Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Nuance with Nukes

Via Best of the Web Today: According to Reuters, French President Jacques Chirac said France may use nuclear weapons in response to a terrorist attack that involved weapons of mass destruction.

"The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using in one way or another weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part," Chirac said during a visit to a nuclear submarine base in northwestern France.

"This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind."
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"Against a regional power, our choice would not be between inaction or annihilation," Chirac said in his first major speech on France's nuclear arms strategy since 2001.

"The flexibility and reactivity of our strategic forces would enable us to exercise our response directly against its centers of power and its capacity to act."

What Chirac described is a limited nuclear war -- limited both in the French use of such weapons and in the adversary's ability to respond in kind. Note that he referred to "a regional power" and stated that the use of nuclear weapons would be intended to cause something less than annihilation. During the Cold War, two world powers faced off against each other and adopted a policy of "mutual assured destruction" -- recognizing that a limited exchange of nuclear weapons would be an unlikely scenario.

Is Chirac adopting a policy of limited nuclear war in the event that Iran develops nuclear weapons?

How confident does Chirac think he must be in the accuracy of any information tending to identify a state sponsoring a terrorist attack on France before he launches a missile carrying a nuclear bomb in retaliation? Is there a "global test" that would have to be satisfied?


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