The push for a nuclear pit production facility, and Carlsbad’s attempt to secure it back in 2002, can be traced to new nuclear weapons policies under Bush. The Bush administration ordered the creation of contingency plans to have nuclear weapons that would be usable in potential future conflicts in the new War on Terror era. As New Mexico has been a central place in nuclear weapons production, the new nukes meant to some in New Mexico more jobs and more money.
The Nuclear Posture Review of 2002 was originally classified and somehow made available to the media. It is understandable that the plan for more politically usable nuclear weapons of mass destruction would concern even insiders within the Bush regime. (For example, plans for Patriot Act II were leaked to the Center for Public Integrity, a liberal think tank based in D.C.)
Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mentioned in January 2002 that the terrorists that attacked on 9/11 were not deterred by the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This is true, and the U.S. military knows it.
The NPR lists seven countries that nuclear weapons may be used against in future conflicts: China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria and also hints that they may be used in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the future. This was the first time that an official list of target countries has been revealed.
The more liberal consensus of nuclear weapons is that they be used only for deterrence, with Mutual Assured Destruction making it so that the big bangs that nukes make will be avoided to prevent our destruction overall. Council for a Livable World president John Isaacs stated “They’re trying desperately to find new uses for nuclear weapons when their uses should be limited to deterrence…This is very, very dangerous talk…Dr. Strangelove is clearly still alive in the Pentagon.”
The strategy of this plan is for more “tactical” and “adaptive” uses of nuclear weapons. These tactical nukes are given names like “bunker busters”, because they are supposedly used to strike deep caves and bunkers, or “hard and deeply buried targets (HDBT’s)”. These new “tactical” nukes make the bang of nukes smaller but more likely to be used. Yet they talk about these new generation of weapons “limit collateral damage.” They also label this “adaptive nuclear capabilities.” These are nuclear weapons designed to be used in conflicts where large nuclear arsenals are not recommended. The review emphasizes the integration of “new nonnuclear strategic capabilities” into nuclear war plans.
Conservatives favor this Pentagon work in possible contingencies to shore up American military dominance. With the supposed threat of dozens of countries, or “rogue nations”, having nuclear weapons, the U.S. nuclear monopoly is broken. The right wing believes in smaller nukes as a form of deterrence. The U.S. should make their enemies believe that they are willing to use nuclear weapons when necessary, to “wreak devastation on surrounding territory and friendly populations” with multi-kiloton weapons.
These tactical nukes are exactly that, tactical tools for a wider strategy of maintaining a global empire. The planners of this high tech imperial order put out documents about more of their goals, like conquering outer space militarily by 2020. One favorite word they use is “full spectrum dominance.” The U.S. empire wants to dominate every area, or spectrum, of conflict. New areas like cyber warfare, also called the field of “information operations.” New technologies like Predator drones, remote controlled assassination. Their is an emphasis on “asymmetrical warfare,” where enemies target in unconventional ways in warfare , and are met unconventionally.
The review calls for a new strike system, with potential new weapons listed including four Trident submarines, an unmanned combat air vehicle, and an air launch cruise missile.
Nuclear politics were a big thing in the 80‘s. With the last decades of the Cold War, things heated up and thawed out. Nuclear brinkmanship between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was the big thing. Now that the U.S. is a unilateral superpower the balance of power has shifted, with more than one main enemy standing in the way in their quest for global hegemony.
The Bush administration was for more imperialistic policies. Much of his administration was from the Project for a New American Century, advocating for more a more imperial and aggressive foreign policy against supposed enemies such as Iraq and others in the Arab world. This was the view of the neoconservatives, who wanted a more aggressive push to impose American values around the world. After 9/11 this push got more support, and they acted quickly.
In this case all those involved will give justifications for their work. Just at the dawn of the Nuclear Age atomic scientists and their political backers gave reasons for their more out there research. Plans for nuclear weapons to build construction and the like (http://www.cracked.com/article/153_nuke-moon-5-certifiably-insane-cold-war-projects/) The needs of humanity do not always concern the nuclear scientists and those their interests serve.
The improved acceptance of new nuclear weapons went far inside the Pentagon under Bush. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld opened the doors to the possibility of “nuclear tipped interceptors” as part of a national missile defense. Under Bush the U.S. withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia. Bush wanted to expand national missile defense, in line with expanding high tech empire. International treaties that were a barrier to that were disgarded. It was also part of the administration’s goal of reviving national missile defense, or Star Wars/Strategic Defense Initiative. The nuclear Strangeloves got new incentives under Bush, and even in New Mexico they saw places to profit from this new era.
Then President Dwight Eisenhower once said “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” He also warned about the Military Industrial Complex. Of course he would say that. He helped bring a lot of the Military Industrial Complex into being. The anti-war coalition in Albuquerque that is still operating, Stop the War Machine, takes its influence from Eisenhower’s speeches on the MIC. What these groups don’t say implicitly is that a significant, if not majority, of the population benefits from this military war machine propping up imperialism. That is why there was strong support to bring a new nuclear pit factory to Carlsbad.
Richter, Paul. “U.S. Works Up Plan for Using Nuclear Arms.” Los Angeles Times. March 9, 2002. http://www.latimes.com/la-030902bombs.story (obtained March 11, 2002)
Arkin, William M. “Secret Plan Outlines the Unthinkable.” Los Angeles Times. March 10, 2002. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-arkinmar10.story (obtained March 11, 2002)
Graham, Bradley. “Going Backwards: Nuclear-Tipped Interceptors Studied; Rumsfeld Revives Rejected Missile Defense Concept.” Washington Post. April 11, 2002. obtained at http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0411-01.htm