Preemptive Nuclear Strike

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Pentagon is seeking to revise the rules that govern the use of nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

The document, written by the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs staff but not yet finally approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, would update rules and procedures governing use of nuclear weapons to reflect a preemption strategy first announced by the Bush White House in December 2002. The strategy was outlined in more detail at the time in classified national security directives.

Had this doctrine been in place in the lead up to the war with Iraq would that state be a smoldering pile of radioactive waste by now? Afterall, it was the threat of Iraqi WMD strapped on pilotless drones or driven into a major US city that was used as justification for this war.

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