Skip to comments.Kerry Castles His King: From Retaliation to Preemption to Prevention
Posted on 10/02/2004 12:29:49 PM PDT by vanderleun
Hugh Hewitt has initiated an online symposium concerning John Kerry's announced position on "nuclear bunker busters. (NBBs)" These are weapons that, targeted precisely, burrow into the ground to an undisclosed but significant depth, and then detonate a nuclear warhead of an undisclosed but significant strength. NBBs are not healthy for underground fortified targets.
The current public information is that "research" to develop these weapons is underway, but that such research is funded only to a level of $35 million and not the "hundreds of millions" Kerry contends.
It is likely, given the opaque nature of how weapons are developed or funded in the US, that Kerry's figure is closer to the truth than the $35 million cited by his critics. It is also highly probable that NBBs already exist in the US Arsenal or can be made to exist on fairly short notice. But that is not the immediate question. What is at issue is Kerry's opposition to such weapons, cheap or costly, real or imagined.
Senator Kerry is against the "development" of such weapons. He views them, as he always views advanced nuclear and non-nuclear weapons systems, as destabilizing. This view is part of the real, historical and verifiable Kerry.
But recent events have shown, again and again, that the development and possession of advanced weapons systems by the United States is not "destabilizing," but "restabilizing."
There are a number of reasons for this, but first let's turn to Mr. Hewitt's symposium questions:
""Did Kerry blunder in denouncing nuclear bunker busters? If so, why? If so, how great the damage to his candidacy?
1) No, Kerry did not.
2) Because Kerry had to.
3) It would be catastrophic except for the fact Kerry's campaign is already a catastrophe.
"Nuance is the Essence of Intellectual Camouflage"
Like many other statements by this "Man Who Would Be
King President," Kerry "did and did not" blunder. Kerry, you will recall, is that rare Leopard/chameleon type of candidate that does change his spots. He is a Yes/No; a quantum political chip whose bits are set to on/off simultaneously; a type of life form dedicated to protective political coloration. This is why nuance is central to his intellect -- nuance is the essence of intellectual camouflage.
If you favor advanced weapons systems, even nuclear, you will see his condemnation of them as a blunder. But you already know this about Kerry and your vote was never his. He loses nothing.
If you oppose such systems, you will see the same statement as confirming you in your decision to vote for Kerry regardless of other positions he may take. The Nuke/No Nuke War/No War Iraq/No Iraq issue cluster trumps, as many have noted, all other issues in this campaign.
Kerry, by sending coded signals to his base that say "I'll get us out and I'll shut down advanced weapons systems including nuclear systems," allows him to wander off the reservation on other issues in future debates, and still retain that base. The statement may not expand his base, but it does protect it. Kerry is castling his King.
Neither does the statement "damage his candidacy" in the sense that the candidacy was whole and healthy going in. Instead it reveals the fatal damage that already exists at the core of the pyrrhic Kerry campaign.
In Terrorwar, preemption is just advance retaliation.
By declaring that he would take NBBs and missile defense off the table, Kerry confirms in a single policy statement that he would reverse the current policy of "preemptive war" and return us to the status quo ante of "retaliatory war." This is why, in his mind, Afghanistan was the right war in the right place at the right time; it was retaliatory in nature. Iraq was preemptive. Kerry has said many times in many ways that preemption is not in him.
What neither Kerry nor his partisans in the Democratic party (and other groups even more out on the fringe) cannot or will not comprehend is that since 911 all US military operations in the First Terrorist War are both retaliatory and preemptive. The very nature of this conflict requires this.
If anything is currently wrong with the tactics and strategy of the First Terrorist War it is that it has not been, to date, either retaliatory or preemptive enough.
Which is where NBBs enter the picture.
In the first few days after the fall of Baghdad, we did see video reports of the bunker structures under that city and elsewhere and they were remarkably intact. Since then this system of bunkers has fallen off the media screen, but not off the screens of the inquiring minds at the Pentagon.
At the same time we are treated to reports from Iran and North Korea about even more formidable underground command and control centers, weapon development facilities, and shelters that are stronger than those in Iraq.
"You Gotta Believe!"
For preemption to be a convincing policy the leadership of terrorist states has to believe that they and their cadres will die. It is as plain and simple as that. The care these leaders have for their own populations has time and again been demonstrated as lying between nil and absolute zero. A tyrant's care for his fellow human beings seldom extends beyond his own immediate gene pool, and those that guard it.
