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The NY Times has published an article in tomorrow's paper that announces a change in when the United States would use nuclear weapons.  Actually, it is more like when we wouldn't use them.

The article also has the actual text of the policy order, which I've included after the break.

As one might expect the entire right wing is absolutely apoplectic over this.  The comments posted for the article are so over the top, they defy words.

More after the jump:

From the article:

President Obama said Monday that he was revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons, even in self-defense.

President Obama discussing on Monday his new nuclear strategy, which would limit the conditions for using such weapons.

But the president said in an interview that he was carving out an exception for "outliers like Iran and North Korea" that have violated or renounced the main treaty to halt nuclear proliferation.

Mr. Obama’s strategy is a sharp shift from those of his predecessors and seeks to revamp the nation’s nuclear posture for a new age in which rogue states and terrorist organizations are greater threats than traditional powers like Russia and China.

It eliminates much of the ambiguity that has deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the opening days of the cold war. For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.

Here is an excerpt from the actual Nuclear Posture Review"

On the Use of Nuclear Weapons:

"The United States will continue to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks. To that end, the United States is now prepared to strengthen its long-standing 'negative security assurance' by declaring that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. This revised assurance is intended to underscore the security benefits of adhering to and fully complying with the NPT and persuade non-nuclear weapons states party to the Treaty to work with the United States and other interested parties to adopt effective measures to strengthen the non-proliferation regime.

"In making this strengthened assurance, the United States affirms that any state eligible for the assurance that uses chemical or biological weapons against the United States or its allies and partners would face the prospect of a devastating conventional military response - and that any individuals responsible for the attack, whether national leaders or military commanders, would be held fully accountable.

"Given the catastrophic potential of biological weapons and the rapid pace of bio-technology development, the United States reserves the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and US capacities to counter that threat."

On the Development of New Nuclear Weapons:

"The United States will not develop new nuclear warheads. Life Extension Programs will use only nuclear components based on previously tested designs, and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities."

As one can see, the President has limited when we would use such weapons.  Prior policy just left the whole thing in some ambiguous state.  

Personally, I believe the new policy is good in that it limits the use of such weapons; but it is also rather meaningless because it can be changed back at a moment's notice.

While limiting the use of nuclear weapons, it still promises conventional military response when needed of a "devastating" nature.

Now on the reaction in the comments:

As my grandmothers would have said, "Oy Vay!"

I'll just post some of the highlights in my own words... there are now over 200 comments:

Many of the people are posting how:

  1. It's the end of the US
  1. He should be impeached
  1. It makes us look weak
  1. He is inviting attack
  1. He's a commie
  1. He's a Muslim
  1. He's clueless
  1. We need to build bomb shelters again.

Well, you get the idea.  There are a number of comments that commend the new policy, but mostly shake their heads in disgust at the venom and ignorance of the right.

I added my own comment to the list:

I've just read through the first 25 comments. Wow, do some people need a lesson in government.

First, changing America's military strategy is not an impeachable offense. A legal change of policy is not a crime. Grow up and stop the impeachment stupidity.

Second, if any one believes that we actually need nuclear weapons to defend ourselves, or to destroy an enemy, you're clueless as to the conventional weaponry that exists in our arsenal.

Third, from what nation is a nuclear attack going to come? The same for a chemical or biological attack? Terrorists...maybe. If couple of terrorists based in Canada decide to release some chemical disaster in an American city- do you want to nuke Toronto? Maybe Edmonton? For that matter, what if it's from one of our own home grown lunatics?

Even Iran and North Korea will not do harm to us in such a manner because they know it will be the end of their regimes- and nuclear weapons won't be used.

Finally, a policy is nothing more than words on paper. If real threats arise, all the President needs to do is change the policy.

So stop the whining, the stupidity, and the ignorance.

I can't wait to hear what Rush, Glenn, et. al. will have to say about this.  Oh wait, they probably wrote most the comments I just read.

If we're lucky all these assholes will be so upset, they'll all just curl up and remain in a harmless fetal position until they pass away.

