Is one obligated to turn the key?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by SS-18 ICBM, Jan 19, 2014.

?

Launch all remaining nuclear weapons as retaliation?

  1. Yes

    42.2%
  2. No

    57.8%
  1. Souron

    Souron The Dark Lord

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    Ideally you'd launch an attack on the person responsible for the attack -- the head of state of the attacking country. Counter-striking the populous of the attacker would be misdirected. But if a future nuclear attacks can be stopped by a nuclear attack, than that could justify the counterstrike. There's sort of a grim math too it; you want to minimize casualties worldwide, including the victims of future nuclear attacks by the aggressor.
     
  2. Akka

    Akka Moody old mage.

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    It's just completely bogus as a comparison, with absolutely no resemblance between the two scenarios...

    You present a case with a clear-cut guilty person surrounded by clear-cut innocent ones, in a situation where you have a justice system able to apprehend, trial and condemn the criminal.
    How exactly does it compare with a case of nation-states sending nukes ? There is not one single (or even a select few) clear-cut guy responsible for everything and everyone else blameless. There isn't a police nor a judicial system able to pursue them and put them on trial. There isn't a crime that is done by a single person with means that are up to him.

    It's just such a nonsensical comparison I'm stunned you even ask why it's absurd.


    Also, the whole idea of "if it won't bring back people, then there is no point in fighting back" is nice on paper, but it's actually pretty counter-productive in reality - which is the reason why the desire of vengeance is hardwired to us. People do bad things because they think they will get away with it. Validating this point of view is the exact opposite of what you need to be if you actually want to limit such scenario.

    What prevented global nuclear war in the real world was the near-certainty that the other side WOULD retaliate if attacked, certainly not the opposite.
    Of course not, simply living in a country doesn't make you directly responsible for the behaviour of the country (though it could be a lot murkier if the said country is a democracy ; after all, I'm pretty sure we all implicitely imagine ourselve as the Cold-War American guy seeing the Russian nukes coming, and thinking "can I punish an oppressed population for the misbehaving of a few ?", but is it still an argument if we're actually the Soviet guy seeing thousands warheads from the West launched by people-supported governments ?).

    On the other hand, when you're active in a war, you're duty-bound to kill people who have never wronged you personnally. The soldier you're firing at on the battlefield can totally be a nice father or a charity worker after all, does that mean you should stop fighting and check each target for their background ?
     
  3. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I guess I just don't find this reasoning remotely convincing. Reads as a lot of smokes and mirrors, not a real moral consideration of the slaughter of countless innocents, so much as an argument to why you shouldn't feel like you have to make those considerations. To dispose of 200 million lives like a poker chip? I don't have the ability to think like that.

    Which, is maybe a cheap response to as detailed a post as that. But I don't think we're working within reconcilable frameworks, here, and don't really know what else I can say.

    Not exactly comfortable (honestly, I'm basically not sold on the whole premise of state violence), but it at least as the virtue of being discriminating, or at least as discriminating as nuclear weaponry can be. It has a specific and defined strategic intention, rather than using the slaughter of innocents to make a political point.
     
  4. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Closing the barn door after the cows are long gone?
     
  5. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    Not to be that guy, but you're literally what you're telling me is that you refuse to extrapolate the threat a first striking, nation-annihilating nuclear force unto the other 6+ billion people in the face of certain death for 200 million.

    Where do you draw the line. Upward of all of humanity is on the line. 200 million, or 3% of the world population (plus their cultural, artifacts, the animals, etc) is too much. What about 50 million? 1 million? 10 people? 1 person?
     
  6. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    I don't believe I am, no. What I'm saying is that I refuse to bet the lives of two hundred million, to which I have no right or claim of any kind, on that extrapolation.

    I mean, we've already encountered in this scenario the kind of people who would slaughter countless millions for political ends, and they aren't good people. So why should I want to become them?
     
  7. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    Even though in the hypothetical scenario you'd have a helluva lot more specific understanding of what was going on, such that you might actually know something. But you dodged the harder question. Where's the line?
     
  8. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    It's not my understanding that military personnel are trained in the arts of diviniation, and thus not able to predict the death-toll assocaited with their opting not to launch in any reliable way.

    I don't think there is a line. Killing innocent and defenceless people is wrong; that isn't really a negotiable point. Most likely you can draw up some scenario in which it could still be taken as the lesser evil (if a lesser evil is possible; I'm honestly not sure), but I'm not convinced this qualifies, again because it relies on unsubstantiated hypotheses about how the world might be.
     
  9. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    I'm calling BS. Divorcing uncertain morally good from certain morally bad allows you to posture a position that is one of certain moral "not-bad" which is the only clean-hands position you can possibly take. But it's a fake position.

    You swapped "Traitorfish the educated in history, as nuclear commander in chief" with "military personal not educated in magic". But even so, risk managers at the Pentagon are trained to do just that, and they don't analyze risk like the banks do.

    Indeed we have two whole macro branches of academia, the humanities and social sciences, devoted to understanding what people do.

    Your argument is
    Morality of (Uncertain Good(a) + Uncertain Bad(b)) > Morality of (Uncertain Good(c) + Certain Bad(d))

    No matter how great a, b, or c could be, no matter how small d could be. Your risk tolerance is zero. If I said I'd sell you a single lottery ticket for a single quid, with a £5 million payout, and I wasn't going to tell anyone else who didn't happen to ask if I was hosting a lottery, by this same logic the best financial thing to do is not buy the lottery ticket because for sure you're losing a pound and we can't know if someone won't show up and buy 4.9 million tickets.

