America’s latest Nuclear Posture Review became the subject of heated debate at the Pentagon during the traditional roll-out before being released to the public less than a week ago.
It’s a rule of thumb now that America’s nuclear doctrine is reviewed by every cabinet with Bill Clinton being the first US President to start this trend. Since then, this US strategy of nuclear deterrence has suffered a number of drastic changes, with Trump’s team becoming the fourth to review and adjust it. Over the years, Washington’s priorities have been shifting drastically, which can be seen reflected in every revision of the Nuclear Posture Review.
Thus, the “second” edition of the Nuclear Posture Review was adopted in 2002 by the Bush administration, with the United States unilaterally withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
The next revision was adopted in 2010, when President Barack Obama attempted to assume the posture of a champion peacekeeper by announcing his intentions to take the lead in the fight against nuclear proliferation, while at the same time launching countless wars abroad. However, he wouldn’t object to the deployment of American anti-missile systems in Europe, explaining this decision by the alleged threat that Iran’s nuclear program could present to the world. However, when Tehran signed a deal in the 5+1 framework, abandoning any ambition to obtain nuclear weapons, Washington would have no second thoughts about advancing its anti-missile deployment anyway. Predictably, Washington didn’t care much about its promise to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as well.
However, according to the document adopted in 2010, the US pledged not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, with the exception of Iran and North Korea, while also turning its back on the development of nukes with bunker busting capabilities. Additionally, that revision of the Nuclear Posture Review would put a limit on the modernization of nuclear weapons, with any modification of existing nuclear devices requiring special permission from the president.
As for Donald Trump, unlike his predecessor, he doesn’t care much about hiding his true intentions. Immediately after his inauguration he made it clear that he’s inclined to advance US supremacy in all things nuclear. Upon taking office, Trump would instruct Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to launch a revision of all US nuclear forces, which was due to be finished last month.
This latest revision of the Nuclear Posture Review criticizes the efforts made by previous administrations to put a limit on the role that nuclear forces have played in American defense doctrine for almost three decades. Due to Trump’s new security strategy, Washington now thinks it’s okay to use nuclear weapons as a form of retaliation for ‘non-nuclear strategic attacks’.
It’s no wonder that this latest revision of the Nuclear Posture Review provoked massive criticism all across the globe. Thus, numerous nuclear nonproliferation groups have already stated that these latest adjustments won’t make the US, let alone the rest of the world a much safer place. It’s been noted that at the Henry Stimson Center, a Washington-based non-partisan think tank, Barry Blehman has warned that America is now standing on the brink of a nuclear war.
According to the latest revision of the Nuclear Posture Review, the White House regards as a possible threat the nuclear arsenals of Russia, North Korea and China. Curiously enough, the Iranian nuclear program is of particular concern to the Trump administration yet again. It doesn’t take a nuclear expert to point out that the concepts of “security” and “supremacy” are confused in this latest revision, therefore it does not explicitly prohibit the repetition of the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The rigid opposition that Washington has been showing to the UN-proposed treaty on the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons doesn’t leave much room for optimism. It’s clear that American special interests are as delusional as they are naive to believe that if they expand the list of pretexts for the deployment of weapons of mass destruction they will somehow be able to attain the geopolitical goals they have so far failed to even come close to achieving.
The document has already been criticized by high-ranking officials in many countries.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, speaking about the new nuclear doctrine of the United States, noted the contradictory position of Washington on the issue of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while describing the policies pursued by the White House as an example of ‘unscrupulous’ hypocrisy. As Rouhani explained, on one hand, America believes that one’s use of weapons of mass destruction constitutes crimes against humanity, while at the same time Washington is engaged in an arms race aimed at modernizing American nuclear arsenals, which are then going to be used against its rivals.
Japanese Hibakusha groups formed by the survivors of the American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have unilaterally criticized the new nuclear doctrine of the United States, since it buries the prospect of the renunciation of nuclear weapons. The head of one of these groups from Nagasaki, Koichi Cavanaugh admitted that he was shocked by the new nuclear doctrine of the US, since after its adoption in 2017 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he had hoped that the final goal of renouncing nuclear weapons would finally be achieved. Cavanaugh expressed fear that the development of low-power nuclear devices increases the danger of nuclear weapon use in future conflicts.
Washington’s decision to develop new tactical nuclear devices marks the launch of a new round of a nuclear arms race notes Germany’s Foreign Ministe, Sigmar Gabriel.
Both Moscow and Beijing have expressed their deep disappointment over this latest revision of the Nuclear Posture Review, as it has a clearly anti-Russian and anti-Chinese angle. These statements are confirmed by the latest revaluation of the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Paul Selva which he made at the Defense Writers Group meeting. According to Selva, the Pentagon is developing scenarios for a possible war with Russia or China.
It seems that the Cold War era classic movie about Dr. Strangelove is coming to fruition, as Trump has once again taught America “to love the bomb.” That is precisely why Trump’s new nuclear doctrine is best described as an attempt to turn the people of the planet into hostages of Washington’s ambitions, dissatisfaction and fears.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”