Richard Myers is a former four-star general in the United States Air Force and served as the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2001 to 2005. As Chairman, Myers was the United States military’s highest ranking uniformed officer. He talked to NewsRealBlog about the issues that affect America’s military.
NewsRealBlog: Do you agree that we should be reducing our nuclear arsenal?
General Richard Myers: We should minimize the potential that these will be used. Otherwise it would be catastrophic. It is almost beyond the last resort.
NRB: Should we be eliminating our nuclear arsenal completely?
Myers: We need a stock pile of weapons in order to have a credible deterrent. We want to ensure that the stock pile is safe, secure, and effective.
NRB: How should we fight our enemies?
Myers: Many of our adversaries are not part of a nation. You can’t go after individuals with nuclear weapons. Some of our conventional weapons today are very accurate and effective.
NRB: Do you think we should go back to the Cold War containment policy, using a nuclear deterrent?
Myers: In the Cold War both sides, the US and the Soviet Union had a lot to lose. Nobody was willing to take the risk that their whole country would be obliterated. On the other hand, I don’t think you are ever going to deter the leadership in Iran or convince them that pursuing nuclear weapons is not in their best interest.
NRB: Following that thought will sanctions work against Iran?
Myers: For sanctions to work the rest of the world has to come on board. China has to be persuaded that there are other priorities, not just energy.
NRB: Can we trust the Iranians to do as they say?
Myers: There are never any guarantees. Nations can cheat and they do. That is always the danger.
NRB: Do you think there will be an arms race in the Middle East?
Myers: The reality of the world is nuclear deterrence will play a role for as long as we can see. If we decide to get rid of our nukes there are states that count on our nuclear umbrella and they may or may not see the world the same way we see it. Will that prompt another state to take another course and develop nuclear weapons?
NRB: Do you think that the threat of nuclear war has decreased?
Myers: We need to look at capability and intent. Right now we know Russia and China’s capability but we don’t know what is their intent. Capabilities change very slowly over time but intent can change with a flip of the switch. We have to be ready to deal with potential adversaries that may not be adversaries today.
NRB: Do you think the threat of nuclear terrorism has increased?
Myers: The biggest threat of our country is the violent Islamic extremism, particularly violent extremists that have access to a nuclear weapon, that is a very big danger. Besides Iran and North Korea there is Al Qaeda who has a 100 year perspective.
NRB: Should we give in to the Russians on missile defense systems?
Myers: The Russians for a long time have been trying to put limits on us. We actually have a missile defense program that works. We have to be alert to the Russians pushing us on this and not give into them.
NRB: Do we want to develop military bases in space?
Myers: I agree with the current US policy of no weapons in space. With that said, we should evaluate it from time to time.
NRB: Do you think we are lagging behind Russia and China in weapon development?
Myers: Our research and development have led the rest of the world. We need to continue leading. Countries like Russia and China will always be trying to build the best military equipment. We have to make sure that we keep up our technology superiority or it certainly could become an issue in the not too distant future.
NRB: Do you think unmanned vehicles are important part of America’s weapon systems?
Myers: They, the predators and the hawks, really help with our intelligence gathering. They can go to longer range altitude, have a longer endurance, and can carry more payloads. They are absolutely essential to the modern military. I see unmanned vehicles as a big part of our future.