Would we nuke Iraq?

If anyone has read the Bleat today, Lileks makes a great point about containing a nuclear armed Iraq using MAD. His point is that if Iraq uses WMD against us either directly or through terrorists that the US would not nuke Iraq in response. There is no way GWB would go to congress and ask for the authority to kill a couple million people as warning to anyone else. I think he is right, we would send in conventional arms to take over Iraq but I don’t think we would respond with nuclear weapons.
Here is the link to the whole article:http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/03/0203/021403.html
the relevant portion starts about halfway down.

I don’t think we’d nuke them either especially considering that we can almost certainly get the job done by conventional military means.

It would however give Bush a blank check in going after Iraq. No political footsie would be allowed. Iraq’s govwernment would be thoroughly dismantled and they’d get whatever the US felt like giving them.

I doubt the UN our other governments could seriously tell the US to back-off if the US was nuked. Even the French would probably shut-up about it. If any country did still tell the US to backoff I have no doubt Bush and the American public would tell them to go screw themselves.

Why would Bush need permission from Congress? I’m not aware that Congress was ever consulted about targeting the USSR during the Cold War.

Under MAD, the authority to kill them automatically comes from being attacked. MAD is not a preemptive theory, it is a responsive theory. Congress need not be consulted. If you recall, the second we detected USSR missiles coming over the poles, we would already firing back. Congress could talk about it later if they were still alive.

You said WMD, which includes all NBC weapons (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical).

If Iraq uses nukes, we do too, tenfold times, nuff said.

The only question might be: What does the US do if Iraq uses chemical or biological agents (1) against US troops, or (2) against Israeli civilians.

(1) Since the US is ill-prepared to respond in kind (e.g., with chemical agents), and since that might just serve to prolong things (witness the Iraq-Iran war), I think it is very possible that concentrated Iraqi troops in the open get hit by tactical nukes by the US. I think the level of response will depend on how effective the Iraqi attack is.

I doubt the US would respond with annihilation of the Iraqi people. That kind of thing is not even to be considered (unless, of course, they nuke a US city). Too many people still have the outdated Cold War mentality that use of nuclear weapons means only super-megaton strikes against cities. They are more flexible than that.

(2) I trust the Isreali’s will respond with disproportionate force. What that is is left as an excercise for the reader.

If Iraq nukes the US, it set’s a bad precedent to merely dismantle their government with conventional forces. The problem is not how to take care of Iraq, which the US clearly can do. The problem is that we want everyone else in the world to think about the ramifications of nuking the US.

MAD versus the USSR was necessary, because we couldn’t perform a conventional takeover. The country’s just to derned big, and their military is too strong. Against Iraq, though, a nuke would be overkill. All a nuke would do is kill a couple million people, and probably not even Saddam - and it’s not as if Saddam cares if he loses some of his people, as long as he has plenty more to rule over.

A conventional attack would be much wiser. More directed, more focused, and a much lower civilian casualty rate. As far as what the rest of the world thinks, I think that would be a pretty good deterrant. Whether we nuke you, or send in 100,000 troops to kick your ass in person, you’re still not in power any more.

Short answer: If we were nuked by Saddam, or any nation that we could reliably invade and conquer, I doubt we would respond in kind - we would rely on conventional forces.

The US would not respond with nuclear weapons. It can accomplish the job with conventional weapons, which include B-52 and B-2 bombers, and cruise missiles.

Not using WMD gives legitimacy to USA’s claim that it is not at war with Islam. To use nukes would inflame fundamentalists permanently.

The wild card in the game is Pakistan, which has proven nuclear capability, rockets, and a virulent paranoia about the west in much of the population. Right now it has a friendly government, but it might topple if the USA uses too much power to accomplish its political goals.

I feel certain that if even our troops are hit with NBC’s the gloves will come off. Your enemies have to believe that you will use nukes for them to be an effective deterent. I don’t believe that fact is lost on the current administration.

I think this is a good point.

It would be a hard sell to say that the US is not at war with Islam and killing a couple of million citizens.

While civilians always end up getting killed in a war, a single act of the magnitude of a nuke would completely kill any chance of trying to get some sort of pro-US support in the middle eastern countries, other than Israel.

I hope the the current US administration would continue the mutually assured destruction idea of the US nuclear arsenal. When america could be destroyed, so will everyone else. A single nuke from terrorists or a small country would not constitute that type of threat.

Nuclear weapons do not just encompass multiple megaton weapons. We have strategic tactical nukes with comparitively small yields that would be an option automatically. It does not mean they would be automatically used. But I do not see where we would not have an option unless Saddam sued for peace and turned his entire govenrment over to the international community for war-crimes trials.

We would have to invade Iraq. And if Iraq used WMD against us it would be ludicrous to think he would not use them on our troops that were sent to take him out. We would not be able to risk that possibility. WMD are not just a threatening tool, but also the best damn destructive weapon known to man. If the Generals rightly assumed that our troops were at risk of being hit with WMD during an invasion, we do not say “if you use em on us we use em on you” with a threatening waggled finger. They already used them. They have stated their position of what extent they would go. So we respond. We use them on their massed troops. On their strategic military locations we could be selective on when to use them if innocents are at risk. But our hands would no longer be tied because that genie would be out of the bottle.

If we nuke them, it makes it harder for us to get their oil after we’ve taken over. Simple as that.

Yes, Kalt. Fortunately, that’s not our goal, so it’s not an issue.


So what constitutes a “nuke”? I know what criteria constitutes a nuke is but I think that when people post questioning if we would “nuke” Iraq they are meaning going beyond battlefield nukes and nukes with a short half-life (I hope I got that terminology right). I know what I understood from “nuking” Iraq was something like Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Battlefield nukes are much like juiced up mortar shells, if I understand correctly.

Please correct if my assumptions are off.

A “nuke” is a nuclear device or weapon. Being “nuked, nuking, or nukes” is to be attack with nuclear weapons.

I did not write the OP so I cannot say if you assumptions are off concerning what he meant.

Not really. Depends on where and how bad you nuke them.

And why is everyone talking about “millions of Iraqi citizens being killed.” Let me stress again, that nukes can be something less than city-busting devices, and (novel idea!) they can be used against targets other than cities.

OK, I wasn’t clear at all! The “not really” part was directed at Kalt’s statement that it would be hard to get the oil out.

BTW, I agree that is not our goal, but it would be nice to lessen the collateral damage in that regard, for all parties involved.

Getting the oil is not our main goal (at least I don’t think it is) but it’s surely a factor. A little side goal, if you will. It’s much easier to drill through sand than radioactive glass.

I assumed “nuking” meant firing upon the enemy with nuclear as opposed to strictly conventional weapons (including, for example, a single hit of a military unit with one of those "juiced up artillery shells). If that is what the OP meant, then the answer is clearly, “Maybe.”

It never occurred to me that people might be using the word “nuke” to mean “annihilate all Iraqi citizens”. If that is what the OP meant, then there is no debate: The answer is clearly “Nn.”

I don’t get this. We can get their oil without an invasion. Why would we invade to get their oil? I doubt it is cheaper to assemble an army of several hundred thousand troops half way around the world to steal oil than it is to buy the oil.

il Topo: that’s why it’s a “side goal.”