United States, U.S. interests, and U.S. allies all over the world. Winston Churchill explained its significance in the 1940s and 1950s by saying that there would not be a free man left in Western Europe if it were not for the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
President Eisenhower had the national will to maintain U.S. strategic superiority over any possible Soviet challenge. His Administration erected the great triad of our defense: the Minuteman missiles, the Polaris Submarines, and the B-52 bombers.
During the Robert McNamara and Henry Kissinger years, however, the secret decision was made to stop building strategic weapons and thereby permit the Soviets to attain strategic superiority over us. Since 1967, the United States has not added one single missile launcher, either land-based or sea-based, while the Soviets have added more than a thousand.
The Soviets can now use their nuclear umbrella to push their military, political, and economic goals. We are already seeing one of the many consequences of this new Soviet strategic superiority in our present double-digit inflation. Paper currency is nothing but the promise of a government to pay. Its value depends completely on public confidence in the stability and strength of that government. A century ago, the value of Confederate money declined as it became increasingly obvious that the Southern Confederacy was inferior to the military power of the North.
Likewise, the purchasing power of U.S. and European currencies sharply declined after the oil crisis of October 1973 demonstrated to the world that the Soviet nuclear umbrella could protect Soviet economic interests, but that there is no longer any superior U.S. nuclear umbrella to protect American and NATO interests.
Business Week conceded that 1974 would be remembered as “the year the forecasters blew it,” and concluded that “when all forecasts miss the mark, it suggests that the entire body of economic thinking …is inadequate to describe and analyze the problems of our time.” The reason the economists cannot explain our present runaway inflation is because they failed to take into account the shift in the strategic balance.
Yes, Dr. Kissinger, in the name of God, there is such a thing as strategic superiority, and it is very useful, indeed. The tragedy is that the United States no longer has it.