What If The US Gets Nuked? What Is Its Policy?

There is a question to Cecil about suitcase nukes that reminded me of a conversation I have had with someone recently. He said he saw a show about this time last year on TV, hosted by Walter Cronkite, in which Cronkite stated that the US has a standing policy in place that says, if any nuclear weapon is detonated on US shores (as with a suitcase nuke), the US will essentially make the Middle East a parking lot using its vast nuclear capabilities, no questions asked.

I did a net search and came up with nothing. Any truth to this?

The US is one country that reserves the right of recipricocity. Not all nations do. Basically, we have a standing policy that we will respond with up to or slightly more force than the force used against us as a reprisal for an attack.

This leaves open the possibility of using chemical or nuclear weapons in response to an attack.

It is not a guarantee, though. The policy is that we reserve the right to use that force, not that we will. Although it is highly likely that we would attack the nation responsible or, if it wasn’t a nation that did it, find one that will do - it’s not guaranteed.

If I understand the question correctly, it is nonsense that the US would automatically nuke the Middle East if we are attacked by a nuclear weapon. I cannot prove a cite because this is complete nonsense.

Doesn’t hurt to have the rumor out there though. Might make potential terrorists think twice.

They say in Texas it is desirable to have a reputation as a man who ‘you just don;t know what he might do.’ Same thing here.

The US has a deliberately vague policy. You just never know what they might do.

Nobody can say that if they do ‘A’ the Americans will do ‘B.’ The US retains the right to conduct a reprisal, but does not specify targets.

I don’t think it’s so farfetched, really… the US did attack Iraq after 9/11, citing 9/11 as a partial reason, when we all know Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So yeah, it’s not very hard to imagine a knee-jerk reaction increased by an order of magnitude.

When dealing with non-state adversaries such as Al-Qaeda, the real benefit to a policy of a (certain / probable / possible) massive reprisal attack is that it enlists the governments of your potential targets in the effort to track down the bad guys before they do something.

From a moral perspective, attacking an innocent 3rd party country and killing many/most of its citizens is utterly reprehensible.

From a pratical perspective, the threat of same, particularly if kept secret from the public but well known and believed by the would-be targets’ governments, would be very beneficial to preventling the blind-eye tacit support of anarchy that has characterized much of the Mid East’s policies towards the West for over 50 years.

Is such a policy in effect today? I have no clue. For it to be sucessful, it almost requires that it be kept secret from the public. The targeted countries governments will not be in a hurry to spill the beans either since it makes them look quite weak and exposes them to hostile public opinion as Quislings while their intelligence services frantically chase down bad guys on our behalf.

Clearly, if someone detonates a suitcase nuke within U.S. territory prior to 01/20/09, our proper course is to invade Venezuela, or alternatively perhaps assert domination over the North Sea. This is based on an analysis of foreign policy from 01/21/01 to the present.

Whether something could happen is not evidence that there is a policy that shall make it happen. There is no such policy.

I am not a missileer. But, I have heard enough lectures and read enough in my studies to have an inkling.

I think the method of the act would dictate our response. In the case of a ground burst with no apparent outside delivery, I think we would not just let “all birds fly”. If we did that, we would basically hit a target which might not be the actual target, and would leave us open and vulnerable to another attack. In this case, there’d be an investigation before a reaction.

Now it’s no secret that during the Cold War, we expected the Soviets to bomb us with ICBMs. We have early warning stations still operating to at least tell us they’re coming, and from who. Now in that case, we know what’s going on. Thus, we have a no-nonsense policy of responding immediately and with full force. Back in the 60s and 70s it was called “Mutually Assured Destruction” [MAD]: you pee in my Corn Flakes, and I’ll knock your Alpha Bits outta the milk.

That’s also where the whole Single Integrated Operating Plan [SIOP] was born: to give the National Command Authorities several plans in case of a no-notice nuclear attack. Many plans and scenarios were put together, but I don’t know if a “suitcase nuke” was one of 'em.

My answer: We’d wait to find out who did it, then give the perps two or three sunrises in one day.

“. . . load up, take off, and nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

I agree with you. ANYTHING is possible while Bush is still in office, no matter how maniacal or nonsensical it may be.

When, not if, when the day comes a suitcase nuke(s) is/are detonated on US territory, leadership will fabricate whatever set of facts they deem suitable. Someone will have to pay, and it doesn’t matter who, as long as they wear a turban. Sad but true.

Regrettably, that was a primary factor in invading Iraq. Americans wanted revenge for 9/11. Isn’t that what the euphemistic phrase, “Never Forget” is all about?

When I look back on the Cuban Missile Crisis (Yes, I am that old) and think about how close we came to the end. Any other man but Kennedy in office, and we would not be here today. Not only did he have to deal with the Soviets, he had to battle his generals to keep the world in one piece.

With Bush in office, we are one step closer to nuclear, economic, and ecological Armageddon.

Poly This is GQ. Let’s try to keep out political jabs.

Because, then some other poster is gonna come back and…what? crap!

See, now you have rstubblefield doing it.

Quit it.
samclem GQ Moderator

Would a chemical warfare reprisal really be on the books? I read that during WWI a reprisal that was at least equal in force and in delivery was acceptable but hasn’t the US dumped all its weapons and agreed not to make more? Would it really cook more up just to retaliate like for like? :confused:

Correct, Sam, and my apologies. I wasn’t looking at the top of the screen, and thought I was in GD, where such a joke would be in order. I realize it was out of place in GQ, and regret having inadvertently done so.

…and quit being so nice and accomodating, too. You’ll give the new posters bad ideas. :smiley:

Thus, I feel there is no problem with me saying: “Cut it out, Sam! Throwing a cold bucket of water on Polycarp is my job! :slight_smile:


Um… maybe the US promised not to make more, but the country definitely still has reserves. According to my latest air navigation map, there is still a VX nerve gas depot in southern Indiana and they still do not want us flying too close to it.

Ironically, just about nobody knew about this depot until after 9/11, when they told us they didn’t want us flying over the area and why.

Throw your bucket in another forum. Hijacking this thread is not acceptable. I know, I know–it happens all the time. I can do it if I choose. You can’t.

QUIT doing it.

samclem GQ moderator

Additional thought–Scott I’m not mad at you. Even though the OP was answered, the thread doesn’t need lengthening. Just my opinion.

The US has no usable chemical weapons. Full stop.

We have bulk mustard, some VX in rockets and who knows what-all else. We are trying to destroy it. We have no delivery systems for it. We have no trained people to deliver it.

A chemical response from the US is the stuff of science fiction.

Imo, how the US reacts after a nuclear explosion rocks the US is not known to any of us including whoever initiated the strike…and thats the way it should be.

As far as not responding in kind or worse because its immoral to do so, I totally disagree. Don’t wait for the enemy to reload…take them out…