Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by bhsup, Dec 16, 2013.
From this side of the pond it's always looked more like the Articles of Confederation US to me.
Actually, it is. In fact, I've made that comparison not too long ago myself.
Depending on the tone the rising Middle Kingdom decides to set, it's entirely possible that those continental EU countries might start deciding that the Anglosphere would be a welcome addition to cooperation somewhat broader than either one alone. Not necessarily how things work out, but possible.
He may or he may not. The point is, if he's got a few nuclear missiles, he can blackmail, especially if nuclear-armed countries (France and Britain) refuse to make clear guarantees to nuke back if, say, Bulgaria gets nuked.
Nuclear deterrence will work even with the likes of Saddam, Kim Chong-il, etc., most of the time. But given a sufficiently chaotic situation, a sufficiently crazy leader, or one absolutely convinced he's going down anyway, so why not take a few infidels with him, and bad things may happen.
A limited integrated anti-ballistic defence designed to stop a small- to medium-sized nuclear country from blackmailing the whole continent is a profoundly good idea, a better solution than relying on threats of incinerating millions of civilians.
Funny, Russia seems to be scared of EU's enlargement as well...
Do me a favour - make a new year resolution that you won't comment on things you know nothing about.
What you're saying is, for someone who actually does know, like "duh". Yes, nuclear weapons produce fallout. I never claimed otherwise. Different types of them and different uses of them produce different patterns and quantities of radioactive fallout.
My point was, that Russia (or USA, or anybody else except perhaps Israel) wouldn't give a DAMN about the risk of fallout coming from neighbouring countries they just nuked in an all-out nuclear war. That's beyond any reasonable doubt, and your trivial explanation of what fallout is or posting of FEMA maps changes nothing about it.
Yes, there is. Lesser yield, less overall fallout. Airburst, less fallout than groundburst. There is a hell of a lot difference if you detonate a 10 Mt bomb set on groundburst, when it vaporizes huge amounts of rock and soil and dirt, mixes it with fission waste products and spices it with secondary-induced radiation, and then lifts it up into the stratosphere for it to be deposited over huge areas than if you detonate a 300 kT bomb set on airburst.
yes, formy, you've seen the kiddies textbook and know what fissile materials are. Now tell me something I don't know.
Different types of bombs use different amounts of fissile materials. Huge thermonuclear bombs used during the cold war, for example, had outer shells made of U-238. When fusion was initiated inside by a smaller fission device, the fast neutrons initiated fission in the uranium shell. I don't have to say this was dirty as hell, especially if set on groundburst.
Today's nukes are way smaller (almost all below 1 MT yield) because they are more accurate. You don't need a big bang to destroy the target, you only need a smaller one. The fallout produced by these nukes would thus be considerably less heavy than during the heights of the Cold War.
Now when that's clear let's get back on topic
And that argument is based on spurious reasoning, outdated theoretical approaches, and considerable affinity to the military-industrial complex.
I am not arguing for total nuclear disarmament, that's unrealistic and dangerous. I say that a reasonably survivable, second-strike capable arsenal, mostly based on submarine-launched ballistic missiles complemented perhaps with a couple of ICBMs and nuke-tipped air-launched cruise missiles, totalling at maximum ~500 strategic warheads is all that's needed to deter any other sane, rational great power. The smaller, crazy ones and non-state actors won't be deterred by anything anyway.
The logic of the nuclear arms race "just to have more than the other guy" is as circular and fallacious as the logic of the dreadnought race. In the end, it ruins national treasuries and INCREASES the risk of war. Great powers such as China, Britain and France have voluntarily limited themselves to what they consider the "minimum deterrent" capability and are not interested in any kind of a new nuclear arms race. USA and Russia would do well to reduce their own arsenals to this level as well - ideally based on a broader arms limitation treaty covering not only the US and Russia, but other nuclear powers as well. Something like the Washington naval limitations treaty, only with nuclear weapons.
Kinda. In the same way as McCain is scared of Russia enlargement
It's more like they're too poor to do otherwise. The expense is in the architecture to produce the warheads and to credibly deploy them, not in the warheads themselves. Frankly France and the United Kingdom can't afford to maintain much of a credible deterrent, and the PRC has been busy building conventional forces with its limited funds to counter the conventional threat of the US.
Simply saying something is so without articulation is not a particularly convincing rebuttal.
France and Britain could easily afford 5x bigger nuclear arsenals - say by introducing land-based ICBMs. They don't because they don't see any need. (And yes, value-for-money calculations certainly come into it, I am not denying that).
PRC is much richer than the USSR at the time it engaged with the US in a nuclear arms race. If it elected to, it could start ramping up its nuclear production and probably overtake the US in the number of deployed warheads in a matter of less than a decade. But in reality, China has evaluated the real utility of nuclear weapons and realized, rationally, that investing into nuclear arsenal which already meets the minimum deterrence requirement is wasteful and serves no real purpose.
