Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

Douglas Murray: In Order to Prevent the Use of WMDs, We Must Use WMDs

The slightly camp Old Etonian atheist neo-con Douglas Murray got himself into a bit of trouble recently when he and Baroness Deech unleashed a splenetic rant against Scotland and the Scots on BBC Radio 4. As head of the HFEA, Baroness Deech presided over the deaths of an untold number of humans in the embryonic stage of development, but it turns out that Mr. Murray (who is Scottish-born, curiously) has advocated hypothetical wholesale slaughter.

In 2007, Mr. Murray helped compose Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership ostensibly written by Gen. Dr. Klaus Naumann (former Bundeswehr Chief of Staff), Gen. Prince John Salikashvili (Georgian prince and former U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Field Marshal the Lord Inge (former U.K. Chief of the General Staff), Adm. Jacques Lanxade (former Chief of the French Navy), and Gen. Henk van den Breemen (accomplished organist and former Chief of Staff of the Dutch military).

This interesting document made a number of recommendations, the most intriguing of which is the suggestion that NATO should be prepared to make a pre-emptive nuclear strike… in order to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction (“WMDs”) such as, er, nuclear weapons. You read that correctly: in order to prevent the use of WMDs, NATO should be prepared to use WMDs. You couldn’t make it up!

This post was published on Tuesday, September 7th, 2010 12:28 pm. It has been categorised under Great Britain Military Politics and been tagged under , , .
7 Sep 2010 2:26 pm

I’ve loved your site for a while, but have to say: this is weak, thin logic. It’s better suited for a left-wing bumper sticker (e.g. “why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?”).

Whether or not the Grand Strategy doc is worth its weight in 24-lb laser paper, it is silly to say they argue for the use of WMD simply to “prevent the use of WMD”. Rather, it would be a resort against the use of WMD by a very wicked and aggressive regime.

They are talking about situations like: if Pakistan’s weapons fell into the hands of a radical faction that threatened to launch a broad attack on India. It’s one thing to argue about the wisdom of various international responses, but silly to equate our potential use of WMDs to aggressive use against millions of Indian civilians.

I would assume they are talking about the use of low-yield nuclear-tipped “bunker busters”. The reason these are part of an arsenal of response is because they can destroy underground storage and laboratories that cannot be reached by conventional bombs.

On the original point, though – your logic seems to be “cannot use weapon X to discourage use of weapon X”. By that logic, cops should use billy clubs or knives when going after gun-related crimes?

Andrew Cusack
7 Sep 2010 3:02 pm

My argument is that the neo-cons (correctly) find the idea of the use of nuclear weapons by their enemies abhorrent, but then (incorrectly) fail to realise that their own use of them (pre-emptive or otherwise) would set a precedent and further legitimise the use of nuclear weapons.

Of course, they would probably argue that “our” behaviour shouldn’t be taken as a precedent, à la Kosovo’s independence. They fail to realise how ridiculous this “we can do anything we like but its an outrage if anyone else does” school of thinking appears.

7 Sep 2010 3:13 pm

Matthew wrote, “It’s one thing to argue about the wisdom of various international responses, but silly to equate our potential use of WMDs to aggressive use against millions of Indian civilians.”

Considering that’s precisely what we (as in the U.S. government) did to hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians in WWII, I respectfully suggest you rethink your use of the term “silly.”

Matthew also wrote, “On the original point, though – your logic seems to be “cannot use weapon X to discourage use of weapon X”. By that logic, cops should use billy clubs or knives when going after gun-related crimes?”

Your example is not to the point. Unless police can prove that they were in mortal (or at the very least, extremely serious) danger, they cannot use deadly force. In other words, the only time police can use deadly force is in self-defense, or in defense of others. They may never fire a “pre-emptive” shot when there is no direct threat.

Charlie Frobisher
7 Sep 2010 3:16 pm

Cusack’s just smartin cuz Murray was a meanie-beanie over Scotland!

But I take his main point — the neocons recognise no restraint upon themselves and then are disgusted by the atrocities of others.

Besides Douglas Murray is a grade-A shite anyway. One of his books is “Neoconservatism: Why We Need It”… something akin to “Syphilis: Your Friend”

Xander Fraser
13 Sep 2010 10:13 am

An interesting issue you have highlighted Mr. Cusack, and I am inclined to partly agree with you (if you’re not sitting down, then I imagine you’ve collapsed in surprise!).

However…..although I share with you and others an aversion to and suspicion of ‘neo-cons’, I have to say that imagining that this issue is governed by any sort of ‘respond in kind’ thinking is both unwise and naive; in international relations, weapons of all kinds are not held and used on a equal basis, but to gain advantage and serve as leverage. The desire to attain an unequal advantage is paramount. Unfortunately or not, the ‘rules’ are generally only hazily understood or adhered to and merely serve as civilized window-dressing. Said rules are also invariably drawn up in somewhat unreal, sanitized environments, where all is polite diplomacy and courtesy somewhat removed from the messy and unsavoury reality of international realpolitik.

There seems to be a certain school of thinking among some of those commenting on this issue that the question of WMD is akin to chess – one move follows another within certain parameters and everyone understands and accepts this. There is also a very real danger of slipping into the realms of cultural and moral equivalence and relativism, whereby the assumption that the ‘other guy is just like us/not serious/not all that bad’ hands the advantage to those states on the nuttier end of the spectrum – as example, I cite the repeated assertions by the Iranian President in relation to Israel.

I also note from the reference to Douglas Murray’s 2007 tome a list of Cold War Warriors, whose opinions would appear to be still led by their decades of non-active service on or near the Inner German Border; there are 18 year old privates currently serving in Helmand with more experience than these dinosaurs. I know Mr. Cusack and others are suitably impressed by Shalikashvili’s historically fascinating genealogy and background, but that is about all that is interesting about this Clintonite general, whose principal legacy is the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ PC nonsense.

Rob H.
13 Sep 2010 3:11 pm

The point remains that if we use a particular weapon in war, we imply by our action that that weapon is legitimate to use — that it would be legitimate for example to use that kind of weapon against us.

Nothing in that implies that the enemy is morally equivalent.

Andrew Cusack
5 Oct 2010 10:19 am

Xander Fraser left yet another comment containing an ad hominem attack instead of making an argument.

Comments which contain ad hominem attacks will be deleted from now on (though the commenters who make them are welcome to post comments which do not contain personal attacks).

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