The new restrictions on nuclear weapon use is not of much use, nor is it much of deterrent.
The old saying that "no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy" is still valid. In other words, what we say today and what we do tomorrow can be different. Particularly if the U.S. suffers an attack by a chemical or biological weapon that kills hundreds of thousands, or even millions of Americans.
On a side note, I would like to point out that it is good that the Obama administration recognizes that terrorist attack is the most likely threat of WMD.
The only real action in this change is to stop development of new nuclear weapons and an extension of the life of existing nuclear weapons. Of course, if you fail to fund the existing infrastructure well, the lack of proper maintenance of existing weapons will cause the overall effectiveness to fall. So even this fits into the overall pattern of a lowering of our defensive capabilities. No new development, just in case things get out of hand. A problem here is that wars tend to do just that.
"Moreover, it recognizes that our national security and that of our allies and partners can be increasingly defended by America's unsurpassed conventional military capabilities and strong missile defenses."
Yet, at the same time, military defense is being discounted. The Obama administration has already slowed down development of missile defense. And we all know how President Obama is such a hawk that he will increase the defense budget so that we will be able to expand our conventional capabilities across the board. And this is after the ‘stretched’ deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were and still are, relatively low-level conflicts. In all, the United States deployed only a quarter of a million troops. * Yet all we heard about was how our military was being ‘stretched to the limit’. And now it is ‘unsurpassed conventional military capability’? I guess we can cut this back because we have so much excess capacity.
My overall point is that this new policy is not of much use. The reaction of the United States will probably be different that what is planned. This is common in warfare. And this new policy is not much of a deterrent as well. After all, the greatest known threat from governments is North Korea and Iran. Our ‘new’ policy is not very likely to change either government’s actions. In the case of terrorist organizations deciding to attack or not, it is very difficult to believe that this new policy will impact the decision making in any way.
* 250,000 troops is not a very large number when compared to many of the conflicts of the past. History has shown a tendency for armies to become larger and larger as technology allows for larger populations and greater destructive capacity.