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The U.S. removes the nuclear brakes
May 27, 2005 7:25 AM   Subscribe

The U.S. removes the nuclear brakes Under the cloak of secrecy imparted by use of military code names, the American administration has been taking a big - and dangerous - step that will lead to the transformation of the nuclear bomb into a legitimate weapon for waging war. Ever since the terror attack of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has gradually done away with all the nuclear brakes that characterized American policy during the Cold War. No longer are nuclear bombs considered "the weapon of last resort." No longer is the nuclear bomb the ultimate means of deterrence against nuclear powers, which the United States would never be the first to employ. In the era of a single, ruthless superpower, whose leadership intends to shape the world according to its own forceful world view, nuclear weapons have become a attractive instrument for waging wars, even against enemies that do not possess nuclear arms.
posted by mk1gti (96 comments total)

 
How can this not create more problems than it solves?

This is for America:

.
posted by bwerdmuller at 7:33 AM on May 27, 2005


A significantly more detailed look at the same information in the Washington Post:
"CONPLAN 8022 anticipates two different scenarios. The first is a response to a specific and imminent nuclear threat, say in North Korea

The inclusion, therefore, of a nuclear weapons option in CONPLAN 8022 -- a specially configured earth-penetrating bomb to destroy deeply buried facilities, if any exist -- is particularly disconcerting.
The WaPo is still very concerned, but they actually give facts.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 7:35 AM on May 27, 2005


(note that the above WaPo article is an OPINION piece, not a news story. That said, it's in the Sunday Outlook which is among the best opinion journalism in newsprint)
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 7:36 AM on May 27, 2005


I'm glad John Kerry so strongly admonished the Bush Administration over this during his campaign.

Oh wait.
posted by ignu at 7:41 AM on May 27, 2005


I'll just go along with bwerdmuller

.
posted by mk1gti at 7:42 AM on May 27, 2005


Can we just get going with the nuclear war already? I don't want to have to work through the weekend for nothing.
posted by helvetica at 7:54 AM on May 27, 2005


Time to go sit in a box and drink beer from a hat.
posted by Cyrano at 8:02 AM on May 27, 2005


nuclear weapons have become a attractive instrument for waging wars

The problem with that line of argument is that you have to assume that the administration doesn't care that the US would be kicked out of the UN for use of nuclear weapons, doesn't care that drilling for oil is really expensive when the workers have to wear radioactive suits, and doesn't care about having to pay the cleanup cost for whatever damage it wrecks (like we're paying right now in Iraq). Nuclear war, even on a small scale, is just too costly.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 8:03 AM on May 27, 2005


This to me seems like opportunistic bush bashing. While I have little positive to say about this administration, I do not think any other administration would do anything differently. Developing and having a capability (including alerting those who may oppose us that it exists) is far different from using it.

don't most historians agree that the deterrent of nuclear war was mutually assured destruction? I am sure the south koreans will rest easier knowing (if it comes to it) n korea could be handled without seoul being entirely decimated in the process.

while I would hate to see such weapons being used, I would much rather have them in my arsenal as an option, than be at the mercy of some whacked out despot with little regard for the consequences.
posted by cbjg at 8:03 AM on May 27, 2005


I think the mindset goes down like this:

When we HAD a cold war, the russians didn't wanna get nuked and neither did the americans, so as long as both sides mutually understood that "if you blow us up in twelve minutes we can do it to you in eleven minutes so go ahead and push that button we dare you," both sides would chicken out and it was like a flinch fest for several decades.

Nowadays there's crazy people with nukes. People who won't come to the negotiating table like good little weasels. People who convince their pee-ons to strap dynamite to their chests and go order a happy meal. So the american political engine is panicking.

There's no way to negotiate with terrorists. It's not just a matter of trying to rise above their level. You literally can't negotiate with someone who'd just as soon blow your face off as play Stratego with you over cocktails. I mean a game of poker is over a lot faster when people start pulling out guns and shooting each other, but the end result is nobody wins the pot. So greed and self-preservation won out in the cold war. Nobody wanted to die. Nobody wanted their cities to radiate for twenty years. There's no profit in that kinda outcome no matter how many computers you got figuring out the numbers for ya.

We all know that the whole nuclear cold war crap was just overweight, overbearing men on both sides of the Atlantic swinging rocket-sized dildos at each other and saying bad things about one another's mothers. However, today we got people with no dicks blowing up diners and cutting off reporters' heads on videotape. Just swinging dicks around isn't sufficient for men with no dicks.

The 'civilized' society believes it can't afford to have so many 'failsafes' and obstacles in the path of pushing the button, when their psychotic enemies have no such obstacles and would mail a nuclear weapon to Washington DC in something the size of a Samsonite if they could just figure out how to do it.