Iraq taught many lessons to terrorists. One of them was that if you build strong enough and deep enough you can ride out air attacks with conventional munitions with yourself and you central cadres intact.
For the current policy of preemption to achieve credibility, weapons that can convince tyrants they can be killed in place and their own WMDs be taken out are essential. This is the "psychological" element of these weapons and why it important that we have them as an option.
But there is another, and as yet unknown, psychological element to these weapons that goes directly to the credibility of preemption: "Would we use them?"
That's a subject fit not only for a symposium but for an entire series of conferences. Still the answer today is not really difficult.
Absent a second catastrophic attack on the United States, the answer must be, "No, we will not use them."
With a second attack the answer must be, "Yes and they are on the way."
The question is not 'Should we build NBBs?,' but 'How many do we have ready to go today?'
The dual threats of NBBs and the city killers on our Ballistic Missile Submarines are the prime elements we have been using these last three years to stave off a second attack on American soil.
You'll note I refer to the NBBs in the present tense as if we already had these in our arsenal. It is entirely reasonable to assume that indeed is the case.
1)We know that we possess smart bomb technology that can be, and has been, slaved to conventional bunker busters.
2) We know that we possess low-yield thermonuclear warheads and that they are not large objects. We knew, for instance, in 1974 via John McPhee's The Curve of Binding Energy that the smaller size of US warheads at that time was around that of a basketball.
3) We know that conventional bunker busters can be configured to carry an inert or explosive warhead.
While it would not be trivial to rearm our conventional bunker busters with nuclear warheads, neither would it be difficult. Indeed, I would be very surprised that the initial specifications for these weapons did not allow for this.
Swapping nukes for high explosives on NBBs would be a small government program, say in the $35 million range. But that is only after hundreds of millions had been spent to make it possible, and to give the warheads "nuance" that suppressed fallout and reduced the "collateral damage" concerns that weigh so heavily on so many of our leaders, right, left and center.
John Kerry will never "do anything" about NBBs. But other presidents could.
The real question surrounding NBBs is not what John Kerry would do with them. John Kerry will never come within 50 electoral votes of being able to do anything about them. The real question is what the United States is ready to do with them in the future.
Within the current doctrine of preemptive war, the United States needs to keep that answer ambiguous in hopes of curtailing a second strike on the homeland. In the wake of a second strike, the potential for the use of these weapons and others in our nuclear arsenal increases exponentially on the morning after.
It increases not because of the doctrine of preemption, but because that doctrine on that morning will have been shown to have failed. The Cold War doctrine of retaliation will survive a second attack and will suffice for the first response. But a second attack will also create a new doctrine that will replace "wars that preempt attack on the United States." That will be the doctrine of "wars that prevent an attack on the United States." And that is dark and unknown territory.
That's the dark territory that frightens Kerry and his supporters. It should frighten all of us.
as always, sKerry thinks spitballs can do the job.
I seem to remember a long article written by Rich Lowrey (?) in the NATIONAL REVIEW at the beginning of the Bush Administration advocating that research proceed on nuclear bunker-busters.
Excellent analysis and discussion. Thank you.
IMHO, the issue is a lot bigger. John Kerry is reflexively against any technology that will make the USA stronger or better able to defend itself. His votes over 20 years in the Senate show that.
What about technologies other than nuclear bunker busters or missile defense? My guess is that we have or soon will have subsonic unmanned air vehicles that can carry a large number of smart bombs, a supersonic manueverable unmanned bomber, high supersonic vehicles for observation and intelligence, anti-satellite beam weapons, anti-satellite kinetic weapons, defenses for anti-satellite weapons, etc. I'm sure there are many more that I don't know about or can;t imagine.
The real villain in the world in 10 years will be China. Will Kerry negotiate with them too to reduce weapons systems? Of course he will, given the chance, and we'll get snookered.
Kerry scares me...like Gore did. They never met a dictator they didn't love, and they trust those dictators to tell the truth and bargain in good faith - summits, negotiations, agreements, sanctions, etc.
Kerry's idea on providing Iran with fissionable material is the same liberal B/S idea that got us screwed with Korea.
Why not execute 1/3 of Americans now and nuke Israel now becuase that will be the outcome...
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