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FOCUS: Sanders Backs Warren After Liz Cheney Attacks 'No First Use' Nuclear Policy
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=42128"><span class="small">Lois Beckett, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Sunday, 04 August 2019 11:54

Beckett writes: "Bernie Sanders has defended his rival for the Democratic presidential 2020 nomination, Elizabeth Warren, after her policy against preemptive use of America's nuclear weapons was attacked by the daughter of one of the architects of the Iraq war."

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren greets Vermont senator Bernie Sanders at a 2017 Our Revolution rally in Boston. (photo: Steven Senne/AP)
Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren greets Vermont senator Bernie Sanders at a 2017 Our Revolution rally in Boston. (photo: Steven Senne/AP)

Sanders Backs Warren After Liz Cheney Attacks 'No First Use' Nuclear Policy

By Lois Beckett, Guardian UK

04 August 19


ernie Sanders has defended his rival for the Democratic presidential 2020 nomination, Elizabeth Warren, after her policy against pre-emptive use of America’s nuclear weapons was attacked by the daughter of one of the architects of the Iraq war.

Warren reiterated her support for a “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons during the second round of Democratic presidential debates this week.

“It makes the world safer,” the Massachusetts senator said during the debate. “The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons pre-emptively, and we need to say so to the entire world.”

Liz Cheney, a Republican congresswoman from Wyoming, attacked Warren’s policy on Twitter, asking “which American cities and how many American citizens are you willing to sacrifice with your policy of forcing the US to absorb a nuclear attack before we can strike back?”

Cheney is the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, a key advocate of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States and its allies.

The Bush administration’s primary justification for the pre-emptive war, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that his regime presented an escalating threat, was discredited after the invasion.

The war in Iraq, now in its 16th year, has resulted in an estimated 200,000 documented civilian deaths from violence, according to Iraq Body Count, although estimates vary widely, particularly estimates that factor in hundreds of thousands of additional war-related civilian deaths. More than 4,000 members of the US military have been killed.

“Taking national security advice from a Cheney has already caused irreparable damage to our country,” Sanders wrote on Friday, in response to Cheney’s attack on Warren.

The Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was 13 years old when the Iraq war began in 2003, also responded to Cheney’s attack on Warren, criticizing Cheney for offering hawkish foreign policy advice “as if an entire generation hasn’t lived through the Cheneys sending us into war since we were kids”.

Liz Cheney’s response to the criticism of her father’s push for pre-emptive war was to call Sanders a “commie” with “daddy issues”.

Cheney’s attack on Warren echoed the response of one of Warren’s Democratic rivals during the debate, the Montana governor, Steve Bullock, who said he did not support a “no first use policy” because, “I don’t want to turn around and say, “Well, Detroit has to be gone before we would ever use that.”

The Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig also argued “you can’t have daddy issues with someone else’s daddy.”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly expressed some reluctance to use nuclear weapons first, but also said he did not “want to rule out anything”. At a debate in September of that year, Trump said, “I would certainly not do first strike” but in the sentence that followed that statement, he said: “I can’t take anything off the table.”

As Slate’s Fred Kaplan noted, the Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review maintained the Obama administration’s language on first use policy – not ruling it out completely, but suggesting it would be only used in limited circumstances.

“It remains the policy of the United States to retain some ambiguity regarding the precise circumstances that might lead to a U.S. nuclear response,” the 2018 review notes.

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+17 # AldoJay69 2019-08-04 18:48
"suggesting it would be only used in limited circumstances."

That's what proxy wars are for.

VietNam, Cuba, Syria, we get to flex our "might" for the opposition, but only kill meaningless people who don't have the same firepower as us.

It's easy. "Those" people are cheap.

Cheneys are chicken hawks who don't wear military garb. They send other people's sons and daughters to die.

+11 # Stilldreamin1 2019-08-04 18:58
The subtext for Warren's position is the US today is viewed by countries around the world as choosing military force before the proper exercise of diplomacy and caution. I'm 60+ years old and have yet to see my country engage in a just war. I grew up with Vietnam, there were Panama, Grenada and more recently the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq. Is it surprising that Warren and Sanders believe that the US should reassure the rest of the world that we would never initiate a nuclear war?
+11 # coberly 2019-08-04 19:02
According to the people the Cheney's party with, Eisenhower was a commie.

