McNair Paper 41, Radical Responses to Radical Regimes: Evaluating Preemptive Counter-Proliferation, May 1995
McNair Paper Number 41, Radical Responses to Radical Regimes: Evaluating Preemptive Counter-Proliferation, May 1995
- 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. U.S. efforts will include a diplomatic offensive to persuade U.S. allies to take similar counter-proliferation steps.
- The central thrust of the CPI is to prepare U.S. 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. U.S. 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 1988, and the U.S.-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 U.S. interests threatened?
- Are key enemy targets precisely located and vulnerable?
- Is surprise achievable?
- Does the United States have a first strike capability?
- Is the United States homeland safe from enemy WMD?
- Would the United States and its allies be safe from
retaliation from the WMD of third parties?
- Have all non-military options been exhausted before considering
- Does the United States have clear objectives achievable by
- Is the United States commiting enough resources and is it taking
all necessary steps to insure victory?
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- Finally, a note of caution, PCP strikes against states armed with WMD had better work completely or they could spell disaster for the initiator.