Shame on George W. Bush:
the Push to Justify American Use of Nuclear Weapons
Consider the following bit of news. Consider the implications. It is the outcome of years of Bush policy-making:
Monday, Sep 12, 2005
A new draft US defense paper calls for preventive nuclear strikes against state and non-state adversaries in order to deter them from using weapons of mass destruction and urges US troops to "prepare to use nuclear weapons effectively."
The document, titled Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations and dated March 15, was put together by the Pentagon's Joint Staff in at attempt to adapt current procedures to the fast-changing world after the September 11, 2001, attacks, a defense official said.
But the official, who spoke to reporters late Saturday on condition of anonymity, said it has not yet been signed by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and thus has not been made official policy.
"It's in the process of being considered," the official said.
A copy of the draft obtained by reporters urges US theater force commanders operating around the world to prepare specific plans for using nuclear weapons in their regions -- and outlines scenarios, under which it would be justified to seek presidential approval for a nuclear strike.
They include an adversary using or planning to use weapons of mass destruction against US or allied forces as well as civilian populations.
Preventive nuclear strikes could also be employed to destroy a biological weapons arsenal belonging to an enemy, if there is no possibility to take it out with conventional weapons and it is determined the enemy is poised for a biological attack, according to the draft.
They could also be seen as justified to destroy hardened bunkers containing enemy chemical or biological weapons or the command and control infrastructure required to execute a chemical, biological or nuclear attack.
However, a number of scenarios allow nuclear strikes without enemy weapons of mass destruction in the equation. They could be used, for instance, to counter potentially overwhelming conventional adversaries, to secure a rapid end of a war on US terms, or simply "to ensure success of US and multinational operations," the document indicates.
In the context of the US-led "war on terror," the draft explicitly warns that any attempt by a hostile power to hand over weapons of mass destruction to militant groups to enable them to strike a devastating blow against the United States will likely trigger a US nuclear response against the culprit.
Regional US commanders may request presidential approval to go nuclear "to respond to adversary-supplied WMD use by surrogates against US and multinational forces or civilian populations," the draft says.
The doctrine also gives the Pentagon the green light to deploy nuclear weapons to parts of the world where their future use is considered the most likely and urges troops to constantly train for nuclear warfare.
"To maximize deterrence of WMD use, it is essential US forces prepare to use nuclear weapons effectively and that US forces are determined to employ nuclear weapons if necessary to prevent or retaliate against WMD use," the document states.
For years now Bush and his neoconservatives have been pushing our military toward a reconsideration of what had become a no nuclear policy.
Perhaps we're actually going to approve this new proposal--or rather, Rumsfeld is going to approve it. How does it look to you "conservatives," you "Republicans" out there?
Consider that the U.S. already has to bear the shame of being the only nation in the world ever to use nuclear weapons. Yes, our decision to drop the atom bomb on two Japanese cities brought an earlier end to WWII. But it was also undeniably something else: incinerating tens of thousands of civilians--including, of course, children--is a war crime of the first order. This is something our high school history textbooks don't make clear. Nuking civilian populations is a war crime if ever there was one.
Consider also that according to this proposal we would be giving ourselves the right to use nuclear weapons "pre-emptively"--i.e., we could call for a "pre-emptive" attack when we saw fit, when, I suppose, our intelligence said there is a threat, or when, more likely, the interests of our corporate elite were seen to correspond to some "regime change" or other military action. This is the same shameful and illegal doctrine we called upon to justify the current war--except that, oh well, there weren't any WMD in Iraq after all. It's the same ill-advised doctrine, except that next time we'll be using nuclear weapons.
Think about how convenient it would have been in the case of Iraq if we'd had this pre-emptive nuclear strike policy in place. Bush could have simply decreed a nuclear strike on the sites that Iraq was using to store or develop WMD. Then, after the fall of Saddam's government, given that the nuclear strikes would have ensured that the WMD sites were entirely obliterated, it would have been impossible to demonstrate that there hadn't been any WMD there to begin with. In short, such a policy could be used to justify nuking any site our government chooses to nuke, without the uncomfortable need later on to show that there was any real threat.
"We haven't found any WMD? Well, that's because our nuclear strikes incinerated all the WMD, melted it. Americans don't have to worry any more about the terrible threat posed by those chemical weapons."
We'll be able to call nuclear strikes on any target we claim has WMD present, and after we call the strike it will be impossible to even verify if we were right or wrong about what was there.
The use of nuclear weapons is in itself despicable. The use of such weapons in this "pre-emptive" manner is doubly so.
I am becoming ever more ashamed of America and its policies. What kind of nation are we becoming? It seems we are not content simply to be the world's most powerful nation. No, we arrogate to ourselves a place above all law, we give ourselves the right to decide the life or death of neighborhoods, cities, peoples. And because of this we are becoming one of the world's most hated nations.
As if the doctrine of "pre-emptive war" hasn't already been proven ill-advised by what's happened in Iraq, now the Bush people are pushing to link this doctrine to nuclear weapons use. It is beyond belief.
September 15, 2005
As usual, the Bush policy here is out of step with previous U.S. administrations. And I don't only mean out of step with the policies of Democrats. No, Bush's policies typically constitute radical departures from the positions of previous Republican presidents too. He should not in my view be considered a Republican at all: sane Republicans ought to be standing up against his excesses. Bush and the neoconservatives are radicals--dangerous radicals.
"I support a zero option for all nuclear weapons . . . my dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons are banished from the face of the earth."
--President Ronald Reagan, January 16, 1984
"The fact is, I see no compelling reason why we should not unilaterally get rid of nuclear weapons. To maintain them is costly and adds nothing to our security."
--Paul Nitze, former arms control negotiator, Reagan administration, New York Times, October 29, 1999
"I view our nuclear arsenal as a deterrent . . . And the President must have all options available to make that deterrent have meaning."
--President George W. Bush, responding to a question about developing low-yield nuclear weapons, March 13, 2002
"The Bush administration's new nuclear doctrine represents an abrupt departure from the policies of prior administrations, Democratic and Republican alike. Far from representing "new thinking," as some observers have suggested, the proposed Bush nuclear policy represents the triumph of a small circle of conservative theorists who have long pressed for expanding the role of nuclear weapons as a guarantor of U.S. military superiority and a tool for exerting political and strategic influence. While President Bush has pledged to substantially reduce the numbers of nuclear warheads deployed by the United States, his proposed policy would dramatically expand the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. strategy."
--About Face: The Role of the Arms Lobby In the Bush Administration's Radical Reversal of Two Decades of U.S. Nuclear Policy, A World Policy Institute Special Report by William D. Hartung, with Jonathan Reingold, May, 2002
This page is at http://www.necessaryprose.com/