Monday, April 12, 2010

Nuclear Naivete

Charles Krauthammer has an excellent column titled "Nuclear Posturing Obama Style," in which the naivete of this Administrations in matters marshal is illuminated with frightening clarity:

Imagine the scenario: Hundreds of thousands are lying dead in the streets of Boston after a massive anthrax or nerve gas attack. The president immediately calls in the lawyers to determine whether the attacking state is in compliance with the NPT. If it turns out that the attacker is up-to-date with its latest IAEA inspections, well, it gets immunity from nuclear retaliation. (Our response is then restricted to bullets, bombs and other conventional munitions.)
However, if the lawyers tell the president that the attacking state is NPT noncompliant, we are free to blow the bastards to nuclear kingdom come.
This is quite insane. It's like saying that if a terrorist deliberately uses his car to mow down a hundred people waiting at a bus stop, the decision as to whether he gets (a) hanged or (b) 100 hours of community service hinges entirely on whether his car had passed emissions inspections.
Apart from being morally bizarre, the Obama policy is strategically loopy. Does anyone believe that North Korea or Iran will be more persuaded to abjure nuclear weapons because they could then carry out a biological or chemical attack on the U.S. without fear of nuclear retaliation?

Back in the early '80's, Paul Fussell wrote an enlightening essay titled "Thank God for the Atomic Bomb," in which he debunked many of the myths surrounding the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
The degree to which Americans register shock and extraordinary shame about the Hiroshima bomb correlates closely with lack of information about the war.
To the frequent charge that Hiroshima was wiped out without warning, the facts are otherwise:

But actually, two days before, 720,000 leaflets were dropped on the city urging everyone to get out and indicating that the place was going to be obliterated. Of course few left.
But then facts never seem to impede the march of the Progressives.  The reality is that for 50 years, two superpowers avoided a humanity ending conflagration because both sides were just uncertain enough about the other to keep from pulling the nuclear trigger.

As a proud graduate of the Navy's "Bugs, Drugs and Mushroom Clouds" School, I can tell you that death by biologics or chemicals is every bit as horrible as being nuked.  To take away that threat of retaliation shows an ignorance of warfare that is truly frightening.  

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