Daniel Ellsberg’s List of 25 Nuclear Crises from George W. Bush to Donald Trump

Dec 20th, 2020
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  1. Daniel Ellsberg’s List of 25 Nuclear Crises from George W. Bush to Donald Trump
  3. 1. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 1945 (with the threat and readiness
  4. to drop more until the Japanese surrendered).
  5. 2. Truman’s deployment of B-29s,270 officially described as “atomic capable,” to bases in Britain and Germany at the outset of the Berlin
  6. blockade, June 1948 (critical, in the eyes of the administration, to
  7. Soviet failure to challenge the blockade in the air).
  8. 3. Truman’s press conference warning that atomic weapons were under
  9. active consideration (as they actually were), November 30, 1950, for
  10. Korea after China entered the war.
  11. 4. Eisenhower’s secret nuclear threats271 against China to force and
  12. maintain a settlement in Korea in 1953.
  13. 5. Secretary of State Dulles’s secret offers272 to French foreign minister
  14. Bidault of two (possibly three) tactical nuclear weapons in 1954 to
  15. relieve the French troops besieged by the Indochinese at Dien Bien
  16. Phu.
  17. 6. Internal agreement under Eisenhower and Dulles273 during the first
  18. Quemoy crisis of September 1954–April 1955 that nuclear weapons
  19. would be necessary as a last resort to defend the offshore islands of
  20. Quemoy and Matsu, communicated to the Chinese by numerous
  21. statements and moves that led, in Dulles’s opinion, to the negotiated
  22. resolution of the crisis.
  23. 7. “Diplomatic use of the Bomb”274 (Nixon’s description) to deter
  24. Soviet unilateral action against the British and French in the Suez
  25. crisis of 1956.
  26. 8. Eisenhower’s secret directive to the Joint Chiefs during the Lebanon
  27. crisis in 1958 to prepare to use nuclear weapons, if necessary, to
  28. prevent an Iraqi move into the oil fields of Kuwait.275
  29. 9. Eisenhower’s secret directive to the Joint Chiefs in 1958 to plan to
  30. use nuclear weapons against China276 if the Chinese Communists
  31. attempted to invade Quemoy.
  32. 10. The 1958–59 Berlin crisis.277
  33. 11. The 1961–62 Berlin crisis.278
  34. 12. The Cuban missile crisis, 1962.279
  35. 13. Numerous “shows of nuclear force”280 involving demonstrative
  36. deployments or alerts—deliberately visible to adversaries and
  37. intended as a “nuclear signal”—of forces with a designated role in
  38. U.S. plans for strategic nuclear war.
  39. 14. Much public discussion in newspapers and in the Senate of (correct)
  40. reports that President Johnson had been advised by the JCS of the
  41. possible necessity of nuclear weapons to defend Marines surrounded
  42. at Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968.281†
  43. 15. Secret threats by Nixon officials to deter Soviet attack on Chinese
  44. nuclear capability,282 1969–70.
  45. 16. Nixon’s secret threats of massive escalation,283 including the possible
  46. use of nuclear weapons, conveyed to the North Vietnamese by Henry
  47. Kissinger, 1969–72.
  48. 17. Threats and nuclear-capable naval deployment in 1971 to deter
  49. (according to Nixon) a Soviet response to possible Chinese
  50. intervention against India in the Indo-Pakistani war, but possibly
  51. also, or mainly, to deter India from further military pressure284 on
  52. Pakistan.
  53. 18. Nixon’s NSC put SAC on high alert in October 1973285 to deter the
  54. Soviets from intervening unilaterally with ground forces to separate
  55. the combatants in the Arab-Israeli war, by underscoring U.S. threats
  56. to oppose them by force and expressing U.S. willingness to risk
  57. escalation to all-out nuclear war.
  58. 19. President Ford placed nuclear weapons on DEFCON 3286 alert on
  59. August 19, 1976, in response to the “tree-trimming incident,” a fatal
  60. skirmish in the demilitarized zone; with a U.S. show of force
  61. threatening possible use of nuclear weapons, including flying B-52
  62. bombers “from Guam ominously north up the Yellow Sea on a
  63. vector directly to … Pyongyang.”
  64. 20. “The Carter Doctrine on the Middle East,”287 January 1980, as
  65. explained (below) by Defense Secretary Harold Brown, Assistant
  66. Secretary of State William Dyess, and other spokesmen.
  67. 21. Serious White House and JCS consideration, in August 1980,288 of
  68. the possible imminent use of tactical nuclear weapons if a secret
  69. Soviet buildup on the Iranian border led to a Soviet invasion of Iran,
  70. followed by the expression of explicit, secret nuclear warnings to the
  71. Soviet Union (a hidden episode, spelled out in a professional
  72. military journal and by articles in the New York Times, that remains
  73. virtually unknown to the U.S. public and even scholars, though
  74. presidential press secretary Jody Powell was quoted as describing it
  75. as “the most serious nuclear crisis since the Cuban missile crisis”).†
  76. 22. The Carter Doctrine reaffirmed in essence,289 including its nuclear
  77. component, by President Reagan in January 1981.
  78. 23. Formal threats by the George H. W. Bush administration290 of
  79. possible U.S. nuclear response to various possible “unconscionable
  80. actions” by Iraq in Operation Desert Storm in January 1991.
  81. 24. Explicit, secret threats by the Clinton administration291 of nuclear use
  82. against North Korea in 1995 on its nuclear reactor program
  83. (following the near-launch of an American conventional attack in
  84. 1994).†
  85. 25. Public warning of a nuclear option by Clinton’s secretary of
  86. defense292 William Perry against Libya’s Tarhuna underground
  87. chemical weapons facility in 1996.†
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