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By Geoff Metcalf

September 13, 2005

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, but the unreasonable man tries to adapt to the world to him--therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man." --Samuel Butler

The Washington Post recently reported the Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan and it includes Preemptive Use Against Banned Weapons. This is a big honking deal� with myriad ramifications covering a very broad spectrum and inimitable potential for the law of unintended consequences to produce horrific results.

Reportedly the five-sided puzzle palace has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons. The revisions raise the stakes and amplify potential negative consequences.

The still unsigned draft includes the policy option of using nukes to destroy stockpiles of WMDs. On it�s face it sounds like a good idea�however, given the abysmal track record of our composite intelligence community to confirm, that which needs to be confirmed, a good policy could well result in epic catastrophe. And it is more than kinda difficult to put THAT genie back in the bottle and ask for or spin a do-over.

During the Cold War nuclear Armageddon was held in check by a policy known as MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). Basically this was the consensus understanding that if the Soviets launched nukes, the U.S. would launch...and vice versa. The net outcome for whoever popped the first nuke was that they could, would, and should anticipate a massive nuclear response from the adversary.

Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union may have in varying degrees been 'crazy' but neither was 'stupid' and each side accepted that whoever sparked the match first was compelling a reciprocal response that literally would have destroyed the world, as we know it.

Some extreme (and myopic) pundits have suggested for years the nuking of Mecca. Some have suggested such a threat has already been delivered (VERY unlikely) and chilled the jets of the Islamists (not supported by facts).

Assorted over the top ranters fail to factor in a significant fact not in evidence: the threats (or policy) can only be effective if the threatened can and will reason and is capable of even a very basic (and honest) cost benefit analysis.

MAD worked in dulling nationalist ambition because despite all warts and blemishes neither adversary was BOTH 'crazy' AND 'stupid' at the same time. When they were crazy they weren't stupid and when they were stupid they weren't crazy.

Not so with this new adversary. The rabid Islamo-terrorist IS capable of being BOTH crazy AND stupid. In fact, they may rationalize a massive nuclear conflagration as a mere catalyst to getting around the annoying detour of �life� for their warped perception of Paradise.

The United States has already repeatedly said we would "respond with overwhelming force" to the use of WMDs and that "all options" would be available to the president. �All Options�.�

THAT was/is a very thinly veiled threat that if you muck around with Uncle or our friends, we could and would nuke your 13th century rat hole regardless of what it could end up costing to fill up the Escalade.

In April, Rumsfeld asked the Senate Armed Services panel for a bunker buster study to be funded. He said, "The only thing we have is very large, very dirty, big nuclear weapon�"

Apparently since Congress refused to fund an alternative to nukes, the Pentagon has decided to use what they DO have�

The draft, dated March 15, "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" is unclassified and available (for now) on the web [Read]

A "summary of changes" �."revises the discussion of nuclear weapons use across the range of military operations."

So when would/could we use nukes?

  • Against an enemy that is using "or intending to use WMD" against U.S. or allied, multinational military forces or civilian populations.
  • In case of an "imminent attack from adversary biological weapons that only effects from nuclear weapons can safely destroy."
  • "attacks on adversary installations including WMD, deep, hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons."

Various provisions in the document appear to refer to nuclear initiatives proposed by the administration and blown off by Congress.

  • Last year, Congress refused to fund research toward development of nuclear weapons that could destroy biological or chemical weapons materials without dispersing them into the atmosphere.
  • Congress also killed funding of a study to determine the viability of the �Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator� warhead (RNEP) -- commonly called the bunker buster.

So with some thirty nations with various WMD programs and assorted �nonstate actors working independently or with succor from a bad guy state, �something� serious is needed.

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Remember it was this Pentagon that said, �As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.� The same apparently holds true for tools. If Congress won�t fund tools wanted and needed, they seem prepared to use what they have. What they have is nukes!

� 2005 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's Web Site: While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book!  E-mail:








The United States has already repeatedly said we would "respond with overwhelming force" to the use of WMDs and that "all options" would be available to the president. �All Options�.