How we got here.
How did American leadership come to accept nuclear war?
If you haven’t been following the argument on the American decision to abandon the longstanding tenets of nuclear deterrence, and why it is such a dangerous development, you can reference the last three Armas sendouts here, here, and here. What I want to cover this morning is how we got here. We will stipulate at the outset that events are multicausal, and contingent, so let us reject both determinism and the great-man theory alike. However we can point to moments, and people, that are illustrative, culminating, and portentous, and that is what we will do here.
Meet Colin Kahl.
He is a longstanding fixture in the center-left national-security community, and the present Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. The brief of the position is expansive, encompassing antiterrorism, continuity of government, force planning, the wholesale National Defense Strategy, and most important for our purposes, nuclear deterrence. The men and women appointed to it are therefore significant figures in the defense-establishment firmament — for better and worse alike — including in the past generation Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Michèle Flournoy. Colin Kahl probably deserves to be among those notable names, for reasons we will discuss here.
Colin Kahl is also the former National Security Advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial