U.S. Art of War: Nuclear Weapons Legal

• New U.S. war manual OKs nukes, drones, lasers, civilian deaths, DU weapons.

By Mark Anderson —

In a lengthy new manual on war released over the summer, the Pentagon has officially authorized the use of nuclear weapons, toxic depleted uranium (DU), lasers and remote-controlled drones as “lawful weapons”—a disturbing move that has legal authorities in an uproar.

The 1,204-page Department of Defense Law of War Manual (LOWM) that was quietly issued June 12 by the Pentagon’s Office of the General Counsel explains: “The United States has not accepted a treaty rule that prohibits the use of nuclear weapons per se, and thus nuclear weapons are lawful weapons for the United States.”

Remember that the U.S. is the only country to have dropped atomic bombs on another country. It’s worth noting, however, that today’s nuclear weapons are estimated to be 1,000 times more powerful than Little Boy and Fat Man, the two bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945.


The manual’s nuclear weapons policy is couched in references to carefully regulating their possession and limiting authorization for their usage to the highest levels of government. Yet DU munitions are not listed in the same category as other “poison” weapons, even though DU devastates the environment, causing cancer among soldiers on both sides, birth defects in soldiers’ families and civilian cancer and birth defects anywhere close to war zones.

The new manual prohibits the general use of “blinding laser weapons,” but adds that they may be unavoidably needed in the unpredictable complexities of battle. It also references protecting civilians and children, so long as they don’t take up arms. But the mass slaughter of civilians could be justified under the new LOWM whenever supposed “military advantages” could be gained. The earlier field manual, which is known as the 1956 U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10, assumed that deliberately targeting civilians was illegal and a war crime.


Equally disturbing, in the newly released manual there are lingering questions about whether the new LOWM authorizes military commanders to classify objective journalists as “unprivileged belligerents”—just one step away from being an enemy combatant or terrorist. If so, reporters conceivably could be targeted, especially in the heat of sensitive operations where publicity could put war tactics in an unfavorable light.

The LOWM notes that reporters are classified as civilians and that the media personnel embedded with military units will be protected, so the category of unprivileged belligerents clearly applies to independent journalists—the ones more likely to tell the truth.

The implication in the new LOWM is that journalists who report information about wars that contradicts Washington’s propaganda may be taking “direct part in hostilities”—a truly frightening argument for justifying the killing of reporters.

The manual then tries to justify military censorship by suggesting that reporters submit their articles to military authorities to be sure that journalists are not inadvertently aiding the enemy.

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AFP Roving Editor Mark Anderson is a veteran reporter who covers the annual Bilderberg meetings and is chairman of AFP’s new America First Action Committee, designed to involve AFP readers in focusing intensely on Congress to enact key changes, including monetary reform and a pullback of the warfare state. He and his wife Angie often work together on news projects.

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