US nuclear posture review: Strategic deterrence is key
It’s a pity. We are now being subjected to the profound histrionics of the Leftists and the radical Libertarian “antiwar” crowd, exhibiting major conniptions in response to leaks of the Bush Administration’s nuclear strategy policy, or, as it is more aptly known, the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The document outlines various contingencies for the use of nuclear weaponry. And let’s emphasize here that only selected quotes and parts of the document are currently available, so we are not able to evaluate the full report in its larger context. Noteworthy myriad similar reports have been around for many years, since the inception of the atomic bomb. So why all the fuss now?
As usual, the liberal media is abetting this bunch of pantywaist whiners that are profoundly overreacting to contingency plans of the sort that are required by every presidential administration. The British tabloid, “The Mirror” even went so far as to tag the strategic review as “Bush’s Nuclear Lunacy”, incredibly apropos of the European Left and its virulent anti-Americanism. For clarification purposes, the Pentagon released a statement noting that “The Department of Defense continues to plan for a broad range of contingencies and unforeseen threats to the United States and its allies”, which is clearly integral to the DOD’s function. And, at a recent press conference, President Bush remarked in reference to the NPR, “We’ve got all the options on the table because we want to make it very clear to nations that you will not threaten the United States, or use Weapons of Mass Destruction against us or our allies or friends” (MSNBC).
Supporters of the Bush administration’s NPR have been unfairly branded as warmongers and certifiable “Dr. Strangelove” devotees, intent on igniting nuclear warfare and increasing the probability of a nuclear exchange. These allegations are erroneous, and pure besmirchment to boot, since this nuclear contingency plan is specifically designed to dissuade antagonistic nations from upping the ante and utilizing any and all Weapons of Mass Destruction, including the nuclear variety. The Bush administration not only well respects the inherent dangers of nuclear warfare. It’s also fully committed to a policy of strategic deterrence that will ultimately decrease the likelihood of any Weapon of Mass Destruction being utilized, making the consequences of such an assault exceedingly onerous for belligerents to risk. And the specificity of the document sends the stark message to the aggressors that “We know who you are, and what you are doing”, overtly identifying those nations that both harbor Weapons of Mass Destruction and pose a danger to the US and its allies.
As widely noted in the media, there is a significant controversy surrounding the NPR’s seven so-called “target” nations. These are nations under intense US scrutiny, threatening regimes that could possibly unleash Weapons of Mass Destruction. But the NPR has been criticized by some quarters for simply referencing this fundamental information, as if identifying these seven nations is truly an act of provocation that can incite war! That’s totally absurd. The seven nations that possess Weapons of Mass Destruction (and that are still believed to represent a peril) are Russia, China, Syria, Libya, and the “Axis of Evil” threesome, North Korea, Iraq and Iran. Despite the developing positive tone of the American-Russian relationship, Russia’s immense nuclear arsenal is still considered a daunting and destabilizing threat to world peace. In view of the changing global landscape of the 21st century, it was necessary for the current NPR to depict a more comprehensive perspective, involving the seven menacing world players, as noted.
The key premise that must be acknowledged in this emerging warfare milieu is that nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry are all on the same conceptual and practical footing, they are all Weapons of Mass Destruction that can kill thousands or even millions if unleashed upon the world. Hence, these are to be treated as rough equivalents, incurring comparable consequences. Any regime found to have orchestrated (either directly or indirectly via a surrogate terrorist organization) catastrophic attacks, utilizing any of the Weapons of Mass Destruction, should unquestionably trigger a nuclear response from the United States.
NPR’s naysayers are also miffed that the United States has clearly developed contingency plans to place Israel, Taiwan and South Korea under our “nuclear umbrella” in the event that a military conflict spins out of control and threatens the very existence of one of these allies. Planning for this possibility should not be surprising, given that US policy reflects a long standing commitment to the security of these three nation-states. Many critics have underscored that Israel is already a nuclear power and does not need us to directly intervene in its wars. But the NPR is all about evaluating contingencies and options. And it’s not inconceivable that Israel’s population, and its ability to defend itself, could be radically harmed by a series of horrific biological or chemical attacks. Clearly, the US would get involved under these circumstances, and would probably consider a nuclear response to such a massive and barbaric assault upon Israel. In truth, the US has become the guarantor of Israel, Taiwan, and North Korea’s survival, providing assurance that our nation will not permit these allies to be overcome by enemies. Again, this speaks to deterrence, placing aggressors on notice that some acts are totally unacceptable, and will inevitably trigger a cogent response from the United States.
Why is it important to delineate specifics in the NPR? Undoubtedly, to send a message. Because history has demonstrate that expansionist regimes inevitably move with alacrity against neighboring nations when they believe that there will be no significant repercussions or “price to pay”. Remember, Hitler took Poland, Saddam Hussein moved against Kuwait, and likewise, North Korea invaded South Korea because they believed that no nation would take action to stop them. The US is clearly establishing the “line in the sand” that must not be crossed, stressing that aggressors cannot act with impunity.
Moreover, the NPR also reportedly calls for the development of new “mini-nukes” and other smaller, tactical nuclear devices, noting that the United States would benefit from “bunker busting” nukes, and nuclear arms that minimize collateral damage and civilian deaths. Although thermobaric bombs are currently utilized by the military for demolishing underground cave complexes, such as those found in Afghanistan, newer tactical nukes may be deployed if it is vital to fully destroy underground bunkers that harbor enemy command centers or biological and chemical weaponry labs. It’s difficult to understand why this particular proposal is generating considerable angst among NPR’s critics. Clearly we are dismantling our old nuclear arsenals and we will need to replace them with hi-tech, state-of-the-art nuclear devices.
Lastly, China’s response to our nation’s Nuclear Posture Review (which specifically cites China as one of the disreputable “seven”) was truly rich. “Like many other countries, China is deeply shocked with the content of this report”, stated Foreign Ministry Spokesman Sun Yuxi (Reuters). A bit ironic? Yes, and reminiscent of the classic scene from the movie “Casablanca”, as Capt. Renault exclaims, “I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”, despite his close association with Rick’s Café Americain and its notorious casino.