Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why the Generals May Resign over Iran (Hint: It's the Nukes)

Wed Feb 28th, 2007 at 12:36:34 PM EST

As you know, the Sunday Times of London reported senior military leaders may resign if Bush orders an attack on Iran. The question is, why now? It's not because aggressive war is a war crime. Nor because the blowback from any attack would greatly increase the risk to our troops in Iraq, and possibly lead to further terrorist attacks. No, it has everything to do with this statement about Iran recently uttered by Vice President Cheney: "All options are on the table."

The generals who may resign do not consider "all options" to mean an attack using only conventional weapons. I think they know that "all options" is specifically being used by Bush and Cheney to signal that America will use nuclear weapons for the second time in our history.

In other words: All Options = Nuclear War

Why do I think this? Because for several years now the Bush administration has been planning for the possibility of using nuclear weapons against "rogue nations." Back in 2004, I wrote a diary which quoted this report by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA agent, in which he cited Pentagon sources who claimed that ...

...Vice President Dick Cheney's office ... has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons.

This came on the heels of Rumsfeld's revision of our nuclear doctrine, which now permits the use of tactical nuclear weapons as part of a newly developed global strike capability overseen by STRATCOM and embodied in STRATCOM's operational plan for its global strike capability vis-avis Iran, CONPLAN 8022:

In November 2003, Rumsfeld approved a plan known as CONPLAN 8022-02, which for the first time established a pre-emptive-strike capability against Iran. That was followed in 2004 by a top-secret "Interim Global Strike Alert Order" that put the military on a state of readiness to launch an airborne and missile attack against Iran, should Bush issue the command. "We're now at the point where we are essentially on alert," said Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of the 8th Air Force. "We have the capacity to plan and execute global strikes in half a day or less."

What are Global Strike and CONPLAN 8022 about? They aren't about deterring anyone from acquiring nuclear weapons. What they represent is a fundamental change in the way we confront so-called "terrorist threats" and "rogue nations." In effect, Global Strike and CONPLAN 8022 promote the offensive, preemptive use of America's military power to attack nations who we perceive may become potential threats in the future. In short, it is the the adoption of war fighting as the sole means to deal with potential threats to our national security.

Even more troubling, CONPLAN 8022 specifically, and the Global Strike capability in general, provides for the use of tactical or "low yield" nuclear weapons. The prominent role assigned to nuclear weapons in CONPLAN 8022 was first detailed in the media in a report by William Arkin of the Washington Post published September 2005, entitled "Not Just a Last Resort."

CONPLAN 8022 is different from other war plans in that it posits a small-scale operation and no "boots on the ground." The typical war plan encompasses an amalgam of forces -- air, ground, sea -- and takes into account the logistics and political dimensions needed to sustain those forces in protracted operations. All these elements generally require significant lead time to be effective. (Existing Pentagon war plans, developed for specific regions or "theaters," are essentially defensive responses to invasions or attacks. The global strike plan is offensive, triggered by the perception of an imminent threat and carried out by presidential order.) [...]

By employing all of the tricks in the U.S. arsenal to immobilize an enemy country -- turning off the electricity, jamming and spoofing radars and communications, penetrating computer networks and garbling electronic commands -- global strike magnifies the impact of bombing by eliminating the need to physically destroy targets that have been disabled by other means.

The inclusion, therefore, of a nuclear weapons option in CONPLAN 8022 -- a specially configured earth-penetrating bomb to destroy deeply buried facilities, if any exist -- is particularly disconcerting. The global strike plan holds the nuclear option in reserve if intelligence suggests an "imminent" launch of an enemy nuclear strike on the United States or if there is a need to destroy hard-to-reach targets.

The concept that we might use nuclear weapons to attack Iran's nuclear facilities has gone far beyond just the planning stages, by the way. Last year, Seymour Hersh reported in an article in the New Yorker that since the summer of 2005 US military aircraft have been simulating nuclear attacks against Iranian targets:

Some operations, apparently aimed in part at intimidating Iran, are already under way. American Naval tactical aircraft, operating from carriers in the Arabian Sea, have been flying simulated nuclear-weapons delivery missions—rapid ascending maneuvers known as “over the shoulder” bombing—since last summer, the former official said, within range of Iranian coastal radars.

