In violation of International Law and the decisions of the World Court the United States has declared itself willing to use nuclear weapons against those who threaten this country not with atomic, but with a chemical or biological attack. In a top-secret document called a Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) President Clinton placed language that would permit this nation to employ nuclear weapons in a measured response against any perceived enemy that uses, or that the U.S. believes is planning to use, chemical or biological agents against this country. The president issued the directive last month and theWashington Post revealed its existence in a December 7th article.
This represents the United States' first departure from the position taken by former presidents, reaffirmed by President Carter in 1978 and even by President Clinton, himself, in 1995 that America, in concert with Britain, China, Russia and France, would engage in nuclear combat only with other nations possessing atomic weapons and never on a first-strike initiative. (Associated Press, Dec. 8, 1997).
Within Clinton's directive lies tacit admission, for the first time since the end of the cold war, that the doctrine of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) is an untenable position for any nation to assume. A poignantly suitable acronym, MAD dictated that any nuclear war initiated against America would be met with an overwhelming response of such total devastation as to make any nuclear exchange unthinkable. The cold war MAD policy had remained intact, in one form or another, since World War II as the ultimate policy of deterrence.
Clinton's PDD heralds the first major shift in nuclear weapons targeting since 1981, according to a White House source in the National Security Council (NSC) who commented to The WINDS on condition of anonymity. This Presidential Directive appears, on the surface, to be a positive step toward avoiding the use of atomic weaponry. On closer examination, however, the new policy shows itself to be an illusion that will actually make it even easier to employ nuclear bombs as a policy tool, partly, because targeted nations will be only those who are unable to respond in kind.
The White House NSC officer also informed The WINDS, concerning the content of the secret document that, "It states clearly that we will continue to use nuclear weapons as a hedge against an uncertain future." When this office asked specifically if there was any mention in the PDD of the United State's nuclear attitude toward chemical or biological attacks, the officer, after a substantial period of time stammering and rephrasing, continued to reference only issues concerning countries threatening or using nuclear weapons against America. When pressed concerning the matter of CBW, only the oblique response was given that America "would consider all [which includes nuclear] options and our response would be overwhelming and devastating should someone seek to attack us with chemical or biological weapons." The phrase "seek to attack", as opposed to just "attack", seems to clearly indicate a reservation for the use of first-strike, preemptive action on the part of the United States.
The president's new directive, said thePost "was prepared within an extraordinarily restricted circle of senior policymakers -- numbering no more than two dozen people...." An Associated Press report quoted Robert Bell, a senior member of Clinton's National Security Council as saying, "We're all more attuned to the threat of chemical and biological weapons....The (directive) requires a wide range of nuclear retaliatory options," Bell said, "from a limited strike to a more general nuclear exchange."
According to the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy think tank, the idea of the U.S. employing nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis is not a new one. When Libya began construction of a heavily fortified underground facility near Tarhunah, believed to be a production site for chemical warfare agents, Pentagon officials, in the spring of 1996, seriously considered "the option of destroying [the plant] with a nuclear blast, then later retracted this statement."
"On July 8, 1996, the International Court of Justice ruled that any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, other than possibly in the case where the very survival of a nation was threatened, was against international law. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Feb. 10, 1997). [emphasis supplied]
The U.S. is not alone in this mind-set. The power motivating these policies does not reside in this country alone. The Center for Security Policy, another of the ubiquitous policy think tanks based in the nation's capitol, stated in a December 8th Decision Brief, that "the CIA told Congress in material released last week by the Senate intelligence committee...some Russian officials...'have called for developing first-use and limited-use nuclear options to prevent a regional conflict from expanding into a broader war.'" The board of directors for the Center for Security Policy boasts as its members such Washington power figures as former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger and former UN Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick.
Some are convinced that the president, who is by title at least the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, is actually being led around by a policy ring in his nose attached to the Pentagon's military brass.
"John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists, an arms control advocacy group, argued Sunday that the presidential directive represents a far sharper official policy shift than the Clinton administration would admit. The White House, he said, was bowing to strategies already set by the military.
"'What they are retroactively doing is attempting to realign national policy with what the operational policy has been for some time,' Pike said. 'The colonels and lieutenant colonels figured out what they wanted to do, and you've just now got the White House catching up with that.'" (AP, Dec. 8, 1997).
