At the same time the Pentagon issued its new Nuclear Posture Review, Obama officially ordered the murder of a US citizen, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki - accused of terrorism and an Al Qaeda connection without evidence.
Earlier on February 4, Washington Post writer Ellen Nakashima headlined, "Intelligence chief acknowledges US may target Americans involved in terrorism," saying:
"Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair acknowledged (February 3 in testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) that government agencies (specifically CIA operatives and Special Forces death squads) may kill US citizens abroad who are involved in terrorist activities if they are 'taking action that threatens Americans," or administration officials say so.
Obama's Nuclear Posture Review - New Policy or Same Old Same Old?
In December 2001, the Bush administration issued its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), asserting the preemptive right to unilaterally declare and wage future wars using first strike nuclear weapons.
On April 5, New York Times writers David Sanger and Peter Baker headlined, "Obama Limits When US Would Use Nuclear Arms," saying:
On Monday, Obama said "he was revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons (but) was carving out an exception for 'outliers like Iran and North Korea....' "
Calling it a "sharp shift" in strategy, the Times writers claimed "For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states (in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - NPT), even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack."
Predictably, an April 7 Times editorial headlined, "Mr. Obama's Nuclear Policy," said:
"it is an important down payment on a saner nuclear policy (and affirms) the 'fundamental role' of nuclear weapons....to deter nuclear attack on the United States and its allies....the administration has rightly decided to lead by example."
Wrong for numerous reasons. NPR 2010 is changed rhetoric, not policy. Declared nuclear or non-nuclear "outliers" may be attacked. Unilateral disarmament and a nuclear-free world aren't envisioned or planned. Upgraded weapons will replace outdated ones, and as with all new weapons, dangerous testing will continue. NPT's three pillars are disregarded - non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful use. So is restoring the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, in force for 30 years until the Bush administration unilaterally withdrew in June 2002.
In place also is the Pentagon's 2006 Global Strike Command, a preemptive offensive policy rooted in the concept that, sooner or later, deterrence will fail. Rather than wait, it focuses on striking before it's unleashed. It's about war making, not prevention. So is the 2009 Prompt Global Strike initiative to attack rapidly anywhere in the world with conventional weapons, as easy to do with nuclear ones.
NPR 2010 says America "reserves the right" to use nuclear weapons "that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and US capacities to counter that threat."
It begs the question about cause in the event of a pandemic, that, if blamed on a targeted "outlier," may justify a nuclear response. It also leaves unchanged the 2005 Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, removing the distinction between defensive and offensive deterrents, saying:
"The new triad (land and sea-based strategic bombers, land-based missiles, and ballistic missile submarines) offers a mix of strategic offensive and defensive capabilities, active and passive defenses, and a robust research development, and industrial infrastructure to develop, build, and maintain offensive forces and defensive systems....it provides additional military options."
NPR 2010 leaves the land-sea-air triad in place, keeping nuclear missiles on alert ready to launch in minutes, the right to use nuclear weapons preemptively, and for the president on his say to order it, perhaps with little time to decide if a perceived threat exists.
This goes beyond self-defense. Calling for preemption, it's aggressive, using nuclear or non-nuclear weapons against an adversary, rebranded an "outlier," whether or not true.
Still policy is the May 2000 Joint Vision 2020 calling for "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space (including weaponizing it), electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to fight and win global wars against any potential challengers with all weapons in our arsenal, including nuclear, chemical, and biological.
So is the 2002 (later updated 2006) National Security Strategy (NSS), asserting the preemptive right to unilaterally wage aggressive wars with nuclear weapons against any perceived threats or potential challengers, especially with regard to US control over the world's energy and other resources in key regions like Eurasia (including the Middle East), Latin America, Africa, and the Arctic.
Unchanged is the Bush Administration's December 2002 National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 17 to combat "Weapons of Mass Destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical), stating:
"The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force - including through resort to all of our options - to the use (or threatened use) of WMD(s) against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies."
In addition, while launching nuclear war is a presidential prerogative, theater nuclear operations are at the discretion of commanders - so on their own, they may order tactical preemptive mini-nuke use (like bunker-busters), falsely claimed as safe for the surrounding civilian population.
Bogusly-called missile defense is for offense. It's also unchanged, Obama sticking with Bush administration plans to install them in Poland and advanced tracking radar in the Czech Republic, Russia very much opposed with good reason. It also objects to news leaks about Romania and Bulgaria agreeing to allow missile interceptors on their soil by 2015, according to an April 8 RIA Novosti report headlined, "Russia proposes global missile defense cooperation with US - Medvedev."
Claimed to protect European allies from "rogue threats" (clearly suggesting Iran), they, in fact, target Russia, the only potential threat because of its large, sophisticated nuclear arsenal. It's believed Iran's missiles can't reach Europe nor has it reason to launch them except in self-defense.
That despite Wall Street Journal writer Chip Cummins last December 17 headlining, "Iran Tests New Version of Missile that Can Reach Europe," and Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) deputy commander, Hossein Salami, recently saying "Our missiles are now able to target any spot in which the conspirators are in," of course, suggesting Israel and regional-based US forces.
According to the White House, the new US-Russia nuclear treaty "does not contain any constraints on testing, development or deployment of current or planned US missile defense programs or current or planned United States long-range conventional strike capabilities."
No wonder Stephen Walt, co-author with John Mearsheimer of their book titled, "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," headlined his April 6 Foreign Policy article, "Nuclear Posture Review (or Nuclear Public Relations?), saying:
"Remarkably, US policymakers never seem to realize that the same arguments they use to justify our own nuclear arsenal apply even more powerfully to states whose security is a lot more precarious than America's. If the US government believes that 'the fundamental role' of US nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attacks on the United States (and reserves a first strike option to do it), then wouldn't a sensible Iranian leadership conclude that it could use a nuclear arsenal of its own, whose 'fundamental role' would be to deter us from doing just that?"
A Final Comment
Like his predecessor, Obama plans permanent wars and more military spending than all other nations combined at a time America has no enemies. He glorifies them and the righteousness of waging them, packaged as liberating ones for democracy, freedom, justice, and the best of all possible worlds. He's the latest in a long line of warrior leaders promising peace by waging wars, justifying them bogusly, and pursuing them as part of a longstanding agenda for greater wealth, power, and unchallengeable global dominance.
As a result, efforts to curtail nuclear danger may be no closer today than under George Bush, especially with Russia, not Iran, America's main strategic rival (along with China economically), facing off against each other in a new Great Game for control of Eurasia's immense resources and other riches.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.