    Only replace some things and add two orders of complexity. Swap "opt in" with "can't opt out". Swap "maybe win £5 million" with "definitely not lose between 0-100% of your whole remaining £7,000" and "1 quid ticket" with "a sliding scale of £100 to £300". Add that the loss value of 0-100% is not random, but might be predictable (statements of intent made by the bank robbers, studies of history and sociology, etc) and is additionally a function of how much you choose to spend.

    But here's where it gets weird to me. Whereas before your risk tolerance by your logic is zero, here your risk tolerance by your logic is 100%. Your tolerance of certain loss is zero, so you buy the £100 ticket in hopes it all goes away under the guise that losing upward 200 more is just wrong, so wrong it's "not really a negotiable point", but the chance that more would be lost, or chunks of the account would be frozen (oppression) for periods of time, is acceptable.
     
  10. ParkCungHee

    ParkCungHee Deity

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    Okay, refusing aside, I don't think there's anyone in the world who can actually extrapolate from that scenario.
     
  11. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    I think I agree but I'd appreciate a clarification.
     
  12. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Well, I'm sorry you feel that way. As I said, I think we're working with basically irreconcilable frameworks. Nobody's changing anybody's mind on this one, and given how unlikely it is that either of us are going to find ourselves in command of a nuclear arsenal at any point in the near future, I don't think we should worry too much about doing so.
     
  13. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    I have love that you refuse to disregard human life, and your type of arguing is often that needed bucket of cold water for anyone who gets too caught up in neoliberalist masturbatory abstractions of how we can rule other peoples' lives. If everyone had a similar take to yours the world's problems would shrink quickly and such a hypothetical would not be worth discussing because we'd have dismantled virtually all of our nuclear weapons (only kept ones we needed to deal with nature, though nuking asteroids is probably a bad idea).

    One of the reasons I'm bothering to spell it out so much and argue every point is that if you and I disagree about something, I want to explore that disagreement. When I took a couple months off last year from CFC one of the reasons I did was that I thought to myself "Traitorfish is saying all the things I would say in the way I want them said". (When I took a year off almost a decade ago, that award went to Bill3000).

    So what do you find superior about your framework to mine that I did not adequately address?
     
  14. Rashiminos

    Rashiminos Fool Prophet

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    Given the original scenario, the difference between retaliation and not is total human annihilation and stone age. Nuking a large power into oblivion would collapse civilization, even without the extreme interference global rocket tag would provoke.:assimilate:
     
  15. ParkCungHee

    ParkCungHee Deity

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    I mean, I don't think there's anyone in the world that can reasonably decipher all the consequences of this course of action. I mean, if we've just removed the two most powerful nations on the planet, and the two of the largest oil suppliers, leaving vast stretches of mostly unpopulated, undefended, resource rich regions in the middle of a shattered world economy, where nuclear annihilation is now considered the norm.

    Does this sound like a recipe for peace? Can we calculate how many wars that will cause, how long they will linger and how that would go, and how that compares to the threat of Russia's global ambitions?

    Furthermore, what is the extent of those ambitions? Yes, they are willing to consign millions to their deaths but evidently, so are you when push comes to shove. On top of that, with their nuclear arsenal launched the Russians have kind of blown their wad. Yeah, they'll be entirely free to bully any neighboring country they like that is not China, North Korea, Japan or anything Europe wants to pick a fight over...which isn't that different from where they are today.

    The pentagon wasn't able to figure out the localized fallout of an airstrike over Libya, something it had endless precedents for, and the whole affair still came as a surprise.

    I find it very hard to believe that anyone can therefor accurately predict the effects of unleashing nuclear devastation across and entire country.

    Therefor, the only thing we can make predictions about is the direct consequences (and if we can't make predictions about that, turning the key does not matter). The one thing we can say with a fair degree of certainty is that turning the key will kill millions of people, while not turning the key will not.
     
  16. Cryopyre

    Cryopyre Chieftain

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    No.

    The primary damage would be done to cities and inhabitants of cities. Although American targets are presumably *not* aimed at civilian targets, they do view factories of military parts and military bases as targets, and those tend to be near cities. Indeed, war is fueled by civilians, and without civilians war cannot be supplied, this is why aerial bombing became a tactic at all.

    For all of the petty squabbles that initiated this nuclear mess, I am not going to further it by destroying any more of humanity. Suffice to say that if my country is being targeted, the world will have enough on its plate without me burying it further with some misguided attempt at vengeance/justice.
     
  17. Farm Boy

    Farm Boy The long wait

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    Only real thing I have to add there is that I'm pretty sure American targets for the nuclear arsenal explicitly include civilian centers. That's the deterrent rather than offensive capability part of the weapon. It's the part bares its teeth and promises to kill everyone you've ever known if you should decide to nuke first.
     
  18. Silurian

    Silurian Deity

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    Nuking a large power into oblivion would not collapse civilisation: if you assume that it will not cause a collapse of the ecosystem.

    To cause a collapse of civilisation the nuking would have to be more wide spread. Say take out all oil refineries in the world.
     
  19. CavLancer

    CavLancer This aint fertilizer

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    China has only 250 nukes, Russia has the most at 8,500.

    http://www.ploughshares.org/world-nuclear-stockpile-report

    I would have a tough time turning a key. While the leadership of the country that nuked me should die, that retaliation might kill millions upon millions of innocent people. One could become a worse mass murderer than Hitler in a moment.
     
  20. Rashiminos

    Rashiminos Fool Prophet

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    Crop failure + mass cancer die-off.

    If the enemy were to avoid targeting civilian centers, that would just suggest places for military infrastructure to be shielded.
     

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