Hersh and others have reported that the Pentagon has presented administration officials with proposals involving the use of the B61-11 tactical nuclear weapon to destroy Iran's hardened facilities such as its centrifuge program located in Natanz, roughly 200 miles south of Tehran. Although it is believed that the Joint Chiefs have not signed off on the use of such "low yield" nuclear weapons in any proposed attack on Iran, other administration advisers have not been so reluctant. As Hersh noted in his 2006 article, the Defense Science Board was actively advocating for their inclusion in the attack plans:

The adviser added, however, that the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “They’re telling the Pentagon that we can build the B61 with more blast and less radiation,” he said.

The chairman of the Defense Science Board is William Schneider, Jr., an Under-Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration. In January, 2001, as President Bush prepared to take office, Schneider served on an ad-hoc panel on nuclear forces sponsored by the National Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think tank. The panel’s report recommended treating tactical nuclear weapons as an essential part of the U.S. arsenal and noted their suitability “for those occasions when the certain and prompt destruction of high priority targets is essential and beyond the promise of conventional weapons.” Several signers of the report are now prominent members of the Bush Administration, including Stephen Hadley, the national-security adviser; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; and Robert Joseph, the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

The B61-11, by the way, is a tactical weapon only in the sense that it carries a nuclear warhead with less than 1 megaton of explosive force. This does not mean it is a "cleaner nuke" or that its explosive power is de minimis. B61-11 bombs allegedly can carry warheads with yields ranging from 10 kilotons (and possibly lower) to as much 340 kilotons. As a means of comparison, the bomb which was detonated over Hiroshima at the end of World War II, and which resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 Japanese civilians had as estimated yield of 15 kilotons.

Based on that, you can see why some of our senior military officers may not be so enamored with the idea of using B61-11 bombs against Iranian targets. Should they be used, the loss of life is likely to be horrendous, both from the blast itself and from the effects of radiation. Yet this is precisely the scenario for which Cheney, Hadley and all the other neocons still serving in the Bush administration have been hoping. The opportunity to finally make the use of our nuclear weapons a reality, again. That it would constitute a crime against humanity in the present circumstances does not appear to distress them in the least.

George Lakoff is right when he claims that we need to face up to the fact that the war Bush and Cheney's are planning is a "nuclear war." Not a garden variety "military strike" surgical or otherwise, but a Nuclear War.

A familiar means of denying a reality is to refuse to use the words that describe that reality. A common form of propaganda is to keep reality from being described. In such circumstances, silence and euphemism are forms of complicity both in propaganda and in the denial of reality. And the media, as well as the major presidential candidates, are now complicit.

The stories in the major media suggest that an attack against Iran is a real possibility and that the Natanz nuclear development site is the number one target. As the above quotes from two of our best sources note, military experts say that conventional "bunker-busters" like the GBU-28 might be able to destroy the Natanz facility, especially with repeated bombings. But on the other hand, they also say such iterated use of conventional weapons might not work, e.g., if the rock and earth above the facility becomes liquefied. On that supposition, a "low yield" "tactical" nuclear weapon, say, the B61-11, might be needed.

If the Bush administration, for example, were to insist on a sure "success," then the "attack" would constitute nuclear war. The words in boldface are nuclear war, that's right, nuclear war -- a first strike nuclear war.

I doubt many Americans would support a war with Iran if they knew that we plan on using nuclear weapons. So, our mission should be clear. The sooner we in the liberal blogosphere can push the mainstream media to convey that message to the American people, the better the odds that we can forestall what would be one of the greatest moral and political failures in American history. The madness of King George still can be reigned in, but only if we do our damnedest to expose his criminal plan for committing a first strike nuclear attack against Iran.

So whether you send a letter to the editor of your local paper, or an email to the media, or merely raise the topic with family and friends, ask them if they support a nuclear war against Iran. Say it just like that: Nuclear War. For that is what Bush is planning, and that is why the Generals are preparing their resignation letters, as we speak.

by Steven D

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