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A different development is discernable in the Russian doctrine. The approach echoes an expansive aspect found in the French doctrine from , which suggests that all options are on the table irrespective of the provenance or form of the initial aggression. Yet, they also suggest that nuclear weapons retain a role in safeguarding national territory, with no explicit restrictions on first use. While the political discourse in recent years has been on denuclearization, contemporary military doctrines of core nuclear states continue to reflect an essential role for nuclear weapons as an instrument of military might.

Before diving into the debates about how the projected use of nuclear weapons could benefit military operations, the following section outlines the most important political utilities of nuclear weapons, defined as a means of influencing behaviour short of the application of military force. By conventional wisdom, the primary political function of nuclear weapons is their deterrent effect. First, nuclear deterrence could prevent high tensions from turning violent.

For example, it is commonplace to see Cold War events such as the Berlin Crisis and Cuban Missile Crisis as evidence that nuclear deterrence reliably controls the initiation of the use of force despite claims that Kennedy did not step down when confronted with the possibility of nuclear war, and the fact that the nuclear weapons were the reason tensions were running high in the first place. In an on-going conflict involving two states or alliances possessing nuclear capabilities, launching a massive scale attack would make sense only if the precipitating threat were of a scale commensurate with the risk of nuclear war.

If they do not deter violence altogether, then, nuclear weapons may deter actors from using massive force. This is believed to be a reason why aggressors in recent decades have kept the scope and scale of their attacks at a fairly low level. Again, the effect comes not from the application of force, but from the inverse: mutual interest in the non-use of nuclear weapons.

The underlying premise is that the real threats states face fall below the threshold that makes the use of nuclear weapons rational. This entails that the more assertive nuclear power can get away with almost anything with impunity, as both the attacker and the attacked want to avoid nuclear war at all costs. A second political function of nuclear weapons is to maintain allied cohesion and solidarity through reassurance. A third political effect concerns non-proliferation within military alliances.

This argument has also abounded in the literature on NATO: since the US is apparently taking care of business, friendly countries are relieved of the pressure to acquire their own WMD. The underlying premise of this argument seems to be that some or even most states long for the protection offered by nuclear weaponry, but are content with assurances of protection by a nuclear-armed friend. To the contrary, several European leaders have claimed that they fail to see the utility of nuclear arms. In that sense, nuclear umbrellas may also promote proliferation.

If no viable military use can be found, the rationale upon which the political utility is predicated will logically start to erode. This brings us to the core question of this article: what military utility may the use of nuclear weapons offer in a contemporary setting? There is a propensity in military circles to insist on experience-based thinking and operational empirical evidence. With Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the only examples of use, nuclear weapons offer little of the sort.

Judging from literature and the existing doctrines of the major nuclear powers, there are notably three scenarios in which nuclear weapons supposedly offer a military advantage compared to other weapons. The first is their ability to destroy facilities buried deep into the ground on hostile territory, for example WMD stockpiles. The third is the last resort of destroying an invading foreign force with tactical nuclear weapons. When the Cold War ended and great power war no longer appeared as threatening, nuclear retentionists stumbled over a new argument.

By putting old technology to new use, a new era for nuclear weapons dawned: it was the advent of the nuclear bunker-buster. Numerous countries and possibly non-state actors have dug deep, large, and seemingly impregnable caves underground. More than 70 countries are believed to be pursuing defence related activities in such underground facilities. Estimates put the number of subterranean WMD bunker and command centres at around After , the Bush administration indicated that the United States would seek to develop the capabilities to destroy these types of facilities.

A nuclear earth penetrator could supposedly effectively reach the desired HDBT without undue surface effects that would otherwise inhibit such an attack. A useable nuclear weapon? The idea was intensely discussed. Development of nuclear earth penetrating technology dates back to at least the s. There are also problems with the accuracy of such attacks.

Lastly, while earth-penetrating weapons-technology may be improving, so may technologies for digging deeper bunkers. Just as it is easier to extend a ladder than to build a higher wall, being able to penetrate deeper would simply incentivize moving the bunkers further down.

Beating a dead horse?

Conventional weapon systems with the same capability as nuclear earth penetrating technology are currently being developed. For example, the BLUB, developed to carry thermo baric explosives with extreme sustained heat, may be an equally effective alternative — but with much less dire long-term effects. According to some commentators, nuclear weapons offer military advantages in countering WMD threats. The expression WMD dilutes the horror most people feel about nuclear weapons and is used to pave the way for tactical nuclear weapons like bunker-busting nukes.

Technically, running a hose from your car exhaust in through the window would appear to meet B - it releases toxic chemicals into the car in order to cause death or serious injury. For that matter, a lead cosh for hitting people or indeed fish over the head also appears to meet this "WMD" criterion, since it involves the impact of a toxic chemical, namely lead. Certainly crazy and over-broad definitions. Nothing new here, of course, as seen in the "assault weapons" ban in the 90s which redefined the term to involve ridiculous criteria like bayonet mounts seriously, are bayonettings a problem?!

Fazal Majid: "As the first commenter noted, chemical and biological weapons are not very effective as a weapon. HJohn, please read the preceding comments. The statement was that they are not effective in the theater of war against opponents of similar technical advancement. Nobody said gas was ineffective against civilians quite the opposite, in fact.

My take on this is that there is some confusion or, at least, disagreement over what the word "mass" implies. From where I sit, we were doing OK with 18 U. Frankly, why does the delivery system matter so much? In my mind, an artillery piece, a grenade, most mines e. If we agreed on what "mass" referred to, perhaps we wouldn't have been compelled to set the threshold so low. The whole purpose for writing intentionally vague laws does anyone believe for a second that the verbal diarrhea found in USC was unintentional?

If you went out and bought a "crop duster" plane and a bunch of various chemicals quite legaly. You would think you had done nothing wrong. However even just getting hold of the plane without "good reason" is therefor enough to have you put away by prosection rhetoric It's why I say the legal balance has changed for the ordinary citizen you nolonger have the presumption of inocence. B any type of weapon other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell which the Attorney General finds is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes by whatever name known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter; and.

The language from 18 U. No I didn't typo that year, it's really that old. DDs are regulated the same as short barreled rifles and shotguns, sound suppressors silencers , and very similar to machine guns. There's a minor difference with MGs because of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of , which prevented adding any new machine guns to the registry. Basically if it wasn't legally owned before , it can never be legally owned. As I said earlier, the ATF has already determined that if they are used recreationally, they are legal. So this broad definition could stem from two different lines of thinking.

Kind of a joker-law. Even the German supreme court was ticked off a fair bit, critizising the abundance of such laws during the last couple of years. Everyone who is pointing to potato guns needs to get their facts straight. Those are simply Weapons of Mashed Destruction! Sorry, sorry I have to agree along the lines of webbnh.

The given WMD definition is about pre-crime, not actual resulting or expected effects, and so the charge can be retrofitted to just about anything. Same as how the anti-terrorist laws started to get applied for common crimes just because they could. Lawmakers usually graduate from the ranks of Lawyers, that group of kids who didn't understand Math but somehow ended up in the only lucrative profession that doesn't require any knowledge of scientific riguor.

Ok, I forgot Hollywood actors. Suppose a group of professional "hackers" obtain control over a pilotless aircraft and direct its payload to target a friendly site, how does this become classified under U. Or gain control over battlefield systems in a combat theatre and redirect those weapon systems? Another group of hackers obtain control over Space SAT or weapons systems and those are redirected? A large scale cyber attack that causes critical infrastructure damage to systems, property and costs lives?

Creates havoc and economic instability, panic etc. Flying a plane into a building or setting off a bio weapon in a large city is certainly a act of terror but what about a cyber attack that creates terror within the act of itself such as bringing down the national power grid or Internet? Everything in our society is on computers - all is digitized - we have great dependencies on these systems - to shut them down or damage them could create significant damage.

Is this covered properly in U. Consider sexual harassment laws in the workplace these days, the threshold to being declared a "harasser" somehow that word doesn't sound right is set pretty low Remember, any "stalker" can be an "admirer" if they fulfill two or more of these three attributes:. The real question, as mentioned above, is whether intentions can be discerned, afterwards, since inadvertent "innocent" incidents can trigger a disaster.

C any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into any destructive device described in subparagraph A or B and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled. I'm somewhat flabbergasted that this is tagged as 'mass' destruction as that would classify nearly all military weapons aside from infantry rifles as WMD. It would be interesting to see some country begin using this section to protest actions against them.

As soon as th first marine lobs a grenade in action, we have by our own legal definitions deployed a weapon of mass destruction Seems like a definitional mistake in the long run. What should we call real WMD now? A shotgun firing poisoned buckshot is effective against armored troops at short meter range. If fired into crowds it is also effective in killing small numbers of people. Not as many as a car bomb, but still A shotgun firing squash head ammunition is effective against armored troops at short range.

Also armored cars, etc. Governments have killed tens of millions of unarmed citizens. What is the greater threat, criminals or governments?

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The shotgun-exception was put in because without it, the NFA could have severely restricted every duck hunter in the country, instead of gangsters who collected Destructive Devices and Machine Guns. For the uninitiated, the gauge shotgun is the most popular size of shotgun in North America. It fires shells with a diameter of 0. As a final thought, this definition of Mass Destruction seems to take the Mass part out of the equation. You're getting there.

Gas or aerosol is a very effective way to kill soldiers used as occupation forces. The soldiers are in groups, away from the local population, in known locations. It seems that this kind of law-writing is becoming more common. After a widely-publicised problems with lead content on toys imported from China, a law was passed which put heavy fines on selling any item not tested for lead content for use by children.

The wording of that law appears, on its face, to force every library, used-book-seller, secondhand-clothes shop, and resale store to test every item in inventory, or face the possibility of million-dollar fines. Enforcement has't been heavy yet, but there are a lot of worried people in the resale business. Small-scale manufacturers are also worried. It seems an example of an attempt to centralize power among the regulators and bureaucracies of United States, rather than write law to intelligently address an issue. The Destructive Devices section was originally designed to make it harder for Prohibition-era gangsters to legally arm themselves with individual weapons like grenades, mortars.

If Rocket-Propelled Grenades existed at the time, they were also covered. Expanding this to assert that man-portable Destructive Devices are also Weapons of Mass Destruction seems absurd in the extreme. But absurdities are not hard to find in weapons law I think everyone is missing the point "mass destruction". Mass, not as in a number of people, but as in an amount of matter.

They could even put back in the shotguns! Keep up the good security blog reporting. People are finally getting it, like legal world as well with foreign works public domain, copyright theft law is unconstitutional, of Golan v Holder, see groklaw, todays date. American politicians like redefining words to promote misunderstanding, usually to make offenses sound more serious than they are.

In Maryland some years ago, exceeding the speed limit by 15mph was defined to be "reckless driving". So if you drove along a straight, deserted freeway with visibility of miles at a speed which was perfectly legal in most European countries, you could be convicted of "reckless driving", which sounds like a very bad crime. The limit in MD was 55 then, I don't know what it is now. And no, in case you wondered, I was never cited for any moving vehicle violation in MD. Nostromo: "American politicians like redefining words to promote misunderstanding, usually to make offenses sound more serious than they are.

It's a knife that cuts both ways. If they define something too generally, it can be argued the definition applies when it doesn't. If they define something too specifically, then someone can argue that the definition doesn't apply when it does. And finding the perfect balance is near impossible.

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I don't know how much "promoting misunderstanding" is the intent, or how much of the intent to give themselves some wiggle room when things that should be included can be debated. Maybe a little of both. I have no business commenting on WMDs, other than to point out that I can't give a copy of ZoneAlarm to "an end-user engaged in activities related to weapons of mass destruction".

Not only would the hairspray powered potato cannon be a WMD, but so would the hairspray, potato, and whatever you chose for a barrel and source of ignition Got a match? I guess hairspray could be a "black powder substitute". Personally I use PVC pipe for the barrel, acetylene from miners carbide as the propellant, and the best part, the piezo igniter from a gas barbeque pit for ignition, but I digress.

It's a bad habit of mine, making me a Anyway, what I take away from such laws -those that place a majority of the US population a judicial interpretation away from being federal felons- is that we the people have the government we deserve. BTW, potato cannons meet the legal definition of a firearm in many local jurisdictions too, and yes, it does make them more fun. This usage of the expression "mass murder" has been around for as long as I can remember more than 40 yrs.

I haven't seen an official definition, but it seems to refer to the murder within a limited time say, a few hours of more than 2 or 3 people, especially when the killer and victims are not from a single family. WMD is a separate term, with its own history. It was meant to exclude widely "accepted" battlefield weapons. Nor were high-explosive torpedoes considered WMD, even though a volley of only 3 killed approximately , mostly civilians, in What set WMD apart, was that against certain types of targets, the use of a small number as few as one has a high probability to inflict casualties in the tens of thousands.

Note that the statute cited above appears to include ordinary land mines, which on the average kill much less than one person per detonation, and very rarely kill more than one. Probably, the mass murderers from al Qaeda expected each of the NYC aircraft to kill more than 10,; in practice, each killed more than But airliners are not included in the legal definition of WMD shown in Bruce's post.

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Don't we want selective prosecution? Isn't that where the application of judgement is necessary in a world where cases vary often looking like members of the same class of events? According to Massachusetts law, jump ropes and tin-can telephones are illegal to carry without a firearms license. Are there any weapons, by this definition, that are not about "mass destruction"? Perhaps we need a word that conveys both the malicious intent and the destructive capability.

How about "weapon"? Rose by any other name said it well, WMD has been stretched to include anything we think that terrorists might want to use. Of course this sort of lexical silliness isn't exclusive to the U. ISTR a couple of years ago some people were trying to push the idea that small arms were WMDs because in aggregate they kill large numbers of people in armed conflicts.

I suspect that after the way India and Pakistan where treated after becoming "nuke capable" compared to before is actualy activly encoraging some nations to develop nukes and deployment systems as barganing tools.


One other country has a unique claim to fame with regards nukes and that is South Africa. Let's hope that they do not remain unique for much longer. One other thing to consider is "energy security", it is unfortunatly very much tied in with WMD these days. And the level of energy falling onto the Earths land surface that is directly usable is currently very very small. The cost of making use of what some consider to be "free energy" is actually quite high unless plant biology is involved.

Part of this is due to there currently being a very small market so "mass market" pricing does not yet apply though Germany are making big inroads on this. Then there are the secondary costs such as "land". Whilst development at sea is considered to have considerable but not insurmountable risk. It is no conicidence then that several industrialised countries are looking to build more nuclear reactor capability. However some of these industrialised countries also want to deny the same technology to other nations that are not seen as being "part of the nuke owning club", just in case The history of "water rights" will give you a good indicator of where the "energy rights" argument is likley to go.

More recently, this was one count against Zacarias Moussaoui in his conviction and sentencing I regard that as "recreational". But you bring up a point. Any weapon designed for self defense is not sporting, recreational, or cultural is it? If I buy a shotgun exclusivly for home defense doesn't my intent take it out of "particularly suitable for sporting purposes" into the larger meaning of 4 B?

You could make that case but hunting shotguns of 10 gauge or smaller have been granted a sporting use exemption as a class. The traditional short-barreled, pump-action police shotgun at least those fitted with sights are also popular tools for deer hunting and bear defense. That may not be precisely true under law. The whaling in Barrow AK starts with a hand thrown harpoon but uses a rifle for the finish. I know the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" is part of the Outer Space Treaty; I think I read somewhere that the phrase originated there.

At the time, I don't think chemical or biological weapons were considered to be part of WMD. Putting them in space didn't make a lot of sense as a military threat. In any case, there were separate treaties covering chemical and biological weapons. I think most of them do know how general they are. Personally, I'm surprised that it is so specific. With any kind of law dealing with "weapons", they have to be vague, because the very idea of a weapon is vague.

A weapon is a tool you use to hurt someone. A tool is a thing you use or intend to use for a particular purpose. So any thing can be a weapon, if that's what you intend it for. If that someone is a collections agent for the mob, then the hammer is a weapon.

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It's all about how the thing is intended to be used. Because absolutely anything can be a weapon allegedly, people have been smothered by a pillow! Otherwise a bad guy will simply pick a thing that is not on your list to hurt people with, and claim that it isn't legally a weapon. PS: I hate it when the airline people ask me if I have anything that is a weapon or can be used as a weapon with me.

I think "I can choke someone with shoelaces; I can stab with the pointy bit on my belt buckle; I can smack someone with my boots; I can put my spare change in the toe of my sock and swing it at someone; I can hold my keys in my fist with the pointy bits sticking out between the knuckles and punch someone; I can put the plastic bag my lunch is in over someone's face to smother them.

I've got potential weapons all over me. Warren Buffet has a different definition for weapons of mass destruction. He refers to some financial derivatives. Too bad we didn't hear him before this crisis. Cultural use of weapons: How about the firing of cannons to celebrate the 4th of July? Or the use of elephant rifles as decorations in a club or lodge? Or even an exhibit of illegal weapons at a museum? The only WMDs we're supposed to have is nuclear weapons no gas, no biological weapons. In I pled guilty under the advice of a public defender to possession of WMD's.

There are the mega size found on battleships, the large size mounted on military vehicles, and mobile packs small enough to be put in a backpack. Yest, where is the legal verbage forbidding them from being used against American civilians even on American soil? The problem is now, NSA, CIA, DHS, FBI think they have found a loophole to use to assassinate whistleblowers using stealth DEWs which can be used silently and invisibly and the vast majority of law enforcement don't even know exist - nor do they want to take the time to educate themselves, thus rogue Feds declare a whistleblower a terrorist, then revoke their Constitutional and civil rights, engage the FBI in a spycraft operation against the whistleblower, and harass, intimidate, torture, and even assassinate an innocent, patriot, based on purposeful misinterpretation of new terrorism laws.

The perfect crime. Subscribe to comments on this entry. In an e-mail, John Mueller commented: As I understand it, not only is a grenade a weapon of mass destruction, but so is a maliciously-designed child's rocket even if it doesn't have a warhead. The US is the only country in the world to use nukes against an opposing force Bush was right! Someone call homeland security! Then again, most of the criminal organizations in the world now have WMD! Oh no! Truly WMD. I still respectfully disagree, but I do appreciate the other points of view.

It was like that in the USSR. It is like that now in the US S A. You now have to prove you are inocent against the might of the state and all it's resources Hardly equitable is it? Maybe a thing to watch in the US, too? Another group control over FAA and cause deaths within the aviation community? Spill some ammonia and bleach, accidentally Sneeze or cough in the wrong place Anyone here recall "Connections" by James Burke? Both are illegal. Should they be?