Originally posted to oxfdblue on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 07:31 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I like your comment. Here's mine: (11+ / 0-)

      America can afford to speak softly, as we still carry a big stick.

      The President is still reserving the right to use nuclear weapons against any country that is seeking to build, or that has built, a nuclear weapon. And he's still reserving the right to use our massive conventional weapons capacity to bomb any non-nuclear country to the stone age. So I don't see why all these Republicans are running scared, like the sky is going to fall, just because the President says we don't need to drop a nuke on a country that threatened us with a hand grenade.

      The President's critics are cowards, or cynics, or both.

      No state is going to plan or carry out an attack on America or American interests, because they know that we can and will preemptively destroy their government and their country, a hundred times over, even with just our conventional weapons. Did you see what we did to Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade? America can bomb any government out of power if it wants to. America is really, really good at blowing stuff up. America can bomb you by a remote controlled plane, without even risking a human casualty.

      I support President Obama's plan. To paraphrase the Geto Boys: "Real gangsters don't flex their muscles, because real gangsters know they got 'em."

  •  Not that I actually believe we wouldn't (11+ / 0-)

    use nuclear weapons to respond to a chemical or biological attack, but tempering down the rhetoric in this dangerous world is always a good thing.

    Way to go, Mr. President!

    I'm from the Starfleet wing of the Democratic Party.

    by the anti bigot on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 07:36:57 PM PDT

    •  Conventional weapons can do the job (8+ / 0-)

      Nuclear weapons are for killing civilians on mass, let us get that clear. It is a massive and indiscriminate weapon designed to lay waste to enormous areas and are designed to destroy entire cities. We should not use them except as a deterrent to them being used against us. If some weapon did do something on the scale of destroying a city I could see the retaliation in the form of a similarly destructive weapon.

      Just saying there is good rational for not doing it, but some people really do prefer wholesale slaughter of civilian populations for political and strategic aims... Terrorist

      I agree with you, Way to go Obama!!!

    •  Did he really temper down the rhetoric? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ludwig van brickoven, efraker

      By mentioning Iran as an exception- the one hot spot in the world right now where nuclear weapons are most likely to be used if things get out of hand- I thought it came across as more of a threat in disguise.

      Why should Iran give up their nuclear ambitions, if indeed they have nuclear ambitions? Because if they don't, we might nuke them? What kind of logic is that?

      •  I don't see Obama first strike on Iran (2+ / 0-)

        or North Korea even. But I see why he would want to say to both these nations that they are refusing to play by the rules, so they are excluded.

        I don't know, all this is so extreme when you are talking about nuclear weapons. I just wish the damned things were never invented.

      •  only excepted until they comply (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ludwig van brickoven

        "The United States will continue to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks. To that end, the United States is now prepared to strengthen its long-standing 'negative security assurance' by declaring that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. This revised assurance is intended to underscore the security benefits of adhering to and fully complying with the NPT and persuade non-nuclear weapons states party to the Treaty to work with the United States and other interested parties to adopt effective measures to strengthen the non-proliferation regime.

      •  No, he gave them an incentive... (0+ / 0-)

        ... not a threat.  

        He's saying they can gain security by being in compliance with non-proliferation treaties.  It's an offer of better security vs status quo.

  •  by now, it's common sense (6+ / 0-)

    I suspect it's been "real" for a decade or two that we wouldn't be engaging anyone with nuclear weapons for all but the most unimaginable circumstances.  We've done so much work to move away from them that it strikes me as simply bringing policies up to date with circumstances.

    ... and I'm not an optimist, I swear.

    "listen all y'all this is SABOTAGE" - beastie boys 1994

    by mr northstar on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 07:47:32 PM PDT

  •  I steer well clear of most comment sections (4+ / 0-)

    on CNN and MSNBC, stories like this are bait for teabaggers and their lunatic cohorts.

    Government for the people, by the people

    by axel000 on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 07:56:15 PM PDT

  •  Could the Middle East ever become a nuclear-free (3+ / 0-)

    zone?