Apparently the people, Trump's base, Pelosi is afraid to energize

are dumb enough to fall for the "commie" lie.

Maybe we should take the risk of energizing Trump's base by energizing our own base, who might like to show one and for all that America is not going to governed by morons appealing to morons.
+16 # Texas Aggie 2019-08-04 19:36
If there were anyone with "daddy issues," it is Lizzy. She is still trying desperately to get daddy's approval, but all she will ever be is a draft deferment.
+10 # Citizen Mike 2019-08-04 21:21
The Cheney family has been military for generations, they are big fans of warfare as the key to every lock. The use of force, threats and coercion in international relations is the very essence of Trumpism and at variance from all that has come before in this country. It is driving all the nations of the world away from association with the US. Every previous administration has supported the principle of no pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons.
+6 # coberly 2019-08-05 09:57

the principle of no first strike was established after WW2 when this country rejected the advice to (atomic) bomb Russia before the Russians got the bomb.

Then we declined to atom bomb the North Koreans.

by then the Russians did have the bomb. And what prevented either side from using them first was the fear of what would happen next. It was called "mutually assured destruction."

and it seems to have worked.. whether through fear of "massive retaliation" or simple human decency.

Which Cheney has not got. Nor the intelligence to understand the fear of retaliation that deters those who may not have that decency.

"First strike" only works against those who cannot retaliate.

And this is the core of Cheney and Bush's "thinking." They are simply bullies. Too stupid to imagine they might get something back. Too stupid to understand "deterrence" was the policy of this country that worked...saw us through the cold war. Too stupid to think in any terms except beating up people who have no ability to fight back. Too stupid to know what their bullying does to their ability to win friends and influence people.

Or maybe they just think WE are that stupid.
0 # Art947 2019-08-04 21:29
The "chicken-hawk" Cheney murdered how many people with his illegal and immoral Iraq War? Now his daughter, another whore, is promoting more war-mongering? Is there any Rethugnican who shouldn't be locked up as a war-crimianl?
+15 # windrider 2019-08-04 23:11
It would appear Liz Cheney is a little dense. What she suggests is that if an enemy launches at us we have to wait for the missiles to strike before we launch, otherwise it would be a "first strike" Very weird reasoning. Obviously to any clear thinker a first strike is when you launch without the provocation of incoming missiles. What she suggests is that a nuclear war is winnable if we launch first. Utter nonsense.
+12 # Stilldreamin1 2019-08-05 05:09
Why would the US have to reassure the rest of the world that we would never use nuclear weapons preemptively? 3 good reasons come to mind. The illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, tRump's question of why even have nuclear weapons if we can't use them and John Bolton as National Security Advisor.
+15 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-08-05 05:12
Why don't the Cheneys just go back to Wyoming and disappear somewhere. Can there be a more vile family in the world than the Cheneys.

First strikes of any kind are specifically prohibited by the UN Charter and the Nuremburg Principles. All first strikes are to be condemned, whether nuclear or conventional.

Let's hope American politics has moved beyond the Neanderthal Cheneys and their criminal gang of regime change warriors.
+1 # HarryP 2019-08-05 13:26

I agree on the Cheneys , but...

...neither the UN Charter nor the Nuremberg Principles prohibit “first strikes.” The main point about the Nuremberg Principles was to argue that international supersedes national (German) law: You can't argue “I was only following legal domestic orders.”

What the two documents prohibit are “wars of aggression.” Since no one ever aggresses - I believe no country even has a war department any longer, they’re all “defense” departments - it all becomes meaningless. (When Hitler started World War II he claimed the Poles were shooting at his troops.)

Neither document addresses first use of nuclear weapons. The US contemplated first use - as a defensive measure, mind you - against North Vietnam, North Korea (and its ally, China) and would certainly use it should, say, the Chinese navy attacked Pearl Harbor.

