To use nuclear wea-pons first or not? This issue has now become one of the most burning in the United States, where the process of preparing a new nuclear strategy, around which passions are boiling more and more, has entered the final stretch. Moreover, in this dispute, President Joe Biden looks like a “dove of peace” against the background of his “hawks”.
At first glance, the document called the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR for short) is not something fateful. After all, this is not a law, not a postulate set in stone, it does not even have to be accepted. The tradition of approving and updating this strategy with the arrival of each new US administration appeared in 1994, when the Cold War ended and Washington faced the question of why a nuclear arsenal was needed after the collapse of the main adversary. Since then, this strategy has been revised every eight years, adapting it to new realities and challenges.
And although the last such document was adopted not so long ago (in 2018), it would be strange if Joe Biden, who has de-voted almost his entire political career to negotiations on nuclear disarmam-ent and security, would not first instruct the Pentagon to prepare a new document, “post-Trump “. Work on it is nearing completion, approval and publication is expected at the beginning of the coming year.
But the closer the release date, the hotter the debate over the idea of a preemptive nuclear strike, which Biden opposed while still a senator. He dedicated this and his farewell speech as vice president, a week before leaving the White House.
Specifically, Biden said at the time: “Given our n-on-nuclear capabilities and the nature of today’s thre-ats, it is difficult to imagine a plausible scenario in which the United States would need or make sense to use nuclear weapons first. President Obama and I are confident that we can contain non-nuclear threats by other means and to defend ourselves and our allies against them. ” Calling on the incoming Donald Trump administration to develop a balanced strategy, the vice president said that the sole purpose of using these weapons should be in response to the threat of a nuclear attack against the United States.
Biden, justifying these positions, referred to his disputes with the “graying Soviet Prime Minister” Alexei Kosygin in 1979, when the American politician was only 36 years old. It would seem illogical if, after becoming president, Biden had drastically changed his old approaches to this issue. However, to all appearances, his intention to officially abandon the idea of a preemptive nuclear strike has met with stiff opposition both inside the White House and outside the United States.
As the Financial Times found out, a number of America’s allies (the newspaper named the governme-nts of Britain, France, Ger-many, Japan and Australia ) are actively seeking Wa-shington to keep NPR capable of delivering a preemptive strike. The explanation is traditional: giving up this opportunity “would be a great gift for China and Ru-ssia.” And what other “arg-uments” should be given if you want to substantiate an idea in the West?
It turns out that if Biden declares not to use the atomic bomb first, “it will give courage to Russia and China.” One might think that Beijing or Moscow is deterred from a nuclear war only by the presence of a couple of proposals in the Pentagon document. As soon as these proposals fall out, a blow will immediately follow on some of the US allies. Those were so scared that, judging by FT sources, they fell into “collective panic”.
According to the newspaper, this source is in the American Congress. From which we can conclude that the opponents of Biden’s idea in Washington itself are behind the leak of information about the “allied riot” (imaginary or real). As the British newspaper The Guardian suspects, “hawks from the Pentagon” took up arms against it. And American generals have never concealed their opposition to this approach.
The fact that the behind-the-scenes struggle around NPR has sharply escalated is evidenced by the recent removal from office of the person directly responsible for preparing the document, Leonor Tomero. Her position as Deputy Assistant S-ecretary of Defense for Nu-clear Policy was simply c-ut. This is at the final stage of developing a new strategy.
Tomero has repeatedly advocated “reducing the role of nuclear weapons in national defense strategy” and supported Biden’s idea of abandoning a preemptive nuclear strike. In this regard, White House officials considered “her position as a danger in the face of the nuclear achievements of Russia and China.” According to experts, the Pentagon “does not want to have anything to do with those who intend to promote Joe Biden’s views on nuclear modernization.”
Thus, it can be stated that the US Supreme Commander-in-Chief is opposed by his own Department of Defense. And the leak in the Financial Times about the alleged dissatisfaction of the allies is most likely caused by the desire of the internal opposition to shift the arrows to the external circuit: they say, we would not be against the implementation of the president’s long-standing idea, but we must take into account the opinion of our NATO partners, and now more and on the new block AUKUS. Biden, after the scandal with France in connection with the creation of this alliance, shows particular sensitivity regarding the position of the allies.
Confirmation of this is his admission of Washington’s “awkwardness” in relations with Paris. Apparently, the “hawks” in the Pentagon decided to play on these doubts of Biden, at the same time clearing out potential like-minded people inside the White House behind his back. Thus, by the time of the release of the report, around which so many copies are now breaking, the president may not find there any of his long-voiced ideas.
The US media is especially stirring up passion over the recent testing of Chinese hypersonic weapons. American reaction borders on hysteria. It is no coincidence that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milli, compared the launch of a Chinese rocket to the Moment of the Satellite, the panic that began in the United States after the launch of the first Soviet satellite in 1957. Almost all reviews of the upcoming report on US nuclear strategy now contain a reference to a new threat allegedly posed to the United States after the test of a Chinese missile.
These commentators are not at all embarrassed by the fact that China itself is one of the countries that pledged not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. For some reason, the presence of such a commitment from Beijing does not change the position of the same American “hawks” who argue that the appearance of this point in their strategy will dramatically change something.
In order to substantiate their fears, the Americans r-efer to the old words of one of the Chinese generals, who said in 2005 that Bei-jing would use nuclear we-apons if the United States intervened in the conflict with Taiwan. Despite repe-ated explanations from Ch-ina that the general’s private opinion is not supported by official doctrine, this has since been constantly used by the Pentagon as a bogeyman. Especially when the same General Milli annou-nced America’s intention to “defend Taiwan from Chi-na,” even though Washing-ton officially considers the island to be part of China.
It is clear that some cha-nges in a certain Pentagon document, which is not ev-en a law, will not bring clo-ser or postpone the threat of nuclear war and complete mutual destruction, the reality of which was pointed out the other day by Russian President Putin.
However, one more dangerous tendency of recent years should be noted: the “hawks” are working not only on formal documents, they are actively processing public opinion in order to reduce the psychological barrier to the perception of this threat. Western media are increasingly full of articles that a nuclear war is not so scary at all, which means it is permissible. Increasingly, there are publications and even books that the nuclear winter is generally an invention of the Soviet KGB, which carried out a brilliant operation to misinform Western society in the 1980s. Not only American, but already European politicians are increasingly using the term “nuclear deterrence” of Russia or China. What is the scandal around the recent statement of the German Defense Minister?on this topic. Even representatives of the German Green Party, not particularly friendly to Russia, were forced to admit that this statement had nothing to do with containment, stressing: “In this case, a line has been crossed, which even during the Cold War was considered non-negotiable.”
The absence of such barriers and boundaries is the main threat to the security of our planet. The moment the fear of pressing the nuclear button disappears, the Earth will turn into a fragile glass ball. Therefore, the battle over the US nuclear strategy is not only a battle for multibillion-dollar budgets for the Pentagon and the military-industrial complex, it is also a struggle for the presence of psychological restraints holding the world from a nuclear catastrophe. One cannot but be alarmed by the fact that in this struggle the generals do not intend to obey the supreme commander-in-chief of the most powerful country in the world, playing their game. These can be very dangerous for everyone.
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