Friday, September 14, 2001

The time has come for the United States to make good on its past pledges that it will use all military capabilities at its disposal to defend U.S. soil by delivering nuclear strikes against the instigators and perpetrators of the attacks against the nation’s political capital and the nation’s financial capital.
At a bare minimum, tactical nuclear capabilites should be used against the bin Laden camps in the desert of Afghanistan. To do less would be rightly seen by the poisoned minds that orchestrated these attacks as cowardice on the part of the United States and the current administration.
To consider use of the nation’s nuclear forces, in the present circumstances, cannot be brushed aside as an overly emotional response to the unknown face of terrorism. To begin with, we know who that face belongs to, and we know where a goodly portion of his logistical and training capabilities are located. A series of low-level, tactical nuclear strikes in the Afghanistan desert would pose no risk to large population centers and would carry little risk of fallout spreading to populated areas.
Also, our nuclear capabilities were designed to include just such a mission, and they are capable of fulfilling such a mission.
Lastly, the use of nuclear weapons against the bin Laden groups and his supporters will rightly shock the world, but it will also shock those nations that have been disposed for a variety of reasons to back the terrorist groups with economic and political support. The United States will, in effect, have raised the bar against future such acts from occurring. If we, as a nation, show the willingness to use the ultimate weapon in the current situation, there can be no doubt anywhere in the globe that the United States will make good on its past pledges to defend its sovereign territory with such weapons.
The attacks that occurred this week have been classified both as acts of war and as a second Pearl Harbor, but these designations ennoble the acts in Washington and New York. An act of war is constituted when one nation-state uses military force against another. Pearl Harbor was used by Japan to attack U.S. military targets to begin such an act of war. The bin Laden groups are not nations or states, and they have primarily targeted civilian populations. In fact, the use of so-called Islamic fundamentalist terrorism on a global scale is a new phenomena, a product of the modern age. In centuries past, civilized nations would conduct “punitive” expeditions against pirate regimes, but those actions were strictly local in scope and the protagonists could not approach the sophistication shown by the bin Laden groups. As we have seen from such “punitive” actions by the previous administration, those actions achieved next to nothing.
The fight against the bin Laden groups will be a fight to the death, and this is another valid reason to make use of our nation’s nuclear forces. Unlike the more limited goals of wars between nations — territory, formal surrender, etc. — bin Laden’s goals are the elimination of the United States as the global leader for progressive political, economic and cultural change. Should, God forbid, the United States withdraw from the Middle East and Persian Gulf, the terrorists will raise their sights to eliminate our influence elswhere in the world. For a vision of what these groups see as their ultimate objective, we need look no further than the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, where women are beaten in the street for walking in public, owners of television sets are sent to prison or shot and ancient Buddhist monuments to universal peace and understanding are reduced to rubble.
No, the bin Laden groups must be exterminated completely before they become more powerful in their efforts to exterminate us. We should use our nuclear capabilities to help achieve this. We must, as a nation, take the firmest action possible against this growing evil in the world, before its poison spreads even further. If not the United States, who? If not now, under these circumstances, when?

Thomas Woodrow, a 22-year veteran intelligence officer, resigned from the Defense Intelligence Agency in May.

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