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September 12, 2005




Jason Lefkowitz

Wow, every time I think there's nothing left we could do to degrade our standing abroad, they manage to come up with something...

mark safranski

Actually, there's a lot of continuity to this stance, the United States has been careful to avoid making anything that could be construed as a " no first use" pledge on nukes.

During Gulf War I. it is widely believed, though not confirmed, that the first Bush administration communicated to Saddam an intent to make a nuclear first strike against Iraq if chemical or biological weapons were used by Iraqi forces. I would have to add that the implication there was that even Iraqi preparations for wide-scale use of such weapons against coalition could have been considered a sufficient trigger.

The difference here is that while previous administrations did not emphasize this aspect of American policy and cloaked it in ambiguity, Bush II is making the threat explicit.

John Robb

This is a shift. WMD use has always been considered a trigger for nuclear retaliation. Pre-emptive strikes for conventional activities or activities that result in the ownership of nuclear weapons is new. Big mindshift here.

mark safranski

Shifting conditions tend to shift minds.

One of the few positive side-effects of the Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviets is that it put a significant brake on nuclear proliferation activities. The fear of a client state escalating local conflicts into a Superpower clash led each side to lean on those states to exercise restraint, including on nuclear programs.

The U.S. leaned hard on Taiwan and South Korea to abandon nuke programs. Khrushchev dragged his heels on Soviet commitments to Mao to share nuclear technology and ( very wisely) refused to let Castro get his finger on the nuclear button. Nor did Brezhnev speed Qaddafi or Saddam's nuclear efforts . Nixon, who opened up almost the entire U.S. arsenal to the Shah, did not extend the same indulgence to Iran as the U.S. did toward Israel on nuclear matters.

U.S.and Soviet policies did not stop proliferation entirely, obviously, but they did slow its progression considerably. That "brake" is no longer present and the fungibility of the nuclear know-how and hardware gained through IAEA procedures and NPT signatory status is ironically accelerating nuclear proliferation. Inevitable outcome of knowledge diffusion once the Superpower " leash" was off would-be regional hegemons.

In any event, I'm not certain micro-nukes would even be the best option for destroying deeply buried, hardened targets compared to a sequential series of MOAB/big BLU type bombs hitting the epicenter of the crater of the previous bomb.


Another sword and shield race.

I don't know what the answer is for deeply buried bunker complexes. Perhaps steel rain through them. I also understand that there are weapons under development that use hafnium to produce massive yield without radiation. There's also some kind of new tank shell that uses the compression on impact to complete a chemical reaction releasing gigantic heat capable of melting through tank armor.

Other than nukes, what do you propose to do about Ill Kim Chee?

You should know by now that I am not in favor of nuclear weapons at all, much less preemptive strikes, but I don't really see any other option.


Of course there's always containment but the whole GG thing seems to be eroding its effectiveness. Black networks are available as power-projection platforms for the highest bidder.


The missile has a blunt nose that, combined with high velocity, creates a bubble of air in front of the weapon. The idea is that the bubble forces earth out to the sides as the missile descends, creating a cavity that the weapon can slide through.

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