The Bush administration’s policies are increasing the risk of attack not particularly on US soldiers, but on US citizens, and the continental United States. This administration’s policies are increasing the number of overt enemies of the United States, the hostility of the enemies we do have, and the probability that any response will be against American civilians not the US military. In addition to the greater threat from other weapons of mass destruction, it is increasingly likely that nuclear weapons will destroy US cities. Even more concerning is the likelihood that we will not know who is responsible.
Logic dictates that, all else equal, one’s risk increases if one’s enemies increase, and if those enemies become more hostile. Since 9/11, the Bush administration has conducted a bizarre policy of calling nations enemies that may not have considered themselves enemies, and inflaming the antipathy of those that are hostile in some ways to the United States. In January 2002, George W Bush proclaimed an ‘Axis of Evil’ that included not only Iraq (who has never initiated an attack against the United States) but also Iran and North Korea. Iran and North Korea, while not allies, posed no imminent threat, and were working with the United States in some areas including the ‘War on Terror” and in North Korea’s case, nuclear non-proliferation. Unlike the axis powers of World War II, these nations were not cooperating in any general political or military sense. In May 2000, this ‘Axis of Evil’ was expanded to include Libya, Syria, and Cuba. In July, the Rand Corporation, a Pentagon advisory board, called Saudi Arabia an enemy. In September 2002, the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy initiated a policy that makes any nation that could be interpreted to pose a future threat to the United Sates a target of pre-emptive military strikes. It further declared a policy of attempting to maintain US military global dominance forever. With this new National Security Strategy, no nation in the world can feel completely safe from military attack from the United States.
In December 2001, the Bush administration formally announced it’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the ‘Nuclear Posture Review’ essentially eliminated US participation in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Accordingly, we should expect other nations to treat these treaties without respect. We can expect international adherence to them in word possibly, in deed probably not. Thus, we are now are at greater risk from foreign nuclear proliferation and ballistic missiles.
A principle of military strategy is to concentrate forces where the enemy is weak; conversely, to avoid wasting resources on futile efforts. Since the first Gulf War, it has been shown repeatedly in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, to be a futile effort to attempt a direct battle with the US military on any large scale. Any military or paramilitary commander would be foolish to waste their resources in such an endeavor. Anyone wishing to defeat the US military will be forced to attack it in it’s most vulnerable area – it’s support, i.e., the US economy, US factories, and US taxpayers. Ironically, the stronger and more invulnerable the US military becomes, the more likely future assaults will involve US civilians.
While bullets may be an effective way to stop infantry, they are nearly useless when trying to destroy an economy, a factory, or a base of taxpayer support. Hence the likelihood that weapons of mass destruction will be used in this role. Russian General Alexander Lebed claims that up to 100 Russian ‘suitcase’ nuclear bombs may be missing. The 1-kiloton nuclear bombs, which weigh 60-100 pounds and can fit into a suitcase or backpack, can kill 50,000-100,000 people and devastate a portion of a city, according to Lebed. More recently, Petro Symonenko, the Communist Party chief in the Ukraine, revealed that they couldn’t account for 200 nuclear weapons. Are there disgruntled or financially desperate Russian officials who have access to and would sell a nuclear device? Quite possibly there is. It would be relatively easy to smuggle a 100 pound nuclear device into the United States across our vast borders with Mexico or Canada or even underwater in a small covert operation.
In one short year since the attacks on the World Trade Center, we have witnessed a world that rallied with the USA become, to a large degree, our enemy. George Bush has proclaimed Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, and Cuba to be our enemies. As far as we know, none of these nations was involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Saudi Arabia was called an enemy. Russia and China were targeted in the Nuclear Posture Review. We now claim the right to pre-emptively attack any nation we feel not based on any specific evidence – just a suspicion. Now we have more enemies, our old enemies have been provoked and everyone has been put on notice for a possible pre-emptive attack. This naturally makes them more apt to pre-emptively attack us. The US military is relatively invulnerable, so any attack is more likely to involve the military’s support system including US civilians and industry. Finally, this type of attack would by necessity involve weapons of mass destruction to be successful. This all leads to the frightening possibility that if a nuclear explosion destroyed a US city, we might not know who was responsible. Our inevitable response would be likely to involve nuclear weapons and, given that we were not sure who was responsible, we might use nuclear weapons against an innocent nation. A cycle of more retaliation on both sides could quickly spiral out of control involving parties that initially were uninvolved, but acted pre-emptively with nuclear weapons. It is not science fiction to imagine how this type of scenario could lead to the downfall of civilization, as we know it.
Certainly, since the development of atomic weapons, the risk of a ‘nuclear Armageddon’ has been with us, but minimizing that risk is in the best interests of all of humanity. Discouraging nuclear nonproliferation, provoking those who may have the means to retaliate, and establishing a precedent for pre-emptive attacks dramatically increases the risk of a nuclear assault on the US and a global doomsday scenario.
DAVID WIGGINS is a West Pont honor graduate and an honors graduate of New York Medical College. He left the Army as a Conscientious Objector actively opposed Operation Desert Storm from the Saudi front lines with Iraq. He is currently an Emergency Physician.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org