Radical Responses to Radical Regimes: Evaluating Preemptive Counter-Proliferation
On December 7, 1993, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin announced that the United States was adding a military dimension to its fight to prevent the ... Show synopsis On December 7, 1993, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin announced that the United States was adding a military dimension to its fight to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The new program, called the Counter-Proliferation Initiative (CPI), provides funding to prepare for combating foes with nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) and missile weapons on future battlefields, improves monitoring for locating rival NBC/missile programs, improves theater defenses, and develops weapons capable of penetrating and destroying underground facilities. US efforts will include a diplomatic offensive to persuade US allies to take similar counter-proliferation steps. The central thrust of the CPI is to prepare US and allied forces for dealing with future enemies on the battlefield who are armed with weapons of mass destruction. An important secondary thrust of the CPI is to provide the Commander-in-Chief with the tools to disarm an adversary unilaterally if necessary, before the adversary can initiate the use of WMD in situations where we are on a collision course with such an enemy and no alternative course seems feasible. Numerous preemptive counter-proliferation strikes have taken place since 1940. Allied air forces and special operations forces destroyed German nuclear facilities and heavy water supplies that were an integral part of the Nazi A-bomb research effort. US bombers also destroyed the most important Japanese nuclear research laboratory in Tokyo at the end of WWII. Other raids include: Iran versus Iraq in 1980, Israel versus Iraq in 1981, Iraq versus Iran with seven raids from 1984 to 9188, and the US-led coalition versus Iraq in 1991. When deciding whether or not to use military action to remove a WMD capacity from a rival state, it is important that decision makers address a number of key questions, and ensure that answers to each are positive, before making PCP decisions: is the enemy undeterrable, violent, and a risk taker? Is the enemy on the WMD threshold or beyond it? Are vital US interest threatened? Are key enemy targets precisely located and vulnerable? Is surprise achievable? Does the US have a first strike capability? Is the US homeland safe from enemy WMD? Would the US and its allies be safe from retaliation from the WMD of third parties? Have all non-military options been exhausted before considering preemption? Does the US have clear objectives achievable by appropriate means? Is the US committing enough resources and is it taking all necessary steps to insure victory? Finally, a note of caution, PCP strikes against states armed with WMD had better work completely or they could spell disaster for the initiator.