The american political machine and the american military made the nuclear bomb into a legitimate weapon for waging war back in 1947 or whenever we blew up Hiroshima. How we survived into the 1970s is anyone's guess. How we'll make it to 2070? So long as we got idiots in favor of blowing one another up, I don't think we will.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:14 AM on May 27, 2005


So the US won't get all mad when some other country develops/uses their own nuke?
I mean, since nukes are now considered a legitimate warfare weapon.

And all that stuff about how WMD's were SOoo bad.. I suppose that was just an incorrect conclusion, based on faulty information.
posted by Balisong at 8:18 AM on May 27, 2005


The american political machine and the american military made the nuclear bomb into a legitimate weapon for waging war back in 1947 or whenever we blew up Hiroshima.

Not to quibble but to note: it is the 60th anniversary of that event come this August 6th.

Today, there are still 30,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of just eight nations.
posted by y2karl at 8:23 AM on May 27, 2005


They misspelled "Stratcom" in that article. "CONPLAN 8022 is a series of operational plans prepared by Startcom, the U.S. Army's Strategic Command." How annoying. This proves that what the world really needs is more proofreaders. Have proofreaders ever waged nuclear war? Nuff said.
posted by goatdog at 8:25 AM on May 27, 2005




So the US won't get all mad when some other country develops/uses their own nuke?
I mean, since nukes are now considered a legitimate warfare weapon.


The obvious point is that this is a backup plan, not a legitimization. Having a plan and wanting to use it are two very different things. I have a plan for what I would do if I were pulled over for speeding, but I have no desire to have to implement it.

The more subtle point is that if you don't care who has the weapon in qusetion then maybe you have a point. Otherwise, it's pretty much nonsense. If you think that a small unstable dictatorship with nothing-to-lose having a nuclear weapon is the same thing as a large democracy operating under the rule-of-law then sure.

There are very good reasons why the two situations are different.

Not the least is that any small arsenal is unstable because it can be destroyed by a first-strike. Having 30,000 nuclear weapons is much more stable than having 5 -- even if 29,000 of the 30,000 were destroyed by a first-strike there would be still be enough to go around. The holder of 30,000 can rest comfortably knowing that anybody who picks a fight will end up in a charred heap of ash. Thus, nobody is likely to pick a fight, and neither side gains from striking first.

However, if you only have 5 then you want to make sure you use them before somebody has a chance to knock them out. Or if you're on the other side, you want to knock out the nuclear weapons before they can be used. Thus, both sides have an incentive to strike first. That's an unstable situation.

I don't know about you, but I much prefer it that nuclear weapons are in fewer hands.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 8:31 AM on May 27, 2005


how are ve doink on ze mineshafts?
posted by muppetboy at 8:38 AM on May 27, 2005


One way of looking at this is that, like Reagan, Bush is perhaps just crazy enough to use these against N. Korea or Iran and that uncertainty may very well deter them from continuing their nukular program, or not. They may actually want to provoke such a strike just to discredit the US.
posted by caddis at 8:41 AM on May 27, 2005


Mein Führer! I can walk!!
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:47 AM on May 27, 2005


The dot?
Apparently I've missed some part of mefi/internet etiquette. What is meant by commenting with '.'?
(I know the dot as signifying 'current' or 'selected' but that does not make sense here.

Oh, and on the article: the worse kind of Hollywood action movie follows the following ethic: law-abiding citizen lives according to 'do not unto others...'. Then something awful happens to him (wife raped and children slaughtered by grinning sadist f.i.) and then he's absolved from any restraint, moral perception of nuances to kill anybody that has anything to do with the grinning sadist. Eventually he kills a lot more people than were killed by the grinning sadist.

I call this the 'righteous revenge' genre.
Any similarities to the war in Iraq are intended.

So what does this have to do with nuclear weapons?
The re-evaluation of the suitability of nuclear weapons as active aggressive means of war seems part of a larger moral direction within the US government: 9/11 licenses the US to dispense with any ethics based on mutuality towards non-americans.
posted by joost de vries at 8:50 AM on May 27, 2005


large democracy operating under the rule-of-law... is that the same rule-of-law that the large democracy establishes for itself, you know, by ignoring international treaties, bypassing the UN, establishing norms of engagement which would be deemed illegal if perpetrated by any other state... ?
posted by shoez at 8:52 AM on May 27, 2005


perhaps just crazy enough to use these against N. Korea or Iran and that uncertainty may very well deter them from continuing their nukular program, or not

FYI, Iran just promised to stop their weapons program, basically in exchange for WTO membership. This isn't the first time they have made the same promise, but it's a step.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 8:55 AM on May 27, 2005


is that the same rule-of-law that the large democracy establishes for itself, you know, by ignoring international treaties, bypassing the UN, establishing norms of engagement which would be deemed illegal if perpetrated by any other state

That's not what the "rule of law" refers to. See the Wiki for one definition. It's a specific concept in both law and politics.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 8:57 AM on May 27, 2005


Is hyprocracy the new patriotism?
posted by Balisong at 8:58 AM on May 27, 2005


Is hyprocracy the new patriotism?

