U.S. European Commander Is Big Fan of ‘Flexible First Use Policy’ for Nuclear Weapons
Feb. 29, 2020 (EIRNS)—Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. European Command and of NATO, made an extraordinary statement during testimony at the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 25 that has been garnered essentially zero coverage in the news media. When asked about a no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons, Wolters said “I’m a fan of flexible first use policy.”
“Under any circumstance, the public embrace of a ‘flexible first strike’ policy regarding nuclear weapons employment by the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe should generate widespread attention,” writes former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter in a commentary published by RT.
“When seen in the context of the recent deployment by the U.S. of a low-yield nuclear warhead on submarine-launched ballistic missiles carried on board a Trident submarine, however, Wolters’ statement is downright explosive. Add to the mix the fact the U.S. recently carried out a wargame where the U.S. Secretary of Defense practiced the procedures for launching this very same ‘low-yield’ weapon against a Russian target during simulated combat between Russia and NATO in Europe, and the reaction should be off the charts. And yet there has been deafening silence from both the European and U.S. press on this topic.”
Indeed, the only other mention this news service could find on Wolters’ statement was a Twitter posting by Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, who observed as Ritter does, that it makes a mockery of U.S. claims about Russia’s supposed “escalate to de-escalate” doctrine.
Ritter notes that complicating matters even further is the upcoming Defender-Europe 20 exercise which will put thousands of U.S. troops on or close to Russia’s borders. “The fact that these exercises are taking place at a time when the issue of U.S. nuclear weapons and NATO’s doctrine regarding their employment against Russia is being actively tracked by senior Russian authorities only highlights the danger posed,” Ritter writes. He states that Wolters met with Russian Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov on Feb. 6 but that was before the news about the U.S. nuclear response exercise that Esper participated in a week ago and before Wolters’ statement on first use.
“In light of these events, General Gerasimov met with French Gen. François Lecointre, the Chief of the Defense Staff, to express Russia’s concerns over NATO’s military moves near the Russian border, especially the Defender 2020 exercise which was, General Gerasimov noted, ‘held on the basis of anti-Russian scenarios and envisaged training for offensive operations.’ ”
Ritter then invokes the memory of Able Archer 83, the NATO exercise that looked from Moscow an awful lot like a cover for launching a real war on the then-Soviet Union. “U.S. and NATO officials would do well to recall the danger to European and world security posed by the ‘Able Archer ‘83’ exercise and the potential for Soviet miscalculations when assessing the concerns expressed by General Gerasimov today,” Ritter concludes.
“The unprecedented concentration of offensive NATO military power on Russia’s border, coupled with the cavalier public embrace by General Wolters of a ‘flexible first strike’ nuclear posture by NATO, has more than replicated the threat model presented by Able Archer ‘83. In this context, it would not be a stretch to conclude that the threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia is the highest it has been since Able Archer ‘83.”