Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told

Ian Traynor in Brussels
Tuesday January 22, 2008
The Guardian original HERE...

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

The manifesto has been written following discussions with active commanders and policymakers, many of whom are unable or unwilling to publicly air their views. It has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to Nato's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, over the past 10 days. The proposals are likely to be discussed at a Nato summit in Bucharest in April.

The risk of further [nuclear] proliferation is imminent and, with it, the danger that nuclear war fighting, albeit limited in scope, might become possible," the authors argued in the 150-page blueprint for urgent reform of western military strategy and structures. "The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction."

The authors - General John Shalikashvili, the former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff and Nato's ex-supreme commander in Europe, General Klaus Naumann, Germany's former top soldier and ex-chairman of Nato's military committee, General Henk van den Breemen, a former Dutch chief of staff, Admiral Jacques Lanxade, a former French chief of staff, and Lord Inge, field marshal and ex-chief of the general staff and the defence staff in the UK - paint an alarming picture of the threats and challenges confronting the west in the post-9/11 world and deliver a withering verdict on the ability to cope.

The five commanders argue that the west's values and way of life are under threat, but the west is struggling to summon the will to defend them. The key threats are:

· Political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism.

· The "dark side" of globalisation, meaning international terrorism, organised crime and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

· Climate change and energy security, entailing a contest for resources and potential "environmental" migration on a mass scale.

· The weakening of the nation state as well as of organisations such as the UN, Nato and the EU.

To prevail, the generals call for an overhaul of Nato decision-taking methods, a new "directorate" of US, European and Nato leaders to respond rapidly to crises, and an end to EU "obstruction" of and rivalry with Nato. Among the most radical changes demanded are:

· A shift from consensus decision-taking in Nato bodies to majority voting, meaning faster action through an end to national vetoes.

· The abolition of national caveats in Nato operations of the kind that plague the Afghan campaign.

· No role in decision-taking on Nato operations for alliance members who are not taking part in the operations.

· The use of force without UN security council authorisation when "immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings".

In the wake of the latest row over military performance in Afghanistan, touched off when the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, said some allies could not conduct counter-insurgency, the five senior figures at the heart of the western military establishment also declare that Nato's future is on the line in Helmand province.

"Nato's credibility is at stake in Afghanistan," said Van den Breemen.

"Nato is at a juncture and runs the risk of failure," according to the blueprint.

Naumann delivered a blistering attack on his own country's performance in Afghanistan. "The time has come for Germany to decide if it wants to be a reliable partner." By insisting on "special rules" for its forces in Afghanistan, the Merkel government in Berlin was contributing to "the dissolution of Nato".

Ron Asmus, head of the German Marshall Fund thinktank in Brussels and a former senior US state department official, described the manifesto as "a wake-up call". "This report means that the core of the Nato establishment is saying we're in trouble, that the west is adrift and not facing up to the challenges."

Naumann conceded that the plan's retention of the nuclear first strike option was "controversial" even among the five authors. Inge argued that "to tie our hands on first use or no first use removes a huge plank of deterrence".

Reserving the right to initiate nuclear attack was a central element of the west's cold war strategy in defeating the Soviet Union. Critics argue that what was a productive instrument to face down a nuclear superpower is no longer appropriate.

Robert Cooper, an influential shaper of European foreign and security policy in Brussels, said he was "puzzled".

"Maybe we are going to use nuclear weapons before anyone else, but I'd be wary of saying it out loud."

Another senior EU official said Nato needed to "rethink its nuclear posture because the nuclear non-proliferation regime is under enormous pressure".

Naumann suggested the threat of nuclear attack was a counsel of desperation. "Proliferation is spreading and we have not too many options to stop it. We don't know how to deal with this."

Nato needed to show "there is a big stick that we might have to use if there is no other option", he said.


Having personally lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis it is inconceivable to me that supposedly intelligent military leaders could recommend the use of offensive nuclear weapons in an attempt to prevent further nuclear proliferation and other weapons of mass destruction. There are several insurmountable problems with their analysis.

First, it is not true that "there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world." The original nuclear weapons state (NWS's) nations (China, USSR [now Russia], France, United States and Great Britain) which signed the NPT have through lack of leadership and good will failed to meet their treaty obligations to progressively disarm their nuclear arsenals. Yet, they continue to insist that non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS's) countries must not attempt to develop them. NNWS nations legitimately wonder why they should be held to their NPT obligation not to develop nuclear weapons when the original 5 NWS's refuse to abide by theirs.

The NWS's by some unknown "right" (perhaps might makes right) also insist that those NNWS countries which did not sign the NPT must also refrain from doing so. This is rank hypocrisy of the worst sort. Moreover it is clear that some NWS's have further violated their NPT related obligations by assisting other nations who were not part of the original NWS's to obtain them including Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea. See the evidence of same which has been unearthed by Sybil Edmonds HERE.... Also see the piece by Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Paper's fame HERE... and The Sunday (UK) Times piece HERE... Obviously, the original NWS's have made no realistic attempt to either progressively disarm (certainly not in the past 20 years) or to otherwise abide by their NPT stipulated agreement not to provide nuclear weapons technology to NNWS nations.

Second the 5 military authors who produced the latest radical manifesto have also committed a grievous error in logic. It is contradictory (violates the law of non-contradiction) in the extreme to purport that the best way to prevent an actual phenomenon from occurring is to in fact make it occur. Nuclear weapons proliferation is held to be disadvantageous because it is thought to increase the risk (likelihood) that nuclear weapons will be utilized; particularly offensively--a universally recognized and abhorrent historical reality based upon their first use by the United States against the Japanese. If that were not the case there would be no morally legitimate reason to limit proliferation.

Third, many nations already have nuclear weapons which are associated with some finite risk of use albeit perhaps incalculable quantitatively. Should nuclear weapons be used to stop a nation state from developing them, what does this say? It indicates that the use of nuclear weapons in an offensive manner is justifiable under some circumstances. Not only does it violate Just War Doctrinal principles it makes legitimate that which it is attempting to make illegitimate--the use of offensive nuclear weapons--whether by a nation state or a terrorist organization. Put another way, it says "do what we say not what we do simply because we say so." Those NNWS can legitimately reply, "you are hypocritical in the extreme. Why should you be the only ones to have nuclear weapons--you aren't even willing to disarm the huge arsenals you already have and agreed to reduce and yet you insist that we cannot even have one? How unjust of you."

Perhaps even more troubling to me is the idea that so many human beings including the top tier candidates for President in both US political parties are willing to consider the use of nuclear weapons offensively. This is a most disturbing development. It demonstrates that the so-called Bush doctrine of preventive war has become normalized despite its being completely incompatible with international law, Just War Doctrinal principles and traditional moral precepts.

Too many people seem to have lost sight of just how truly awful it is to detonate even one nuclear weapon. I suggest that everyone read or re-read the accounts of those who documented the carnage and human suffering after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings. The genetic and medical complications alone are still being felt to this day. The deleterious effects of radioactive fallout and possible complete fouling of the earth's atmosphere/environment were these hideous weapons to be utilized demands that they never be used again. There is no guarantee that--should even one tactical nuclear warhead be detonated--it would not result in WWIII. The resulting nuclear Armageddon and nuclear Winter would be capable of destroying all life on earth.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert