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Cold Warriors Question Nukes

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the nukes-invoke-their-right-to-remain-silent dept.

The Military 274

Martin Hellman writes "George Shultz served as President Reagan's Secretary of State, and Bill Perry as President Clinton's Secretary of Defense. Henry Kissinger was National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to both President Nixon and Ford. Sam Nunn was Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee for eight years. Their key roles in the Cold War has led many to call them 'Cold Warriors.' That status makes their recent, repeated calls for fundamentally re-examining our nuclear posture all the more noteworthy. Their most recent attempt to awaken society to the unacceptable risk posed by nuclear weapons is an Op-Ed in today's Wall Street Journal titled Deterrence in the Age of Nuclear Proliferation. (That link requires a subscription to the Journal. There is also a subscription-free link (PDF) at the Nuclear Threat Initiative.) Key excerpts and links to other resources are available as well."

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In the suicide-bombing age... (5, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413312)

...deterrence is obsolete. If people are so brainwashed by their religion that they think that they're going to be greeted by 17 virgins and everything will be better once this life is over, all bets are off.

Religion is the biggest threat to the survival of our species, folks. Time to wake up. Time to stand up to the "let's not offend the Muslims" crowd. Every time they claim to be offended by people in the western world exercising their western rights (whether it's to draw cartoons or write novels) we should tell them to go fuck themselves.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (-1, Offtopic)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413340)

As long as I get to make fun of the Xtians, I'm OK with that.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (2)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413358)

As long as I get to make fun of the Xtians, I'm OK with that.

Knock yourself out. I'm an equal opportunity make-fun-ofer.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0, Flamebait)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413670)

As long as I get to make fun of the Xtians, I'm OK with that.

The only people more annoying than devout religious fundamentalists are devout atheists.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413700)

Except devout athiests won't try to remove science from the classroom?

Your equivocation is troubling.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413702)

Totally. I'm sick of atheists and their "logic" and "rationality". They're clearly worse than people blowing themselves up in the name of religion.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414234)

I'm tired of snotty atheists pretending that governments officially espousing atheism have never committed crimes against humanity in the name of atheism. See: The Soviet Union.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413710)

That translates to "the only people more annoying than those who take my viewpoint to an extreme is the people who disagree with me" I think that's a common sentiment, too.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414208)

As long as I get to make fun of the Xtians, I'm OK with that.

Ya, Christians don't murder everyone in range every time someone makes a heavily veiled reference to something that might be a slight against Jesus' third cousin's sister's boyfriend's uncle.

Of course, Muslims don't seem to need a reason to kill people. Even the "you're not Muslim" litmus test doesn't work any more because they spend a lot of time killing each other.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413352)

Every time they claim to be offended by people in the western world exercising their western rights (whether it's to draw cartoons or write novels) we should tell them to go fuck themselves.

They won't have to, with the 72 virgins and all..

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Aerorae (1941752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413360)

you first.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413366)

Dude, it's 72 virgins [wikiislam.net] , not 17! And what they don't tell you is that all 72 of those virgins are great big gay men...

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

interfecio (1023595) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413432)

It was misinterpreted, it isn't 72 virgins, it's 72 Virginians!

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413552)

So, what terrible sins did those Virginians commit, to deserve such a terrible punishment???

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (4, Funny)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413640)

Driving while texting.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414150)

LOL not "texting while driving". So, they were spending a couple hours texting, and during this behavior, spent a few minutes driving. I like you wording so much for the story it created in my head. Thanks. :)

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414494)

They're Mormons.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Apathist (741707) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413494)

So this, don't get it. What happens after you've used up your quota of virgins? Do they magically get restored, or do you then have to spend eternity with a pack of thoroughly "used" women...? 'cause, assuming a standard rate, 72 virgins would only take a couple of months to get through, and I'm told eternity is much longer than that...

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413536)

These "women" supposedly don't shit, piss, spit, or menstruate, so I suspect these idealized "women" remain "virgins" no matter how many times you fuck 'em. The 72 is just for variety. No, Islam is not sexist, not at all...

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414036)

No, they remain virgins because you only get to hang out with them, you don't get to have sex with them. After all they would then no longer be virgins. And there are only 72 of them so all the Martyrs get to share the same, non-giving any, eternal virgins. Paradise indeed. :)

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414384)

Sexist? Who says women don't get the same in Paradise?

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413542)

said a former muslim I know, "I wouldn't want 72 virgins, I want 72 total sluts!"

My theory is that paradise has used up all the virgins long ago, now they have "refurbished virgins", kind of like a re-tread on a tire

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413568)

I don't know about you, but I could deflower 72 virgins in far less than "a couple of months". If you doubt me, go ahead and line up the 72 virgins and I'll prove it to you!

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413686)

If they're really ugly, it might take longer than that. No one said that they had to be 72 hot virgins.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414026)

If they're really ugly, it might take longer than that. No one said that they had to be 72 hot virgins.

You get 72, but you are not allowed to fuck them; otherwise they wouldn't be virgins anymore, would they?

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413776)

They're returned to 'purity' the next day so you can cause them pain and suffering again, and again, and again. Just like you did in life! Awesome stuff huh?

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414160)

They're returned to 'purity' the next day so you can cause them pain and suffering again, and again, and again. Just like you did in life! Awesome stuff huh?

I see what you did there. Hell is being Heaven's virgins.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414508)

Uwe Boll (of all people) puts this masterfully in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt_tv7t79WY

17 vs 72 (2)

nowen2dot (1768088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413520)

Perhaps the OP meant 17 in base 65 :>

Now if it were 42, that would be the answer to all my problems.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413570)

Dude, he was counting in base 65

It was a typo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413726)

I read it as 72 - 17 year old virgins!

17 year old girls are at their peak! It's right before most of them pork out.

I'm going to my bunk now.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (3, Funny)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413968)

And the 72 virgins are chosen from a D&D convention.

72 white raisins... (3, Insightful)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414002)

I believe the Koran itself doesn't actually specify how many virgins; that was mentioned in the Book of Suran instead as a fifth-hand recollection of something Mohammed said. Also, there's no mention of them being specifically available only for martyrs.

There's also some doubt about the virgin part. Some scholars [guardian.co.uk] believe that the word "hur" is better translated as "white raisin".

Re:72 white raisins... (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414414)

Anyone who gets into Paradise gets the pleasure of servants and wives in heaven. (Therefore terrorists are excluded since they're committing sins like murder)

Nice try, but there's no "book of Suran." The link you cited is flawed since he claims that the word in the Quran came from Syrian, which is unlikely given that the Prophet was illiterate and didn't have much contact with the Syrians, the portions of the Quran that mention hur just dont make sense with the idea of raisins, and several hadith clarify that these are women you get to marry in heaven, they are in a way like angels in that they have no souls and are created to serve those in heaven.

I thought it was 72 virgins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413442)

Or so I'm told.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (5, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413478)

Religion is the enemy right now, sea lanes, industrial production, communications/control and minerals are the long term things to worry about, for all of those nuclear weapons for deterrence are still "useful".

Religion isn't the threat, ideology is, be it pan-Islamic, Maoism, White Supremacy, etc

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413724)

Someone who happens to be on target. The mewling idiots complain about "religion" being a danger. And, within the past 100 years, we've seen that ATHEISTS rank among the cruelest, most inhuman monsters on earth.

It's "ideology" that is the real threat. Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, and Joseph Stalin never went to a Christian mass, and they certainly never took an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. Ideology. Any time some sumbitch starts thinking that he knows what's good for the rest of humanity, we are in trouble, no matter his religion, or lack of.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413846)

Stalin sure went to Church, he went to seminary for 9 or 10 years.

But that's not why he was an asshat, he was an asshat because of ideology.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413902)

So. Because these examples you trot out never went to "Christian mass", they're atheist? Are all people who don't practice your brand of Christianity atheist?

Everyone trots on Mao, Pol Pot and Joseph Stalin as extreme examples of "atheists" who demonstrated the cruelty of "atheism". The problem, of course, is that none of them were actually atheist... [freethoughtnation.com] .

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413944)

Just FYI... Joseph Stalin attended(but left just short of graduating) from a Georgian Orthodox Seminary. He could afford to do so because of a scholarship earned during his earlier years at a church school. His theistic activities were largely confined to his early life; but he probably went to a great many masses, after the eastern orthodox style.

Ironically, Pol Pot attended a Catholic school, and so probably also had a few masses under his belt as well. Only Mao appears to have a reasonably clean bill of health...

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413572)

Every time they claim to be offended by people in the western world exercising their western rights (whether it's to draw cartoons or write novels) we should tell them to go fuck themselves.

With our atomic weapons.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413692)

Suicide bombers are arguably the most dramatic example; but they are hardly the only ones who threaten the classic MAD/Deterrence model of nuke use.

For the classic model of nuclear deterrence to work, you must have two or more rational actors, with access to good information, with interests that would be unacceptably threatened by the use of nuclear weapons against them, and with access to nuclear weapons and the ability to perform reprisals with them. That is actually a fairly tight set of requirements.

Even during the Cold War, for instance, there were a few situations where technical and/or command & control glitches left some number of warheads in the hands of local officers with either false positives, or highly limited information. Since the ability to perform reprisals requires an emphasis on designing "fail-unsafe" systems that launch if the nation's infrastructure is damaged, you enormously magnify the potential costs of infrastructure glitches.

Another quite plausible attack on the classic deterrence model is the use of proxies or non-state actors(whether suicidal or not: it isn't hugely pertinent whether or not the chap who carried the bomb onto the plane is also on the plane when the trivial-for-an-arduino-hobbyist-with-$100 GPS/alteometer system triggers the bomb at perfect airburst altitude over a major city...) If you don't know who provided the bomb, you don't have anybody to perform a reprisal against, and thus your threat of reprisal is hollow, and does not deter an attacker with access to covert operators. Your basic "Hey guys, let's build a limited number of big, hardened, silos, trivially visible from orbit, from which to launch extremely dramatic ICBMs" strategy makes retaliation easy; but is increasingly obsolete. Even aside from the cargo planes and panel vans school of sneaking about, the steady proliferation of the expertise to build short to medium range missiles(or just the finished missiles) which can be launched from all sorts of improv platforms is going to make aggressor ID harder as time goes on.

There is also the "star wars" concern: Were some rational actor locked in a classic deterrence scenario to develop an anti-missile technology that actually worked, their opponent would no longer have a viable deterrent, which would upset the equilibrium(as would a rational; but misinformed actor who thinks he has an effective anti-missile system, or an irrational actor who believes
There is also the sticky issue of the potential for proliferation and increased use of smallish, tactical nuclear devices. International opinion on the use of strategic nuclear devices, particularly against population centers, is pretty uniformly negative. It is less clear how a situation involving something on the scale of a Davy Crockett [wikipedia.org] style device would be handled. It's a nuke, and it would place considerable destructive punch in the hands of quite light forces; but it is smaller than some perfectly-legal-and-above-board conventional explosives. Even in a simple "two powers, clear attribution" scenario, it isn't clear that such devices would escalate to a full-scale strategic armageddon; but they would certainly make conventional warfare extra ugly. Perhaps of greater interest to today's major powers, such devices would be a godsend to the scruffy proxy-forces of the world: All the power of a GBU-43 or some sort of particularly nasty cluster/carpet munition, in a delivery system not much larger than a simple mortar, and capable of being broken down and hand carried by a small team, whatever rickety pickup trucks are the local favorite, etc. Easy to hide in a populated area against anything but a house-by-house operation(unlike the aircraft or heavy artillery you would ordinarily need to deliver such firepower); but capable of inflicting ghastly casualties on even advanced military forces...

So. Yeah. I can't really blame them for being concerned...

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

nitrogensixteen (812667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414050)

I don't think that it is at all unclear what "international opinion" is on the proliferation of tactical nuclear weapons. Tactical nuclear weapons present a much more severe threat to global peace for the very fact that they are less powerful and potentially more likely to be used.
Just because a nuclear weapon is small does not decrease the required technical sophistication of building an unboosted fission weapon. The manufacturing and engineering sophistication of 1950's nuclear weapons designs is still high enough that only nation states are capable of mustering the resources necessary to produce one. SNM smuggling is relatively common but that does not mean that an extra-national group has come close to acquiring such a weapon. There are no deployed micro-nukes in existence anymore and weapons as old as you mention such as the davy crockett and SADM surely have poisoned pits by now if they have not been recycled.
Just because you don't have a launch signature does not mean attribution cannot be made as to the source of the fissile material.
Rocket technology may be relatively widespread but any BM production program requires testing and these missiles have such a spectacular IR signature that satellite reconnaissance picks the event up. (in addition to the spy planes that are already waiting on a tip from the CIA)

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413832)

I honestly agree with most of what you say on that. But the reality isn't religion for the most part. Then again islam hasn't changed in nearly 2000 years unlike Christianity and Judaism. Both had several reformation, several branch splits and so on. Both also turned around and decided that there were different interprertations in 'gods word', and the book isn't a full 'word of god and final' but rather is meant to be interpreted and that holds true even in a lot of orthodox segements.

Islam itself? Well if you're not the right type of muslim, you should die. If you slander the word, die. If you want to leave, die. And it's not a small minority that believes it either. The small minority are those who don't hold those beliefs. But really you make a comment about cartoons and writing novels? Hell, there's more published novels coming out of Ebonia then from the entire muslim group of nations. That should be a fine indicating pointer of where this is going.

Whelp people can realize it or not, but islams war against the 'west' hasn't ended in 2000 years. It's gotten quieter but that's about it.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414064)

Islam was established in the 600s. So it is non-sensical to talk about anything centering on it more than about 1500 years ago.

And while I don't profess to have much understanding of what makes a typical Muslim, there do seem to be hundreds of millions of Muslims that have never killed anyone.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414272)

I enjoy rounding up because islams foundation starts with the old duo of religions(christianity and judaism). You gotta figure that it's foundational roots started around 1700 years ago for islam itself. And while you don't understand what is or to make of a typical muslim, you only need to see what's going on, in the purported moderate nations, that politicians enjoy using as 'proof' of moderate. Indonisia and Malaysia, mass religious muders, forced marriages, religious persecution of non-muslims. Attacks against women for not being covered head to toe, and that happy list keeps going on with violent attacks such as targeting other religious leaders and womens schools, and burning out non-muslim families.

Then we can pop over to europe. Those are documented fairly well, including the enclaves in france and norway where EMS will no longer go because they'll be attacked. They're not ethnic enclaves, they're religious enclaves, where they have their own rule of law, inside the rule of law.

This isn't exactly ground breaking, earthshattering stuff. Rather it's what's been going on for the last ~2000 years.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414086)

Islam is less than 1500 years old, you complete moron. 2000 years...Jesus.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414314)

Tip: Islam is around ~1700 years old give or take. It has the same foundation as the duo of religions(christianity and judaism). If you can't figure out where a foundation is laid, and when a religion is formed. You have no chance of understand anything I've said.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414354)

Then again islam hasn't changed in nearly 2000 years

Islam isn't 2000 years old. It was invented in the 600s by Muhammad, [wikipedia.org] which makes it about 1400 years old (give or take).

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (3, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414022)

Time to stand up to the "let's not offend the Muslims" crowd. Every time they claim to be offended by people in the western world exercising their western rights (whether it's to draw cartoons or write novels) we should tell them to go fuck themselves.

I'm skeptical that we're dealing with one big population that is offended at those things and is also trying to nuke us. Rather, I think we're dealing with a large number of people who are offended by such things, who would maybe burn an American flag and throw rocks but are mostly harmless.

Then there is a much much much smaller group who is trying to get nukes to destroy us because they're messed up in the head. Maybe Al Quaeda spouts off about the danish cartoons, but even if we were completely nice and respectful to them, and even if we were to convert to Islam, they'd still try to destroy us. It's worth keeping in mind that most Islamic terrorism is focused against other Muslims, even ones who were being respectful of their own religion.

It really doesn't matter if they're offended by "The Satanic Verses" for example: the harmless ones don't matter (and of course it's our right to say whatever we want) and the dangerous ones are trying to destroy us anyway. Their taking offense to whatever is a separate issue from terrorism.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Rick Bentley (988595) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414100)

Please mod him up.

Way to miss the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414192)

Political power has been responsible for 1000 times the amount of death and destruction throughout history than religion. You can't even begin to compare the two.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414238)

Do you really think religion is the only driving force behind suicide bombing? Like in Northern Ireland, right?

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (2)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414382)

The only person who gets to do the seventeen virgins in heaven is the foolish suicide bomber. The people that make the suicide bomb and give the bomber directions don't get to participate in the seventeen virgin fun. Such leaders are pragmatic and they seek their virgins here on Earth. They use fools as tools.

Saying that religion is the biggest threat to the survival of our species is beyond ridiculous. The biggest threat to the survival of our species is population pressure. That much is obvious. Furthermore, no amount of telling "them to go fuck themselves" is going to lessen religious violence. Insulting people increases violence. And . . . Newsflash . . . With few exceptions, violent conflict increases, not lessens, violent conflict.

The United States is NEVER (never, never, ever) going to nation-build a Muslim country. That's not going to happen. Not now. Not ever. Disengagement with Countries that support or tolerate terror is the only hope of getting those in power to see the tangible benefits of friendly engagement with the US..

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414416)

Deterrence may be obsolete against SOME irrational actors, but don't forget that atmospheric testing PROVED beyond debate that smallish nuclear wars are quite practical. Overlay maps of the aboveground nuke shots over your target country of choice. That's a practical level of war.

In an actual existential war, destroying an enemy country is a reasonable option. Not point targets to make gestures, but the country itself. Suicide bombers are expendable INDIVIDUALS fighting for a CAUSE. We have not yet encountered a "suicide country".

Serious wars are beyond "law" and needn't even reference it except afterwards when the victors can choose what they call justice.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414450)

Religion is the biggest threat to the survival of our species, folks.

There would still be suicide bombers if religion did not exist. The biggest threat to the survival of our species is greed and short-sightedness.

Re:In the suicide-bombing age... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414504)

Let's stand up to the "let's not offend the Christians" crowd as well. Get them the fuck away from any politics and power and then we'll talk.

Site nuked! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413382)

We just dropped a 10 megaton Slashdot on http://nuclearrisk.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

Re:Site nuked! (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413398)

But does it blend?

Re:Site nuked! (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413638)

Atomic smoke! Don't breathe that!

Re:Site nuked! (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413466)

"Cold Warriors Still Losing Infowar"

Re:Site nuked! (0)

wampus (1932) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414078)

Slashdot can't be more than a few kilotons anymore. Crappy shared hosting.

Large arsenals is a waste of money (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413452)

There is an argument to be had for having a nuclear deterrent, but the kind of madness where a country builds thousands of megaton yield thermonuclear weapons is just tragic. If nothing else it is a fantastic waste of money and resources when even a small nuclear arsenal with maybe 50-100 weapons would appear to work as an effective deterrent. Ideally it would be better if one could do without them altogether, but if one feels there is a need for it then at least keep it sensible rather than blowing away resources that could be better spent elsewhere on a stupid pissing contest.

Re:Large arsenals is a waste of money (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413584)

To say nothing of the economic effects of using a thousand or more nukes, really cuts into profit margins and raises cost of living and cost of doing business!

or as gilbert godfrey would say, "the worst thing about global nuclear warfare.....you think it's hard to get taxi *now*.....

Re:Large arsenals is a waste of money (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413600)

But it is a good business that pays huge amounts of money to your friends -- without too much oversight.

Re:Large arsenals is a waste of money (3, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413626)

From what I gather, it would be far more unstable for us to have 50-100 nukes than the huge number we have right now.

The problem is that there are only 2 countries with very large numbers of weapons, while a lot of countries have ~100. The two-party balance is theoretically stable (or at least it appears to be given the past 60 years), while a multi-party balance leaves a lot of room for alliances and power plays that could start nukes flying. The most dangerous part of a 'Road to zero' nuclear reduction plan is the time when everyone has a few hundred.

The other problem is that with ~100s of weapons, it is conceivable for a country to 'win' a nuclear war, since it would be conceivable to eliminate the enemies capabilities while inflicting serious damage. However, with the ridiculous number we have now, there is simply no way to attack the other country and keep from being wiped out yourself.

Or at least thats the theory. I'm no expert on the matter though, I just learned from my roommate who is in grad school for these kind of things.

Re:Large arsenals is a waste of money (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413742)

Yes, thats my understanding too, with 5-200+ nuclear weapons a war is "winnable" so it might actually be fought.

When you get to 500 or more and have some which are survivable you get into the mutually assured destruction realm where a war with another large arsenal can't be won.

The US and Russians are the only two MAD class arsenals on the planet.

China (400 warheads), United Kingdom (225 warheads), and France (300 warheads) have large enough arsenals with ICBMs to make it hurt for the US/Russia to attack them (if the smaller powers nuclear weapons are survivable) but they can't destroy the US/Russian command, government or arsenals.

India (100 warheads), Pakistan (100 warheads) and Israel's (100-400) arsenals are tactical and only a threat to their neighbors in a battlefield sense.

North Korea's arsenal isn't completely weaponized yet and likely small (like South Africa's was), so will Iran's when they get a nuclear weapon going.

Thats the list of powers, so not a "lot" of countries have large nuclear arsenals.

Re:Large arsenals is a waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414106)

To reword your post a bit:

To be an effective deterrent, estimates of how badly we'd get hit in a surprise nuclear attack must be extremely pessimistic; something like every ground based nuke or plane being hit, command and control communications being hit, every ship in port being hit, all our allies being hit hard enough that they can't help, and simultaneous submarine warfare. All that leaves for a counterattack is maybe 20% of the subs, and the subs can't coordinate amongst each other to efficiently spread their nukes among every target. That has to be enough to cripple the attacker and all the attacker's allies, so that there is no continuing nuclear war or conventional followup war.

So the remaining subs need several times as many nukes as it would take to hit every target. Let's say 400 nukes needed to be sure 100 targets each get hit at least once. Play the numbers back in reverse, and that means the submarine fleet alone needs 2000 nukes. Other launch devices raise that number. Round up a little more in case a few are duds. Round up a little more in case the enemy has developed a way to shoot some of them down (and we haven't figured out a way to counteract it yet). That's the cold war formula for deterrence through mutually assured destruction.

The modern twist is that there is NO small scale nuclear war scenario that does not escalate. All the major powers have a lot of alliances. So even though the US and Russia have zero intent to nuke each other, it's still completely up in the air what happens if Iran gets a few and uses them, or India and Pakistan go at it, or North Korea or China hit Japan, and so on.

Re:Large arsenals is a waste of money (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414200)

A little more room maybe, but there is still room with the 2-party system. What is stopping the US and Russia from teaming up and wiping another country off the map? Just because YOUR country can't be destroyed (I'm guessing you are from the US), doesn't make any of the OTHER countries feel very safe.

Weaponization of Space (2)

PraiseBob (1923958) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413718)

The thinking back then was, 50-100 might wipe out a population, but the enemy might just have a way to shoot some down, or might strike first and knock out too many to mount a counterattack. The "Star Wars" program was after all a big fake system to make the USSR believe we could destroy hundreds of their missiles, and thus the USSR made thousands of missiles to compensate.

If you only have a few dozen missiles, then suddenly it is way more lucrative to invest in space based defenses, because then you CAN stop all of them with a really fantastic space based laser system.

Maybe these Cold Warriors suddenly recognized they could sell more weapon systems without MAD being in the way. Any guesses on how many of them have major investments in the military industrial complex?

Re:Large arsenals is a waste of money (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414052)

If nothing else it is a fantastic waste of money and resources when even a small nuclear arsenal with maybe 50-100 weapons would appear to work as an effective deterrent.

Such a small arsenal would not "appear to work" to me. First, how reliable are those weapons? Second, there are too many nuclear countries which can take 50-100 nuclear hits and still keep fighting. You can't conduct a MAD style defense with merely a few nuclear weapons against a country like the US or the USSR.

Re:Large arsenals is a waste of money (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414118)

That seems to be China's plan. Depending on who you ask, they have between 100 and 300 warheads, with about 70% of them "active", ie. ready to be used without warning. This is on par with France and the UK, and possibly with Israel (sources for Israel's armory vary between 0 and 500, usually about 100 or so). India and Pakistan each have about 100 as well - sufficient to deter, but not sufficient to really damage the planet. And, of course, we can't forget North Korea's half-dozen devices.

This is a pretty big contrast to the US and Russia, which have close to 2000 active warheads, and about 10,000 total warheads. Each.

Honestly, both countries could slash their active stockpiles in half without removing their ability to pretty much trash the biosphere. Hell, even just getting rid of all the deactivated weapons would be a good start - as they are now, they are still able to be used at least as dirty bomb material, and having one would make constructing a real warhead vastly easier. Just as with any weapon - just because the safety is off and the gun is unloaded, doesn't mean you shouldn't treat it as if it were dangerous.

Re:Large arsenals is a waste of money (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414486)

Deterrence is only credible if force WILL be used when required, and large arsenals ensure enough weapons to exterminate any opportunists who might jump in.

It's the Alzheimer's (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413462)

or the radiation exposure. I can't tell which.

Like Robert McNamara (1, Interesting)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413506)

Robert McNamara was in a documentary a few years a back, expressing his regret over the Vietnam strategy he implemented, mainly because it led to so much destruction and slaughter.

Well, that's great, Bob. Too bad you didn't THINK OF THAT AT THE TIME.

There's something chillingly cynical about guys like Perry and Kissinger complaining now about the nuclear posture that they created, as if the closeness of their deaths has made them fear an everlasting punishment. Like Lee Atwater in the last few months of his life apologizing for the blatantly racist campaign strategies he crafted, the only human response should be "TOO FUCKING LATE, YOU ASSHOLE!"

Re:Like Robert McNamara (1)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413696)

You're on the ball here. But the question is why the change? And the answer, I believe, is that they were enthralled with the power when they held it. Now that they don't, they have the appropriate response, which is horror.

Re:Like Robert McNamara (1)

nitrogensixteen (812667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414098)

Well here is Robert McNamara's answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fog_of_War [wikipedia.org] :
The documentary's lessons-learned concept is McNamara's eleven-lesson list of In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1995).
We misjudged then — and we have since — the geopolitical intentions of our adversaries and we exaggerated the dangers to the United States of their actions.
We viewed the people and leaders of South Vietnam in terms of our own experience
We totally misjudged the political forces within the country.
We underestimated the power of nationalism to motivate a people to fight and die for their beliefs and values.
Our misjudgments of friend and foe, alike, reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.
We failed then — and have since — to recognize the limitations of modern, high-technology military equipment, forces, and doctrine.
We failed, as well, to adapt our military tactics to the task of winning the hearts and minds of people from a totally different culture.
We failed to draw Congress and the American people into a full and frank discussion and debate of the pros and cons of a large-scale military involvement before we initiated the action.
After the action got under way, and unanticipated events forced us off our planned course we did not fully explain what was happening, and why we were doing what we did.
We did not recognize that neither our people nor our leaders are omniscient. Our judgment of what is in another people's or country's best interest should be put to the test of open discussion in international forums.
We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our image or as we choose.
We did not hold to the principle that U.S. military action should be carried out only in conjunction with multinational forces supported fully (and not merely cosmetically) by the international community.
We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions At times, we may have to live with an imperfect, untidy world.
Underlying many of these errors lay our failure to organize the top echelons of the executive branch to deal effectively with the extraordinarily complex range of political and military issues.

