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U.S. Nuclear Strategy for the Post-Cold War Era
Posted: 08 October 2007 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This is the title of a 1994 publication by RAND. According to the book it was commissioned by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. As you can tell it’s about why we should continue to have a “nuclear strategy” even if the Soviet Union is gone. The following sentence is more than pertinent to current events:

The dependence of the West and Japan on Persian Gulf oil and the power and wealth that comes from controlling that oil guarantee the U.S. interest in that part of the world for as far into the future as anyone can see.

I found this publication at a Half Priced Books some years back and couldn’t believe they were so bold in their admissions. We seem to see no problem in possessing and threatening to use the tools for such massive destruction and annhilation just to ensure “interests.” By threatening others with our nukes we can control the oil in the region and thus have a de facto control over foreign markets.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this “gem.”

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Posted: 08 October 2007 04:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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nuclear policy is a very complex issue. it seems that many ‘intellectuals’ are very anti nukes on an emotional level, without studying the situation.

If you do spend some time studying the subject with an open mind, the inescapable conclusion is; We still need nukes.

Ski.

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Posted: 08 October 2007 04:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Please share these “inescapable” and “complex” reasons that have apparently evaded my “closed mind.”

Why do we “still need nukes”?

Why did we ever “need” them in the first place?

I really would like an explanation on why my grandfather “needed” to be used as a guinea pig in Operation PLUMBOBB.

Why do we “need” the threat of mutual annhilation?

I am more than familiar with the history of “the bomb” and the excuses that have been presented. The problem is is that I find them weak and wreckless. There was never a “need” to dominate others with monstorous weapons or to use them on Japan or to deter the Soviets or to maintain hegemonic control. Even today there is no strategic need that serves a legitimate purpose other than as a tool of intimidation.

I personally found the dismissive tone of the “emotional level” a bit callous. I dont think folks like Carl Sagan, Frida Berrigan, Noam Chomsky and many others are basing their views totally on “emotions” and besides, the “emotional level” is completely legitimate. Sorry, but I am really turned off by the charges made and the insinuations behind them. There was a lot of charged rhetoric in your post that I dont think you came anywhere near justifying. Being opposed to nuclear weapons is not merely the product of an “emotional level” where closed minded people dont “study the situtation.” Many of the opponents to nuclear weapons are relying on strategic, legal, rational and, yes, moral arguments.

I can’t believe I would ever say this, but I rather agree with Robert McNamara (though he completely avoided mentioning Israel):

* Apocalypse Soon by Robert S McNamara

also

* The Nuclear Policy Research Institute - Explain how these guys are not “studying the situation.”

* US/Indo Nuclear Agreement: Derailing a Deal by Noam Chomsky

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Posted: 08 October 2007 08:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Firstly, is should apologise, my first post read a touch more harshly than was intended. The reason I am a touch ‘sharp’ on this subject is that there have been many articles written and broadcasts made which were just as shallow as my first post on this subject and considering the consequences of getting nuclear policy wrong, it is a subject which deserves a great deal of study and deliberation. It seems that there are many who feel that it is a given that getting rid of nukes would be a good idea and that is the impression I got from the original post. If I mis-read that, i apologise.

A very quick summary of my thoughts on the subject are;

What is the goal of defence policy? – Peace? Security? To be a little pedantic, the aim is to reach a maximum of peace and security.

Point 1. Defence policy aims to maximise peace and security.

There will, for the foreseeable future, be dictators and other threats. Even within technologically advanced countries, there are still those who use violence for their own ends. Internationally, there will always be those (individuals, groups countries) who wish to expand their influence and are willing to use violence to achieve it. I am sure we can all accept this as a sad fact.

Point 2. There will always be those who will use violence to dominate others.

The nuclear age has seen a remarkable period of peace. Yes there have been some small wars, but despite the sizes of the opposing armed forces, nothing on the industrial scale we have shown ourselves capable of. Much of this “peace” can be attributed to the doctrine of “Mutually Assured Destruction” – MAD.

