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---------- Forwarded message ---------- Military Urges U.S. on Nuclear Arms By John Diamond Associated Press Writer Monday, March 2, 1998; 2:17 a.m. EST WASHINGTON (AP) -- Harkening back to the Cold War era of nuclear standoff, the U.S. military's nuclear command says an ``irrational and vindictive'' demeanor against adversaries such as Iraq may help deter conflict. The view is contained in an internal study, ``Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence,'' written by the Strategic Command, the multiservice headquarters responsible for the nation's strategic nuclear arsenal. The study was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by an arms control advocacy group and published Sunday in a report on U.S. strategies for deterring attacks by antagonistic nations using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. ``Because of the value that comes from the ambiguity of what the U.S. may do to an adversary if the acts we seek to deter are carried out, it hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed,'' the 1995 study said. The British-American Security Information Council, a London-based think tank, cited the study in its report as an example of the Pentagon's push to maintain a mission for its nuclear arsenal long after the Soviet threat disappeared. The report portrays the Omaha, Neb.-based Strategic Command, or STRATCOM, as fighting an internal bureaucratic battle against liberal Clinton administration officials who lean in favor of dramatic nuclear weapons reductions. While budgets for nuclear weapons have declined dramatically, the command appears to have succeeded in shifting the U.S. nuclear deterrent strategy from the former Soviet Union to so-called rogue states -- Iraq, Libya, Cuba, North Korea and the like. The study uses Cold War language in defending the relevance of nuclear weapons in deterring such potential adversaries. ``The fact that some elements (of the U.S. government) may appear to be potentially 'out of control' can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears and doubts within the minds of an adversary's decision makers,'' it says. ``That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries.'' The idea of projecting an aura of irrationality was not original to STRATCOM. It dates at least as far back as the early 1960s, when Harvard Professor Thomas Schelling was writing his ground-breaking works on game theory and nuclear bargaining. ``It is not a universal advantage in situations of conflict to be inalienably and manifestly rational in decision and motivation,'' Schelling wrote. These were ideas later adopted by Henry Kissinger and President Nixon in using coercive air strikes on North Vietnam as a way of forcing Hanoi to the bargaining table in the latter stages of the Vietnam War. In 1997, two years after STRATCOM advanced its latter-day version of this theory, President Clinton approved a directive that preserved the role of nuclear weapons as a deterrent against attacks involving weapons of mass destruction launched by rogue states. The policy upheld the ``negative security assurance'' that the United States will refrain from first use of nuclear weapons against signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a list that includes Iraq, Iran, Libya and North Korea. But it includes exceptions that presidential adviser Robert Bell said have been ``refined'' in recent years. The exceptions would allow a nuclear response to attacks by nuclear-capable states, countries that are not in good standing under the Non-Proliferation Treaty or states allied with nuclear powers. Iraq, which the United States regards as violating international atomic weapons restrictions, could be one such exception. Arms control advocates are concerned that signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty who possess no nuclear weapons will abandon the pact if they see the existing nuclear powers preserving their nuclear arsenals and finding missions for their weapons -- particularly if those missions include scenarios that involve attacks on them. Bell, Clinton's senior adviser on nuclear weapons and arms control matters, disputed that argument in an interview. ``I don't think there's a disconnect in principle between some level of general planning at STRATCOM and the negative security assurance and our goals relative to the Non-Proliferation Treaty,'' Bell said. Treaty signatories are more worried about their neighbors than the United States, he said, and they support the nuclear weapons reductions the treaty imposes on nuclear-armed states. Of the 1995 study, Bell said, ``That sounds like an internal STRATCOM paper which certainly does not rise to the level of national policy.'' Navy Lt. Laurel Tingley, a STRATCOM spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the council's report until it could be reviewed in detail. She restated the command's basic policy guidance that deterrence of attacks involving nuclear, chemical or biological weapons is ``the fundamental purpose of U.S. nuclear forces.'' © Copyright 1998 The Associated Press -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html