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A ‘Small’ Nuclear War? It just takes one nuclear weapon to start Armageddon.

Dumbest Idea Ever: A ‘Small’ Nuclear War, Millions would die.  National Interest,

by WarIsBoring 5 Apr 19, It just takes one nuclear weapon to start Armageddon.

n the event of a rapidly escalating conflict with the Russians, should the United States conduct a “limited” nuclear strike to coerce the enemy to back down? Or, in Cold War nukespeak, should the United States “escalate to deescalate” the situation?

Believe it or not, that is a real question that is being debated in the Pentagon today. And the answer is no. Thinking we can use nuclear weapons in a “limited” way without inviting nuclear catastrophe is a dangerous fantasy.

Here is the hypothetical scenario. Russia decides to annex part, or all of, NATO ally Latvia, much like it did with the Crimean Peninsula. Russian forces cross the border, and NATO is forced to respond with a mixed force of U.S. Army brigades, U.S. Marines, air wings, special forces and allied personnel.

All of the sudden, a full-fledged war is threatening to engulf Northern Europe.

Fearing that the fighting will spill over into the rest of Europe, or even break out in Poland or the Ukraine, the United States launches a “tactical” nuclear strike against Russian forces on the border of Latvia.

The hope is that this will cause Russian commanders to pause amidst the destruction, and take a second to reconsider their options now that nuclear force has been used.

In theory, that pause would be enough time for cooler heads to prevail — and for the State Department to cable the Kremlin and hammer out some kind of ceasefire.

To Pentagon planners, this scenario is a legitimate one.

The Air Force already has plans to field a new, low-yield, air-launched nuclear cruise missile that it refers to as the Long Range Standoff Weapon, which critics argue is tailored for limited nuclear war fighting.

“Beyond deterrence, an LRSO-armed bomber force provides the president with uniquely flexible options in an extreme crisis, particularly the ability to signal intent and control escalation,” Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons-buyer, told Congress.

But once we’ve opened Pandora’s Box, is it possible to close it again? With thousands of Russian soldiers dead or dying on the Latvian border, would the Russians really just stand down?

Would the United States?

There’s no way to know for sure. But the little data that exists suggests no………..

After being briefed on the operational need for the new nuclear cruise missile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, told her colleagues in Congress that “the so-called improvements to this weapon seemed to be designed, candidly, to make it more usable, to help us fight and win a limited nuclear war. I find this a shocking concept.”

The notion that nuclear weapons can be used for anything “beyond deterrence” is reckless and dangerous thinking. It is an option that should be taken off the table entirely. Reagan recognized as much after witnessing the disastrous results of Proud Prophet.

“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Reagan said in his subsequent state-of-the-union address.

Even contemporary American officials recognize as much, albeit indirectly. At a hearing where he criticized the Russian doctrine of “escalate to de-escalate,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work noted that “anyone who thinks they can control escalation through the use of nuclear weapons is literally playing with fire. Escalation is escalation, and nuclear use would be the ultimate escalation.”

Yet that is precisely the capability that American defense planners are seeking to enhance with the new air-launched nuclear cruise missile……….

It just takes one nuclear weapon to start Armageddon. We maintain an arsenal of nearly 7,000. Let’s make sure we avoid building the more “usable” ones.

Geoff Wilson is a Research Associate at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation that has supported War Is Boring in the past. Will Saetren is the author of Ghosts of the Cold War: Rethinking the Need for a New Cruise Missile, and an alumnus of the Roger L. Hale Fellowship at Ploughshares Fund.

April 6, 2019 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war

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