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In Stunning Strategy Reversal, Pentagon Will No Longer Rule Out Use Of Nuclear Weapons Against Non-Nuclear Threat

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Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Well, we’re finally there: stocks are officially trading off nuclear war headlines.

Moments ago, as part of his closely-watched speech, Vladimir Putin appeared to talk down the likelihood of a nuclear attack in Ukraine:

  • *PUTIN: NO POLITICAL, MILITARY REASON IN NUKE STRIKE IN UKRAINE

Which, however, is more than can be said about the US.

As Bloomberg just reported, the Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy rejects limits on using nuclear weapons long championed by arms control advocates (and, in the not too distant past, by Joe Bide) citing burgeoning threats from Russia and China.

“By the 2030s the United States will, for the first time in its history face two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors and potential adversaries,” the Defense Department said in the long-awaited document issued Thursday. In response, the US will “maintain a very high bar for nuclear employment” without ruling out using the weapons in retaliation to a non-nuclear strategic threat to the homeland, US forces abroad or allies.

In yet another stark reversal for the senile occupant of the White House basement, in his 2020 presidential campaign Biden had pledged to declare that the US nuclear arsenal should be used only to deter or retaliate against a nuclear attack, a position blessed by progressive Democrats and reviled by defense hawks. But, like with every other position held by the pathological liar who even trumps Trump in the untruth department, this one has just been reversed as well as “the threat environment has changed dramatically since then” and the Pentagon strategy was forged in cooperation with the flip-flopping White House.

In a stunning move that should – or rather “should” – spark outrage among the so-called progressives but will at best prompt some very sternly retracted letters, the nuclear report that’s part of the broader strategy said the Biden administration reviewed its nuclear policy and concluded that “No First Use” and “Sole Purpose” policies “would result in an unacceptable level of risk in light of the range of non-nuclear capabilities being developed and fielded by competitors that could inflict strategic-level damage” to the US and allies.

meanwhile…

The nuclear strategy document doesn’t spell out what non-nuclear threats could produce a US nuclear response, but current threats include hypersonic weapons possessed by Russia and China for which the US doesn’t yet have a proven defense.

It does spell out, however, in the strongest terms, what would happen to another nuclear power, North Korea, if it launched a nuclear attack on the US, South Korea or Japan. That action “will result in the end of that regime,” it says. US nuclear weapons continue to play a role in deterring North Korean attacks.

So, the brilliant neocon minds behind the report concluded, it is better to instill the fear of a disproportionate nuclear retaliation, thus making an outright nuclear attack far more likely (if the US will nuke you anyway, may as well go all out).

In the document, which was framed well before the invasion, the Pentagon says Russia continues to “brandish its nuclear weapons in support of its revisionist security policy” while its modern arsenal is expected to grow further. In other words, the Pentagon knew what Putin would do even before he did it and that defined the dramatic revision in US nuclear posture. Almost as if the Pentagon directed the entire sequence of events…

Meanwhile, China remains the US’s “most consequential strategic competitor for coming decades,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a letter presenting the new defense strategy. He cited China’s “increasingly coercive actions to reshape the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to fit its authoritarian preferences,” even as it rapidly modernizes and expands its military. China wants to have at least 1,000 deliverable nuclear warheads by the end of the decade, the nuclear strategy document says, saying it could use them for “coercive purposes, including military provocations against US allies and partners in the region.”

The nuclear strategy affirmed modernization programs including the ongoing replacement of the aging US air-sea-land nuclear triad. Among them are the Navy’s Columbia-class nuclear ICBM submarine, the ground-based Minuteman III ICBM replacement, the new air-launched Long-Range Standoff Weapon and F-35 fighter jets for Europe carrying nuclear weapons.

The review confirmed previous reports that the Pentagon will retire the B83-1 gravity bomb and cancel the Sea-Launched Cruise Missile program. But the review endorses a controversial Trump-era naval weapon, the low-yield W76-2 submarine-launched nuclear warhead, which is described as providing “an important means to deter limited nuclear use.”

The broader strategy report also offered gently worded criticism of major US weapons programs, which often runs years behind plans and billions of dollars over initial budgets.

“Our current system is too slow and too focused on acquiring systems not designed to address the most critical challenges we now face,” the Pentagon said. It called for more “open systems that can rapidly incorporate cutting-edge technology” while reducing problems of “obsolescence” and high costs.

The Pentagon strategy documents were sent to Congress in classified form in March so they were considered during congressional approval of the fiscal 2023 defense budget.

* * *

So how to trade all of this? Well, the initial instinct now that nuclear war headlines are being lobbed around is that it may be time to sell… but as Art Cashin so insightfully put it some time ago, “Never bet on the end of the world, because it only happens once.”

Now thanks to the Biden admin, that “once in a lifetime” event is that much closer to taking place.

This post was originally published at Zero Hedge

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World at War

Ukraine Tells People Not To Panic As WHO Warns Of ‘Life-Threatening’ Winter

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Zero Hedge

Andrii Dubchak/Donbas Frontliner via Zaborona/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in a Monday statement that the power situation in Ukraine is so dire that it will potentially be “life-threatening” for millions of Ukrainians due to the recent devastating series of Russian air attacks on the national energy grid.

“Put simply – this winter will be about survival,” Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the United Nations’ health body, said from the Ukrainian capital. “This winter will be life-threatening for millions of people in Ukraine,” he added. 

The attacks, the last major wave of which came this past Tuesday and continued intermittently into the weekend, are “already having knock-out effects on the health system and on the people’s health,” Kluge described. 

“Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and health care facilities are no longer fully operational,” the WHO official said. “We expect two to three million more people to leave their homes in search of warmth and safety,” he forewarned. 

