A PRESIDENT of the United States would be able to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against enemies planning to use weapons of mass destruction under a revised “nuclear operations” doctrine to be signed in the next few weeks.This isn't even pre-emption, because that implies immediacy that doesn't necessarily exist here. This is prevention. This is a doctrine of nuclear annihilation based on the potential of attack.
In a significant shift after half a century of nuclear deterrence based on the threat of massive retaliation, the revised doctrine would allow pre-emptive strikes against states or terror groups, and to destroy chemical and biological weapons stockpiles.
Presidential approval would still be required for any nuclear strike, but the updated document, the existence of which was confirmed by the Pentagon at the weekend, emphasises the need for the US to adapt to a world of worsening proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in which deterrence might fail. In that event, it states, “the United States must be prepared to use nuclear weapons if necessary”.
It's also terrible, TERRIBLE strategic policy. First strike doctrines only really exist for one reason: you have territory that you want to protect so badly that you're willing to use nuclear weapons to protect it from conventional attack, in situations where your conventional power isn't up to snuff.
(Western Europe in the Cold War is the paradigmatic example- the US couldn't defend it conventionally.)
It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with defending against WMD. The core rule of MAD is that you defend against WMD with WMD... that is, nuclear weapons. The reason is simple- you don't want to provoke escalation or preemption yourself. If you say "only defense" and the other guy says "only defense", then neither of you attacks, as long as you're sure that both of you are credible. Both are safe. There exists the possibility that conventional conflict could ramp up to nuclear, but it's supposed to be so vanishingly remote that it would have to take something enormous (like the Soviet Union conquering western Europe) for it to happen, and even then it's a crapshoot as to whether or not it will escalate to nukes.
In this case, we've got Bush saying "we'll nuke you before you can nuke us". That throws the whole logic of MAD to the wind. Saying that will not stop anybody from getting weapons- far from it, they'll be rushing to do so on the off chance that you might nuke them for some other reason that you haven't stated yet- after all, you set the precedent. Once they get them, they'll use them, because they'll have nothing to lose, and the #1 rule in conflict prevention is making sure that nobody EVER ends up in that situation, because I for one don't want to see Tel Aviv, Damascus, Tehran and New York as nothing more than smoking craters of radioactive glass.
And in this case, it could be for something as nebulous as a state unwittingly hosting a terrorist group that a faction in DoD believes may have a cache of Sarin gas.
This is utter lunacy. You couldn't come up with a worse, more dangerous strategy if you tried. Even proposing it is a disaster. Somebody PLEASE tell me that it's a hoax or a distraction from the New Orleans disaster or red meat for Republicans or SOMETHING. Anything to stop those three horrible little words that every thinking human being should be really, really worried about right this fucking SECOND:
What about China?