US Tests Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

Photo: Missile Defense Agency/AP [via The Hill]

The Facts

  • The US Air Force on Wed. test launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

  • According to Air Force Brig. Gen. Ryder, the launch was a scheduled routine test and is meant to demonstrate the readiness of the US military's nuclear forces and "provide confidence in the security and effectiveness of the nation's nuclear deterrent."

The Spin

Narrative A

While there's no doubt that nuclear deterrence is crucial, America's nuclear arsenal is grossly oversized and expensive, and it's time to downsize. There's no better place to start than with its outdated ICBM fleet, which is costly, easily targeted, and adds little deterrence.

Narrative B

Despite criticisms, all three legs of the US nuclear arsenal - including its land-based ICBMs - are vital to nuclear deterrence. While the size of the ICBM force may seem excessive, it sends the message to allies and adversaries alike that the US is fully-equipped and prepared to retaliate.

Establishment-critical narrative

The US has a clear double-standard when it comes to missile testing. America views its own ICBM tests as useful and justified, while condemning tests by its foes - such as North Korea - as threatening and destabilizing. What's truly needed is diplomacy, not further military provocations.

Nerd narrative

There's a 33% chance that a nuclear weapon will be detonated as an act of war by 2050, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

Establishment split



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