Care to elaborate beyond the snipe? The sources say that "there is a plan whereby the US could use weapons in this fashion." How is it hyocritical to have such a plan? It seems to me that having a plan and not using it is far greater than needing a plan and not having it. No weapons have been moved, nothing new has been built. All that's changed is there is now a piece of paper somewhere in the Pentagon outlining how the US could handle a certain threat.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:03 AM on May 27, 2005


wow. i never thought about hypocracy. that's like rule by the hypocrites.
posted by muppetboy at 9:05 AM on May 27, 2005


oh wait. we already have that.
posted by muppetboy at 9:06 AM on May 27, 2005


"is that the same rule-of-law that the large democracy establishes for itself, you know, by ignoring international treaties, bypassing the UN, establishing norms of engagement which would be deemed illegal if perpetrated by any other state

That's not what the "rule of law" refers to. See the Wiki for one definition. It's a specific concept in both law and politics."

no, i agree. you need to delete to characters. that's the rule of w.
posted by muppetboy at 9:08 AM on May 27, 2005


ugh. two. i dropped the w. ;-)
posted by muppetboy at 9:09 AM on May 27, 2005


The question is, if the US nuke North Korea down to radioactive ashes so the South Koreans can move in and live there in three or four hundred years, will the line "In the long term we're bringing democracy to North Korea" fly?
posted by nkyad at 9:09 AM on May 27, 2005


i can think of nothing more democratic than a state without people.
posted by muppetboy at 9:10 AM on May 27, 2005


The problem with that line of argument is that you have to assume that the administration doesn't care that the US would be kicked out of the UN for use of nuclear weapons.

John Bolton.

doesn't care that drilling for oil is really expensive when the workers have to wear radioactive suits,

Oilmen pass the costs onto the consumer, make billions.

and doesn't care about having to pay the cleanup cost for whatever damage it wrecks (like we're paying right now in Iraq).

Halliburton.

Nuclear war, even on a small scale, is just too costly.

But the profits are incredible.
posted by eriko at 9:14 AM on May 27, 2005


Of course the US is going to get mad when other countries try to develop nuclear weapons, those weapons might be used against us. This will be the case, no matter what our policy about their use is. Furthermore, it is perfectly acceptable for the US to take that position. All countries are trying to maximize their own power, and minimize the power of others. If it were France in our place, they would do the same thing.

The whole MAD thing was not a moral statement, it was a statement of what was in the best interests of all parties involved. Now, our interests diverge from those of our enemies. The use of American nuclear arms against a non-nuclear armed country need not result in our own destruction given the current balance of power. This change in policy merely reflects the change in the geopolitical realities of our time.

If the other countries of the world want to react to this by threatening to retaliate in kind if the US ever employs nuclear weapons, I think that would probably be a decent idea. Otherwise, don't be surprised when we try to use every means at our disposal to extend our power.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:16 AM on May 27, 2005


"Now, our interests diverge from those of our enemies."

an interesting statement indeed.
posted by muppetboy at 9:20 AM on May 27, 2005


Guys, calm down! It's just a plan, right? That doesn't mean they're actually going to build them, OK?

Like when, in early 2002, BushCo. was drawing up plans to invade Iraq, and telling everyone he wasn't --- it was just a plan, OK? It's not like he was going to actually go through with it!
posted by fungible at 9:34 AM on May 27, 2005


Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days' concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:36 AM on May 27, 2005


uh oh. i know all kinds of people who aren't planning to use nuclear weapons!
posted by muppetboy at 9:37 AM on May 27, 2005


Good faith participation in international negotiation on nuclear disarmament—including participation in the CTBT [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty ]—is a legal and political obligation of all parties to the NPT that entered into force in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995. The Bush administration’s nuclear program, alongside its refusal to ratify the CTBT, will be viewed, with reason, by many nations as equivalent to a U.S. break from the treaty. It says to the nonnuclear weapons nations, “We, with the strongest conventional military force in the world, require nuclear weapons in perpetuity, but you, facing potentially well-armed opponents, are never to be allowed even one nuclear weapon.”

If the United States continues its current nuclear stance, over time, substantial proliferation of nuclear weapons will almost surely follow. Some, or all, of such nations as Egypt, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Taiwan will very likely initiate nuclear weapons programs, increasing both the risk of use of the weapons and the diversion of weapons and fissile materials into the hands of rogue states or terrorists. Diplomats and intelligence agencies believe Osama bin Laden has made several attempts to acquire nuclear weapons or fissile materials. It has been widely reported that Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, former director of Pakistan’s nuclear reactor complex, met with bin Laden several times. Were al Qaeda to acquire fissile materials, especially enriched uranium, its ability to produce nuclear weapons would be great. The knowledge of how to construct a simple gun-type nuclear device, like the one we dropped on Hiroshima, is now widespread. Experts have little doubt that terrorists could construct such a primitive device if they acquired the requisite enriched uranium material. Indeed, just last summer, at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry said, “I have never been more fearful of a nuclear detonation than now.… There is a greater than 50 percent probability of a nuclear strike on U.S. targets within a decade.” I share his fears.


