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May 27, 2005

Neo-CONPLAN 8022

My brother just sent me very disturbing Haaretz article called The U.S. removes the nuclear brakes:

Under the cloak of secrecy imparted by use of military code names, the American administration has been taking a big - and dangerous - step that will lead to the transformation of the nuclear bomb into a legitimate weapon for waging war.

Ever since the terror attack of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has gradually done away with all the nuclear brakes that characterized American policy during the Cold War. No longer are nuclear bombs considered "the weapon of last resort." No longer is the nuclear bomb the ultimate means of deterrence against nuclear powers, which the United States would never be the first to employ.

Specifically, the U.S. is actively developing strategies for preemptive tactical nuclear war:

CONPLAN 8022 is a series of operational plans prepared by Startcom [sic], the U.S. Army's Strategic Command, which calls for preemptive nuclear strikes against Iran and North Korea. One of the plan's major components is the use of nuclear weapons to destroy the underground facilities where North Korea and Iran are developing their nuclear weapons. The standard ordnance deployed by the Americans is not capable of destroying these facilities

The fact that STRATcom is developing a plan doesn't necessarily mean that anyone intends for them to act on it any time soon. However, as the author of the article points out, tactical nukes are starting to look very attractive to some people. Why get bogged down in another Iraq when we could vaporize North Koreas bunkers from a safe distance?

The problem with this argument is that it is hopeless. To understand this, one may analyze the effect of a nuclear attack of the sort posited by American military strategists in CONPLAN 8022. Obviously, the U.S. would not use less than five to ten "small bombs" were it to attack Iran or North Korea, since, considering the number of relevant targets in the two countries, anything less would fail to achieve the goal of deterrence and prevention. According to the plan, each bomb would have a 10-kiloton yield - about two-thirds of that of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Each detonation of a bomb a few meters underground would destroy most of the buildings on the surface to a range of two kilometers. After the explosion, there would be a need to quickly evacuate civilians from an area of 100 square kilometers, to avoid the deadly effects of the radioactive fallout; buildings, agricultural crops and livestock would be affected in an area of thousands of square kilometers, and depending on wind direction and velocity, there could be a need to evacuate more people from thousands of additional square kilometers.

Underground nukes are good marketing. What's the icon of nuclear Armageddon? The mushroom cloud. To a lot of people, it's not really nuclear warfare unless they see the cloud. [ED: Maybe these devices would in fact produce a mushroom cloud. If so, my own ignorance underscores that larger point about public perceptions: people, myself included, don't necessarily associate bunker busters with mushroom clouds.] Most people would recoil at the thought of launching a tactical nuclear missile at North Korea. We've all read enough thrillers to realize why platitudes about mere "tactical strikes" are so empty. Few people trust our leaders to keep "limited" nuclear conflicts limited.

For many, the prospect of underground nuclear combat is less unnerving. It's easy to think of these devices as souped up versions of the familiar bunker buster bombs, as opposed to Nuclear Weapons. But the underground technology is a clever distraction from the grim logic of nuclear warfare.


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they were deplloying a carrier group to the middle east or something. i believe something is going to hit the fan and the smell will be around forever.

Even a ten kiloton nuclear bomb would have to be buried much deeper than it could be by just making it a warhead of a missile before it would fail to produce the mushroom cloud. Think in terms of hundreds of feet deep, not tens of feet. That, of course, is not the point. The real point is that as bad as we are hated around the world now, once we use a nuclear weapon again, we will learn what real hatred is like. And, justifiably so.

Its been out for sometime that the US or Israel were going to hit Iran's nuclear facilities in June. Bolton is the administrations's architect for this as was Wolfowits was the architect of the Iraq war.

Rumor was that he was supposed to be in place at the UN to give ultimatums to the security council regarding Iran.

Why are the neocons convinced that the entire world -- including our current allies -- would not rise up against us if we used nukes? Yeah, we're big and bad, but, frankly, we're not all that.

