There is a copy of a Pentagon paper floating around the internet.
The document is a rare unpolished look at how the Cold War doctrine of nuclear first strike - previously spun as "deterrence" - has taken on a new dimension.
Greenpeace has been doing its part to see that the world sees what the geographic state of the United States is contemplating, and even though you may have heard of it, it is horrifying to see in Pentagonese.
It reveals that the threshold for actually using nuclear weapons has been lowered dramatically.
And it outs the untruth of George Bush claiming that the US is reducing the importance of its nuclear arsenal.
For instance, the document condones pre-emptive nuclear strikes against nations (even those without nuclear weapons) which the US government thinks might use chemical or biological weapons against US forces or allies.
The document also condones the use of nuclear weapons as just another item in the warfighting toolbox, and underscores the importance of US troops being able to continue functioning in a highly irradiated battle zone.
Here are some key quotes from the study:
"Executing a nuclear option, or even a portion of an option, should send a clear signal of United States' resolve. Hence, options must be selected very carefully and deliberately so that the attack can help ensure the adversary recognizes the "signal" and should therefore not assume the United States has escalated to general nuclear war, although that perception cannot be guaranteed."
"Friendly forces must receive advanced warning of friendly nuclear strikes."
"The immediate and prolonged effects of nuclear weapons including blast (overpressure, dynamic pressure, ground shock, and cratering), thermal radiation (fire and other material effects), and nuclear radiation (initial, residual, fallout, blackout, and electromagnetic pulse), impose physical and psychological challenges for combat forces and noncombatant populations alike.
These effects also pose significant survivability requirements on military equipment, supporting civilian infrastructure resources, and host-nation/coalition assets. US forces must prepare to survive and perhaps operate in a nuclear/radiological environment."
However, editing notes show internal disagreement amongst US military commanders. The disputes are over the document's enthusiasm for using nuclear weapons in attacks on infrastructure which would inevitably lead to massive civilian casualties. Some commanders expressed extreme doubts over both the legality of the new nuclear doctrine, and that the threats used to justify this new doctrine actually exist.
The US strategic command, STRATCOM, which directs nuclear warfighting commented "Many operational law attorneys do not believe "countervalue" targeting is a lawful justification for employment of force, much less nuclear force. Countervalue philosophy makes no distinction between purely civilian activities and military-related activities and could be used to justify deliberate attacks on civilians and non-military portions of a nation's economy...
For example, under the countervalue target philosophy, the attack on the World Trade Centre Towers on 9/11 could be justified."
In a chilling finale, "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" concludes that "no customary or conventional international law prohibits nations from employing nuclear weapons in armed conflict."
On another less than cheery note, the POTUS has threatened to exercise his only veto of his presidential career to ensure that the dread bill with the anti torture clause in it does not become law. Here is the story.
Bush will veto anti-torture law after Senate revolt
By Francis Harris in Washington
The Bush administration pledged yesterday to veto legislation banning the torture of prisoners by US troops after an overwhelming and almost unprecedented revolt by loyalist congressmen.
The late-night Senate vote saw the measure forbidding torture passed by 90 to nine, with most Republicans backing the measure. Most senators said the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal and similar allegations at the Guantanamo Bay prison rendered the result a foregone conclusion.
The administration's extraordinary isolation was underlined when the Senate Republican majority leader, Bill Frist, supported the amendment.
The man behind the legislation, Republican Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner in Vietnam, said the move was backed by American soldiers. His amendment would prohibit the "cruel, inhumane or degrading" treatment of prisoners in the custody of America's defence department.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan warned yesterday,"We have put out a Statement of Administration Policy saying that his advisers would recommend that he vetoes it if it contains such language,"
The administration said Congress was attempting to tie its hands in the war against terrorism."
Somebody needs to tie their hands.
And their feet.
We can ask questions later.
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