Military officials at the Omaha headquarters of STRATCOM (Strategic Command) would implement the presidential doctrine into the targeting strategy of whatever the Commander-in-Chief defines as an attack or the threat of one. Under the apparent rationale of keeping the world safe for democracy if the United States were incapacitated in a nuclear war, the U.S. has, "since the late 1970s," according to the Post report, "had a special targeting plan for China that required U.S. weapons to be held in reserve for possible strikes against Beijing's handful of strategic warheads, its leadership, its petroleum supply and its electrical power system. The aim of the plan was to ensure that China could not become the world's most powerful nation following a general nuclear war between Russia and the United States." In other words, "bomb the Chinese back into the Stone Age to assure that America will never be supplanted as the world's only super power"--an apparently perverse twist of O'Sullivan's already twisted doctrine of Manifest Destiny--similar to a child breaking another's toys because his own were taken away. Is this the true face of "practical" racism?
In a December 8th press briefing, White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the meaning of so much reference to China in the report. McCurry responded, "If China is discussed directly in that presidential directive document, it is a classified document and I wouldn't talk about it here...the president appropriately adjusts targeting doctrine as he sees fit as Commander-in-Chief."
National Public Radio reported Chinese officials as questioning that if the U.S. is claiming it is impossible for any nation to win a full-scale nuclear war, why then the necessity of maintaining and updating such a large nuclear arsenal?
In open disregard of START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) to which the United States is a principal signatory, the U.S. has, for some time, been developing new versions of old nuclear weapons specifically designed for use against single target initiatives such as the underground CW facility at Tarhunah, Libya.
Referring to the aforementioned ruling by the International Court of Justice at The Hague on the illegal use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons, theBulletin of the Atomic Scientists observes that "after this landmark decision, it is difficult to legally support the deployment, let alone the new development, of any tactical nuclear weapon, especially one whose development appears to have been motivated by a desire to target non-nuclear weapon states."
The specific weapon at issue in this furiously debated argument is a nuclear gravity bomb designed to penetrate a distance into the earth before detonating. The B61-11, a substantially modified version of the aging B53 nuclear warhead, would deliver the equivalent of up to 300,000 tons of TNT, creating a shock wave to a depth of several thousand meters, collapsing structures and killing personnel. The B61-11 can be delivered by several aircraft in the U.S. arsenal including the B-2A Stealth Bomber, F16 and the B-1B.
The bomb is designed with a specially hardened steel casing surrounding the "physics package" (the actual thermo-nuclear part of the bomb), a pointed nose and an aerodynamic structure suitable to penetrating the ground.
According to Sandia National Laboratory vice-president for National Security Programs, Roger Hagengruber, "All of this is intended to allow the aircraft to deliver the bomb and allow the bomb to orient itself at a steep enough angle that it will enter the ground and proceed a short distance without broaching. Normally, if the bomb hits at a shallow angle, it will either skip or it could go into the ground and then turn and broach - that is, come out of the ground. The intention with the modification is to actually allow it to fully impact....So it is what is called a shallow penetrator munition.
"New weapons projects and weapon modifications," Hagengruber said, "are carried out to meet explicit military needs. Such projects are initiated by USSTRATCOM (Strategic Command), and go through an escalating round of approvals up through and including ultimate approval by the White House and Congress.
"In the case of the B61-11," he said, "the original requirement was brought forward from STRATCOM; it was supported in the Nuclear Weapons Council; was supported by the two secretaries [defense and energy] in conjunction with the agreement and concurrence of both the White House and Congress. Otherwise, we could not have done it; it requires all those people to agree to it. The radiation from the B61-11 blast," Hagengruber said, "is largely contained within the ground, as are the blast effects."
U.S. military authorities contend that the B61-11 is not a new weapon, but merely a modification of an old one. One could logically ask how far back the "modification" process must go before it would be a "new" weapon.
"This weapon is a new military capability," countered Greg Mello, Director of Los Alamos Study Group, a laboratory watchdog organization based in New Mexico. "For all intents and purposes it is a new nuclear weapon. Those who are newly targeted will not care if the weapon is 'new' or merely 'modified'....The B61-11 provided something new, or else why deploy it?"
