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In recent statements, Bush has said that "all options are on the table" when it comes to the war on Iraq. In military terms, this refers to the use of nuclear weapons.
Ordinarily, this would look like a routine - if rather extreme - instance of pre-fight saber rattling. But these aren't ordinary times. The nuclear planning documents Bush "leaked" to the press describe smaller, battlefield-use nuclear weapons and a strategy for their deployment in conventional battlefields.
In other words: Next time, Saddam, we're packing heat.
Below, read why we're right.
In our next conflict, the coming war against Iraq, we are more likely to nuke something than we have been since the Wall fell. The truly caffeinated might take it a hair further: Nuclear weapons are closer to actual use than they have been since the Cuban missile crisis.
Peaceniks all over the world have cried, horrified, that nuclear weapons are designed for deterrence, not use. This is understandable coming from liberals, who authored that brilliant policy of awarding cash to farmers for not growing crops.
Not me, though. I heartily applaud our Commander in Chief for having his head screwed on straight. By bringing nukes to the battlefield, Bush is doing the very best he can do with what he's got to defend our country against terrorism.
Consider Bush's predicament.
Bush is all ready to start handing the world to Enron when September 11th hits. Suddenly, he has to defend the homeland. As Commander in Chief, he has two options: our nuclear forces and our conventional ones.
All of our nukes (and the sum total of our conventional forces) are not, currently, a deterrent to anything. The architects of the September 11th attacks, whatever their other ideas were, knew enough about America to realize that plane-bombing the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the White House was pretty likely to provoke a nuclear attack.
Plus, if Bush wants to drop one, he can't. Even our tactical nukes are country-busters; a small one, dropped on Afghanistan, would kill in Pakistan, Russia, and India. The bombs were designed to be too big to drop. Like our nuclear arsenal, our conventional force was built (again, by the above-mentioned liberals) for a war between the Soviet Union and the United States - a war which was designed not to happen.
Our conventional army, navy, marines, and air force have the same problem. As they are currently deployed, our armed forces have not subdued terrorist organizations or activity. They have not caught particular big-shot terrorists.
In fact, our armed forces haven't been able to do much at all in modern warfare. Starting with Vietnam, the U.S. has specialized in spectacular washes, invasions of tiny islands, and wary truces called victory by each side back at home.
This argument is usually followed by a pitch for a new gadget, such as smart-armor or an unmanned plane. This strategy has never worked in the history of modern warfare. No matter what sort of gizmoes he uses, today's soldier is no match for a bunch of low-tech, local marauders that live in the woods, cities and villages. He never will be.
Bush has done two things right. He has upped the intelligence budget and freed the spying community to do the grueling work necessary to get better information on terrorist warfare. And, he's come up with a plan to use our huge military-industrial apparatus for something useful - tiny nukes which reliably kill terrorists dead.
Of course we don't know what these nukes will look like. There are some existing examples. Nukes already go as small as an 8 inch cylinder which can be fired from a shoulder-launched RPG rocket launcher. They range in size from a half-kiloton to two kilotons, a firepower more closely resembling the fuel-air or thermobaric bombs, which were used in Afghanistan.
To look at it another way, the power of the explosion that took down the World Trade Center is roughly equivalent to that of a small nuclear bomb.
Saddam Hussein is a good example. He sleeps in a different spot every night. He has hundreds of hidden bunkers all over the country, and he can easily flee to safety wherever he is in the country. What's more, his weapons of mass destruction are as easily concealed as he is.
With an enemy as hardened and skilled as Saddam, only a massive ground force or the nuclear option would even justify the risk of undertaking such an attack. There's no point in risking the destabilization of the Middle East unless we have a truly good chance of killing him. A miniature nuke, combined with a general intelligence about Saddam's whereabouts, gives us the best chance of taking him - and his weapons facilities - out.