Yesterday, I argued why the air force's proposed Conventional Strike Missile (CSM) is not the nuclear boogey-man that its critics often say it is. (Read here to see why.)
Today, I want to explain the real reason why people need to be concerned about weapons like the CSM -- and the whole concept of the Pentagon's Prompt Global Strike strategy, in general.
US Strategic Command wants the CSM because it's the ultimate fantasy weapon.
Yes, air- or ship-launched cruise missiles can attack pinpoint targets at distances as great as from Washington DC to Saint Louis. But there has never before been a non-nuclear weapon that can be launched from the continental United States and strike a precise target (read: person) as far away as Asia, Europe or Africa.
From a cozy command bunker in Omaha, generals can play XBox-warfare without the nasty political baggage that comes with nuclear weaponry.
The CSM is no Doomsday device; it's more like a "Boomsday" device. It's the weapon of choice when you don't care enough to send the very best: ie, a marine ground task force, an aircraft strike package or a carrier battle group. You don't even have to bother with sailing a Tomahawk-carrying navy destroyer to within 2,500km of the target.
It's exactly the weapon that can be all too convenient for someone as politically sensitive as the President of the United States, and can be too easily employed without regard to the long-term impact such a Boomsday device may have on the nation's security.
Forget about the Russians. This should be the real debate about the CSM.