The last time the USA considered nuking China

It's interesting how deeply hypocritical public culture is. Two poor countries constantly threatened by the most powerful country in the world try to develop nuclear weapons in self-defense, and are branded immoral and insane. American leaders talk about actually using nuclear weapons offensively, and it barely registers.

The Bush administration, of course, has talked publicly about using low-yield nukes, but what are they talking about behind closed doors, in records that the public won't have access to for 40 years? We don't know, but we do know what everyone's favorite liberal, JFK, was talking about in 1963:

'63 Tapes Reveal Kennedy and Aides Discussed Using Nuclear Arms in a China-India Clash

That's right, the Kennedy administration was seriously considering nuking China if it got into another war with India.

Defense Secretary Robert McNamara told Kennedy, "Any large Chinese Communist attack on any part of that area would require the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S., and this is to be preferred over the introduction of large numbers of U.S. soldiers." Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Maxwell Taylor says, "I would hate to think that we would fight this on the ground in a non-nuclear way." Kennedy goes along with them.

Jesus Christ! Using nuclear weapons so you don't have to send troops? It's surreal how matter-of-factly they talk about it. Yet another case of the banality of evil.

Yet it really shouldn't be that surprising: American leaders seriously considered using nuclear weapons in the wars in both Korea and Vietnam, and that would have killed far more people than presumably isolated nuclear bombing in the Himalayas - unless the hpyothetical war escalated. Yet it is surprising, because as Americans we're taught to see our leaders sympathetically, not as the demons foreign leaders are frequently made out to be. Yet the cold evidence is there: leaders both American and foreign act, and often think, in exactly the same ruthless ways and with the same blood-drenched results.

The icing on the cake is the quote from über-liberal George Ball (the only high administration official who opposed the Vietnam war): "If there is a general appearance of a shift in strategy to the dependence on a nuclear defense against the Chinese in the Far East, we are going to inject into this whole world opinion the old bugaboo of being willing to use nuclear weapons against Asians."

A classic liberal argument: don't massacre people, because it might make us look bad. It certainly tells you how debased the discourse - or possibly the person - is, when you have to appeal to the national interests in order to argue against that old bugaboo, mass murder.

The Times article, btw, misrepresents the border war between China and India as "an invasion of India by China, which sought to acquire disputed border territories". While border disputes left over from colonialism pretty much never allow for clear apportioning of blame, it's generally acknowledged that Indian provocations started the war, even tho China decisively won.

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