Unless, of course, the neocons are trying to make China the world's pre-eminent power. They do have that weird affection for Stalinism.

In case anyone is interested in calculating the effects of a single nuclear bomb on a city, digg posted a interesting link to a java app that will show the blast radius of a surface level attack on a city.

There is also an article linked from this site that talks about the unimaginable damage and subsequent fires a nuclear weapon would create.

"Unimaginable lethality
The detonation of a 300-kiloton nuclear bomb would release an extraordinary amount of energy in an instant—about 300 trillion calories within about a millionth of a second. More than 95 percent of the energy initially released would be in the form of intense light. This light would be absorbed by the air around the weapon, superheating the air to very high temperatures and creating a ball of intense heat—a fireball.

Because this fireball would be so hot, it would expand rapidly. Almost all of the air that originally occupied the volume within and around the fireball would be compressed into a thin shell of superheated, glowing, high-pressure gas. This shell of gas would compress the surrounding air, forming a steeply fronted, luminous shockwave of enormous extent and power—the blast wave.

By the time the fireball approached its maximum size, it would be more than a mile in diameter. It would very briefly produce temperatures at its center of more than 200 million degrees Fahrenheit (about 100 million degrees Celsius)—about four to five times the temperature at the center of the sun.

This enormous release of light and heat would create an environment of almost unimaginable lethality. Vast amounts of thermal energy would ignite extensive fires over urban and suburban areas. In addition, the blast wave and high-speed winds would crush many structures and tear them apart. The blast wave would also boost the incidence and rate of fire-spread by exposing ignitable surfaces, releasing flammable materials, and dispersing burning materials.

Within minutes of a detonation, fire would be everywhere. Numerous fires and firebrands—burning materials that set more fires—would coalesce into a mass fire. (Scientists prefer this term to "firestorm," but I will use them interchangeably here.) This fire would engulf tens of square miles and begin to heat enormous volumes of air that would rise, while cool air from the fire's periphery would be pulled in. Within tens of minutes after the detonation, the pumping action from rising hot air would generate superheated ground winds of hurricane force, further intensifying the fire. [4]

Virtually no one in an area of about 40–65 square miles would survive."

I have been expecting an attack on Iran this summer. I hope not nuclear, but this administration has a consistent strategy of burning the bridges as they pass over them. Of making changes irrevocable.

I don't really know how the aftermath or consequences would shake out;only speculation. China has recently settled 40 yr border disputes with India and Russia. Preparation? Expect major economic difficulties;an oil shock is guaranteed.

The damn left is not prepared for this. We may be one crisis away from real neo-fascism, and the left should at least have its metaphorical Kevlar on and powder dry.

so, how do you guys feel about the cockroaches running the planet?

I can't quite decide whether it would be an improvement on the current people running the planet or not.

Oh Yah... at least they'll be cockroaches with little tiny penises!


I have to complain that the presence of a military plan does not in any way indicate a willingness to use the plan. The military makes plans for a tremendous number of things that nobody expects to materialize. There may be reasons to think that this plan is more likely to be implemented than some others, but if so, the argument should present those reasons. The presence of a military plan is really not in itself evidence.

Protagoras, that's more or less what I said, above:

The fact that Startcom is developing a plan doesn't necessarily mean that anyone intends for them to act on it any time soon.

The mere fact that they're drawing up these plans is significant, however. 1) The content: Even planning for tactical nuclear warfare is a major turning point in American nuclear policy. This shift dates back at least to 9/11, but it's something that we should all be very concerned about. 2) The context: Tactical nukes may seem especially attractive to an impetuous administration that wants a quick fix to nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.

"The content: Even planning for tactical nuclear warfare is a major turning point in American nuclear policy."

Officially it has been off the table, but unoffically it has always been on the boards and deployed. A neighbor of mine told me that her husband died of leukemia. During his illness it acme out that he was stationed in Germany and had been handling tactical nuclear artillery shells. Sadly the soldiers didn't know much at the time about radiation... this is immeadiatly after WWII and they were using rubber kitchen gloves to handle the shells thinking that this would somehow afford them protection.