In his book The Sum of all Fears author Tom Clancy created a fictional scenario in which the president of the United States orders a nuclear strike against an Arab city in response to a terrorist attack at a Superbowl game. The president's plan was thwarted when his cabinet officers refused to cooperate. As it turned out in Clancy's tale, the terrorist lied about who was really at the heart of the plot and an innocent nation was spared the unwarranted devastation. In real life, however, it is not at all unimaginable that such a scenario could very well be played out by the government's creation of a fictional CBW attack on Americans.
When once a nation places its feet upon a path that leads to such as the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians, as in Operation Just Cause against Panama, or the starving of over a half-million children in Iraq, the above abstract does not appear quite so abstract.
The chilling nature of this new Presidential Directive lies in its breadth of potential application. With this nation's political history of interpreting its doctrines and laws to fit whatever the situation seems to warrant, a nuclear response could be called for by any number of vapid, implausible fantasies conceived in the minds of those whose fingers rest upon the nuclear button. They have proven that they can weave virtually any tale into the substance of reality using the media as their vehicle. It is, after all, by way of the media that most are even aware that Saddam Hussein exists. The media is a power that is frequently referred to as the "fourth estate"--the unofficial arm grafted onto the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Considering the authority with which this vestigial member of government is endowed, is it unrealistic to think that they can make Saddam, or anyone, appear to say or do whatever they desire in order to justify this government's actions?
If the U.S. government is willing to lie to its citizens about such things as the existence of the Gulf War Syndrome when nearly 30% of the 700,000 veterans of the conflict have registered with symptoms of the illness; when the lies continue in the downing of TWA Flight 800 in the face of overwhelming evidence against a "fuel explosion"--would not political falsehoods be expected behavior? If that same government, for the purpose of justifying a nuclear retaliation, wanted to convince its citizenry of the existence of a chemical or biological assault that never actually took place, would that not seem business as usual? For politicians a prevarication works as well in reverse as it does forward.
In a documentary film produced by the MacArthur Foundation about the personnel and training involved in launching nuclear missiles, scenes are presented from the 4315th Combat Training Group Squadron at Vandenburg Air Force Base, California. During the orientation of new students, the squadron commander made the following statements:
At the end of THIS DAY we are going to ask you to sign a piece of paper that says that you have thought of all the moral implications about inserting launch keys, and that you have no reservations that if the President of the United States deems our way of life is threatened and is about to be over, that you have no hesitation once that you've authenticated the message and know that it's the president talking that you'll insert those launch keys and launch your missiles--and you know full well the consequences of launching those missiles, with nuclear warheads and the great devastation that will bring.
The Colonel then informed them that they wanted the trainees to know the consequences and not just "be robots" when conducting a launch. Viewing this documentary made it obvious, however, that this is clearly a course designed to assure that robots are precisely what they get. They do not want them confusing the president's order to launch nuclear-tipped missiles with any moral question of indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians.
The Commander's orientation continues:
As you go through our program, decide in your own mind that our way of life is such and that our command and control system is such that the President of the United States is not going to ask you to insert those launch keys until there's just no other option -- it's the FINAL SOLUTION. [Where have we heard that last phrase before?]
"Unconditional and highest freedom of will comes from obedience." --Heinrich Himmler, ReichsfÜhrer-SS
Who is it that is ultimately responsible for this nation's willingness to use weapons of such devastation upon those who disagree with our way of life? The Commander of the missile training squadron gives clear testimony to that:
What makes our nation great and what makes our Air Force and our military forces so great is that we respond to the American people.
The documentary concludes with the Commander leading a church congregation in the Issac Watts hymn, "O God, Our Help in Ages Past". One could wonder if any of the nuclear warriors singing that song "heard" the words of the second verse:
"Under the shadow of Thy throne
Still may we dwell secure;
Sufficient is THINE arm ALONE,
And our defense is sure."
1.) The Brookings Institution
2.) Henry L. Stimpson Center, a Washington think tank that specializes in conflict resolution.
3.) Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
4.) The William J. Casey Institute of the Center for Security Policy B61-11 Technical Information:
5.) The Federation of American Scientists
6.) Sandia National Laboratories
JANE'S DEFENSE WEEKLY -- March 5, 1997
Disclaimer: APFN is not responsible for the accuracy of
material on 'The Winds'
and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within their web pages.
This page is in the public domain.