Re:Like Robert McNamara (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414402)

That was a surprisingly good movie.

Re:Like Robert McNamara (2)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413928)

I think their argument is that things are different now. The MAD strategy worked to deter a nuclear war (though it didn't deter all sorts of other bad things, from the invasion of Hungary on), but it isn't needed any more.

Re:Like Robert McNamara (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413960)

The situation here is different. McNamara apologised for something that was wrong at that time, except he had been unable to see it as such, and it cost lives. Kissinger et al are calling for the re-examined of a something that was right for its time and may well have saved lives, but has outlived its utility and ought to be changed.

Sidenote: It takes courage to admit a failure, even after decades. Yes, he did not think of it 'at that time', but admitting his mistakes in public must have been difficult, and he could have chosen to live a quiet retirement instead of coming out and admitting his fault.

Re:Like Robert McNamara (4, Insightful)

erice (13380) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413962)

Did you actually read the article? They aren't complaining about what they did in the cold war. They are saying that those strategies don't make any sense *now*. And they are right, although like any committee opinion, they did not state it forcefully enough.

Why do we have *any* nukes pointed at Moscow? Russia is not our enemy. Who else then? There are no nation states with motivation to nuke the US that have the means to do so. Who are these missiles supposed to deter? The only purpose these weapons ever had was deterrence. If they aren't any good that then they actually make us less safe by making nuclear war by accident possible when it wouldn't happen deliberately.

Re:Like Robert McNamara (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414286)

It's academic, but it's been a long time since we've had any nukes targeted at anything but the middle of the Pacific. Academic because it doesn't take long to type in new coordinates. Sort of like having a gun, but not pointing at anyone. Etiquette.

The only purpose a large arsenal serves now is as a bargaining chip in weapons reductions talks.

Re:Like Robert McNamara (0)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414352)

No fucking shit. The "peaceniks" were right! They're right today too, and they'll be right in the future. There's a reason we are called Progressives, it's fucking progress!

Agree ... Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413516)

Although I thoroughly disagree with most of the political positions these people have espoused over the years, I have to agree with most of their conclusions in this paper. They are intelligent men, and for the most part, thoughtful.

We don't need them anymore (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413588)

We can do pretty much anything we need to with precision guided conventional weapons. Nukes were great for threatening populations (probably a war crime) or taking out hardened targets. Now, we can take out buried facilities with a couple of bunker busters. And if nobody had nukes with which to escalate, the political acceptability of surgical strikes would be greater.

The presence of nukes in various countries creates some serious limitations on our tactical options. Take Pakistan for example. If they didn't have a nuclear capability, we probably wouldn't think twice about pursuing Taliban forces across the border from Afghanistan and bin Laden would be ours by now. But the political shitstorm that would ensue should they respond by firing a nuke or two at India makes the situation all the more complex.

Re:We don't need them anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35413720)

and if you have a way to remove all nuclear weapons from existence as well as the ability for anyone to make them again in the future, i'm sure we'd love to hear it.

nukes are a terrible thing, but i think as the world stands now, they are pretty much a necessary (evil) deterrent.

Re:We don't need them anymore (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413772)

...and bin Laden would be ours by now.

If the U.S. administration of the time hadn't deliberately delayed going after bin Laden, he would have been captured. It's got nothing to do with Pakistan and nukes, it has to do with the number of powerful Americans who will be compromised if he is captured and speaks to anyone.

Re:We don't need them anymore (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413816)

"Now, we can take out buried facilities with a couple of bunker busters."

Uhhhh - which "bunker busters" exactly? Dude - if your target is buried 100, 200, 500, even 1000 feet below the surface - you're not going to get it with "conventianal weapons". I think the "bunker busters" you refer to are actually tactical nukes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_bunker_buster [wikipedia.org]

Note the poor penetration of your conventional weapons when used for bunker busting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunker_buster [wikipedia.org]

Re:We don't need them anymore (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413828)

There are extensive bunker facilities that a conventional weapon can't take out. Like Cheyenne Mountain, Raven Rock Mountain Complex, Heng Shan Military Command Center, Mount Yamantau, and tunnels of the Moscow Subway.

If you are going to kill the US, Russian, Chinese or Taiwanese (to list four) command and control network and make sure the continuity of government goes with it, you'll need nukes.

Re:We don't need them anymore (3, Insightful)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413908)

We can do pretty much anything* we need to with precision guided conventional weapons.
* Except make making victory impossible for the enemy.

FTFY.