    That sure would take the heat down a few notches.

    "One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity nothing beats teamwork." - Mark Twain

    by greendem on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 07:56:53 PM PDT

  •  Translation: We won't nuke you 1st but (4+ / 0-)

    we reserve the right to do it if we see that we need to.  Second translation: We are the Super Super Power so we must lead by example, but don't push us cause we will still pop you in the mouth.

    Keith (Olbermann) spoke with Jonathan Alter, he explained the article.

    As soon as I stop worrying, worrying how the story ends, I let go and I let God, let God have His way. "It's the soldier, not.."

    by Lady Bird Johnson on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 07:57:43 PM PDT

  •  I knew Obama wanted to destroy nuclear families!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ludwig van brickoven, oxfdblue

    um... that was snark

    Baby's on fire And all the laughing boys are bitching, Waiting for photos, Oh the plot is so bewitching-- Brian Eno

    by jethrock on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 07:59:08 PM PDT

  •  so we promised not to nuke Sweden? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mochajava13, oxfdblue

    ...the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.

    This is more change-without-change.

    Pakistan and North Korea - not signatories.

    Iran - a signatory in non-compliance.

    non-state actors (AQ, etc) - not signatories.

    The only upside to this is that it provides a small incentive for Iran to submit to the inspections and measures necessary to regain NPT compliance. Maybe that'll work; but I'd bet against it.

    "Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange ... including a public option" President Obama, 7.18.09

    by efraker on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:05:29 PM PDT

    •  It is change.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GN1927, efraker

      it's an incentive to become compliant.  True, I don't think it will have any effect on Iran but I think NK would take it very seriously.  NK only has worry about one thing and that's nukes from the US/SK.  If they could be assured that nukes from the US will never come then (China doesn't want them there either) then that could mean a lot to them.

      •  well reasoned, but I think GWB shot that horse (0+ / 0-)

        You think this might convince NK to return to the NPT? It might! Its difficult to predict what they're going to do.

        That said, I don't think so, and here is my reasoning;

        #1 - returning to the NPT would require snap inspections, which NK has never allowed. Even when they were an NPT signatory, they were never fully compliant.

        #2 - NK had immediate and tangible incentives to return to NPT before this - the US along with many other nations, including Russia, France, Japan, and South Korea have had standing offers of tens of millions of dollars in food and fuel for NK to rejoin the NPT - these incentives have not been enough.

        #3 - Some analysts have posited that GWB's 'axis of evil' speech is the reason for NK to shift from break-out capability to weaponization in its nuclear arsenal. They heard that speech, saw him invade Iraq, and came to the conclusion that Iraq's lack of WMDs is the reason for the attack. They had reason to believe that Iraq had no WMDs and that Iran was working on them - they'd been in deals to sell centrifuges and launch vehicles to both nations - if they believed that we knew that too, and that the 'Iraq has WMDs' claim was a false pretense, then one could conclude that the USA is a bunch of liars and that the only way to keep us at bay is WMDs.

        I know that to us we see the shift from GWB to President Obama as a transformational break... but I don't think there is any evidence that NK sees it as anything more than a change of figureheads, as they've called it (not that we can take their official statements for granted). I think your argument would be very convincing - if it weren't for GWB. I think he ruined any chance of us having an honest discussion with NK for years to come.

        "Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange ... including a public option" President Obama, 7.18.09

        by efraker on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:38:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  all this nuke talk makes me think of this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ludwig van brickoven

    (thanks to leberquesgue for making me remember re. Tom Lehrer)

    http://www.youtube.com/...

  •  At the end of the Cold War, we (5+ / 0-)

    and the late Soviet Union had about 27,000 nukes stockpiled. I don't know what our current stockpile stands at, but I'm sure it is way more than enough. As a retired Air Force vet, I always thought it was sheer lunancy to maintain anything near that level. If Obama can substanially reduce or eliminate these weapons, I say more power to him.