Point 3. MAD works, when both parties fear the consequences of nuclear war. (obviously societies which believe in matyrdom are another case)

Any nation building nuclear weapons, is effectively joining the stalemate. Clearly, possessing nuclear weapons does confer a certain ‘power’ on the nation (or group) however what the other nations of the world do, determines what benefits this new ‘nuclear club’ member sees for their efforts. There are currently rules in place that automatically apply sanctions to any nation joining the nuclear club. The benefits to joining this club are therefore very difficult to quantify.

Point 4. Any new nuclear state is for the most part, simply ‘joining the stalemate’.

Now, let us imagine a world where we have got rid of ALL nuclear weapons. What would happen if a country was suspected of developing nukes? I suggest you spend some time thinking about that as it is a very important question if we are considering getting rid of our nukes. Any country (or dictator) which can sucessfully develop nukes, is then, overnight the most powerful country (or person) in the world!

Point 5. In a nuclear free world. the person in charge of a single nuke, is the most powerful man on the planet.

Do we really consider than ANY dictator would not happily sacrifice a good chunk of his population to be the most powerful man on the planet. Also, would any US citizen be happy in the knowledge that Ahmedinijad is the only leader to have nukes at his disposal? I believe this leads to the inescapable conclusion that we (the free nations of the world) would be compelled to invade ANY country we suspected of developing nuclear technology, even nuclear reactors, due to the ease of constructing a plutonium nuke.

Point 6. In a nuclear free world, we would be compelled to invade any country suspected of developing nukes.

A nuclear free world would be world at war.

A world at war is neither peaceful or secure.  Q.E.D.

The current stalemate is ‘the lesser of two evils’.


Clearly there is a lot more to the subject, however the point is, i believe, clear.

Ski.

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Posted: 08 October 2007 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I agree that nuclear policy is not as simple as TA suggests. But I am not convinced that MAD works. The example usually given to demonstrate this is the end of the Cold War without the use of nuclear weapons. I am no expert in foreign affairs, but I don’t see why it is not equally plausible to say that the cold war ended for a complex variety of reasons, and that the failure of a deliberate or accidental nuclear catastrophe was despite, rather than because, of the proliferation of nuclear wapons. I understand the deterrant theory, but I don’t see convincing evidence it is actually operating as its proponents suggest. The same theory applies to the death penalty, yet I think the evidence that it deters crime is very weak. Anything obvious I don’t know here that demonstrates the MAD approach is actually a success Ski?

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Posted: 09 October 2007 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Ski,

The world was a hair breaths away from nuclear war in 1963 because the US fired on Russian nuclear subs in international waters. If it were not for a sub commander who ignored orders to fire their nukes - because the Russians thought the US had initiated a nuclear war - then we would not be here today.

The potential for accidents like these and others show just how criminal it is to have weapons that can cause so much destruction. Even beyond the countless killed - and still suffering - in Japan there are those who were test animals to the US nuclear policy. Of which my maternal grandfather was one of the victims.

To the idea that we have had peace because of these weapons is one of the most absurd charges I have ever heard. We can look all over the world in the past 60 years to see how peaceful we have been. Millions upon millions have died due to our wars, sanctions and policies of exploitation.

Nuclear weapons have been nothing but the Sword of Damocles hanging over society so that certain parties can dominate others.

It is not peace or security to rule the planet with the threat of annhilation, mutual or not. I absolutely detest the notion that we should seek peace and security through the threat of horrific violence. “There is no path to peace; peace is the only way.” - AJ Muste

———-

Brennen,

I dont know how simple you think I am suggesting nuclear policy is or how complex it is supposed to be to justify it, but like I told Ski, not only has the weapons not provided peace and security but it has brought us close to the edge of annhilation. I know you dont necessarily agree with Ski, and yet again, we are more in agreement than nought, but I take offense to the notion that my suggestion is “simple.”

If we are so at peace with security thanks to the nuke then I wonder what time it is?

5 minutes to midnight

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Posted: 09 October 2007 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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TA,
I spent years demonstrating against nuclear weapons proliferation, and I agree their development was a mistake and their use a national shame. I am also far from convinced the MAD doctrine has been justified since, as you say, we more likely narrowly escaped nuclear war despite the accumulation of so many weapons rather than because of it. However, I have come to feel that technological genies like these don’t go back into their bottles. And the question of how we prevent states like Iran and No. Korea from developing such weapons, which I think presents an even greater danger than our possession of them, are tough and complicated questions.