Until the other guy doesn't have nukes, you are pretty much stuck with having them. Nukes are largely responsible for preventing the next every 20 years or so ginormous war that was happening up until 1945. While I don't like having stuff around that hand the earth off to the cockroaches, it beats having 50 million people killed in five years every two or three decades.

Fsck ALL these politicians-turned-"statesmen" (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413892)

It's easy for some jackass to come out 20 years after he had any political relevance and state that his approach was equivocally wrong. Now, show me a politician with the COURAGE to do the right thing when there's political pressure to make the wrong, but safe, choice. Fuck you and fuck your legacy!!!

Re:Fsck ALL these politicians-turned-"statesmen" (1)

mano.m (1587187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413976)

It isn't easy. Admitting an approach was 'wrong' damages their legacy. And no one is saying it was wrong then; they are merely saying it is wrong to continue it now.

Cold Warrier (2)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 3 years ago | (#35413954)

Although it does not appear in the Wikipedia definition, it is common for all US military vets that served in the deterrence of the Soviet nuclear threat to call themselves Cold Warriers. I kept Pershing tactical nukes operational during the early 70's. They were in Southern Germany and their purpose was to defend against a Red Army attack from the east. I have several friends that served in similar roles.

World without deterrence (-1, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414090)

Without nukes, there would have been another war between the West and the Soviet Union sometime in the 50s or 60s. With any luck, the good guys would have won and wiped out capitalism forever. But no, nukes existed and as a result we lost the last, best hope for mankind in the great tragedy of 1989. Luckily academia keeps the dream alive and is imparting their wisdom to the next generation of students. There may yet be hope for change.

Re:World without deterrence (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414310)

The 60's called, they want their right-wing rhetoric back.

(and they think your hair is too long, hippy)

Arms Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414188)

If you're interested in this stuff, check out www.armscontrolwonk.com for detailed discussions on the geekery of how to control the spread and use of nukes

Not this century (1)

Tailhook (98486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414298)

At some point in the not too distant future China is going to resume testing warheads. It will violate the CTBT (which it has never ratified) and then engage in whatever rationalization it must at the UN who, while engaging in the obligatory public histrionics, will be only too happy to accept China's renewed nuclear credentials as a bi-polar counter to the US.

On that day this nuclear navel-gazing will be quietly returned to the dusty silhouette on the shelf from which it fell. So don't spend a lot of time on it.

Deterrence is not dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414308)

Deterrence is not dead, but some countries may be harder to deter (I have read and disagree with Shultz). Iran may be one of those. Soviet Union was certainly deterred. Russia is still deterred. China is deterred. North Korea may be difficult to deter. If Iran gets a bomb, you should expect Saudi Arabia and other middle east countries to get one, and they won't care of the US still has them or has given them up.

Deterrence and Realism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35414346)

I am all for a world without nuclear weapons just like I'm all for a world without terrorists. The problem is, how do you ever PROVE that you have eradicated all the terrorists or prove you have eradicated all the nuclear weapons? The harsh reality is that nuclear weapons are orders of magnitude more powerful than our strongest conventional weapons.

So would it be stabilizing if the United States just decided to drop to a unilaterally low number of nuclear weapons, say 50? Countries wtih existing nuclear arsenals would likely be encouraged to build up their arsenals under this scenario to achieve parity or even surpass the U.S. warfighting capability. Additionally, the current U.S. nuclear umbrella extends to approximately 30 allied countries, many of whom posess the knowledge to posess nuclear weapons but have agreed not to develop their own weapons due to our protection. Would they still feel protected if we only had a small number of weapons or would they develop their own nuclear weapons? As additional countries obtain nuclear weapons the whole equation of keeping them safe and secure becomes much more complex.

I would love there to be a magic solution where we could just blink our eyes and nuclear weapons could be un-invented, but I just don't see how it will ever realistically happen. Each of the past 5 U.S. presidents have talked about a goal of eventually getting rid of all of the nuclear weapons in the world and it would be awesome if we could get all dozen or so countries with nuclear weapons to 1) Truly disclose all of their nuclear weapons 2) Cooperatively agree to a disarmament plan that would rid them from all countries and 3) Ensure they would not be re-developed in secret.

Unless that can somehow be achieved, I believe we are more safe by keeping our nuclear weapons around.

Politics will block it (4, Interesting)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35414444)

Ronald Reagan called for a world without nukes, and took concrete steps to slash the arsenals of both the US and USSR.

Obama calls for a future where there will be zero nukes, and his administration's policy is to have both US and Russia reduce the number of nukes by several thousand. And for this, he's rewarded with screeches from the left that Obama hates America, wants to let the terrorists win, doesn't understand war, etc. This is all coming from the Right, a group that is trying to portray Reagan as a saint. How odd that Obama copying Reagan gets jeers.

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