[IWAR] US POLICY nuclear strategy

From: 7Pillars Partners (partnersat_private)
Date: Sun Mar 01 1998 - 17:55:31 PST

  • Next message: 7Pillars Partners: "[IWAR] SOCIOLOGY Boyd impact on development, life"

    Pentagon study: 'Irrational' nuclear policy a deterrent
     March 1, 1998
     Web posted at: 8:35 p.m. EST (0135 GMT) 
     WASHINGTON (AP) -- The
     United States should maintain the
     threat of nuclear retaliation with an
     "irrational and vindictive" streak to
     intimidate would-be attackers
     such as Iraq, according to an internal military study made public
     The study, "Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence," was written
     by the Defense Department's Strategic Command, a multiservice
     organization responsible for the nation's strategic nuclear arsenal. It
     was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by an arms
     control group and published Sunday in a report on U.S. strategies
     for deterring attacks by antagonistic nations using chemical,
     biological or nuclear weapons. 
     "Because of the value that comes from the ambiguity of what the
     U.S. may do to an adversary if the acts we seek to deter are
     carried out, it hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and
     cool-headed," the 1995 Strategic Command study says. 
     The British-American Security Information Council, a
     London-based think tank, cited the STRATCOM document in its
     report as an example of the Pentagon's push to maintain a mission
     for its nuclear arsenal long after the Soviet threat disappeared. 
     The report portrays the command as fighting and winning an
     internal bureaucratic battle against liberal Clinton administration
     officials who lean in favor of dramatic nuclear weapons reductions.
     Citing a range of formerly classified documents obtained through
     the Freedom of Information Act, the report shows how the United
     States shifted its nuclear deterrent strategy from the defunct Soviet
     Union to so-called rogue states: Iraq, Libya, Cuba, North Korea
     and the like. 
     Idea dates back to early 1960s
     In its study, the Strategic Command uses Cold War language in
     defending the relevance of nuclear weapons in deterring such
     potential adversaries. 
     "The fact that some elements (of the U.S. government) may appear
     to be potentially 'out of control' can be beneficial to creating and
     reinforcing fears and doubts within the minds of an adversary's
     decision makers," its report said. "That the U.S. may become
     irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a
     part of the national persona we project to all adversaries." 
     The idea of projecting an aura of irrationality was not original to
     STRATCOM. It dates at least as far back as the early 1960s,
     when Harvard professor Thomas Schelling was writing his
     ground-breaking works on game theory and nuclear bargaining. 
     "It is not a universal advantage in situations of conflict to be
     inalienably and manifestly rational in decision and motivation,"
     Schelling wrote. These were ideas later adopted by Henry
     Kissinger and President Nixon in using coercive air strikes on
     North Vietnam as a way of forcing Hanoi to the bargaining table in
     the latter stages of the Vietnam War. 
     In 1997, two years after STRATCOM advanced its latter-day
     version of this theory, President Clinton approved a directive on
     U.S. nuclear policy that upheld the "negative security assurance"
     that the United States will refrain from first-use of nuclear weapons
     against signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a list
     that includes Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea. 
     Effects on Non-Proliferation Treaty
     The policy, however, includes exceptions that presidential adviser
     Robert Bell said have been "refined" in recent years. They would
     allow responding with nuclear weapons to attacks by
     nuclear-capable states, countries that are not in good standing
     under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or states allied with
     nuclear powers. 
     Iraq, which the United States regards as violating international
     atomic weapons restrictions, could be one such exception. 
     Arms control advocates are concerned that signatories to the
     Non-Proliferation Treaty who possess no nuclear weapons will
     abandon the pact if they see the existing nuclear powers preserving
     their nuclear arsenals and finding missions for their weapons --
     particularly if those missions include scenarios that involve attacks
     on them. 
     Bell, President Clinton's senior adviser on nuclear weapons and
     arms control matters, disputed that argument in an interview
     "I don't think there's a disconnect in principle between some level
     of general planning at STRATCOM and the negative security
     assurance and our goals relative to the Non-Proliferation Treaty,"
     Bell said. 
     Treaty signatories are more worried about their neighbors than the
     United States, Bell said, and they support the nuclear weapons
     reductions the treaty imposes on nuclear-armed states. 
     Of the 1995 Strategic Command document, Bell said, "That
     sounds like an internal STRATCOM paper which certainly does
     not rise to the level of national policy." 
     Strategic Command worried about its role
     Navy Lt. Laurel Tingley, spokeswoman for the Omaha,
     Nebraska-based command, said she could not comment on the
     council's report until it could be reviewed in detail. She restated the
     command's basic policy guidance that deterrence of attacks
     involving nuclear, chemical or biological weapons is "the
     fundamental purpose of U.S. nuclear forces." 
     Worried that the Clinton administration wanted to end the
     command's role, an internal memo referred in 1993 to
     then-Assistant Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, who was in
     charge of proliferation and arms control issues, as having "negative
     feelings" toward nuclear weapons. 
     Background information on Carter, the command document said,
     indicated "a less than favorable long-term outlook for nuclear
     weapons" and long-term visions of "complete denuclearization." 
     Carter, now at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of
     Government, said in a telephone interview the Strategic Command
     saw its influence within the Pentagon waning as budgets for nuclear
     weapons were slashed after the Cold War. 
     At the Pentagon, Carter was trying to develop nonnuclear options
     for retaliating against rogue attackers who used weapons of mass
     destruction, he said, "because any president would surely prefer to
     have nonnuclear options." 
     "It doesn't surprise me at all that those who were responsible for
     nuclear weapons budgets would find that threatening," Carter said.
     But at the time, he said, the real threat to the Strategic Command's
     mission came not from civilian Pentagon officials but from within
     the uniformed military. 
     Copyright 1997 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
     This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 13:05:57 PDT