The U.S. Acts From A Nuclear Menacing and Intimidation Policy

Nuclear Explosion Fantasy by Maxwell Hamilton CC BY 2.0 license.

This LINK is to an op-ed piece on U.S. nuclear policy published in the Santa Maria Times, written by Scott Fina, VSO, our friend, and a volunteer and supporter of Beatitude House, our Catholic Worker Sister House in Guadalupe, California. Scott lives in Santa Maria.

Below is the same piece except it includes all reference links.

About time—and what little we may have

On January 24th of this year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the time on its symbolic Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight, indicating that humanity is the closest it has ever been to a global catastrophe of nuclear war. The Bulletin’s Science and Security Board based its decision largely on Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons in its escalating conflict with Ukraine. ( ) There is another aggressor in this story, however: the United States.

I recall earlier times when the U.S. claimed it would only use nuclear weapons in retaliation against a nuclear strike from another country. Americans were more aware of the threat of nuclear annihilation in those days.

High school health classes in the 1970s taught students how to set up and run nuclear bomb shelters in school basements. While this raised consciousness about nuclear war, it was a facetious exercise. The U.S. justified its possession of nuclear weapons and their readiness as a deterrent against nuclear attacks based on “mutually assured destruction.” This policy somewhat made sense at the time. But what survivor would want to live in the aftermath of such an event?

U.S. nuclear policy is substantially different in our current time. It’s presented in our country’s Nuclear Posture Review, most recently promulgated by the Biden Administration in October of 2022. The policy includes the U.S. using its nuclear weapons to deter and/or retaliate against even certain non-nuclear threats, and maintains an option of making a first nuclear strike against another country. ( , pages 8-9)

It is troubling that any nuclear weapons continue to exist nearly 80 years after the U.S. introduced them to the world. It is appalling that our nation could throw the first nuclear punch in a conflict. One wonders if the U.S. got this idea from Russia (noting Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine)—or whether Russia got the idea from the U.S. One also wonders how the U.S. fell so far off high moral ground—or if it ever stood on it.

These days, the Doomsday Clock chimes most loudly at Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB). Amidst current heightened military tensions in Europe, and with the hoopla around North Korea’s growing nuclear prowess, the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command continues to test its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by firing them from VSFB at the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, most recently on February 9th of this year. (

Could there be a more visible and provocative military act under such dangerous international circumstances?

This promises to get worse over time. The U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is modernizing its ICBM weapons system, replacing the 400 current Minuteman missiles which have been in place for over 50 years, with new Sentinel missiles that will be operational up until 2075. That’s an additional 50 years of ICBMs! (

How ironic! Engagement of ICBM weaponry in an international conflict will set in motion irreversible global devastation in less than 50 minutes!

Moreover, by moving to implement its new 50-year ICBM program, the U.S. has unequivocally violated the United Nations Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons it signed onto over 50 years ago. ( Our country is belying its commitment to authentic effort at nuclear disarmament. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. now also dismisses the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which became international law two years ago. (

The U.S. no longer acts from nuclear deterrence, but from nuclear menacing and intimidation.

Indeed, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center’s slogan couldn’t be more blatant in this regard: “ensuring nuclear weapons are never doubted, always feared.” (






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