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The Top American General In Vietnam Considered Using Nukes During The Siege Of Khe Sanh, New Documents Reveal
The top commander of U.S. military forces in Vietnam readied nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield in the early months of the brutal 1968 battle at Khe Sanh, according to recently declassified documents obtained by the New York Times.
- A series of memos, declassified in 2014 and first discovered by historian Michael Beschloss, reveals that Gen. William C. Westmoreland had in February 1968 activated Fracture Jaw, a secret plan to move nuclear warheads into South Vietnam "so that they could be used on short notice" should U.S. troops face imminent defeat at Khe Sanh.
- Westmoreland, who had previously touted the North Vietnamese advanced on Khe Sanh as “the main event" of the Communist advance, put Fracture Jaw together with the approval of the then-U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Ulysses S. Grant Sharp Jr. so that, "should the situation in the DMZ area change dramatically, we should be prepared to introduce weapons of greater effectiveness against massed forces."
- President Lyndon B. Johnson quickly quashed the contingency plan out of fear of “a wider war," the Times reports. "There are no nuclear weapons in South Vietnam," White House national security advisory Walt W. Rostow wrote to Johnson in a February 10, 1968, memo alerting him to Fracture Jaw. "Presidential authority would be required to put them there."
- The idea of throwing nukes into Vietnam wasn't unprecedented, but it was still terrible. As the National Interest notes, a classified 1967 study conducted by members of the Pentagon's JASON brain trust of scientist and researchers had previously determined that a tactical nuclear bombing campaign in Southeast Asia would require a significant investment to ramp up bomb production with minimal impact on the war effort.
- More importantly, JASON researchers concluded that the introduction of nukes to Vietnam would have had dire long-term consequences on global warfare writ large. Historian Alex Wallerstein put it best: "Since World War II, the U.S. has the strongest interest in not breaking the 'nuclear taboo' because once nukes start becoming normalized, the U.S. usually stands to lose the most, or at least a lot."
- President Johnson "certainly made serious mistakes in waging the Vietnam War,” Bechloss, the historian, told the Times. “But we have to thank him for making sure that there was no chance in early 1968 of that tragic conflict going nuclear.”
The entire report from the Times is fascinating — and eerily familiar. Read the whole thing here.
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.
Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.
Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.
Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.
But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.
Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."
Minnesota Democratic Party staffer under fire for calling USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul a 'murder boat'
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday he is appalled by a state DFL Party staff member's tweet referring to the recently-launched USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul as a "murder boat."
"Certainly, the disrespect shown is beyond the pale," said Walz, who served in the Army National Guard.
William Davis, who has been the DFL Party's research director and deputy communications director, made the controversial comment in response to a tweet about the launch of a new Navy combat ship in Wisconsin: "But actually, I think it's gross they're using the name of our fine cities for a murder boat," Davis wrote on Twitter over the weekend.
'We are there to deter aggression' — Pompeo addressed CENTCOM on Iran mere moments before Shanahan announced his departure
TAMPA — Minutes before the Acting Secretary of Defense withdrew Tuesday from his confirmation process, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at MacDill Air Force Base about the need to coordinate "diplomatic and defense efforts'' to address rising tensions with Iran.
Pompeo, who arrived in Tampa on Monday, met with Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. and Army Gen. Richard Clarke, commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command respectively, to align the Government's efforts in the Middle East, according to Central Command.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will "not to go forward with his confirmation process."
Trump said that Army Secretary Mark Esper will now serve as acting defense secretary.