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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/10/20

Step to Nuclear Doomsday - US Puts Low-yield Nukes on Submarines to Counter Made-up Russian 'Strategy'

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The US has deployed
The US has deployed 'low-yield' nuclear missiles on submarines saying it's to discourage nuclear conflict with Russia
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n a statement released earlier this week, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood announced that "the US Navy has fielded the W76-2 low-yield submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead." This new operational capability, Rood declared, "demonstrates to potential adversaries that there is no advantage to limited nuclear employment because the United States can credibly and decisively respond to any threat scenario."

The threat underpinning justification for this new US nuclear deterrent had its roots in testimony delivered to the House Armed Services Committee in June 2015 by US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, who declared that "Russian military doctrine includes what some have called an 'escalate to deescalate strategy' a strategy that purportedly seeks to deescalate a conventional conflict through coercive threats, including limited nuclear use."

However, any review of actual Russian nuclear doctrine would have shown this to be a false premise. Provision 27 of the 2014 edition of 'Russian Military Doctrine' states that Russia "shall reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy. The decision to use nuclear weapons shall be taken by the President of the Russian Federation."

Russian threat, made in America

Despite this, the concept of 'escalate to deescalate' as official Russian military doctrine had become ingrained in official US nuclear doctrine by 2018, with the publication of the US Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). Moscow, the 2018 NPR claimed, "threatens and exercises limited nuclear first use, suggesting a mistaken expectation that coercive nuclear threats or limited first use could paralyze the United States and NATO and thereby end a conflict on terms favorable to Russia. Some in the United States refer to this as Russia's 'escalate to deescalate' doctrine."

In response to this "made in America" Russian threat, the 2018 NPR identified a requirement to modify a number of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with low-yield nuclear warheads to strengthen US nuclear deterrence by providing US military commanders with a weapon that addresses "the conclusion that potential adversaries, like Russia, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States and its allies and partners."

As was the case with Robert Work's 2015 congressional testimony, the 2018 NPR did not provide the source for the existence of a Russian 'escalate to deescalate' doctrine, except to note that it originated in the US not Russia. Nonetheless, based upon the 2018 NPR, President Donald Trump requested that the Defense Department acquire a new low-yield nuclear warhead for the Trident SLBM, setting in motion a process which culminated in the recent announcement that this new warhead had reached operational capacity.

Voices of reason fall on deaf ears

In response to President Trump's request, a letter, signed by a laundry list of notable American statesmen, politicians and military officers, including former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General James Cartwright, was sent to the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, stating that there was no need for this new "low yield" warhead. The letter furthermore noted that the premise of this warhead the so called 'escalate to deescalate' Russian doctrine was derived from a "false narrative" combining non-existent Russian intent with an equally fictitious "deterrence gap" that could only be filled by the new nuclear weapon. This letter fell on deaf ears.

At a meeting of the Valdai Club in October 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the issue of Russian nuclear doctrine, prompted by questions raised by the publication of the 2018 NPR. "There is no provision for a pre-emptive strike in our nuclear weapons doctrine," Putin declared. "Our concept is based on a reciprocal counter strike. There is no need to explain what this is to those who understand, as for those who do not, I would like to say it again: this means that we are prepared and will use nuclear weapons only when we know for certain that some potential aggressor is attacking Russia, our territory"[o]nly when we know for certain and this takes a few seconds to understand that Russia is being attacked we will deliver a counter strike. This would be a reciprocal counter strike. Why do I say 'counter'? Because we will counter missiles flying towards us by sending a missile in the direction of an aggressor."

There's no such thing as 'limited' nuke use

In a 1982 article published in Foreign Affairs entitled 'Nuclear Weapons and the Atlantic Alliance', four senior American statesmen (McGeorge Bundy, George F. Kennan, Robert S. McNamara and Gerard C. Smith) who had a hand in crafting US nuclear policy declared that "No one has ever succeeded in advancing any persuasive reason to believe that any use of nuclear weapons, even on the smallest scale, could reliably be expected to remain limited."

This fact holds as true today as it did when the article was written. Perhaps there is no better voice to emphasize this point than Russian President Vladimir Putin, again addressing the 2018 Valdai Conference.

"Of course, [the decision to launch nuclear weapons in defense of Russia] amounts to a global catastrophe, but I would like to repeat that we cannot be the initiators of such a catastrophe because we have no provision for a pre-emptive strike. Yes, it looks like we are sitting on our hands and waiting until someone uses nuclear weapons against us. Well, yes, this is what it is. But then any aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable, and they will be annihilated."

And we as the victims of an aggression, we as martyrs would go to paradise while they will simply perish because they won't even have time to repent their sins.

The Trump administration would do well to ponder these words as they embrace the false deterrence of the new "low yield" nuclear-armed Trident SLBM. The fact of the matter is it deters nothing, and only invites global annihilation.

 

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Scott Ritter served as a former Marine Corps officer from 1984 until 1991, and as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 until 1998. He is the author of several books, including "Iraq Confidential" (Nation Books, 2005) and "Target Iran" (more...)
 

