I’m guessing this is aimed more at Iran than Pakistan, although a confirmed report of nukes loose in the tribal areas would naturally warrant a “strong” response. It’s not clear if they’re referring to pinpoint nuclear bunker busters to destroy underground weapons facilities or some sort of larger, make-an-example decapitating strike (the ambiguity is probably intentional), but the fact that they’re willing to rattle this particular saber publicly shows how helpless they feel re: other deterrent options. The west can roll back proliferation, they say, but it had better be prepared to make some hard choices to do so.

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the “imminent” spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west’s most senior military officers and strategists…

The five commanders argue that the west’s values and way of life are under threat, but the west is struggling to summon the will to defend them. The key threats are:

· Political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism.

· The “dark side” of globalisation, meaning international terrorism, organised crime and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

· Climate change and energy security, entailing a contest for resources and potential “environmental” migration on a mass scale.

· The weakening of the nation state as well as of organisations such as the UN, Nato and the EU…

[German Gen. Klaus] Naumann suggested the threat of nuclear attack was a counsel of desperation. “Proliferation is spreading and we have not too many options to stop it. We don’t know how to deal with this.”

Exit question: Anyone see a western political consensus authorizing preemptive nuke strikes developing anytime soon, especially after the Iraq WMD debacle? More to the point, does anyone think Iran or Pakistan sees that consensus developing soon? If not, where’s the deterrence? For god’s sake, we’re willing to tolerate mosques in western cities that are more radical than Iraq is comfortable with.

Tags: terrorism