I may have overinterpreted your remarks since your tone responding to Ski was a bit sarcastic (along the lines of “Duh!”), and I took it to imply that you see no possible justification for possessing nuclear weapons and think they should be eliminated. That position, I think is simplistic and unrealistic. If it’s not what you meant, then I apologize. My reaction to your tone may be colored by some other discussions we’ve had in which I find you have a general tendancy to see clear and obvious solutions and not be very receptive to other points of view, especially those coming from other ends of the ideoological spectrum.

It would be better if we got rid of nuclear weapons entirely, no doubt, but I don’t believe we have the will as a species to forgoe technologies of destruction entirely once we’ve found them. I think we can contain them and diminish the threat, but I think there are no simple answers and Ski is correct in that the knee-jerk response we on the left often exhibit, that since they are horrible things they should all be done away with, doesn’t necessarily translate well into a workable policy. I personally don’t have a comprehensive position on what should be done, and I would love it if you could convince me that elimination of all nuclear weapons is possible, but I am also open to other approaches to containing the danger they represent.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 01:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I will have a think on the MAD concept and try to come up with a more complete justification of my position. There are those who will not be persuaded by any argument, but this is an important subject which is well worth lengthy deliberation.

for reference, I also came at this issue from a ‘bombs are bad’ point of view. For many years I was very much leaning toward pacifism, and would argue with anyone about nuclear weapons, the death penaly….  I decided I needed to speak from authority to give my arguments weight, so I have studied violence (in theory) and many subjects around that topic for many years. long story short, these studies led me to the conclusion that there is a dichotomy between the behaviour we would wish in a happy society and the behaviour sometimes required from members of that society to protect it from those who would try to dominate it by force.

Also, having studied WWII I have to say that it is my opinion that the dropping of nuclear weapons on japan was necessary. It comes back to the lesser of two evils. Yes, it was a tragedy, by less so thatn the alternative.

Ski.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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SkiCarver - 09 October 2007 01:53 PM

Also, having studied WWII I have to say that it is my opinion that the dropping of nuclear weapons on japan was necessary.

Japan was trying to surrender before we dropped the bombs! We were intercepting messages between Tokyo to our allies in Moscow that show they were trying to faciliate a surrender on the condition that the Empreror stayed in power. The US said they wanted an unconditional surrender, then dropped the nukes, unnecessarily killed tens of thousands of people, Japan “unconditionally surrendered” and the US left the Emperor in power.

Despite the fact that the McCollum memo shows we “provoked Japan into an overt act of war” I dont see how one can see it was “necessary” to nuke a country who we knew was trying to surrender.

Also, I am reminded of these comments:

the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” - Dwight Eisenhower

It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children. - Adm Leahy

the Japanese were prepared to negotiate all the way from February 1945…up to and before the time the atomic bombs were dropped; ...if such leads had been followed up, there would have been no occasion to drop the [atomic] bombs. - Herbert Hoover

MacArthur biographer William Manchester has described MacArthur’s reaction to the issuance by the Allies of the Potsdam Proclamation to Japan: “...the Potsdam declaration in July, demand[ed] that Japan surrender unconditionally or face ‘prompt and utter destruction.’ MacArthur was appalled. He knew that the Japanese would never renounce their emperor, and that without him an orderly transition to peace would be impossible anyhow, because his people would never submit to Allied occupation unless he ordered it. Ironically, when the surrender did come, it was conditional, and the condition was a continuation of the imperial reign. Had the General’s advice been followed, the resort to atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have been unnecessary.”

William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 512.

Norman Cousins was a consultant to General MacArthur during the American occupation of Japan. Cousins writes of his conversations with MacArthur, “MacArthur’s views about the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were starkly different from what the general public supposed.” He continues, “When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.”

Norman Cousins, The Pathology of Power, pg. 65, 70-71.

While I was working on the new plan of air attack… [I] concluded that even without the atomic bomb, Japan was likely to surrender in a matter of months. My own view was that Japan would capitulate by November 1945.  - Paul Nitze

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Posted: 09 October 2007 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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McCollum Memo:

9. It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado; and it is barely possible that vigorous action on our part might lead the Japanese to modify their attitude. Therefore, the following course of action is suggested:

A. Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore.
B. Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisition of supplies in the Dutch East Indies.
C. Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang-Kai-Shek.
D. Send a division of long range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore.
E. Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient.
F. Keep the main strength of the U.S. fleet now in the Pacific in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands.
G. Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil.
H. Completely embargo all U.S. trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire.