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4 people are discussing this page, with 8 comments  Post Comment


John Rachel

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Coronavirus ... Trump ... Oscars ... Sanders ... Biden ... Warren ... Coronavirus ... Trump ... Oscars ... Sanders ... Biden ... Warren ... Coronavirus ... Trump ... Oscars ... Sanders ... Biden ... Warren ... Coronavirus ... Trump ... Oscars ... Sanders ... Biden ... Warren ... Coronavirus ... Trump ... Oscars ... Sanders ... Biden ... Warren ... Coronavirus ... Trump ... Oscars ... Sanders ... Biden ... Warren ...

BOOM!

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Submitted on Monday, Feb 10, 2020 at 11:10:13 PM

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Wow man, that's got a good beat.

I sometimes imagine seeing a huge fireball over the trident base southwest of me. Add in the F18 growlers with their distinctive roar, and there is an edge to everything. Fear is an effective tool of control.

Submitted on Monday, Feb 10, 2020 at 11:58:21 PM

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Reply to Chuck Nafziger:   New Content

Yo ... I be da rap king of bling here in dee land of da Niponese. Whaddup, bro! I came ... I saw ... I vaporized. Dig?


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Submitted on Tuesday, Feb 11, 2020 at 12:24:07 AM

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Lance Ciepiela

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After 9/11 America 'was out for revenge" resulting in W Bush attacking and destroying Iraq - congress 'jumped' to give him 'absolute power' with the immediate passage of the Patriot Act and the AUMF2001 authorizing 'preemptive wars' on 'his say so', as long as he mentions 9/11 and Obama kept it up for his two terms by mentioning 9/11. Candidate Trump had been promising a quick, 'decisive end to the Middle East 'regime change' Wars' and 'got himself elected president'. Neither W Bush, Obama and Trump, have investigated or brought to justice 'who really knocked down the World Trade Center on 9/11' ('explosives were used say Commissioners'). With the 'partisan Republican acquittal' of Trump in his 'senate impeachment trial' on 'abuse of power' and 'obstruction of congress' the United States Republic apparently has become an Empire with an Imperial Presidency - no longer a 'rule of law' for a monarch, no more 'checks or balances' for His Majesty, no more 'co-equal branches of government' for the Empire, no removals from his high office as a monarch has assumed all powers unto himself - congressional hearings and their subpoenas totally worthless and totally rejected by a monarch (branded congressional over reach 'a witch hunt' by a monarch who ordered everyone in his Court not to cooperate or comply with the congress) with the monarch's Republican cohorts in an obvious 'state of ecstasy' as their monarch 'does as he pleases'.

Submitted on Tuesday, Feb 11, 2020 at 6:04:50 PM

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All excellent points. And Congress, with the full support of both parties, have been complicit in the transformation of our oligarchic pseudo-democracy into a monarchy. So what's the solution, Lance? How do we challenge such an aggregation and centralization of power?

(Please spare me the obvious suggestion 'defeat Trump', which will just substitute a different face of tyranny for the Orange Buffoon. My point should be obvious from your remarks about Obama, who was a charming totalitarian, the best kind, though his actions were just as deleterious, perhaps more so since he had so many people fooled.)

Submitted on Tuesday, Feb 11, 2020 at 10:16:46 PM

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Yes, the exceptionalist empire builders are on a roll. We've been had time and time again. How many ways can we say we the people are idiots, pawns, pathetic spectators in a puppet show? Here's my question ...

Where do we go from here?

How do we seize power and stop such blatant abuse of power and the desecration of our historically-unprecedented experiment with rule by the people? Are we restricted to just more whining about how helpless and oppressed we are?

Is anyone interested in doing something? Is it too much trouble or do we seriously just lack the creativity to counter such blatant and onerous attacks on our dignity?

Submitted on Tuesday, Feb 11, 2020 at 10:50:13 PM

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Lance Ciepiela

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Yes, "Where do we go from here?" The 'we' part, apparently, isn't going anywhere. "We The People" got 'left out of the mix'. They 'usurped power' unto themselves. "He wants to be all powerful", said Nadler, 'he is a dictator', and the GOP majority senators 'appeased' him' when they 'acquitted' him in their 'sham senate trial' with 'no witnesses' and 'no documents' allowed. A monarchy and Imperial Presidency that these Republican senators 'enabled' and 'empowered' with their 'acquittal vote' is what the Founders had dreaded might happen to the Republic if Party 'partisan loyalty' came before their 'sworn oath' to 'protect' and 'defend' the Constitution ('co-equal branches of government' no longer relevant for a monarch) and their 'sworn oath' to 'render impartial justice', and so the 'fearfully dreaded' has 'come to pass' for an 'Empire' and an 'Imperial President', and 'they own it'.

Submitted on Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020 at 4:36:20 AM

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Michael Dewey

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Dank Jewel (Only Flemish the 3-c Cafe players ever cared about learning 2011-17.) for this important stuff which believe can sum up my quick read "Russian Fears Are American Made." Seems that wave length has been crossed upon before in more than just the "new way" found in space cowboy, "It same old story about the good, the bad and the poor."

Sad got to still play this Jim Hinde shout down the wind he wrote while alive to try and stop Bush 2rd term as Steve Earle tried to do too with "The Revolution Starts Now. (Earle really did hear what Woody was about with songs coming down from the sky.)

Submitted on Tuesday, Feb 11, 2020 at 2:23:52 AM

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