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Thu Nov 15, 2012, 11:47 PM

Really Interesting From Greer - Nuclear Deterrence In The Age Of Decline


It was probably impolite of me to point out to him that Bush had control of the worldís most advanced nuclear arsenal for eight years, and somehow weíre still here. Iíve already discussed, in a post four years ago, the destructive role that the pornography of political fear and hatred spread by both sides of the partisan spectrum plays in our current society, and it didnít sink in then, either. Still, thereís an even more precise point that can be made here, and thatís the simple fact that nuclear weapons have already fallen into the hands of mad dictators. Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong can hardly be described in any other terms; both were homicidal megalomaniacs who were directly responsible for annihilating tens of millions of the people they ruled, and both of them had nuclear weapons. Once again, weíre still here.

For that matter, letís look at the mad dictator who comes first in almost everyoneís list, Adolf Hitler. Hitler didnít have nuclear weapons, but he did have the next best thing, massive stockpiles of three different, highly lethal nerve gases, and delivery systems that could readily have landed decent quantities of them on London and a variety of other military and civilian targets. He never used them, even when the Wehrmachtís last battalions were fighting Russian troops in the suburbs of Berlin and his own death was staring him in the face. Why? Because the Allies also had them, and could be counted on to retaliate in kind; the military benefits of gassing London, or even the D-Day beaches, paled in contrast to the military impact of Allied nerve gas attacks, say, against German armies on the Eastern Front. That is to say, like most mad dictators, Hitler may have been crazy but he wasnít stupid.

The same logic, by the way, applies to all weapons of mass destruction. Unless youíre the only nation in a given conflict that has the power to annihilate huge numbers of people with a single weapon, itís never worth your while to use your weapons of mass destruction, because the retaliation will cost you at least as much as, and usually more than, the use of the weapon will gain you. Thatís why the plans to equip infantry divisions with truck-launched nuke-tipped rockets that filled the dreams of US military planners in the 1950s went the way of the Ford Nucleon, a 1957 concept car that was expected to be powered by a pint-sized nuclear reactor, and why the huge multimegaton bombs of the same era were quietly disassembled and replaced by much smaller warheads in the following decades.

Itís very likely, in fact, that in the decade or two before us, an American president will earn a Nobel peace prizeóas opposed to being handed one more or less at random, like the current incumbentóby completing the process, and signing a treaty with Russia scrapping most of both sidesí arsenals. 250 warheads each, say, would be more than enough to provide a deterrent against all comers, and the savings in money and resources will be considerable. That latter may turn into a major issue in the decades to come, as the age of cheap abundant energy comes to an end.



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Reply Really Interesting From Greer - Nuclear Deterrence In The Age Of Decline (Original post)
hatrack Nov 2012 OP
cprise Nov 2012 #1

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 05:20 PM

1. I was under the impression that a limited nuclear exchange could cause worldwide famine

...due to a nuclear winter effect.

In that case, the logic of retaliation doesn't really work the way the article describes it. The consequences are more severe.

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