Thursday, December 12, 2002

Dubya's MAD The Bush administration has released a new policy which explicitly lays out the principle that the United States may respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction with ultimate force (i.e., the bomb). But, unlike others, I am not totally against such a policy. It was, after all, the essence of the Mutually Assured Destruction policy in place during the cold war. It was and is a cornerstone of deterence to say "don't hit me unless you are prepared to suffer even worse in response". It is a scary policy, but it is not necessarily a bad one. The problem, in this case, is not the message but the messenger. If this policy were put forward by a leader who would be reluctant to respond with ultimate force, even if justly provoked, then I could feel safer knowing that they wouldn't go looking for an excuse to escalate. But, if this policy is promoted by someone who seems to relish the idea of brandishing a pistol in someone's face just to see them shake in their boots, then I have to worry that that person might "accidently" step over the line and end up provoking the very situation he is warning against. It's all a matter of trust and, to put it mildly, I do not trust George W. Bush. There's also the problem that, at least during the cold war, American leaders knew there was another opponent out there that could destroy us as easily as we could destroy them (that was the Mutual part of the MAD policy). George W. Bush, however, may be under the mistaken impression that he could drop a nuke on Sadaam and not suffer any serious consequences from said act (as long as he has the justification, real or otherwise, to do so). That makes the policy even more frigtening. When you drop the Mutual from the policy, it becomes simply Assured Destruction.

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