Illustration explaining the convergence of nuclear and non-nuclear options for Pentagon war planning.
Comments to the document by the various military branches
revealsquabbling about who gets to run a nuclear war, a
disagreement aboutthe legality of pre-emptive warfighting
strategies, and a discussion ofthe etiquette of alerting allied
troops that a nuclear attack is comingtheir way.
exactly the kind ofinformation which we believe ought to be flying
around the internet; these guys really shouldn't be left alone to
talkabout this stuff behind closed doors.
our copy and uploaded it
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UpdateFebruary, 2006: The Joint Nuclear
Operations Doctrine andfourother documents have been formally
cancelled by thePentagon. However, this means no substantive change
to US nuclear policy, onlythat the documents have been removed from
the public domain and thePentagon reading list. More
informationfrom the Federation of Amercian Scientists.
Nuclear war: it's not just for breakfast anymore
Thedocument is a rare unpolished look at how the Cold War
doctrine ofnuclear first strike - previously spun as "deterrence" -
has taken on anew dimension.
It reveals that the threshold for actually using nuclearweapons
has been lowered dramatically.
And it outs the untruth ofGeorge Bush claiming that the US is
reducing the importance of itsnuclear arsenal.
For instance, the document condones pre-emptivenuclear strikes
against nations (even those without nuclear weapons)which the US
might use chemical or biological weaponsagainst US forces or
allies. The document also condones the use ofnuclear weapons as
just another item in the warfighting toolbox, andunderscores the
importance of US troops being able to continuefunctioning in a
highly irradiated battle zone.
Thedocument has excellent, practical advice on
how to deal with situationslike a nuclear foe who might retaliate
with nuclear weapons:
"Executinga nuclear option, or even a portion of an option, should send a clearsignal of United States' resolve. Hence, options must be selected verycarefully and deliberately so that the attack can help ensure theadversary recognizes the "signal" and should therefore not assume theUnited States has escalated to general nuclear war, although thatperception cannot be guaranteed."
Fission vision sparks division
comforting to know thatthe Pentagon recognises that nuclear weapons
are very, very bad atconveying nuanced messages. Perhaps if they
accompanied the attack witha thoughtful card, that would help make
their meaning clear?
However,editing notes show internal disagreement amongst US
militarycommanders. The disputes are over the document's enthusiasm
for usingnuclear weapons in attacks on infrastructure which would
inevitablylead to massive civilian casualties. Some commanders
expressed extremedoubts over both the legality of the new nuclear
doctrine, and that thethreats used to justify this new doctrine
The USstrategic command, STRATCOM, which directs nuclear
warfightingcommented "Many operational law attorneys do not believe
"countervalue"targeting is a lawful justification for employment of
force, much lessnuclear force. Countervalue philosophy makes no
distinction betweenpurely civilian activities and military-related
activities and could beused to justify deliberate attacks on
civilians and non-militaryportions of a nation's economy... For
example, under the countervaluetarget philosophy, the attack on the
World Trade Centre Towers on 9/11could be justified."
Since it's not illegal, it must be ok
Ina chilling finale, "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations"
concludesthat "no customary or conventional international law
prohibits nationsfrom employing nuclear weapons in armed
Greenpeacedisarmament campaigner William Peden said, "This
document should send ashiver down the spine of everyone. It shows
that the highest levels ofthe Pentagon have undergone a major shift
in thinking and now viewnuclear weapons no longer as a weapon of
last resort but a weapon thatcan and should be used."
"This means a US military machineprepared to use nuclear weapons
first, against non-nuclear countries andnon-military-related,
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