    I'm a realist and I doubt we'll be able to get rid of them all, but I am certain we can dramatically reduce the numbers. How many weapons do these right-wing nuts think we need? I can assure you, it is nowhere near what we have.

    The loudest cries for war come from those who have never seen one.

    by MadGeorgiaDem on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:15:16 PM PDT

    •  I've never understood the need for the number (3+ / 0-)

      Really, do we need enough nuclear weapons to blow up the Earth, the Moon, Mars and its moons, and probably Venus and Mercury?  Talk about overkill.

      •  So that you don't have to launch on warning (0+ / 0-)

        You need enough weapons to be able to actually ride out an attack and still have sufficient counter force.  This discourages someone from launching an attack to take out your missiles.

        Lest you think this unlikely, keep in mind that Kennedy was urged to launch an attack on the missiles in Cuba before they became operational.  Problem was, they were already operational and local commanders had authorization to fire if attacked.

        •  Yes, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MadGeorgiaDem

          and tens of thousands of numbers goes way beyond riding out an attack and having sufficient counter force.  The number we have would literally destroy the planet.  There is no riding out from that.

          •  Well yeah (0+ / 0-)

            and the other theory is that if some opponent actually launched an overwhelming attack that the only moral thing would be to stand down since deterrent had failed and there ought to be humans left somewhere on the planet.

            Of course, given human nature, I think rage would take over and the cockroaches would win.

            The whole nuclear game is based on the theory espoused in the the movie "War Games" -- the only winning move is not to play.

            If we actually got rid of nuclear weapons, we would make the world safe for World War III which would then follow.

            •  I think that the theory behind MAD is... (0+ / 0-)

              ...that those on the recieving end of such a first strike would be driven stark raving MAD by the nuclear strike, and as a result would not behave in a rational manner.

              The revenge attack would then be launched by folks who were experiencing a temporary (or perhaps permanent) nuclear induced insanity.

              and the other theory is that if some opponent actually launched an overwhelming attack that the only moral thing would be to stand down since deterrent had failed and there ought to be humans left somewhere on the planet.

              The deterence of MAD relies on a belief that the other side would not behave rationally when attacked.

              If we cannot convince our opponents of our own potential insanity, then all nuclear deterence under MAD fails.

    •  our arsenal? 2,200* strategic warheads (4+ / 0-)

      At the end of the Cold War, we and the late Soviet Union had about 27,000 nukes stockpiled. I don't know what our current stockpile stands at, but I'm sure it is way more than enough

      START I reduced our nuclear arsenal by 80% - from ~30,000 warheads to ~6,000. START II (which also banned MIRVs) reduced it from ~6,000 to ~2,200. Obama just re-ratified the treaty, reducing our stockpile to ~1,700.

      These numbers only discuss strategic, operational, and deployed warheads. Both Russia and the US are able to keep much larger amounts stored verifiably outside of launch vehicles - the US currently has over 6,000 strategic warheads if you count those in the central storage facility.

      Further, the United States has another ~4,000 tactical nuclear warheads that are not covered under any treaty. Tactical nukes are also called 'battle field' nukes, and are relatively small (~30 inches, ~70 lbs).

      "Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange ... including a public option" President Obama, 7.18.09

      by efraker on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:58:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  addendum, on lethality (3+ / 0-)

        Even when we reduce our stockpile to ~1,700 warheads, we'll still be able to kill all life on the planet several times over.

        The reason for the great amount of redundancy is the 'mutually assured destruction' gambit, wherein even if some enemy struck first and destroyed 90% of our weapons, we could still strike second and kill them all.

        "Any plan I sign must include an insurance exchange ... including a public option" President Obama, 7.18.09

        by efraker on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 09:02:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The change from Obama (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oxfdblue, amk for obama

    Sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Does anyone honestly think that we'd use nuclear weapons again?  They are beyond barbaric, harm the environment to boot, and we've got other weapons that are just as effective without being as overtly disturbing.  The comments the diarist highlighted are shocking.  It makes us look weak to say that we won't use nuclear weapons in certain circumstances, when the world knows that we have enough conventional (and non-nuclear WMDs) to do about the same damage as a nuclear arsenal?  The commander in chief, a power granted to the president by the Constitution, makes a military decision, and should be impeached? What is wrong with people?

