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The Military

A Case For Unilateral US Nuclear Warhead Reductions 211

Lasrick writes "Interesting read of the geopolitics between the U.S. and Russia when it comes to reducing nuclear warheads. Pavel Podvig is a physicist trained at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology who works on the Russian nuclear arsenal, US-Russian relations, and nonproliferation. His take here is essential to understanding what is happening between Washington and Moscow on nuclear weapons cuts." Reader auric_dude also sent in a link to a few other views on the issue.
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A Case For Unilateral US Nuclear Warhead Reductions

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  • Re:"Deployed" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday July 01, 2013 @09:05PM (#44161045)

    A reduction in deployed warheads is pointless

    It is not pointless. A deployed warhead is more likely to be stolen by Al Queda, more likely to be involved in an accident, more likely to be launched by a rouge commander, and more likely to be used in a first strike. The first strike capability is particularly destabilizing, because our "enemies" then need to keep their own nukes on hair trigger alert, or build enough of them to ride out a first strike and still retaliate.

  • Re:No problem here. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Monday July 01, 2013 @09:49PM (#44161243)

    Well, lets see... this talked about 1500 "strategic" nukes. Say Russia dropped 1,000 on the USA, or on average 20 per state. I'm guessing that's most major cities, most industrial complexes, most centralized food processing, rail and air transportation, highway hubs, etc. Yeah, a lot of people would survive the initial attack, but unless you can live off of what's right around you, you won't survive the aftermath, even if you don't have radiation sickness.

    The other way to think of it is that recovering from catastrophes like hurricanes, earthquakes, etc is really tough, even when the rest of the country pitches in to help. What happens when there is no "rest of the country"?

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday July 01, 2013 @11:34PM (#44161847) Journal
    It's cliche to say the article is not very good, but in this case it truly is missing a serious point:

    No plan to get rid of nuclear weapons can be complete without taking China (and others) into consideration. We are at the point that it's not just a standoff between Russia and the US, who both have been reducing their nuclear weapons. Other countries have been actively increasing them, and unless they join in the movement, Russia and the US leave themselves completely vulnerable if they don't maintain at least some nuclear weapons.

    I'm in favor of getting rid of nukes, but you can't assume it's just a game between Russia and the US, as this article does.
  • by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) on Monday July 01, 2013 @11:37PM (#44161855)

    Ayatollah Khomeini: "We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let Iran burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world"

    There is a difference between rational countries having the bomb and countries run by Islamic fanatics having the bomb.

  • Re:No problem here. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rasmusbr ( 2186518 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @12:15AM (#44161979)

    And to make things worse the planet would be about one order of magnitude above its carrying capacity if it were not for a steady supply of artificial fertilizer, made from natural gas or other fossil fuels. Even if you can live off the land around you now you may be unable to do so after a major nuclear exchange when fertilizer becomes unavailable and agricultural yields drop.

    What about hunting then? Well, we are about two orders of magnitude above the Earth's carrying capacity for us as hunter-gatherers. The what little edible wildlife is left today would run out quickly if there were no conservation laws.

    That said, even if the population would drop by 99% there would still be 70 million humans on the planet and humans would still be the most numerous mammal species except for the ones that live off of our economy such as rats and other rodents. Even if the population would drop by 99.99% we would still not qualify as a threatened species, not even nearly. In short: there are a lot of humans and killing us all won't be easy by any means.

  • by t4ng* ( 1092951 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @02:38AM (#44162711)

    In the early 1980's the BBC made a drama called "Threads" which had occasional narration interrupting the story to explain the science behind the effects of nuclear war. Anyone who thinks nuclear war is winnable, or that we've never had enough nukes to destroy the world should watch it... the entire thing.

    There are no lone-wolf heroes or other typical US movie industry bullcrap, just cold, stark, depressing realism. You can watch it for free on YouTube....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MCbTvoNrAg [youtube.com]

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @03:45AM (#44162951)

    18 million sounds like peanuts. whats that, 20 patriot missiles?

    6-9 Patriot missiles. Unit cost on a Patriot is 2-3 million, depending on ordinance load. Or 2 M1 Abrams main battle tanks. Or for the cost of a single F-35C Joint Strike Fighter, you could fund the entire program for over a decade.

    According to the GAO, the Pentagon spends more than that per year issuing visitor badges.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @04:10AM (#44163019)

    "committing seppuku after Fukushima made them paranoid"

    That is some calloused, thinly veiled racism you felt you had to add there at the end, huh?

    It's a cultural, not racial, reference which was actively relevant until 1970, and is still popularized in NHK broadcast dramas of the Shugunate Era in present-day Japan. It carries the appropriate connotation of "killing oneself over a point of honor". If you read the news reports, the U.S. Navy offered assistance in the early hours of the Fukushima incident, and were rebuffed "as a point of honor".

    Would you have preferred I referred to the Hindu practice of Sati? That's also a cultural reference, and while it would be a stretch, one could argue that keeping their nuclear program shut down would be the equivalent of a woman throwing herself/being thrown on the funeral pyre of her husband out of grief.

    I think a Bushido-style loss of face is a more apt metaphor for a cause of action in this case, however.

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM