[A-List] US imperialism: military aggression
Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Mar 11 23:36:08 MST 2002
America wants to turn the unthinkable into usable tools of warfare
By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent, 12 March 2002
Yes, it's only contingency planning, an exercise conducted by any
self-respecting national defence ministry to confront "just-in-case"
scenarios - what Colin Powell, the American Secretary of State, called
simply "sound, military conceptual planning".
But as the heated reaction around the world yesterday proves, the leak
of America's new thinking on nuclear weapons has far-reaching and, for
some, frightening implications. To allay these anxieties, it will take a
good deal more than the assurance from Vice-President Dick Cheney that
America was not planning pre-emptive nuclear strikes against anyone.
Technically that may be so. But the Pentagon blueprint worries arms
control experts on two scores. First, by urging new and less powerful
weapons that create less fall-out, America gives the impression it is
seeking to lower the nuclear threshhold, to turn weapons regarded as the
unthinkable last resort of deterrence into usable tools of warfare.
In the dry language of the review, "greater flexibility is needed with
respect to nuclear force and planning ... nuclear attack options that
vary in scale, scope and purpose will complement other military
As such, the ideas reconjure up the old notions of battlefield weapons
and neutron bombs, criticised in their time for blurring the distinction
between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons. Once even a small weapon had
been exploded in anger, it was feared, nothing would stand in the way of
the spiral to the most fearful weapons.
The reaction from directly interested parties was swift. Iran
predictably claimed that the blueprint was further proof of America's
desire to intimidate and impose its will on the rest of the world.
China, one of the seven countries singled out, suggested that Washington
wanted to return to the Cold War. One Russian politician acidly
commented that since 11 September Americans "have somewhat lost touch
with the reality in which they live".
The hypothetical new generation of weapons for which the Pentagon yearns
would be able to take out specific targets, in countries that do not
have nuclear arms (of the seven specifically mentioned in the review,
Libya, Syria and Iran are known not to have nuclear weapons). The review
would seem to reverse the long-standing American position that
Washington will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear powers,
unless they are fighting alongside a country which does have nuclear
Diplomatically the adverse fall-out may be even more immediate. By
refocusing on nuclear weapons that might be used, the overwhelmingly
mightiest conventional military power seems to be undercutting its own
efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, increasingly the justification
for President George Bush's war against terrorism.
Far from deterring proliferation, the leaked plans may make countries
that have acquired nuclear weapons, such as Pakistan and India, more
ready to use them, disarmament experts say. Countries believed to be
pursuing them, such as North Korea, Iraq and Iran, are likely to step up
America insists that the nuclear non-proliferation treaty is the best
avenue to contain the spread of nuclear weapons. To encourage other
countries to sign up, it pledged it would never use such weapons against
a country that did not have them. That assurance has now been removed,
at least by implication
Full article at:
Mercuria Business School
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
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