The Ten Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)

NATO’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons Must Go—But Not Today

 
Yes They Are

Yes They Are

At the outset, let’s stipulate some common sense about the American tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. No matter what arguments we might make, pro or con, about keeping those arms, it’s not the right time to remove them. Not because they have any utility, but because optics matter: Russian president Vladimir Putin’s open aggression against Ukraine currently makes it impossible for Barack Obama, or for any NATO leader, even to suggest anything that would look like capitulation to Russia and thus encourage Putin to continue pressing his luck. The Atlantic Alliance has more pressing issues in Europe to deal with besides the fate of a moldering inventory of tactical nuclear bombs, and there’s no point in handing a propaganda victory to a Kremlin already in a state of agitation, if not full-blown panic.

Saying that we should not remove these weapons in the middle of a crisis, however, does not then mean that there are any good reasons to hold on to them much longer. Tactical nuclear arms in Europe are literally outdated: not only are the bombs themselves reaching the end of their service life, but the strategy to employ them was overtaken by events twenty years ago.

None of that has stopped three prominent foreign-policy figures—Brent Scowcroft, Stephen Hadley and Franklin Miller—from arguing a few days ago in the Washington Post that NATO should “reaffirm the value to the alliance of the continued presence of the modest number of U.S. nuclear bombs in Europe.” This affirmation, they claim, “is necessary because we are again hearing calls for the United States to unilaterally withdraw its small arsenal of forward-deployed nuclear bombs. Those arguments are shopworn, familiar—and wrong.”

I’m not as certain these arguments are so wrong, not least because I’m one of the people who has been making them for some years. Scowcroft, Hadley and Miller are conflating the tired demands of the antinuclear left—who wanted the bombs gone even when the Soviet Army was poised on the edge of Europe—with more recent (and better) arguments that take into account not only the changes in Europe, but the need to rethink our nuclear strategy.

Indeed, the “familiar and shopworn” arguments are the ones that Scowcroft, Hadley and Miller present in their defense of the tactical arsenal, which sound as if they were written in 1974 and not 2014:

“A principal function of forward deployment [of tactical nuclear weapons] has been, and remains, to be a visible symbol to friend and potential foe of the U.S. commitment to defend NATO with all of the military power it possesses.”

There is some truth to this, although it was a more salient observation thirty years ago. Today, it is an affirmation that is no longer welded to a strategy.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, tactical nukes were part of a last-ditch effort to stop superior Soviet conventional forces. Later, however, they were inserted as a crucial rung in the escalatory ladder to a Soviet-American central nuclear exchange. The goal was to convince Moscow that an invasion of Europe would produce an inevitable tipping of nuclear dominos, from the battlefield all the way to all-out war. Thus, the Kremlin would never dare an invasion of Europe (which it could have accomplished by conventional means) because it would have meant courting the destruction of the USSR.

Is that still NATO’s strategy? I hope not; there is no longer a Central Front on which to fight, and in any case, Russia is now conventionally inferior to NATO and could never sustain the kind of invasion envisioned by Soviet planners—not least because they no longer have any allies. Tactical nukes derived their deterrent power from the realization on both sides that NATO would have to resort to them at a moment of unpredictable desperation against a far-mightier invasion force. That moment is hard to imagine today, even if Putin could reconstitute a more powerful Russian army (as he seems intent on doing).

Scowcroft, Hadley and Miller made several other claims, including: that newer members joined NATO to get under the nuclear umbrella (which is not entirely true); that NATO’s conventional power isn’t as strong as it looks and isn’t enough to deter a Russian attack (which is unlikely, but unknowable); that the Russians still think nuclear weapons matter (that’s true); and that NATO isn’t really all that divided on keeping the bombs around (which is clearly false).

China One of Ten Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)

On land and sea, China’s nuclear capability growing

The Dong Feng 41 Nuclear Missiles

The Dong Feng 41 Nuclear Missiles

By Erik Slavin
Stars and Stripes
Published: August 21, 2014

Earlier this month, a minor Chinese environmental office broke some of the biggest news in nuclear missile technology since the end of the Cold War.

The Shaanxi Province Environmental Monitoring Center posted a work summary of its projects, which included site monitoring for research into the Dong Feng-41 missile. The Department of Defense told Congress earlier this year that China was developing the DF-41, a road-mobile, next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile capable of launching multiple nuclear warheads.
The missile had been conceptualized for years, well before China’s military modernization of the past decade began. However, no Chinese governmental agency was willing to confirm its development until the provincial environmental office’s website did so. The post was quickly taken down, but only after it had been reported by the China Communist Party-affiliated Global Times.

The DF-41 news comes amid reports that China also conducted tests this month of its current land-based missile standard, the DF-31A.

