[A-List] Bushfeld's Nukes
sherrynstan at igc.org
Sat Dec 14 08:30:50 MST 2002
Bush policy: Hit first if attack is threat
MIKE ALLEN AND BARTON GELLMAN
WASHINGTON - A Bush administration strategy announced Tuesday calls for the use of pre-emptive military and covert force before an enemy unleashes weapons of mass destruction.
It underscores the United States' willingness to retaliate with nuclear weapons for chemical or biological attacks on U.S. soil or against American troops overseas.
The strategy introduces a more aggressive approach to combating weapons of mass destruction and comes as the nation prepares for a possible war with Iraq.
A version of the strategy released by the White House said the U.S. will "respond with overwhelming force," including "all options," to the use of biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear weapons on the nation, its troops or its allies.
However, a classified version of the strategy goes even further: It breaks with 50 years of American counter proliferation efforts by authorizing pre-emptive strikes on states and terrorist groups that are close to acquiring weapons of mass destruction, or the long-range missiles capable of delivering them.
The policy aims to prevent the transfer of weapons components or to destroy them before they can be assembled.
In a top-secret appendix, the directive names Iran, Syria, North Korea and Libya among the countries of central focus in the new American approach. Administration officials said that did not imply President Bush intends to use military force, covert or overt, in any of those countries. He is determined, they said, to stop transfers of weapons components in or out of their borders.
The policy sets out practical ramifications of Bush's doctrine of pre-emption, contained in a national security strategy released in September, which turns away from Cold War doctrine based on deterrence and containment in favor of taking on hostile states before they can strike.
It reiterates in more universal terms a warning that was made to Iraq, in much more general terms, on the eve of the Persian Gulf War of 1991. Alerter from the elder President Bush promised "the strongest possible response" if Iraq were to use chemical and biological weapons against U.S. and allied troops.
But the new policy is more specific, detailing the consequences for an enemy's use of weapons of mass destruction. "The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force-- including through resort to all of our options -- to the use of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies," the document says.
Although the document does not mention Iraq, the timing of its release sent an unmistakable message to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein about the potential consequences of using nonconventional weapons in a future war.
A senior administration official, briefing reporters on the new strategy, said those options include nuclear force. The official said the 1991 letter had its intended effect. "He didn't cross the line of using chemical or biological weapons," the official said. "The Iraqis have told us that they interpreted that letter as meaning that the United States would use nuclear weapons, and it was a powerful deterrent."
In the past, U.S. officials have seen some advantage in keeping the world guessing about how the United States would respond to evidence that a country or a terrorist group was hiding weapons of mass destruction deep underground. And Bush administration officials were at pains Tuesday to insist there was nothing new in their formulation.
But under Bush, Pentagon officials also have appeared to taken a step closer to the possible limited use of nuclear weapons by pursuing more usable ones.
A review of nuclear policy completed by defense officials a year ago put added emphasis on developing low-yield nuclear weapons that could be used to burrow deep and destroy underground complexes. This has raised questions about whether the administration is lowering the threshold for using nuclear arms.
Officials deny they are doing so. But they also argue the strategic calculations necessary for combating terrorism and hostile nations must inherently be different from those used during the Cold War, when deterrence meant simply convincing the Soviets that the United States would wipe them out if attacked.
Against today's new enemies, the administration has argued, it might be necessary to strike pre-emptively and with nuclear weapons that would keep fallout to a minimum.
The administration published a broader national security strategy in September, and the preparation of a separate policy on weapons of mass destruction reflects the seriousness with which the administration takes the threat of attacks from rogue states and terrorist organizations.
Is the US criminal justice system a weapon of mass destruction?
Money for reparations, not for war!
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