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Theory: The case for nukes. War is a greater threat than proliferation is.

 
 
georgeob1
 
  2  
Reply Sun 26 Jun, 2016 08:23 pm
@Robert Gentel,
There is general agreement among historians and most strategic analysts that, during the Cold War, the balance of terror of the Soviet and U.S nuclear capasbilities, and the systems both powers applied to keep them targeted, ready and in approximate balance, did indeed prevent a likely cataclysmic conflict between the competing powers. Indeed it is hard to find another protracted competition between anttithetical competing great powers with significant conflicting interests in which there was no major direct conflict and war between them. This is significant.

As a parallel matter, we have seen that, even with conventional weaponry alone, beginning with WWI the destruction and carnage attendant to a major war between competing nations or larger alliances is far greater than attended previous conflicts in the Modern Age. With that in mind the case that the nuclear standoff during the cold war was finally resolved with far less death and destruction than were most conflicts between major powers in the last few cewnturies, appears very strong indeed.

There were indeed local wars, sometimes fought with proxies for the major powers during the Cold war. However bad and destructive as they were they were far less so than the Great Power wars of the 20th Century.

In general most strategic theorists accept the principle that deterrence (of war in this case) occurs when a rational opponent cannot calculate a successful outcome in a conflict : that's enough - it isn't necessary for him to calculate he will surely lose. Human behavior and that of governments aren't always rational, but for the most part this, understanding is validated by history. (Sadly the final descent into WWI may well be one of the best examples of unanticipated irrationality in the modern Age.)

A contemporary world with multiple nuclear powers, some large and some very small quickly becomes a lot harder to calculate, for all involved. Conceivably that could indeed be a major deterent force. However this situaton also creates new risks for all. One example is the continuing face-off between Pakistan and India in which each power has a nudlear "deterrent" largely aimed at the other. The outbreak of a conflict between them could easily trip a broader one among other nuclear powers leading to a general catastrophe. Because of the multiple actors involved the confusion and difficulties in calculating outcomes may be vastly increased leading to greater risk of irrational choices. At another poole there is the case of a nuclear armed North Korea, a very small, very authoritarian state, without much to lose. An assassin from tiny Serbia caused the triggers to be pulled starting WWI :North Korea could go the came in the nuclear age.
spooky24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jun, 2016 06:08 am
@georgeob1,
A fine assessment however Intercontinental ballistic missiles are obsolete and it would be sheer lunacy to launch them because neither side knows the extent of their missile defense systems.
Exoatmospheric interceptors developed by Israel, are largely unknown in the West-as the official story goes-however it's good possibility that they are deployed by every country with the capability of defending themselves.
Like so many countries in Eurasia the conflicts between Pakistan and India go back thousands of years and other than occasional small boarder disputes that are mostly small arms affairs the countries are at peace.
As long as your enemies are kept in the dark about your strengths they will never attack you. Alexander the Great used this to fake out his adversaries then pounce on them. Calvary general Nathan Bedford Forrest, with his fake fires, singers, noisemakers and about every other trick in the book could make the enemy believe that his 10 man platoon was company strength.
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Jun, 2016 07:35 am
@spooky24,
spooky24 wrote:

A fine assessment however Intercontinental ballistic missiles are obsolete and it would be sheer lunacy to launch them because neither side knows the extent of their missile defense systems.


Do you really know that rather sweeping and unqualified statement to be true? I doubt it very seriously. Moreover the defense systems to ehich you refer are not nearly as widespread, tested, proven or proven as you suggest.

Finally I question your use of the term "neither side" . The world is now decidedly multi polar, and rthe complexity of this problem is now far grearter than during the Cold War.
spooky24
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2016 06:22 am
@georgeob1,
I'll buy that a multi polar world has complicated the issue. Russia's mobile launcher TOPAL M was thought to have been a first strike ICBM however few are deployed because of it's slow speed in reference to satellite surveillance systems. The top speed of the arc is around 9500 mph while the mobile Atlas interceptors top speed is 30,000 mph. Today there is 21 century MAD or mutually assured destruction that any first strike could be detected and impacted by drone interceptor but after that things go down hill fast because a second wave could overload the system-for both sides. If anyone is going to risk a first strike it would be assured that it would be a battlefield tactical weapon-aimed at Israel no doubt-and again things could go downhill rapidly in this situation as well.