Well, it was not a particularly convincing argument
"I've made an analysis showing that the superpower with more nukes wins more often in various international disputes. I am basing my definitive analysis on the representative sample of two countries, one of which had always had 8x bigger economy, a more modern conventional military, a vastly greater power projection capability, stronger allies, and many other geopolitical advantages for which I have absolutely corrected for!"
I've studied international relations for long enough to know that whenever somebody makes a claim based on statistical analysis of diplomacy, he's most likely wrong. He also didn't propose any *mechanism* for how a numerically greater nuclear arsenal, vastly over the minimum deterrence level, translates into political power, he just asserted that more nukes = better because well, trust me on this. I find it less than convincing. But perhaps I misread, so correct me if I am grossly misinterpreting.
Oh, I don't know. You can't be that good at international relations if you're a self-described Realist.
If someone is absolutely convinced he is going down , would he not rather nuke the threatening country instead of some random European capitals?. And who would be crazy to attack a nuke power who could nuke you? There's a reason why no one is attacking North Korea.
Your scenario involves first of all a crazy country A deciding to finish off a country B which has nukes. And country B leader being crazy to nuke bulgaria or some other European country which has nothing to do with it.
This is not a civilization game.
The UK and France can barely put together a joint carrier development program and the UK is scarcely holding on to its Trident forces given its difficulties in handling Scotland, to say nothing of replacing them. Given Europe's chronic defense-spending shortfalls you'll forgive me if I'm somewhat skeptical of its nuclear powers' ease in developing credible independent capabilities given the UK gave up ICBM development in 1960 and France only ever managed to get to IRBMs.
This is not accurate:
This is highly unlikely given the PRC spends more on domestic security than on defense. The financial burden of having to constantly monitor one's citizens is quite taxing. The PRC's dyad is also not especially impressive and is more or less bare-bones. Meanwhile the legacy US nuclear weapons industry remains quite potent and reprocessing of disassembled weapons is unlikely to pose a significant difficulty either technically or economically. The US has essentially not been trying ever since Peacekeeper was cancelled in the leadup to START II.
I always liked General Zhu's threats in 2005 because of his wording that the PRC would accept losing everything east of Xi'an—there's not really much west of Xi'an. It was a cute but subtle recognition of the fact that despite a 4:1 population advantage, the US's >20:1 warhead advantage would guarantee the PRC would cease to exist in such a circumstance. Given the PRC is largely banking on A2/AD to induce a fait accompli in any endeavor that would draw the US's ire over the next 20–30 years—say, an invasion of Taiwan (nominally under the nuclear umbrella anyway)—I don't think they are feeling particularly secure in their nuclear deterrence.
It's not a very hard rationale to understand. People often compare US strength in 1945 and 1991, but the the truth of the matter is that objectively the US was at its strongest right around 1962:
Interestingly enough, the USSR totally folded on the Cuban Missile Crisis that same year. Had it come to blows, the US would've been heavily damaged, but the USSR would've completely ceased to exist. Conversely, by 1980, the US could do little more than ship Stinger missiles to guerrilla fighters. The mechanism is explained quite plainly:
Even a simple thought experiment serves to illustrate the case: if one side had 10 million nuclear warheads, and the other side had 10 billion, it wouldn't matter that both had enough to destroy the planet a ridiculous number of times over—the one with 10 billion is always going to get the favorable outcome, because there is no possible way for the one with 10 million to overcome it. The same logic holds for smaller numbers and fractional factors as with orders of magnitude. When you can't call the bluff, you fold. The history of the Cold War is demonstrative of the fact, and this is the entire reason the Soviets sought warhead count superiority to begin with: to counterbalance their weaknesses.
Given that the Indians and Pakistanis have their own arms race on the horizon (with Pakistan totally outmatched conventionally and with the Indians also wearily eyeing the PRC), and that Russia has signaled its total disinterest in further reductions (spurred on by the inarguable decay of its conventional military forces) the logic continues to hold—no reason to lower your gun in a Mexican standoff if nobody else is. There's no particularly compelling reason to lower the warhead count further except fpr two: 1. new warheads on new delivery systems would reduce the need for the number of "backups" resulting from the inherent unreliability of warheads designed to operate 10–20 years being pushed well beyond their sell-by dates, and 2. US investment in DEW is beginning to pay concrete dividends and could actually result in the tangible realization of something like SDI, although Theater Missile Defense is more likely—of course, this would only produce a corresponding uptick in opposing forces' missile counts to saturate such defenses...
If everyone were to agree to limit arms, that would be a fairly good reason to do it, but everyone won't, so maintaining and securing an edge remains advisable.
That reason isn't nukes, since the DPRK could only really get them somewhere by truck, boat, or suicide-plane; it's the 8000 artillery pieces pointed at Seoul and an unwillingness to pay for the necessary cleanup (which, given the experience of German Unification, you could anticipate would occupy South Korea for a good 50-100 years), plus the PRC's backing and unpredictable response to such a thing.
I don't claim to be a scholar.
Oh gee, thanks for reminding me. Attacking the Great Satan is of course preferable, but what if he's out of reach? Well, then some of the Satan's allies in Europe may suffice.
