WASHINGTON (March 14, 2019) — With the world’s largest, most destructive arsenal of nuclear weapons, the United States poses an enormous risk not just to peace, but to the survival of much of the human race. That’s only a problem, of course, if the US starts using that arsenal.
Which is where formal US nuclear doctrine would come in. There have been debates for decades on whether the US should adopt a “no first use” policy, officially ruling out the idea that the US would launch a nuclear attack without first being attacked with a nuclear weapon.
Morally, this ought to be obvious, but every attempt to adopt such a policy has been opposed, with Joint Chiefs commander Gen. Joe Dunford the latest to come out against the idea, saying promising not to nuke other nations in a first strike would “simplify an adversary’s decision-making.”
Dunford went on to argue that there are “a few situations” where he believes the president should retain the option to launch nuclear first strikes, though he did not say what those situations were. Given the potentially disastrous consequences of such a strike, it is unsurprising that many i Congress are pushing to limit the risk of the president being able to do that unilaterally.
Top General Opposes Shift to ‘No First Use’ Nuclear Doctrine
(March 14, 2019) — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff came out forcefully against a change in U.S. military policy which say the U.S. would not be the first to use nuclear weapons on a conflict with an adversary.
The “no first use” policy has been embraced by several Democratic candidates running for president in 2020, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who co-sponsored a bill in January that would establish in law that the U.S. would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.
But Gen. Joseph Dunford told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday that “I absolutely believe that the current policy is the right policy.”
The Pentagon has long resisted adopting a blanket “no first use” doctrine in its nuclear strategy.
“I wouldn’t make any decisions to simplify an adversary’s decision-making calculus,” Gen. Dunford told lawmakers. “I can also imagine a few situations where we wouldn’t want to remove that option from the president.”