With the rising threat from countries such as Iraq, some have suggested that the United States project an "irrational and vindictive" posture on nuclear retaliation.

One study in particular, "Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence," was written by the Defense Departments Strategic Command, a multiservice organization responsible for the nation's strategic nuclear arsenal. It was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by an arms control group and published last month in a report on U.S. strategies for deterring attacks by antagonistic nations using chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.The report was only an internal study and should not be taken too seriously. However, it received enough attention nationwide that people may be confused. Goofy ideas sometimes garner too much attention. This one ought to go nowhere.

The report portrayed the military's Strategic Command as being in a bureaucratic battle against liberal Clinton administration officials who favor nuclear weapons reductions.

While it may be ideal to have the upper hand in a growing nuclear world with a guarantee against nuclear attack, one has to wonder how the United States would go about obtaining an "irrational and vindictive" image. How or why would America, the good guys, become the "nuclear bandits" of the Western World?

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Sure, if this were one of the nation's prime objectives, the administration could "inadvertently" lob a couple of unarmed nukes at the Middle East.

"Oops, sorry Saddam."

Or perhaps the United States could revert to its Cold War habit of stockpiling enough nuclear weapons to, if employed, cause our planet to glow green for a good part of the next millennium. Couple that with a good dose of political trash-talking and it just may work, though it is rather difficult to picture President Clinton with an itchy trigger finger, calling Iraq an Evil Empire.

In short, it might be preferable to be viewed by crazy, antagonistic and nuclear-capable countries as even crazier than they are. But at what cost to both our budget and our dignity?

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