41 points by Tomte 5 months ago
The headline says 1954, but that is a misreading of the cover page. The report appears to have been authorized by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 but its publication date is listed on the cover page is 1967.
Yes, the report refers to the (US) Vietnam War and the Rolling Thunder campaign, which took place in the 1960s.
Can the OP change the title to refer to 1967?
Interesting document. TL,DR: even dozens or hundreds of nuclear weapons used on a recurring basis are not a guaranteed way, or even an especially effective way, to counter guerillas operating on their home turf. US forces concentrated in 14 individual bases would have been far more vulnerable to use of Soviet- or Chinese-sponsored nuclear weapons than the enemy troops would have been to our own.
Additionally, the successful use of tactical nukes against US troops would have encouraged both third-world countries and insurgent forces all over the world to ally themselves with the Communists to obtain weapons of their own, which was literally the opposite of what we were supposedly trying to accomplish in Viet Nam.
The conclusion, as usual, is that the only way to win this particular game is not to play it.
"the successful use of tactical nukes against US troops would have encouraged both third-world countries and insurgent forces all over the world to ally themselves with the Communists to obtain weapons of their own,"
Such countries are well aware that these weapons exist, and that the Russians can field them anyhow.
The more likely response against anyone, at any time using nukes of any size against the US is that they 'wake the dragon' in a way bigger than Pearl Harbour. Remember the 'fear' of nukes is quite substantial, even if tactical nukes are a small deal, the concern is big. It would have been 9/11 x 10.
And the world would be different today probably.
It’s mentioned that India’s nuclear program has the capability of producing 500 bombs in the next 10 years.
Was the US already aware of India’s nuclear capability?
They say the civilian nuclear power program would produce materials that could be used to make up to 500 bombs. That's a known risk of "civilian" programs, which is why Israel bombed Iraq's reactor and has threatened to do the same to Iran.
In any case, the bomb project was also probably riddled with CIA and KGB agents (at least that used to be the rumor back in the day).
>>the bomb project was also probably riddled with CIA and KGB agents
You mean to say India’s bomb project was riddled with CIA and KGB agents?
Every bomb program is targeted by every intel agency. A few always get through. It isnt always a bad thing. Mutual knowledge is a cornerstone of deterance.
I was about to pitch Operation Shakti https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pokhran-II as the one that got through.
Looks like Freeman Dyson was a co author. Interesting document — it challenges the notion (which is not realistic, but is still believed) that if the US had just been more ruthless, it could have bombed the North Vietnamese sufficiently to “win” the war.
Just imagine how the world would have reacted if the USSR had used tac nukes in Afghanistan to "win" its war there.