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal last Friday estimated that half of the entirety of the country’s energy infrastructure has been disabled by the Russian attacks at this point. Millions are already without power as temperatures plunge and Kiev saw its first snow of the season starting days ago. 

“Unfortunately Russia continues to carry out missile strikes on Ukraine’s civilian and critical infrastructure. Almost half of our energy system is disabled,” Shmyhal was cited in Reuters as saying.

Politico reported last week that Congressional leaders had been given classified intelligence reports detailing the expected impact of Russia’s campaign to degrade Ukraine’s power grid. 

“The Ukrainian government is warning Western allies that it is anticipating increased Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure in the coming days and that Kyiv does not have enough replacement parts to bring heat and power back online if those occur, according to two congressional officials and one Western official briefed on U.S. intelligence,” the report said.

Politico detailed further that “Ukrainian officials have in recent days asked their American counterparts and more than half a dozen European countries for assistance preparing for a prolonged period with limited electricity and gas — a scenario Kyiv expects to complicate fighting on the ground and displace civilians, the officials and an adviser to the Ukrainian government said.”

Amid emergency rolling blackouts and city or regional mandates banning use of large appliances and other imposed consumption limits, Ukraine government officials are urging the people not to panic. “Denying the panicky statements spread by social networks and online media, we assure you that the situation with the energy supply is difficult, but under control,” the energy ministry said in a Saturday statement.

This post was originally published at Zero Hedge

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AP Fires Reporter Behind False Report Claiming ‘Russian Missiles Struck Poland’

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Chris Menahan | Information Liberation

Artur Widak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Associated Press on Monday fired one of two reporters with a byline on last week’s now-retracted report that claimed “Russian missiles” had “crossed into NATO member Poland” and killed two people.

From The Daily Beast, AP Fires Reporter Behind Retracted ‘Russian Missiles’ Story”:

That report, which was widely cited across the internet and on cable news, was taken offline the following day and replaced with an editor’s note admitting the single source [a “senior U.S. intelligence official”] was wrong and that “subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack.”

On Monday, the AP fired James LaPorta, the investigative reporter responsible for that story, Confider has learned.

The piece, which was originally co-bylined with John Leicester (who is still working at the AP), attributed the information to a single “senior U.S. intelligence official,” despite the AP’s rule that it “routinely seeks and requires more than one source when sourcing is anonymous.”

The only exception, according to its statement of news values and principles, is when “material comes from an authoritative figure who provides information so detailed that there is no question of its accuracy”—a situation that seemingly did not occur, as the report was fully retracted last Wednesday.

When reached for comment, an AP spokesperson did not comment on LaPorta’s ouster but instead wrote: “The rigorous editorial standards and practices of The Associated Press are critical to AP’s mission as an independent news organization. To ensure our reporting is accurate, fair and fact-based, we abide by and enforce these standards, including around the use of anonymous sources.”

The Washington Post blamed internal “confusion and misunderstanding” for the report:

Internal AP communications viewed by The Post show some confusion and misunderstanding during the preparations of the erroneous report.

LaPorta shared the U.S. official’s tip in an electronic message around 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. An editor immediately asked if AP should issue an alert on his tip, “or would we need confirmation from another source and/or Poland?”

After further discussion, a second editor said she “would vote” for publishing an alert, adding, “I can’t imagine a U.S. intelligence official would be wrong on this.”

Woman moment.

But a person at the Associated Press familiar with the larger conversations surrounding the story that day said LaPorta also told his editors that a senior manager had already vetted the source of LaPorta’s tip — leaving the impression that the story’s sourcing had been approved. While that editor had signed off on previous stories using LaPorta’s source, that editor had not weighed in on the missile story.

Easton said the organization did not anticipate any discipline for the editors involved.

“She” voted to publish this bombshell report that violated the AP’s own rules on the use of anonymous sources and risked sparking WW3 because she couldn’t “imagine” a senior U.S. intelligence official could be wrong but she is not being fired — only LaPorta is getting canned.

Some great “standards” you got there, AP!

This post was originally published at Information Liberation

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Sweden Finds “Foreign Objects” & Explosive Residue On Nord Stream Pipelines

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Zero Hedge

Swedish Coast Guard / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Swedish investigators announced Friday the conclusion of their formal investigation into the Nord Stream pipeline blasts on September 26. To nobody’s surprise, the investigation has concluded the natural gas leaks which rocked European energy markets and resulted in tit-for-tat accusations between Moscow and the West was the result of “gross sabotage”. 

While not naming a culprit, the Swedish final report of this initial stage of the inquiry uncovered evidence of “foreign objects” placed on the pipelines

“During analyzes carried out, residues of explosives have been identified on several of the foreign objects seized,” the report said

The Swedish Prosecution Authority’s statement said, “In the crime scene investigations carried out on site in the Baltic Sea, the area and the extensive damage to the gas lines as a result of the detonations have been extensively documented.”

Russia has denied responsibility, while at the same time pointing the finger at Washington or its allies. Swedish investigators say they will now work toward establishing who was behind the sabotage:

“The advanced analysis work is still in progress – the aim is to draw more definitive conclusions about the Nord Stream incidents,” the agency said. “The investigation is extensive and complex and will eventually show whether anyone can be suspected of, and later prosecuted for this.”

Previously, Denmark and Sweden said soon after the massive leaks in late September that the blasts “probably corresponded to an explosive load of several hundred kilos.”

Russian media sources, as well as a handful of Western pundits, have alleged that US naval activity was observed in that regional of the Baltic Sea during the time of the incident. 

If Sweden ultimately says that Russia was behind the attack on the pipelines, Moscow is likely to dismiss it, and call for their own independent access to and investigation of the evidence and site.

This post originally appeared at Zero Hedge

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