Nuclear War and Ethics

The Department of Defense recently issued a new document on nuclear war, JP 3-72, Nuclear Operations. It was quickly taken offline, but not before being snagged and posted by the Federation of American Scientists.  This is all it says of ethics:

The law of war governs the use of nuclear weapons, just as it governs the use of conventional weapons. For example, nuclear weapons must be directed against military objectives. In addition, attacks using nuclear weapons must not be conducted when the expected incidental harm to civilians is excessive compared to the military advantage expected to be gained. US policy on the use of nuclear weapons complies with all law of war requirements. CCDRs, and other subordinate commanders responsible for the conduct of nuclear operations, must ensure their staff judge advocate is involved in nuclear operations planning and targeting processes.

This is troubling. We need a new conversation about the ethics of nuclear weapons. Start with Kermit D. Johnson, “Realism and Hope in a Nuclear Age,” and the US Catholic Bishops’ 1983 letter, “The Challenge of Peace.”