April 17, 2008


The US's secret plan to nuke Vietnam, Laos (Richard Ehrlich, 4/16/08, Asia Times)

The US Air Force wanted to use nuclear weapons against Vietnam in 1959 and 1968, and Laos in 1961, to obliterate communist guerrillas, according to newly declassified secret US Air Force documents.

In 1959, US Air Force chief of staff General Thomas D White chose several targets in northern Vietnam, but other military officials blocked his demand to nuke the Southeast Asian nation.

"White wanted to cripple the insurgents and their supply lines by attacking selected targets in North Vietnam, either with conventional or nuclear weapons," one declassified air force document said.

If we'd just nuked Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang and Hanoi in '58 the Cold War would have been over and about a hundred million lives and trillions of dollars saved, plus the 70s avoided. Not giving Curtis LeMay his chance was the most costly decision in human history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 17, 2008 12:44 PM

Playing General Buck Turgidson again, I see.

Posted by: Brandon at April 17, 2008 1:22 PM

AFAIK, LeMay only advocated bombing the North Vietnam dikes and mining Haiphong harbor. Nukes would have been overkill, just as he believed in his private views that dropping the A-bombs in Japan was: He felt that had he been allowed to continue conventional bombing he would have destroyed the Japanese transportation network and induced mass starvation. Having "dehoused" the urban population, a famine by the fall of 1945 would have made an invasion unnecessary. The A-bombs saved millions of Japanese lives, tens of thousands of Allied prisoners lives, and probably millions of Chinese lives, though Mao made short work of those.

Posted by: Dan at April 17, 2008 1:43 PM

How do you say in 1958 that the Commies aren't going to be allowed to dominate half the world's population when you've just let them do that for well over a decade? That's just not a sellable proposition--see Iraq, which in comparison to what you're suggesting cost nothing.

Posted by: b at April 17, 2008 1:46 PM

LeMay overflew Moscow just to demonstrate to his superiors that he could take it out with impunity.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2008 2:32 PM

A silly story. Military planners consider all sorts of options. Planning for a possible course of action is not the same as planning to actually do it.

It would have been military malpractice for the Air Force n oy to have had nuclear attack plans covering all realistic possibilities, as it would be for the Navy and Marine Corps not to have similar amphibious invasion plans.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 17, 2008 4:09 PM

It was moral malpractice not to use them.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2008 5:53 PM

It would take hindsight, nobody had that.

Posted by: Perry at April 17, 2008 7:00 PM

What's that President OJ? Executive Order number 2 is to bomb Moscow?

But, Sir, pursuant to Executive Order number 1 we sold all our planes and the Train Force can't get to Moscow.

Posted by: Ibid at April 17, 2008 8:03 PM

Actually, everyone had. US doctrine assumed an extended period of brutally inhuman rule there. We just didn't mind.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2008 10:15 PM

That's what planes are useful for, mass killing.

Posted by: oj at April 17, 2008 10:16 PM

Why not Paris, too (while we're at it)?

Posted by: ratbert at April 17, 2008 11:09 PM

Being a military professional shares a frustration with being a legal professional: every goombah thinks he's competent to hold forth on evidence and procedure because he remembers what happened to Aunt Tessie in that divorce case 20 years ago.

Air power is good for everything in war, strategic, operational, tactical, and everything in between. Air, ground, sea and space all belong to the side which dominates aviation.

This talk of unnecessary genocide is a literary device, right? We're pretending we are "Reverend" Wright--is that it?

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 18, 2008 3:55 AM

Paris would have saved even more lives, but needed to be done in 1789.

Posted by: oj at April 18, 2008 5:38 AM