As for your last paragraph, I hope you know your hope, that we have moved beyond the thought of the first use of nuclear weapons, is misplaced. Trump - your man - has made abundantly clear he’s itching to pull the trigger. And, he made clear, he’s entitled to do so.
0 # coberly 2019-08-06 10:50
i hope that If "china attacked pearl harbor" we could obliterate the chinese navy with conventional means, without murdering millions of innocent chinese people, and without provoking and "justifying" chinese nuclear retaliation.

as for nurnberg and the lack of no-first-strike s, a bit late for that since the winner of WW2 already used first strike. laws are made by the winners, who do not always forsee unintended consequence, or care very much about collateral damage.

trump likes to bluff. but it's a dangerous strategy as hitler discovered about 30 million deaths late.
+7 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-08-05 08:11
Let’s not forget that one country made the first use of Nukes: that was the USA against Japan in 1945.
+4 # hereandnow 2019-08-06 01:26
And in spite of all the crypto-fascists who endlessly argue that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was neccessary, it was not. Japan was on her knees and ready to capitulate. Those bombs were to stop the Red Army from occupying Japan from the north and also to send a message to the Soviet Union of the kind of bombs the US possessed. General Patton wanted to push east in May of 1945 and invade the USSR and try to perform "Regime Change" and overthrow the Soviet government. Thenk Ike for thwarting that WW2 version of the Neo Cons. The Red Army had basically defeated Hitler alone in the most incredible military campaign the world has ever known and the US was not happy that the USSR still existed. The hope had been that the Germans and the Soviets would mutually annihilate each other, opening the way after the war for the plundering of the immense natural resources of the Soviet Union by Western Capitalism. But I digress. BTW, I could never figure out why the only country in the world to have used atomic weapons in war is so against ony country capable of producing those weapons to have them. Of course it would be logical to destroy all atomic weapons in the world, but the premise that one country can dictate who can have them is beyond the pale. If the Soviet Union had not developed those weapons, it is almost a given that the US would have used them against the USSR in the hopes of overthrowing the Soviet Government during the Cold War. Thus MAD works.
+4 # Salus Populi 2019-08-06 14:23
In 1987, the scientist Michio Kaku and co-author Daniel Axelrod published "To Win a Nuclear War: the Pentagon's Secret War Plans" [originally by South End Press, and then re-published by Black Rose Books], based on top secret documents taht were mistakenly declassified in the mid-seventies. It is a harrowing book, but it covers the truly evil and malevolent plans by the U.S.'s top military and the presidents they served to obliterate the Soviet Union, killing up to 150 million Soviet citizens.

While the late Herman Kahn's speculations about the "winnability" of nuclear war garnered some publicity around 1959-1960, they were generally dismissed as a crackpot scenario at the time, since surely our wonderful, altruistic shining city on a hill would never actually even contemplate carrying out so nefarious a plan.

Well, guess what. While Kahn, employed by the Hoover Institute, was in no position to try out his mad theory, the Pentagon was indeed planning to do just that.

The only thing that kept the National Security State from launching its entire, if then rather small, nuclear arsenal [Operation Broiler, contemplating the murder of 25 million Russians] was the victorious Red Army, which, having pretty much defeated the Nazi war machine single-handedly , might in response to such a bombing overrun the U.S.'s subordinate allies in Europe, as most of their populations regarded the Reds favorably.

The first 80 pages can be read on Google Books.
+4 # Salus Populi 2019-08-05 17:31
Sorry to be a wet blanket, but the U.S. has never agreed to no first use, and in fact throughout the Cold War (and even before) contemplated launching a surprise nuclear attack against the Soviet Union ("Operation Broiler" being the first operative war plans in 1946), and after 1964, against China.

Kennedy refused Krushchev's offer of a no-first-use pact, whereupon the Soviets unilaterally announced and pledged themselves to a no first use policy.

In 1967, LBJ proposed to Kosygin that the USSR and the U.S. nuke Lop Nor, the Chinese test site, pre-emptively.

Kissinger robustly defended the U.S. refusal to pledge no first use, as did Defense Secretary Harold Brown under Carter, while Nixon used the "madman" option to bully the Vietnamese, taking advantage of the fact that the U.S. had neither signed nor pledged no first use. He also offered two atomic bombs to the French when they were fighting the Vietnamese at DienBenPhu in 1954.

Eisenhower threatened to use nukes over the Chinese takeover of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu in 1958, as well as threatening Lebanon that same year.

In point of fact, as Daniel Ellsberg disclosed in 1979, the U.S. had "used" nuclear weapons over 30 times, mostly against non-nuclear powers. He defined "use" as equivalent to pointing a gun at a teller during a robbery, whether or not the gun is actually fired.
+2 # coberly 2019-08-06 16:22

i have to defer to your better knowledge of inside-history. but the fact remains that we got through the cold war without first strike, and there is no evidence that the lack of a declared policy of no first strike resulted in the destruction of Detroit.