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Kingston Reif @KingstonAReif
, 25 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
Thread---> 1/ Mattis today said the Nuclear Posture Review “uses the same language regarding the use of nuclear weapons as the previous 2010 review.” Other DoD officials have echoed same. This is misleading-at best. The changes are significant, dangerous docs.house.gov/meetings/AS/AS…
2/ Let's start with a side-by-side of the language on declaratory policy in the 2010 NPR and the 2018 NPR
3/ Like 2010 NPR, 2018 NPR says U.S. will not use nukes against non-nuke state in compliance with is nonpro obligations. Also like 2010 NPR, 2018 NPR says U.S. will only consider nuke use in “extreme circumstances” to defend “vital interests”
4/ But that’s where the similarities stop
5/ 2010 NPR said that in the case of states not covered by US pledge not to nuke them, “there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring a conventional or CBW attack”
6/ 2010 NPR did not explicitly define “extreme circumstances” or “vital interests”. But remember: “NARROW RANGE"
7/ 2018 NPR says “extreme circumstances” includes “non-nuclear strategic attacks” by other nuke armed state or non-nuke state state violating its nonpro obligations against “civilian population or infrastructure” or nuclear forces and command/control/early warning capabiliteis
8/ Later in document “non-nuclear strategic attacks” defined to include “chemical, biological, cyber, and large-scale conventional aggression”
9/ The administration's National Security Strategy also characterized cyber as a non-nuclear strategic threat
10/ For the record, I thought the 2010 NPR language was too permissive - and so apparently did Obama and Biden (more on that later)
11/ But 2018 language is clearly a broadening of the role of nukes and the conditions under which U.S. would consider nuke first use relative to the 2010 NPR. No mention of cyber attacks or attacks on command/control/early warning in 2010
12/ @james_acton32: “To the best of this author’s knowledge, the United States has never before explicitly threatened a nuclear response to nonnuclear attacks on command, control, and warning capabilities — and with good reason.” warontherocks.com/2018/02/comman…
13/ But wait there’s more
14/ 2010 NPR said U.S. would only reconsider pledge not to nuke non-nuke states in compliance w/their nonpro obligations in the event of an “evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and U.S. capacities to counter that threat” (the bio caveat)
15/ Conversely, the disclaimer in the 2018 NPR is bigly bigger. As @woolaf notes, this amounts to “we won't nuke you unless, sometime in the future, we decide you have some unspecified capability that makes us want to nuke you”
16/ But wait there’s still more
17/ In tone and substance, 2010 NPR sought to narrow the role of nuclear weapons and the circumstances under which their use would be contemplated
18/ For example: “The United States will continue to strengthen conventional capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks, with the objective of making deterrence of nuclear attack...the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons.”
19/ And while Obama didnt adopt sole purpose or no first use policy, VP Biden said before leaving office that: “President Obama and I are confident we can deter and defend ourselves and our allies against non-nuclear threats through other [non-nuke] means” obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-offi…
20/ 2018 NPR rejects sole purpose, extols ambiguity, and proposes two new low-yield nuclear capabilities to “expand the range of credible U.S. options for responding to nuclear or non-nuclear strategic attack”
21/ So the Trump NPR is different - and not for the better. The proposals to expand the U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons are unwise and dangerous for many reasons. They would:
22/ -Raise proportionality questions/be difficult to make credible
-Undermine the credibility of deterrence against nuke threats
-Self-defeatingly invite other countries to rely more heavily on nukes to blunt US non-nuke power
23/ -Exacerbate the commitment trap problem
-Diminish U.S. leadership on nonproliferation
-Oh and...give Trump more reasons to brandish nukes and pathways to use them
24/ So let’s come back to where we started. DoD official Greg Weaver last week: “There is no intent to extend the range of circumstances. It [the NPR] doesn’t do that. The Obama policy didn’t rule out anything as a potential extreme circumstance” fifthdomain.com/pentagon/2018/…
25/25 As shld be evident this is baloney. So why wont authors of NPR confidently defend it on this score? They believe threat environment is worse, think the Obama approach lacked credibility, and want the nuke hammer to deter/compel more nails. Why are they claiming continuity?
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