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U.S. Military Doctrine Blames Russia and China for Making Nuclear War Possible

July 8, 2021 (EIRNS)—Last February, Adm. Charles Richard, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, placed an article in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings in which he claimed that nuclear war with Russia and/or China is increasingly possible. “The implications of today’s competition and the associated risk of great power crisis or direct armed conflict are profound; they affect nearly every fundamental assumption we make about the use of armed force in the defense of the nation and its allies,” Richard wrote. Richard complained that for the past two decades the U.S. military has been focused on anti-terrorism operations, thus “ignoring the nuclear dimension,” while Russia and China have been aggressively modernizing and expanding their nuclear forces.

Richard was not merely expressing his own professional military opinion, however. It turns out that the view he expressed is embedded in U.S. military doctrine. On July 6, the Federation of American Scientists’ blog Secrecy News released the latest version of the Joint Staff’s Joint Publication (JP) 3-72, entitled “Joint Nuclear Operations,” dated April 17, 2020, until now not publicly available.

“Despite concerted U.S. efforts to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in international affairs and to negotiate reductions in the number of nuclear weapons, since 2010, no potential adversary has reduced either the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy or the number of nuclear weapons it fields. Rather, they have moved decidedly in the opposite direction,”

the Department of Defense document said. “As a result, there is an increased potential for regional conflicts involving nuclear-armed adversaries in several parts of the world and the potential for adversary nuclear escalation in crisis or conflict.”

The document includes material shifting the blame for the increased danger to Russia and China, without apparently any mention of the role of the U.S. geopolitical confrontation against both countries in increasing the risks of war, irrespective of nuclear weapons policies per se.

“While the United States has continued to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons, others, including Russia and China, have moved in the opposite direction. They have added new types of nuclear capabilities to their arsenal, increased the salience of nuclear forces in their strategies and plans, and engaged in increasingly aggressive behavior,”

it says. “Russia’s strategic nuclear modernization has increased, and will continue to increase, its warhead delivery capability, which provides Russia with the ability to rapidly expand its deployed warhead numbers.”

“China,” it says, “continues to increase the number, capabilities, and protection of its nuclear forces.” Back to top    Go to home page clear