That's the headline I noticed in the National Toast this morning. And if you click on the title, it's the link that leads to the document of which it speaks. You'll find it in the top right corner of the web page, titled jp3_12fc2. The actual title of the document is Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations.
I downloaded it. It's about 70 pages long. I'll probably find time to read it in the next ten years. (Hope the Pentagon doesn't find it necesssary to nuke in the meantime.)
Bush, more than any other president I can think of in recent years, has really led the push to redefine the US nuclear and pre-emptive strike policy. This document is a step in that direction. It basically says the US reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first if a hostile nation (or some other entity, like a terrorist group) is planning an attack. It primarily refers to nuclear attack, but also includes conventional attack which the US thinks might be overwhelming.
Basically, it says, "We'll nuke first if we get really nervous."
A lot of people over the years have tried to get the US to enunciate a "no first strike" policy. But come on...really...the US has never had that. The atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a pre-emptive strike. Japan was working on a nuclear bomb. USSR too. And Germany, of course, but the US was heir to German expertise after VE day.
The problem with pre-emptive strikes is, you can always manufacture reasons why it's necessary. You don't have to look any farther than Iraq to see how that works. Conventional weapons are bad enough. A pre-emptive nuclear strike is a nightmare in the making. The implications are much vaster than they were at the end of WWII. (Which suggests to me that the US would only use it against a much weaker power that it was sure didn't have nukes or friends with nukes.)
I think this is only part of what I think....?
The other part of what I think I think relates to the simple fact that you can download this document from the Internet. In fact, it was originally on a DoD website. Anybody can get it. It suggests two things to me:
1. In a certain sense, the US is a remarkably open nation. Strategic, military, policy, memos, minutes of meetings....all fairly readily available for those who care to look. Don't you think that's amazing?.........or.........
2. All of this publicly available stuff is nothing more than blowing smoke up our asses to make us think we can have some influence when, really, they'll blow nukes up our asses whether we like it or not...