Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told

The Guardian
22.01.2008
Ian Traynor in Brussels

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the “imminent” spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west’s most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a “grand strategy” to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a “first strike” nuclear option remains an “indispensable instrument” since there is “simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world”.

The proposals are likely to be discussed at a Nato summit in Bucharest in April.

The authors… paint an alarming picture of the threats and challenges confronting the west in the post-9/11 world…

The five commanders argue that the west’s values and way of life are under threat, but the west is struggling to summon the will to defend them. The key threats are:

- Political fanaticism…

- The “dark side” of globalisation…

- The weakening of organisations such as the UN, Nato and the EU…

- Energy security…

To prevail, the generals call for an overhaul of Nato decision-taking methods…

- A shift from consensus decision-taking in Nato bodies to majority voting…

- The abolition of national caveats in Nato operations…

- No role in decision-taking on Nato operations for alliance members who are not taking part in the operations.

- The use of force without UN security council authorisation…

Robert Cooper, an influential shaper of European foreign and security policy in Brussels, said “Maybe we are going to use nuclear weapons before anyone else, but I’d be wary of saying it out loud.”

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