For the last time the 'dirty bomb' was a total fabrication by the media. Nothing like that has ever been made, or even attempted as radiation just doesn't work like that. To activate a bombardment of electrons requires an enormous ordnance to began the cycle of a chain reaction. It amazes me that the media could convince people that grocery sack full of cesium could be placed in Battery park in downtown Manhattan and 'set off'' to fry everyone.
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 30 Jun, 2016 07:38 am
@spooky24,
Well a "sack full of cesium_ used to clad a nuclear bomb would indeed be pretty dirty and would leave the park with high levels of fairly high enrgy gamma radiation for a long time after the blast and thermal energy killed everyone in Manhattan n orth of the Battery.
spooky24
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jul, 2016 05:45 am
@georgeob1,
You have a point. If you could somehow find a containment vessel for used rods from the fission, the isotopes of caesium 137 released from their containment( liquid hydrogen) in the air some bad, bad things would happen-and they would happen very fast. You know the government(TVA) has looked at this and simulated it however the only defense against this is to not let it happen. Depending on the wind every thing from the park all the way to midtown-in a semi circle including Brooklyn, Jersey (no great loss) all the way to Yonkers would be consumed by something-what that is I hope we never have to find out.

At a half life of 2.3 million years well, just not let it happen. Something like that may have happened at Fukushima as the level of the containment pools went down after the power grid went off line.
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Jul, 2016 10:04 am
@spooky24,
Cesium 135 has radioactive decay involving other (barium isotopes) with a decay period of millions of years. However the energy released in these decays is very slight and it is not considered a radiologiacal hazard. Cesium 137 has higher energy and more hazardous decay products, but a half life of just 30 years.. Both isotopes are abudant in spent nuclear fuel, but their containment is a relatively simple and inexpensive engineering problem.

The unseen and generally misunderstood hazards of nuclear radiation have led to rather irrational reactions to their dangers. Over 15,000 Japanese people were killed in the Tusnami that engulfed the eastern shore of the main island. No one was killed in the Fukushima reactor accident. Indeed the most exposed worker (based on Japanese government reports) received a lower radiation dose that one gets from a CAT scan of his/her torso. This accident was entirely preventable. Had the backup deisel generator been built at the original (before construction) elevation of its location it wouldn't have happened at all. In addition the Utility had stored about twice the mass of spent fuel above the reactor structure than was authorized in the design. That contributed to the Hydrogen buildup which caused the breech.
spooky24
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2016 06:49 am
@georgeob1,
3I agree. That was just a meeting of the minds and not meant to be technical or practicable.
It's funny decades ago all around the plant there were these 'evacuation signs' and maps with all these funny arrows pointing this or that way. After the 8.6 billion dollar refit and unit 3 was lit they took all that stuff down.
TVA never said a word about it however most thought that running was not going to do you any good, and because of prevailing winds, you are better just staying where you are.
After 9/11 and another gazillion more dollars the plant is now safer that it has ever been from any kind of attack from the air. For years photos of the plant had been redone so that it looked totally different than it really does look like. And the buffer zone now extended some 25 miles.
If you recall in 1944 the Skoda Arms works on the Austria-Hungary border were elaborately rebuilt from balloons, cardboard and or anything laying around to resemble the plant from the air.
Same thing here as the pictures you see of Browns Ferry are not at all what it looks like as a measure to prevent terrorism.
In the build up to Operation Uranus the Red Army used reindeer, glue pots and logs painted silver to fool Luftwaffe search planes that the railway was being extended when in reality scores of canvas covered lorries were going the other direction.
The Grand Master of them all Confederate Calvary General Nathan Bedford Forrest used a series of hollowed out logs, his drum and fife corps, along with hundreds of deer antlers being rattled by his mobile wounded, to convince General Alexander McCook that his infantry was gathering in his rear.
Although McCook was blamed for the first day massacre President Grant said it was the heartiest laugh he ever heard from President Lincoln about the gaslight-a term used a lot in the war.
That happened about 9 miles from here.
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