U.S. Nuclear-War Strategy

America’s nuclear-war strategy is to win a nuclear war, not merely to deter one. This has been especially the case since 2006. But it did not start in 2006 to become that way. A 1981 PhD thesis by William C. Martel, at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, one of America’s leading universities, was titled “A nuclear war-fighting strategy for the United States.” It stated that such “war involves first-strike attacks against ICBMs, SLBMs and strategic bombers” but not against cities because: “It is the threat of counterforce destruction that deters war. However paradoxical it seems, deterrence is related to a war-winning capability. … Victory depends on counterforce destruction. [Such] war involves first-strike attacks against ICBMs, SLBMs and strategic bombers.”

He discussed and dismissed the then-dominant view in the U.S. (and still today accepted by Russia), known as “Mutually Assured Destruction” or “MAD,” in which nuclear weapons exist only in order to deter (not to win) a nuclear war (that the destruction would be unacceptably high on each side), as being no longer valid for America. He assumed that the Soviet Union was instead planning to win not deter a nuclear war. Martel was assuming that the Soviet Union were lying to say they believed in MAD. On those assumptions, he argued explicitly for the U.S. to win a nuclear war, WW III. He said that this was now, or soon would be, possible, because though:

the nascent U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals could not attack military targets because they were not accurate enough; until the late 1960s, most warheads would land within a mile or so of the target. This is not detrimental if the target is a large, sprawling city that would be destroyed by even a near miss. A missile silo, however, to be destroyed must be hit directly. MAD, therefore, sees potential mass civilian destruction as inevitable and desirable because a nation will not attack if it knows that its own people will be destroyed. … MAD was and remains inviolable [in the U.S.] because of its many sided appeal to politicians and defense bureaucrats. It seemingly offers peace at an affordable price. And the price need never be paid. Even the most “successful” initial attack must, if the theory holds, lead to the attacker’s certain end. …

Opponents of MAD [such as he] seek to reverse the axiom that nuclear war is unthinkable, unwinnable, and unsurvivable. They [he] believe that immediate survival and eventual recovery are possible. If an adversary such as the Soviet Union accepts nuclear war as thinkable, winnable, and survivable and plans accordingly, it is more likely to defeat an opponent, such as the United States, who accepts MAD.

He was attributing to the Soviet Union the win-WW-III objective that he was advocating for the U.S. to adopt. His even deeper underlying assumption was that a war, including a nuclear war, is a contest in evilness between two sides, and that America must therefore be even more evil than he was assuming that the Soviet Union already was: that this would inevitably be a contest in hate and in psychopathy — a contest in destructiveness, and nothing more than that  — and that the U.S. simply must win it. He didn’t provide any reason why the U.S. must win that type of contest. But, if it’s a win-lose game instead of any sort of even merely possible, and merely partially, win-win game, then one wouldn’t need to: everything then is win-lose — there is no win-win.

Advocates of the view that nuclear weapons exist only in order to prevent any need to use them were consequently presented, by him, implicitly, as being now either fools or traitors. He said that MAD simply “ignores the intensely ideological nature of modern international relations. In a world dominated by two such ideological foes as the United States and Soviet Union,” winning is the only moral option. In other words: his neoconservative view took seriously ONLY win-lose games, no win-win ones. He was assuming that this was a war between communism versus capitalism, and not a war by the United States rulers in order to win control over the entire planet (as has actually been the case ever since President Truman started the Cold War on 25 July 1945).

After the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 and America’s refusal to end its NATO anti-Soviet military alliance but instead to expand that alliance right up to Russia’s border and to take up again Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa aim to conquer Russia, something extremely heinous became blatantly apparent about prior U.S. allegations that America’s rulers weren’t, in fact, insanely imperialistic (the ‘anti-communist’ excuse for the Cold War was now clearly just that: an excuse), but no U.S.-and-allied newsmedia called attention to this by-now-(after-1991)-amply-proven fact; and, so, this nation is, by now, definitely a dictatorship that has effectively controlled all of its newsmedia, too, in order to hide from the public what it was actually trying to achieve — the global dictatorship that America’s rulers have, in fact, been aiming to achieve. Other than in a few small-audience far-outside-the-mainstream newsmedia (such as this one), nobody at all was calling attention to the fact that (and why) NATO is intensely evil and must be abolished immediately.

Neoconservatism — advocacy for an all-encompassing U.S. global empire — has virtually 100% control in The West. Western publics have been so surrounded by neoconservative media, they cannot think outside that box, of hatred against ’the enemy’ that America’s billionaires have targeted to ‘regime-change’, whatever that might happen to be at the given moment — but especially now concerning both Russia and China (though capitalism now predominates in both of those U.S.-targeted countries). The evil is, and has always been, imperialism (never really capitalism or communism), but no one in Western media is allowed to call attention to this brute fact, that imperialism is always the enemy, which fact explains international relations today.