The VA doctors refused to acknowledge the link between handling the shells and the leukemia because to do so would be public acknowledgement that the US had tactical nukes in Germany which was a treaty violation.

To this day they have denied her survivors and widow benefits on this basis.

First, a minor spelling peeve - it's STRATcom, not STARTcom. "Strategic Command" condensed. The only thing the military loves more than guns is acronyms, and they do make a certain kind of sense, most of the time.

And second, it strikes the obvserver as fantastically hypocritical that we should espouse the dangers of allowing nations to gain nuclear arms at the same time we ramp up production of our own nukes. Far apart from the social / environmental consequences of actually using these "tactical" nukes (a Big Lie of a misnomer if ever there was one - there's no such thing as a purely tactical nuclear weapon) are the direct economic consequences of China deciding to stop their financing of our debt. They've been buying massive amounts of dollars and US bonds, which has essentially allowed us to live in red ink the past five years. If we start dropping nukes next door in N. Korea, you can bet they'll stop buying our debt the next day.

And when our economy started pushing up daisies, the NeoCons would blame China.

Officially it has been off the table, but unoffically it has always been on the boards and deployed.

Well, yeah obviously, but the fact that it is now officially on the table is the first step to actually using them, unofficial tactical nukes are kept as a "just in case" contingentcy plan, if something should happen that calls for the use of tactical nukes, they'll be ready to use, some military planners have always wanted use nukes in "standard" warfare simply because they are there, that's people for you.

When you combine the delight the bush admin and it's folowers have shown in giving the rest of hte owrld the finger at every opportunity, and the fact that this admin can't tell the difference between real people dying, and statistics, it's actually feasible that they might, which makes them probably the first admin since the korean war to actually consider the first use of nuclear weapons sound military strategy.

I'm hoping they won't go that far that quickly (someone mentioned a june date, the perfect month for weddings and the possible precursor to thermonuclear armageddon), it soudns wacko ot conser it, but then so would the idea that ameirca would be obviously torturing people(rather than simply doing it on the sly like the reagan days) have sounded to my ears if I heard it 5 years ago.

There is a strong possibility or appreciable chance that someone will use a nuclear device against the U.S. this century. If we ever use a nuclear device again (i.e. after Hiroshima and Nagasaki), I would expect our chances of being the target of one ourselves would be greatly enhanced. If our use is a first use, including a pre-emption, I would expect getting hit in the 48 would be a certainty. What goes around...


Nice to see our favorite spell checker back on-line and keeping us pedants on our toes.

"it strikes the obvserver as fantastically hypocritical that we should espouse the dangers of allowing nations to gain nuclear arms at the same time we ramp up production of our own nukes."

When did hypocrasy ever slow a Neocon down? They're all ready working on nuclear "bunker buster" bombs for taking out hardened facilities.

And as to the Chinese... the shit has already hit the fan. Sales of US treasuries was off last month by 47% and China is pissed because the US is putting in sanctions on their textile exports and just reneged on their promise to put an export tax on their own goods leaving the country.

Additionally, foreign investors have been dumping US assets for sometime now fearing that our "borrow and spend" false economy has dug us into a 6.6 trillion dollar hole that we can't get out of.

Even Greenspan has joined in the jumpship cabal and was recently quoted in testimony to congress, "I never said that I thought tax cuts were a good idea and you won't find any where in print that I did."

The Europeans have jumped on the band wagon and also joined in with sanctions against the Chinese exports and the Chinese are howling about WTO regulation violations, which they themselves never conformed to any way. And just for good measure... economist are now predicting that the real estate and housing boom that has been driving our economy is about to go burst... we seem to be getting in deeper by the day. Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!

All this and a currency built on trust.Yowza.

What a hoot.

A bunch of libretards discussing the military.

Like you morons ever served.

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