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U.S. Nuclear Posture, technology, and you.

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posted on Nov, 17 2004 @ 11:36 PM
There has been a great deal of talk on these boards about nuclear threats to the United States, and the US response. While I had my own understanding of the US response, I decided to research this topic a bit to see if I was wrong. While this post has little to do with the nuclear response to terrorist use of nuclear weapons, you may find it interesting.

There are two postures that the US tends to take concerning nuclear weapons.

Assured Response, aka Mutually Assured Destruction: rather self explanatory and is the primary posture that took us through the Cold War in more or less one piece.

Flexible Response: nuclear weapons are just another option for war along the escalation ladder. There is nothing particularly wrong with flexible response as long as it is remembered that a nuclear response should only be used against a threat that cannot be neutralized by conventional (non-nuclear) means.

These two postures actually mingled in a way as to deter superpowers from engaging in conventional war as well as nuclear war, as one could lead to the other depending on which rulebook the other team was playing by on a given day.

I think we all know by now, in matters of use of military, pre-emption has become a default strategy for the U.S. But, what you may not be aware of is that the U.S. has adopted a nuclear posture of flexible response.

Here is some light reading from early 2004. Some may have already read them.

Rethinking the Unthinkable: Nuclear Weapons and the War on Terror

Unthinking the Unthinkable: U.S. Nuclear Policy and Asymmetric Threats

Now that we are all up to date on US Nuclear Posture, we come to the technology portion of my title.

If you read the links I gave you closely, they mention "missile defense" in a vague way. In my search for information, I discovered this article:

Anti-missile laser test successful

Now, this talks about a technolgy that isn't due to be operational until 2006 or so. Which is quite some time away, and wouldn't effect short term decisions. But, if you read that article closely, way down at the bottom you would have read:

A multibillion-dollar ground-based system for detecting and destroying missiles fired from a country like North Korea is due to be declared ready for operation by the end of next month.

That article was dated 12 Nov 04. The end of next month is 31 Dec 04.
That would effect short term policy if it is true. So, I looked to verify the facts.

Ground-based Midcourse Defense
First Boeing Ground-based Midcourse Defense Interceptor Emplaced
Fifth Boeing GMD Interceptor Placed in Silo at Alaska Site

It certainly seems as if it is plausible that the system will be complete by the end of the year, depending on the number of missiles in the system.

What does that mean to you?

It means many things to me. The first an most important, is that the US would no longer be concerned with intercontinental launches of less than say 10-15 (possibly more) nuclear delivery vehicles.

Now you might say this is a good thing. But, remember all that I mentioned thus far, specifically pre-emptive flexible response.

What does this mean for the world?

Fear of assured response has always been a deterant to the use of the flexible response strategy. An active ICBM defense will create a reduction of fear of the use of nuclear weapons, as assured response by smaller nuclear nations would no longer be a deterant to the use of nuclear weapons against those countries.

This change in the "feasibility" of flexible response, will likely change the way the US negotiates with nuclear capable countries which are seen as a threat in the "War of Terror." The US will be able to negotiate from a position of relative security and strength, regardless of the nuclear missile capabilites of the opposition. Add to that the willingness to use pre-emptive force, and I fear the results.

[edit on 17-11-2004 by Raphael_UO]

posted on Nov, 17 2004 @ 11:48 PM

You have voted Raphael_UO for the Way Above Top Secret award. You have one more vote left for this month.

With a bunch of Christian Reconstructionists in charge (backed by the defence industry) openly working toward their vision of rapture aided by neocon/PNAC idealogues...

I also fear the shape our future may take.

All this recent seeding of the nuclear fear/reality taking place in the media is not reassuring. The defence shield comes online at the end of the year... Bush is sworn in... then what?

posted on Nov, 18 2004 @ 12:03 AM
There's nuclear proliferation going on all over the world. I think it worsened as soon as Bush went into the war without the U.N.'s approval.
Ok, so now there are alot of nukes around. What would happen if we did'nt have a defense system and yet still continue the war on terror? Terrorists could get nukes too, it's very possible. And with the war in Iraq going on hostilities toward us are becoming greater.
Regardless of whether we wanted war or not we're getting it so what else can we do except put up a defense?
I guess we're kinda going back to cold war era.

posted on Nov, 18 2004 @ 03:03 AM
Raphael, great post.

"What does that mean to you?"

Well, we could start here, and let me see if I can make this very simple:
I got a sword. It's sharper and much bigger and deadly than your pocket knife. You know we may have to fight to the death in the future. And yet before the fight, somehow you find out that I will aquire unpenitrable body armour by the end of this year. There is no way you can get a sword to match mine or the armour, at least until maybe, well after you are dead. You are already at a disadvantage, and you know the armour will surely give you no chance. So the way I see it, you really only have one option.

With your very keen insight, Raphael, I am sure you will have no trouble in seeing what that option is.

Again, great post.

posted on Nov, 18 2004 @ 12:31 PM

Terrorists will not deliver nuclear weapons on the backs of missiles. The defensive systems will not protect against terrorist use of nuclear weapons.

But, it is not the defensive capabilities of these systems that give me pause. It is the potential US nuclear posture toward "rogue" states. This posture is highlighted by TrueAmerican's response.


I think your example is pretty accurate. But, what you fail to see, is that there is always more than one option. The pocket knife can either bow to the wishes of the sword and shield, or it can refuse.

It is this refusal that gives me pause.

What will the US do?
A limitted pre-emptive nuclear strike to slap the rogue state back into line?
An unlimitted pre-emptive nuclear strike to facilitate the construction of parking lots throughout their entire country?

Do you find these responses acceptible when conventional weapons could be used to accomplish the same goals?

posted on Nov, 18 2004 @ 12:47 PM
Of course I realize that my example is way too simple to accurately reflect the complexity of the situation. Nonetheless, at it's core, I think it holds true. My point is that by the time the US acts, the enemy, true to the model, may just have to strike first, and soon. And that is where my concern lies.

As to what the US will do only remains to be seen. A limited pre-emptive strike before we are ready could bring grave consequences, and as to that, I must refer again to this:

Although it is opinion, it is very well presented. Flattening their country right off the bat in your second question, IMO is just not likely. As to your third. No. They are not. But I'm sure Cheney with his agenda thinks differently. Not to mention that they have access to information that we just don't. Not CIA information, I hope.


PS. How I enjoy conversing with someone who actually reads posts.

posted on Nov, 18 2004 @ 01:07 PM
The US has allowed research into new types of low-yield nuclear warheads. I saw an article on the web that I can not find right now about the B2 stealth bombers being fitted to carry 80 or so low-yield earth-penetrating nuclear warheads.

With the defense shield and B2 bombers carrying low-yield earth-penetrating nuclear warheads the US could effectively attack a country with the ability to deliver nuclear weapons into the US without sustaining a nuclear detonation on its own soil by taking out the nuclear missile in its silo and by providing the protection of a missile shield to intercept any missiles that may have not been tageted by the B2's.

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