That Ph.D thesis from Martel continued:

A Counterforce Strategy

A counterforce strategy consists of direct attacks against the opponents nuclear forces. This means an attack, for the United States, against the entire range of Soviet nuclear forces: ICBMs in their silos, SLBMs in port and at sea, strategic bombers at their fields and in flight, and the command, control and communication (C ) network. The rationale for counterforce is that an enemy cannot fight a nuclear war if its forces are destroyed or crippled.

How does counterforce differ from MAD? For MAD the destruction of counterforce targets is secondary to the destruction of civilian targets. …

A War-Fighting Strategy

In contrast to MAD, with a war-fighting strategy nuclear war is an enterprise that can be fought and won for a well-defined political purpose, but not for retaliation or revenge alone.

In other words, he alleges: MAD is evil, and the only decent way to think about nuclear weapons is the same way that non-nuclear weapons are thought about: VICTORY!!! That’s “not for revenge or retaliation alone.” He implies, but does not say, that MAD is mad. He says that, unlike the goal (victory) of America’s winning a nuclear war, MAD is NOT “for a well-defined political purpose” — it is ONLY “for revenge or retaliation.”

The professors who approved that thesis were Edward Feit, Guenter Lewy, Stephen Pelz, and Glen Gordon. None of them had a background in the field, but even if they had, the quality of thinking in this thesis was blatantly poor, and thus there can be no excuse for it to be allowed to pass in any Ph.D. program, though it’s typical in the social ‘sciences’ — not just in America, but worldwide. That’s the condition of the social ‘sciences’ up till our time.

After Martel’s 1981 Ph.D thesis, the concept of “nuclear winter” following after an all-out U.S.-Russia war started being scientifically studied and analyzed; and, ever since 2007, all of the peer-reviewed studies on this subject have concluded that the results would be way beyond what Martel was simply assuming in his 1981 thesis, which entirely ignored that question (other than his mere — and unstated — assumption that the only results from the war would be the local ones in the specific areas where the explosions would be occurring). All of the peer-reviewed scientific analyses since 2007 (none of which are in the social-science fields) have concurred that historically unprecedented mass starvation would occur worldwide, but especially in the northern hemisphere, and that, for many years, there would be little-to-no food-production anywhere in the world; and, the most recent (in 2022) concluded that 360 million people would die directly from the explosions, and over 5 billion, more than half of the world’s population, would die from starvation during just the first two years. So, that’s the latest scientific estimate of what the effects could ultimately turn out to be from Obama’s 2014 coup in Ukraine that started the war there, as being at least the initial battleground, in what is now clearly the war that is being waged between the Governments of U.S. and Russia.

On 2 March 2022, the neoconservative Loren Thompson, chief of the Lexington Institute, headlined at Chief Executive magazine, “An Expert On Nuclear Strategy Explores The Current Russia Risks,” in which he (a political ‘scientist’) was interviewed on the question of “You’ve spent most of your career, especially the time you spent teaching at Georgetown [University], thinking about the things that nobody likes to think about — the strategy of nuclear war. What’s your sense of where we are right now?” He answered: “Today, and for the foreseeable future, the United States and Russia will always be only one afternoon away from being destroyed in a nuclear war. We have no effective defenses, and it only takes the weapons of each country about half an hour to reach targets in the other country.”

That is true because right now, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), there are “5 nations hosting U.S. nuclear weapons”, and they are: Turkey (50), Italy (40), Belgium (20), Germany (20), and Netherlands (20); and the ones nearest to Moscow are Germany, which is 999 miles or 1,608 km away, Turkey, which is 1,091 miles or 1,796 km away, and Italy, which is 1,355 miles or 2,181 km away. However, other NATO members include the formerly Nazi-allied Finland, which was part of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa invasion against Russia during 1941-1944, and it is only 507 miles or 815 km away. That would be about 7 minutes of missile-flying-time away; and, so, if Finland now will accept America’s nukes, then The Kremlin would have only 7 minutes in which to confirm that the launch had occurred and to press the button to unleash its thousands of nukes against Finland and all U.S. allies, to retaliate for America’s attempt to behead Russia’s central-command too fast for Russia to be able to protect against it. Obama had intended that America would ultimately place its missiles in Ukraine, whose border is only 300 miles, or five minutes, away from the Kremlin. The U.S. probably won’t win in that battleground, but, if Finland asks and America says yes to U.S. missiles there, that would probably start the nuclear phase of WW III.

Russia has also a “dead hand” system to retaliate even if a U.S.-and-allied blitz nuclear attack to annihilate Russia’s central command succeeds, but it has never been tested in-toto; so, the U.S. attempt to achieve what Hitler had failed to achieve could work, if the U.S. and its allies (or vassal-nations) turn out to be phenomenally lucky. For them, it’s a high-stakes game that they insist upon playing, and one they play 100% as win-lose, no win-win. So far, they’ve been ignoring that, in reality, the only alternative to playing it as win-lose would be to play it as win-win — an alternative that the U.S. and its ‘allies’ have thus far provided no indication that they are even considering. And that is the reason why the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says that the world is closer now, than ever before, to nuclear war — closer than even during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Eric Zuesse is an investigative historian. His new book, America's Empire of Evil: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public. Read other articles by Eric.