Monday, August 10, 2015

The Death of "No First Use"

It was seventy years ago that the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, making us the only nation in the world ever to have used nuclear weapons against another. Despite all of the discussion on the subject, that does not particularly concern me. There was a world war in progress, albeit in the waning stages, and the act was performed against the backdrop of the routine firebombing of cities, which had been going on for several years. It’s easy to sit in judgement decades later when viewing through the lens of hindsight.

What does disturb me is that we are, today, of all the nations which posses nuclear weapons, the only nation which repeatedly threatens to use them; slightly veiled threats to be sure, but unmistakable threats nonetheless.

During the Cold War this nation had a firmly stated “no first use” policy regarding nuclear weapons. Our leaders held the policy that our nuclear arsenal was strictly a deterrent, and that it would never be used except in retaliation against anyone who perpetrated a nuclear attack upon us. Our leaders often stated openly that under no circumstances would this nation be the first to use nuclear weapons.

That policy was changed by George W. Bush and the change has been continued by Barack Obama and his Cabinet. When asked about using nuclear weapons, an asinine question which should be rejected rather than answered, today’s reply is not the reiteration of the “no first use” policy which it should be, but that “all options are on the table.”  It’s bad enough that Obama is parroting, word for word, replies given by Bush; it’s worse that he is parroting such an execrable reply.

1 comment:

bruce said...

I was going to ask what & where was this "threat to use them" that you mentioned. "All options are on the table" is not much of a threat if that's what you mean. Pretty much a namby pamby political response IMHO.

But something else occurred to me when you mention no first use and deterrent and all. MAD was a policy primarily aimed at other nations (at the time the USSR and China), but today it could technically mean a lot more. And more worrisomely, what about ISIS or other radical group that is not a nation-state - if they use one, at whom and where do you retaliate (with nuclear weapons)?

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