It is well known that the US nuclear war strategy of the 1960s, SIOP 62 (Note 1), involved targetting both Russia and China, whether both countries were part of the crisis. There are no doubt many commentators who would argue that a US pre-emptive attack only meant an attack when the US had good information that Russia was preparing an attack. It is not verifiable whether Russia was planning anything, and the ability to reach any desired conclusion that the armed forces required is evident in the WMD issue in Iraq. US policy is then indistinguishable from a unilateral first-strike policy.
However, there is a secondary issue of the result of a nuclear war on only one country. If the US nuked only Russia, then there would be retaliation on US territory from Russia. The winner of this engagement would then be China, whose territory would be relatively unscathed (leaving aside radiation). From the US point of view, it becomes necessary that in the aftermath of a nuclear exchange, no potential competitor is left unscathed. This, however, would include Europe. Consequently, it is essential that Europe should be targeted by the opponent in any nuclear exchange. This is achieved by placing NATO nuclear weapons in many European territories and taking other steps to ensure that Europe is a necessary target for Russia in any exchange. Of course, the US would claim that this placement of nuclear weapons was necessary as a form of ‘protection’ for Europe. Any Mafiosi would understand this kind of ‘protection’.
For the neo-cons, any nuclear war on Russia must include China otherwise, China would become the unilateral winner of any exchange between the US and Russia. This is probably the background to the neo-cons increasing provocation on Taiwan. Such provocation would be required to ensure that China is included in any US army war targetting. It would appear that there was no prior consensus that China is a nuclear threat to the US. Ratchetting up the tension between China and the US might be required to create the consensus that the US is a potential target.
Many, including Kissinger, say they cannot understand why US policy should seek to unite Russia and China. This is clearly a misunderstanding. Neo-cons are not seeking to unite Russia and China in the external world of realpolitik. They are seeking to unite Russia and China in the US nuclear targeting program for which results they need to create genuine tensions.
This also explains why NATO is drawn into the South China sea. This is because the US requires that Europe is targeted by China despite the fact that the US does not need any help from NATO. In extremis, as with the Nordstream pipeline, it suggests that the US might ‘accidentally’ target Europe itself. If the US can bomb Nordstream it can bomb Europe. This might seem far-fetched but bear in mind the NSA leak by Snowden showed that the US prepared the capacity to destroy Japan’s infrastructure. Japan was/is a reliable dependent ally of the US.
All this would make sense if the US considered itself in possession of some secret defence against strategic missile attacks. Hypersonic weapons may have changed the reality, but US policy may not have been updated due to perhaps scepticism. If the US considered itself in possession of secret technology to protect itself against any nuclear strike then the neo-con strategy would make sense. If there is a risk that this secret would later be revealed then there would be a temptation to use it as a strategic surprise before it leaks. Such a constellation of issues would generate grave, intense and dangerous tensions within the US policy elite. For the opponents inside the US policy elite, sabotaging the neo-con Ukraine war effort would be essential and, if necessary, it might require revealing US war plans to Putin to allow him to reconfigure his defences. It also suggests that the neo-cons are seriously evaluating unilateral nuclear war, if not currently actively planning for it in the short term.
published 22 October 2022, updated 23 October 2022
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