    •  What is worse? (6+ / 0-)

      Conservatives that blow their lids over stuff like this or Democrats/liberals that blow their lids over how Obama is playing right into their hands by developing his own rational policy instead of just doing whatever the psychopaths in the GOP think he should do?

      •  Good point (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Delilah, amk for obama

        It's true.

        I was taken aback by the noise from the left on the oil drilling decision.  We will always need oil, the less the better, but we will need it.  If we can get it from domestic sources, that's great.  Beyond that, it is going to take years before we see a rig drilling in the areas opened up by the President.

        Like this nuke policy, it is, overall, much ado over nothing.

        Of course, this should provide Fox News with about 15 days of programming.

        ======

        "Sick Around the World"

        http://pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/

        Watch it, send it along to all you know.

        by oxfdblue on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:58:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Someone revive Tom Clancy. (0+ / 0-)

    (Or not.)

    He made a very big deal out of the notion of WMDs long before W. This has the potential to create an
    "Obama Doctrine" which dismantels the central basis of "Weapons of Mass Distruction" which posits that all mass weapons (nuclear, biological, chemical) are morally equivalent.

    "[The GOP wanting to debate Obama is like saying] 'Let's see how tough Aquaman is when we get him in the water.' " --Seth Meyers

    by homogenius on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 09:22:50 PM PDT

    •  What is the point of dismanteling that basis? (0+ / 0-)

      Do we really want to tell people it's safe to lauch a biological attack upon us?

      Note that there is a big difference between having it a policy to respond with nuclear weapons and actually launching them if the deterrent fails.

      •  I never said I agreed with dismantling it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GN1927

        I only disagreed with the swaggering bluster of Clancy, W and their ilk.

        "[The GOP wanting to debate Obama is like saying] 'Let's see how tough Aquaman is when we get him in the water.' " --Seth Meyers

        by homogenius on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 10:40:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  GOOD. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thoughtful3

    May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house.

    by dasheight on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 09:24:47 PM PDT

  •  Nuclear weapons are for deterrent (0+ / 0-)

    Not actually blowing up the world.  You deter people by making them afraid you might nuke them, not by actually doing so -- once you get to that point you are no longer talking about deterrent.

    I don't think it makes sense to say when we would or would not use nuclear weapons -- let the unknown be a deterrent, you might not know, so why take a chance?

    And, of course, it doesn't really matter what our policy is.  In the event of an attack, the President get's to decide what is the appropriate response and doesn't have to follow stated policy.

    •  The "deterrent" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ebohlman

      .. is to deter nuclear attacks.  Primarily first strike nuclear attacks.   There is no nuclear deterrent needed for non-nuclear states.  We have all the deterrent we need with conventional weapons.

      On the other hand, by withholding this security assurance only for those in compliance with non-proliferation treaties, we offer an incentive to remain and/or become compliant.

  •  I read that as (2+ / 0-)

    declaring that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.

    I read it as, if you pledge you won't develop them, you won't be rocked by them, but if you actively try to seek them, all bets are off. I read it as a warning/slap in the face to Iran and North Korea if anything, but hey I'm tired what do I know.

    •  Well you could be right (0+ / 0-)

      On the other hand, I'm suspicious that someone who would consider using weapons of mass destruction on the U.S. would believe that the president would actually keep his word and not nuke them if thousands or hundreds of thousands of people were killed in a biological or chemical attack.

      So, is it our plan to develop biological warfare weapons so that we can respond in like manner if attacked by someone with biological warfare -- something that is far easier to do than nuclear?

    •  not a slap, an offer (0+ / 0-)

      It's not a slap in the face.  It's an offer.  An offer of a security assurance they don't currently enjoy.

  •  This is just good policy. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GN1927, oxfdblue

    Deniers need to get past their own stupidity.

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