10. If by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 04:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I’m sorry to say that it is clearly not worth continuing this discussion.

I must concede that i am also bringing some ‘baggage’ with me to this argument. Having spent time working in japan, I have a particular dislike of the japanese propensity to re-write the history of the second world war to make themselves out to be victims, rather than the agressors who murdered MILLIONS. I know that i would just get ‘wound up’ and not contribute meaningfully to the thread.

Ski.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Ski,

Well, it’s up to you if you want to bow out of the conversation. TA means well, but he is ruthlessly enthusiastic and uncompromisingly self-assured, so it does make it hard to exchange viewpoints with him sometimes. Anyway, I don’t know that the questions we are discussing are the empirical sort where one position or another can be proven definitively correct anyway. However, having come from the “bombs are bad” point of view, you understand the concept we are debating: the materials and instruments of violence are terrible things, and it is hard to justify their manufacture and use. I am no pacifist, so I agree that there are times when such instruments are needed. I think the question of what if any legitimate value nuclear weapons may have is a tough one, and if you have given it a lot of study I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say. I may or may not ultimately agree with you, but I’d welcome the input.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 05:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Mckenzievmd,

I do not mind someone disagreeing with me. In fact, I like the challange to justify my positions. There are however some things which really make my blood boil. The japanese denial of their wrong doings is one of them.

I will have a think about the nuclear issue and post on that and ignore the distraction.

btw, well worded post.

Ski.

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Posted: 09 October 2007 05:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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SkiCarver - 09 October 2007 04:59 PM

I’m sorry to say that it is clearly not worth continuing this discussion.

I must concede that i am also bringing some ‘baggage’ with me to this argument. Having spent time working in japan, I have a particular dislike of the japanese propensity to re-write the history of the second world war to make themselves out to be victims, rather than the agressors who murdered MILLIONS. I know that i would just get ‘wound up’ and not contribute meaningfully to the thread.

Ski.

I certainly agree that Imperial Japan was a monster, but come on, we didnt provoke them into attacking us because we cared so much about Chinese people.

In fact, we didnt care about their crimes at all. That had nothing to do with the fact that we intentionally provoked them to attack us so we could get into WW2, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with nuking them needlessly.

I am aware that Japan has tried to downplay the severity of what they did in “Greater Asia” (by the way did you know they were inspired by the Monroe Doctrine?) but you shouldnt allow their faults to blind you from seeing ours. We didnt enter or end WW2 for noble reasons…

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Posted: 09 October 2007 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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truthaddict - 09 October 2007 05:21 PM

... we intentionally provoked them to attack us so we could get into WW2 ...

This isn’t true.

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Posted: 10 October 2007 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Doug,

I already provided the McCollum Memo. Each of the eight points that he outlined were put into effect - and of which before he listed them he wrote, “It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado”-  and he concluded by saying: “If by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better.”

Also, FDR was the first president to record conversations in the White House and more than a year (late October 1940) before Pearl Harbor there were conversations recorded - I have the CSPAN tape at home from the conference where historians like Richard Reeves and Stanley Kutler discussed these tapes and more - where FDR was discussing the warnings coming from Japan. Now keep in mind that the McCollum memo was quickly being put into effect. Japan noticed it and appealed to us to stop. This is what FDR is recorded as saying: “God! That’s the first time that any damn Jap has told us to get out of Hawaii.”

Then on Oct 23, 1940. Notice this is more than two weeks after the McCollumm Memo that was seeking “more ado” by “provoking Japan into an overt act of war”:

“I repeat again that I stand on the platform of our party. ‘We will not participate in foreign wars and we will not send our army, naval or air forces to fight in foreign lands outside of the Americas except in case of attack.’”

So, let’s see: a memo that was implemented, requests from Japan to demilitarize Pearl Harbor, racist dismissals from the President and public speeches that say we will only enter if attacked (which, again, we were conspiring to happen).

Doug, please share with me anything more you might have to contribute that disproves any of the above.

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