Unsettling at Best

Yesterday Thom Shanker and Rick Gladstone reported in The New York Times that “Iran Fired on Military Drone in First Such Attack, U.S. Says.” This occurred five days before the election, and was only talked about by the Defense Department after news organizations had broken the story. Shanker and Gladstone write: “the failure to disclose a hostile encounter with Iran’s military at a time of increased international tensions over the disputed Iranian nuclear program — and five days before the American presidential election — raises questions for the Obama administration. Had the Iranian attack been disclosed before Election Day, it is likely to have been viewed in a political context — interpreted either as sign of the administration’s weakness or, conversely, as an opportunity for President Obama to demonstrate leadership.” Nuclear worries don’t cease just b/c the election is over. . . .

Jimmy Carter’s Strategies for Nuclear War

At Foreign Policy, William Burr writes in “How to Fight a Nuclear War” about President Jimmy Carter’s plans for the apocalypse:

With other recently declassified material, PD-59 shows that the United States was indeed preparing to fight a nuclear war, with the hope of enduring. To do this, it sought a nuclear force posture that ensured a “high degree of flexibility, enduring survivability, and adequate performance in the face of enemy actions.” If deterrence failed, the United States “must be capable of fighting successfully so that the adversary would not achieve his war aims and would suffer costs that are unacceptable.”

Perhaps even more remarkable than this guidance is the fact that, although the Obama administration is conducting a review of U.S. nuclear targeting guidance, key concepts behind PD-59 still drive U.S. policy to this day.