The Dong Feng 31A Nuclear Missile

The Dong Feng 31A Nuclear Missile

U.S. officials also expect China to have operational nuclear missile-equipped submarines this year. The HK-6 bomber, a nuclear-capable aircraft with a range of about 2,000 miles, became part of the Chinese arsenal last year.

The HK6 Nuclear Bomber

The HK6 Nuclear Bomber

Collectively, it represents a nuclear triad, the decades-old standard that the United States still counts on for surviving a global nuclear war.

The Chinese triad remains heavily imbalanced in favor of land-based missiles, since its aircraft can’t fly very far and its submarines may not be all that reliable, according to analysts.

However, the bigger question remains: Why is China, a country with a “no first-use” policy, upgrading its nuclear arsenal at a time when the United States and Russia are reducing their stockpiles?

The Antichrist And His Mahdi Army To The Rescue!

Iraqi milita seek help from old foe US in battle against jihadists

August 22, 2014
Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army

Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army

JURF AL-SAKHR, Aug 22 — Iraq’s Mahdi Army fought US troops to the death in past years, but now some members of the rebranded Shiite militia say they could do with a little help from their old foe.

Jurf al-Sakhr is a sprawling patchwork of orchards and palm groves south of Baghdad irrigated by the Euphrates River, but the beauty of the scenery belies the deadliness of one of Iraq’s most relentless battlefields.

Positions are hard to hold and weeks of military yo-yo between Islamic State (IS) jihadists and pro-government forces, including the Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades), which counts many Mahdi Army members among its fighters, have killed hundreds and produced no victor.

A campaign of US air strikes in the north, however, has helped flagging Kurdish troops regroup and allowed them to go on the offensive, whetting the appetite of other anti-IS forces for similar assistance.

“I fought the American occupation in 2004 and up to 2006,” Saad Thijil, 30, said near a bombed-out building in Jurf al-Sakhr, his rifle strapped behind his back. “Now of course, we need US support, especially their military advisors.”

“But we don’t want any troop presence in Iraq,” he added.

In 2004, fiery young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr unleashed the Mahdi Army militia against US troops, mainly in the poor Baghdad district of Sadr City and in the holy city of Najaf, farther south.

Sadr and his militia played central roles in the wave of sectarian bloodshed that peaked in 2006-2007, but he eventually froze the militia’s activities in a move the US credited with sharply reducing violence.

When jihadists who had held parts of Syria for months swept across swathes of Iraq in June this year, Sadr announced the formation of the Saraya al-Salam, a group he said would be tasked with defending the holy sites of Shiite Islam.

Jurf al-Sakhr is strategically vital because it buffers the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala south of Baghdad from militant-held areas west of the capital.

Hassan is a 27-year-old from Baghdad and works as an air marshal on a commercial airline. When he is not flying, he spends a few days as a volunteer with Saraya al-Salam.

“Just a few air strikes, you know,” he said, puffing on a slim cigarette. “Not too many, we must win this battle by ourselves, but some support would be welcome, especially in this place.”

Bullets at least did not look to be in short supply as Saraya al-Salam leader Hakim al-Zamili visited the Jurf al-Sakhr front line this week, with some fighters burning off entire ammo belts to greet his convoy.

Discipline and sheer determination are some of the factors that have consistently made the IS look like the best fighting force in Iraq over the past two and half months.

IS “is strong because they are tough and they believe in a cause,” Zamili told some of his field commanders gathered in a local command centre.

“The fighters they run up against should also believe in something and be even tougher,” said Zamili, who was accused of running a death squad that abducted and executed hundreds of Sunnis between 2005 and 2007.

Zamili, now a lawmaker, was cleared in court but as pressure mounts on the US to expand its strikes beyond north Iraq, helping the ex-Mahdi Army does not appear to be high on the list.

US President Barack Obama justified launching air strikes earlier this month by pointing to a threat to US personnel in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region and the risk of genocide against minorities.

We don’t want the Americans to come back to Iraq, we don’t want a new occupation, we just want their support in the form of air strikes,” Zamili told AFP as he toured the Jurf al-Sakhr front line.
W
hen Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government first requested US air strikes in June to reverse the debacle of disintegrating Iraqi federal forces, David Petraeus, a former commander-in-chief of US-led forces in Iraq, warned against America becoming an “air force for Shiite militias”.
S
ome of the most battle-hardened fighters among Saraya al-Salam’s disparate ranks were adamant, however, that any battle won with US support would be half lost.

We don’t need America. We are brave people, we have enough weapons and experience,” said Ali Abu Hassan, who heads an elite unit in the militia.

“I consider anyone asking for US air strikes a traitor to Iraq.” — AFP