chapter  4
26 Pages

The Bush Doctrine and the nuclear option: the transition from Clinton to Bush

As has been estab lished, the mo tiva tion and con sidera tion of preventive war has been an implicit part of US policy-makers’ stra tegic thinking since 1945. While it can be argued that the preventive tenets of the Bush Doctrine stalled in Iraq after the quick and easy defeat of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the nuclear dimension en com passed in the Doctrine, and the reassertion of this option, became the legacy of the Bush Administration when he departed in Janu ary 2009. As the focus of Chapter 5, Bush asserted nuclear weapons as a distinct pillar within US secur­ity­ strat­egy,­ articulating­ and­ refining­ such­ sentiments­ through­ the­ 2002­ Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the 2002 National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (NSCWMD), CONPLAN (Concept Plan) 8022 (Global Strike), the 2005 Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the 2006 Strategic Operations Joint Operating Concept Version 2.0, and in recent times, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. While it is clear that Bush attempted to place the nuclear option to the fore in an assertive fashion, acknowledgment of the trans ition between the Clinton and Bush Administrations is imperative when analyzing and evaluating the extent of the shift that the Bush Doctrine engendered, and will therefore be the focus of this chapter. In many instances, it can be argued that the Clinton Administration ignored its historic oppor tun ity to reverse decades of dangerous and provocative nuclear weapons planning, while the Bush Administration-in its punctuating and­ reaffirming­ pol­icy­ instruments­ (as­ posited­ above)—furthered­ the­ pro­cess­ towards increasing the role of nuclear weapons in US pol icy and secur ity strategy.­Indeed,­the­Bush­docu­ments­and­pol­icy­instruments­signified­a­renewed­role­ for nuclear weapons and the quest of his Administration to upgrade US offensive forces,­ deploy­missile­ defenses,­ reconfigure­ communications­ and­ satellite­ sys­ tems, and overall, revitalize the nuclear complex. Nonetheless, it would be both remiss and incorrect to see this as merely the result of the Bush Administration’s pol icies. It was evid ent that the Clinton Administration retained much of the existing US nuclear weapons pol icy and force­posture­in­the­decade­after­the­demise­of­the­Soviet­Union­and­affirmed­the­ role of nuclear weapons in US secur ity strat egy. Furthermore, the Clinton Administration began to de velop targeting options for the use of nuclear weapons in response to chem ical or biological attacks from states other than

Russia, and, in its declaratory pol icy, the Administration did not rule out the possible­first­use­of­nuclear­weapons­in­these­circumstances.­It­was­here­that­milit­ ary planners and policy-makers-through the Defense Counter-Proliferation Initiative (CPI) 1993, Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) 1994, Doctrine for joint Operations (Joint Pub 3-12) 1993/1995, Doctrine for Joint Theater Nuclear Operations 1996, Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) 1997 and Pres id en tial Decision­ Directive­ (PDD)­ 60­ 1997-maintained­ the­ significance­ of­ nuclear­ weapons despite the Cold War’s conclusion. Ultimately, it was the Bush Doctrine and its accom panying guidance docu ments that expanded on this Clinton “base”­ in­ a­ much­ more­ defined­ and­ assertive­ posture,­ foreshadowing­ a­ new­ nuclear era in which the once-termed “weapon of last resort” became a usable and­neces­sary­preventive­war­­fighting­option. During the Cold War, the United States maintained nuclear forces that were sized and structured as a means to deter any attack by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, and if deterrence failed, to defeat the Soviet Union.1 In the period after the 1989 collapse of the Berlin wall and 1991 demise­ of­ the­ Soviet­ Union,­ officials­ in­ the­ US­ gov­ern­ment­ and­ analysts­ outside gov ern ment pursued numerous reviews and studies of US nuclear weapons pol icy and force structure. While these studies varied in scope, intent and­outcome,­most­ attempted­ to­define­ a­ new­ role­ for­US­nuclear­weapons,­ including the appropriate size and structure of the US nuclear arsenal in the post-Cold War era. In positing their re com mendations, these ana lyses addressed not only the end of the hostile US-Soviet global rivalry, but also the emergence of new threats and regional challenges to US secur ity. As stated by Siracusa and Coleman:

As the defence forces began to look beyond containment, it became readily apparent that the threats to US secur ity had not faded away-they had changed. Rather than giving way to a time of peace and stability as many had hoped, the end of the Cold War paved the way for in stability and the surfacing of regional issues that had long been suppressed during the Cold War and introduced other, non traditional threats.2