I do not claim (let's make that crystal clear so that I don't get more of this crap) that this is likely to happen any time soon. I am saying that having some sort of a limited defence against ballistic missiles is PREFERABLE to relying only on THREATS OF COMMITTING A MASS MURDER OF CIVILIANS (aka nuclear deterrence, if you prefer the standard euphemism) which may or may not dissuade a sufficiently insane leader of a crackpot regime on its last legs.
Certainly there's a good case to be made for keeping one's options open in all respects. Including nuclear weapons.
Even for a hard pacifist like myself.
Though I do tend to think there's not a lot of point in having a weapon you never intend using. And yet one never knows.
You are correct and I was in error.
However, the type of midcourse interceptors the US is working on negate MIRVs by shooting down the missile before they are independently deployed. Given our tracking of Russian boomers (which you have noted as being futile, if I read you correctly) a missile shield (which also encompasses ship-based ABM's) would have a decent chance of shooting down SLBM's as well. But it's a much, much harder thing to shoot down an SLBM than an ICBM, MIRV or no MIRV.
According to the fact that they don't actually publish data on systems tests AFAIK, just vague statements about what their system is supposedly capable of. The US, OTOH, regularly publishes the results of ABM systems, including their numerous failures. Who knows who the Russians are trying to convince about their capabilities? In the absence of actual data though, it's all smoke and mirrors with little more than propaganda value about how potent their arsenal is.
MAD isn't about winning - it's about ensuring the other side loses too. Both sides could first strike the other and both sides have a very good chance of retaliating even if the first strike went through and knocked the other side back to the stone age.
Still don't have any idea what the word "hypocrisy" means?
This is actually a topic that I know a great deal about. Apparently, my knowledge is far greater than your own from the comments you have made.
Only that isn't the statement you made. Now was it? let me refresh your memory:
So, yes. "Anybody" does "care" a great deal about fallout. And, no. There has been no fundamental change to the design and construction of nuclear weapons which make them "much cleaner" than previous generations for the same yield.
Well "duh". But again that isn't what you stated.
I suggest you attempt to take your own advice for a welcome change. You made a comment which you clearly cannot support by facts and I told you why.
But the Soviets certainly couldn't respond with a MAD scenario if the US had "knocked the other side back to the stone age". Now could they? This is especially true given that the Soviet didn't trust their boomer captains enough to constantly have them on duty.
It is the reason that the Soviets always thought the US was planning to first-strike them with an all-out attack, and why they continued to practice elaborate civil defense procedures long after the US had abandoned them.
Now Russia no longer does. Why? The Cold War is finally over even for them, except for some occasional saber rattling by both sides.
The smaller airburst bombs are usually countervalue weapons again, for whatever that happens to be worth. It's not that hard to hit and burn residential Chicago. But it still hits and burns residential Chicago. The bigger counterforce nukes actually tend to burrow before detonation, they're targeting reinforced, buried, "nuclear resistant" structures. Those nukes are where most of the fears of nuclear winter come from, depending on how many go off and how much highly irradiated soil gets flung into the air/how high/how long it comes to come down/how much sunlight it reflects.
Yes they could, they still have their bomber fleets (some of which will be airborne) and their boomers (some of which will be at seat).
Technically in an airburst the fireball never touches the ground. Airburst weapons are used for destroying planes and missiles, as well as generating EMP.
But if they were targeting cities, instead of ICBM sites, they would indeed detonate it above the ground, as they did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And it would still generate a typical mushroom cloud with a sizable amount of fallout, even though it is less than a ground burst.
That is hardly going to be able to produce a MAD-like scenario.
And no, the boomers would have not been at sea for the reasons I mentioned. The US would specifically wait until they were not. But much of the time when they were at sea, the US military knew where they were anyway.
How many bombs have to get through for you to consider it MAD? I'm of the opinion that it really only takes a handful...
And if their new Anti-ABM system is to be believed, then their land based ICBMs will get through because they will have launched as soon as they saw ours coming over the North Pole and we couldn't shoot their counter-strike down.
And even if we knew where they were, do you really think we could have destroyed them all in time to prevent retaliation? I also don't believe that their entire SLBM fleet has been laid up for 2 decades.
MAD means "mutual assured destruction". It would take far more than a handful of nuclear warheads to assure the destruction of the US.
The Soviets thought that the US could stage a sneak attack that left them unable to respond. This is largely the reason why they spent so much effort stealing the codes to be able to decrypt all the Navy dispatches so they would have advanced warning. It doesn't make any sense to first strike if you think the other side can respond sufficiently to assure your own destruction.
It is common knowledge that the Soviet Union didn't trust its boomer commanders sufficiently to allow them to be at sea as they should. They all had the ability to start a nuclear war on their own initiative. But interestingly, the Putin administration is now apparently finally changing that.
Russia to send nuclear submarines to southern seas
I imagine they will have the same sort of fail safe systems which prevented US boomer commanders from doing the same.
Yes, some measures were taken for that case:
Separate names with a comma.