“With friends like these, who needs enemies?” That is probably one of the many thoughts going through the minds of some the leaders of countries mentioned as nuclear threats (or targets) as well as some of the American people, who didn’t realize that ‘pushing the button’ could occur even if nuclear weapons were not being used.
The leaked Pentagon report, called The Nuclear Posture Review (regarding American nuclear weapon contingencies), offers a frightening, possible ‘end-game’ solution for the war on terror from rogue nation states. According the policy review, the United States has identified those nations as Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Syria. However, in that same leaked report, there are countries among which we have normalized relations (Russia and China). The question then is, who are our friends and who are our enemies?
In the Bush administration, there seems an unyielding motto (ala The X-Files): “Trust, no one.” Late in the week, apparently an officer(s) at the Pentagon leaked the mostly unclassified report to the press by giving a partial copy to The Los Angeles Times and a full one to The New York Times (both left of center news institutions), but as the New York Times, with the full document, noted key portions were kept secret. Unfortunately for President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the world now knows of our nuclear strategic policy.
And what is the significance of this leak? It is the apparent willingness of President Bush to steer the United States away from a Clinton-derived, coalition-driven, foreign policy and to an isolationist posture (i.e. the Cold War), acting only in response to threats that may jeopardize our strategic self-interests. In the military document, the Pentagon goes on to point out the three scenario in which nuclear weapons may be used: an Iraqi attack on Israel, a North Korean attack on South Korea, and a Chinese attack on Taiwan.
In the case of Iraq and North Korea, it has not been proven (probably not) that they even have nuclear weapons. It is also a confusing signal for China after receiving ‘favorite nation’ trading status (despite continued human rights violations).
On its face, such a plan appears to go against the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in which the United States vowed not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states. The strategic threats the Pentagon identifies say simply ‘attacks,’ not of what origin.
As with breaking the ABM treaty with Russia, President Bush appears to have no qualms of re-establishing American imperialist objectives on contracts or agreements that do not suit his administration’s goals. The only problem is what will the global, political atmosphere be when the President leaves office? In the eyes of the mainstream news media, the answer appears to be any nation that can solve the nation’s insecurity about terrorism in place of not being able to capture Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
With this secret plan revealed, we risk the developing world and our ‘former enemies’ wondering whether our intentions are genuine or simply strategic in the war on terror (especially since the focus has moved on to a non-terrorist Saddam Hussein).
There are three reasons why the Bush administration should not implement this plan: #1, its announcement will undercut Vice President Cheney’s diplomatic mission to the Middle East, in preparation of a possible military conflict with Iraq over the United Nations weapons inspections; #2, the plan will bring distrust among our European allies of American foreign objectives, precisely when the E.U. is formulating their own military strategy; #3, the document will raise doubts within Russia and China as to whether the U.S. has acted in good faith with current nuclear nonproliferation agreements.
In short, the Nuclear Posture Review will lead to an unraveling of the notion of American goodwill in foreign policy, hampering our efforts to forge alliances with the Arab states in the war on terror, and asking Russia, China and (most importantly) the emerging European Union, to reevaluate strategic military posture in regards in the U.S. If the leaking of this Pentagon brief was to justify the President’s “axis of evil” gaffe, the intention has backfired.
Whoever leaked this report wanted the American people to know that our strategic nuclear interests have changed, not only do we distrust our new ‘friends,’ but we are willing to annihilate our perceived enemies if it suits our best interests. For the first time, there may be fear of the unthinkable–again (Hiroshima). Let’s hope that doesn’t occur.
Tommy Ates lives in Austin, Texas. He has for The Houston Chronicle, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Wichita Eagle, The Macon Telegraph, and Global Black News.