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Former JCS Vice Chair Calls for End to U.S. First Strike Doctrine

Aug. 15, 2016 (EIRNS)—General James Cartwright, who was Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and earlier served as head of the Strategic Command, has co-authored an op-ed appearing in today’s New York Times, calling on President Obama to end the U.S. nuclear first strike doctrine. Cartwright and co-author Bruce G. Blair also called for a drastic reduction in the US arsenal of thermonuclear weapons, down to 1,000, largely to be deployed on submarines and strategic bombers not vulnerable to a first strike attack.

In April 2015, General Cartwright co-authored another New York Times op-ed with General Vladimir Dvorkin, former intelligence director of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Force, warning about the growing danger of thermonuclear war and calling for the US and Russia to agree to end the hair-trigger policy of launch on warning.

After running down a list of benefits of declaring an end to U.S. nuclear first strike, Cartwright and Blair noted,

“Although a no-first-use policy would limit the president’s discretion by imposing procedural and physical constraints on his or her ability to initiate the use of nuclear weapons, we believe such checks on the commander-in-chief would serve the national interest.”

After noting that China has taken the lead in a no-first-use policy, the authors concluded that

“President Obama would be wise to follow China’s example. As commander-in-chief, he can adopt no-first-use overnight and lead the way in establishing it as a global norm among all of the nine countries with nuclear weapons.”

Washington sources indicated that the Cartwright-Blair op-ed is an important contribution to the much-needed debate over U.S. strategic doctrine, for a post-Cold War world.

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