Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Worst Case Scenario...

If the US experiences a nuclear 9/11 would we reply (somewhere) with a nuclear strike? With a nuclear barraige? This is a serious question that is considered seriously over at Winds of Change. I reprint my comment here:
First off, I should state my base assumptions. I am an extreme hawk with respect to the GWOT. I believe that 9/11 gave the US the casus belli to invade, blockade, bomb, assassinate, incarcerate, physically/psychologically abuse any nation, group or person as necessary in order to pursue, disrupt and destroy those involved and associated with 9/11 style terrorists. The rest, in my view, is simply tactics.

Tactically, it may be smart to refrain from actions that described by the unfriendly media as torture. But in the cruel calculus of war, would not a few abused terrorist be a morally superior choice to a 9/11 times 10 or times 100 attack?

So tactically speaking would a nuclear attack against the terrorist make sense?

* Targeting
-- Can we identify a target that requires a nuclear weapon?

* Collateral Damage
-- Is the expected value of the attack greater than the collateral damage expected?
-- Is the negative reaction from allies, non-aligned states and enemy civilians greater than the expected value of the attack?

I must admit that I'm not convinced that that nuclear weapons have much value in actual use. Consider a the situation in Tora Bora when it was thought that OBL was there. If we had used nuclear munitions on that area would that have achieved our goal better than a carpet bombing campaign? I suspect that equal or greater military value can be had by simply using excessive amounts of conventional bombs rather than nuclear weapons.

If we assume that a nuclear terrorist strike in the USA has changed our current tactical thinking by reducing the sensitivity to civilian casualties then I suspect that the military could achieve its objectives without going nuclear. Can someone posit a situation to contradict my assertion? Perhaps going after the military industrial complex in Iran?

I see zero value in killing civilians for the sake of reducing the enemy civilian population. I do not follow the arguments that this will change the enemy's mindset. I believe that the analogy to Japan does not hold; the gov't ultimately surrendered -- the people would have gone on. We don't need to nuke Saudi Arabia to get them to surrender.

I do understand that there will be some domestic political pressure to reply in kind to a nuclear strike on the US. I also see some deterrent potential in a 100% certain retaliatory policy. Given this posture, it is quite unclear upon whom we would bomb if struck by terrorists.

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This is a joke, but I hear stuff like this everyday