The recently leaked draft of the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) has revealed a number of concerns, including the allegation that Russia has a nuclear underwater drone with a range of 10,000 km and the ability to devastate U.S. ports and harbors.
A more recently highlighted bombshell in the NPR alleges the Pentagon will find other arenas to create the pretext for nuclear first strikes, including cyber attacks. According to the NPR, a nuclear first strike is presented as the only “realistic” option to such threats, a devastating claim.
As AntiWar.com has noted, the problem with this posture is its potential to spiral out of control:
“US assignments of blame in cyberattacks are rarely grounded in evidence or reality, but rather they blame whoever is politically expedient at the time, whether it’s Russia, China, or North Korea. Such reckless blame is relatively consequence-free when the US just responds with angry threats, but nuclear strikes could quickly start massive, civilization ending nuclear warfare.” [emphasis added]
While the NPR doesn’t explicitly state the intended target of this strategy, reading between the lines requires us to ask a couple of simple questions. One, why would the U.S. want to propose a tactical nuclear first strike in response to cyber attacks, and two, which of the adversarial states would they propose using such a policy against? Russia, China, and North Korea all have nuclear weapons or capabilities, meaning a nuclear first strike may have unforeseen and catastrophic blowback potential.
In December of last year, NATO reportedly made the decision to integrate cyber warfare into its command. As Anti-Media explained at the time, this policy is most likely aimed at the alleged threat held by Iran, which – in the absence of major military spending to rival that of the U.S. and its allies – turns to other disruptive activities to counter American aggression:
“Iran has allegedly conducted a number of very successfully damaging cyber attacks against the United States in recent years, though these have received little to no media hysteria compared to the attention and outrage the alleged Russiagate scandal has garnered.”
From the Conversation:
“It was clear by the mid-2000s that Iran would become a source of cyberattacks: Its hackers had started taking over websites worldwide and posting their own messages on them, a practice called ‘defacing.’ Often it was just for fun, but some hackers wanted to stand up for their country and Muslims. One prominent group, Iran Hackers Sabotage, launched in 2004 ‘with the aim of showing the world that Iranian hackers have something to say in the worldwide security.’”
The U.S. has had Iran in its crosshairs for decades, though finding a way to crack the Iranian regime to the point of no return has not proven easy. As Anti-Media has explained, the U.S. more or less has an official regime-change policy targeting Iran, and the CIA has essentially set up an office to achieve this goal.
Just weeks ago, U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly gave the green light to Israel to assassinate General Qassem Soleimani, a stalwart leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Even now, the U.S. is laying the groundwork to confront Iran both in Syria and Lebanon.
In September of last year, Reuters reported that the Trump administration was weighing a more aggressive strategy against Iran, including the permission to “open fire” when harassed by armed speedboats operated by the IRGC, as well as directly targeting “cyber espionage and other activity and potentially nuclear proliferation.”
Reading between the lines seems to indicate that the U.S. is certainly keeping its options open on the Iran question if regime change can’t be achieved through more covert means. While it is generally under-reported, Iran is one of the only countries successfully rattling the U.S. and its allies through cyber espionage tactics, and the U.S. is openly discussing a nuclear strike as the only “realistic” option to counter this threat.
Let’s hope we’re wrong on this one.