Apocalypse Soon
By Robert S. McNamara

New Scientist: Bunker-busting nukes could devastate civilians
posted by y2karl at 9:40 AM on May 27, 2005


I feel safe because our air force controls our nuclear weapons and they go through all kinds of background checks and stuff. They would never use faith over reason.
posted by mk1gti at 9:42 AM on May 27, 2005


One of the many problems with the war in Iraq is that it proved to smaller nations (or really any nation paying attention) that the only way to truly prevent a US invasion is to have nukes. So, now Iran, N Korea, and undoubtedly many other nations are scrambling to get nukes. The only way we can respond is to have a formidable nuclear aresenal, but one that won't destroy friendly nations nearby. So we develop smaller nukes. We (Bush) have created a new arms race.

Also, the monetary costs of cleaning up a nuclear war are nothing but profits in the pockets of a military contractor. I'm in the military, I've seen it with my own eyes. The biggest scam I've ever seen is military contracting.
posted by tcobretti at 10:00 AM on May 27, 2005


i don't think iraq proved this. it just underscored something everyone has known for decades.
posted by muppetboy at 10:11 AM on May 27, 2005


thedevildancedlightly: "The problem with that line of argument is that you have to assume that the administration doesn't care that the US would be kicked out of the UN for use of nuclear weapons, doesn't care that drilling for oil is really expensive when the workers have to wear radioactive suits, and doesn't care about having to pay the cleanup cost for whatever damage it wrecks (like we're paying right now in Iraq). Nuclear war, even on a small scale, is just too costly."

Sorry, I have to disagree. It's extremely frustrating to have these powerful weapons which are basically unusable. The desire to erase the nuclear taboo, to make nuclear weapons usable, goes back to Eisenhower. (See Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Cycles of American History.) Hence the Bush administration's interest in developing bunker-buster nuclear weapons: it provides a rationale for using nuclear weapons and getting around the nuclear taboo.

Since the nuclear taboo is tremendously beneficial to the US (the US has enormous advantages in conventional warfare which would be negated by nuclear warfare), this is short-sighted insanity.

cbjg: "This to me seems like opportunistic bush bashing. While I have little positive to say about this administration, I do not think any other administration would do anything differently."

Not true. The Clinton administration sought to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but failed.
posted by russilwvong at 10:28 AM on May 27, 2005


russilwvong: just a guess, by can't what administrations do and say publicly (clinton and his goal to ratify a test ban treaty) be different from whatever blackops, skunkworks some part of the government might be working on?

we need to recognize the reality of the world we live in (with rogues leaders, radicals, and whatnots). sure we don't want other people and countries developing this stuff, but one of the nice perks of being the only superpower in the world is we get to make many of the rules and do not necessarily have to follow them.

suppose we really stop our development in this area and some radical dictator does decide to use one of their own little nukes? who do you think the rest of the world is going to look to (and expect) to retaliate? france and the UN? i don't think so.

our government is being pragmatic, not reckless
posted by cbjg at 10:48 AM on May 27, 2005


it really is insane.
posted by amberglow at 10:49 AM on May 27, 2005


suppose we really stop our development in this area and some radical dictator does decide to use one of their own little nukes? our government is being pragmatic, not reckless

Yeah, good thing we took care of Saddam before he nuked the world.
posted by c13 at 11:00 AM on May 27, 2005


I bet people would start taking MetaFilter more seriously if we had a nuclear weapon.

*plans*
posted by graventy at 11:09 AM on May 27, 2005


cbjg writes "suppose we really stop our development in this area and some radical dictator does decide to use one of their own little nukes? "

This is quite ridiculous. The quantity and quality of the present American nuclear arsenal is enough to render the whole planet a radioactive desert many times over, not to say any single country with a few dozen limited weapons. Specially when only things radical dictators can hope to build are dirty bombs or at most Hiroshima-class weapons with a limited range. And I believe what is being discussed is not the US capacity for retaliation but the use of nuclear weapons before the another country uses them, as a "business as usual" option.

On preview, graventy writes "I bet people would start taking MetaFilter more seriously if we had a nuclear weapon. "

Specially those bastards at /. with their damned "effect" weapons.
posted by nkyad at 11:12 AM on May 27, 2005


No longer is the nuclear bomb the ultimate means of deterrence against nuclear powers, which the United States would never be the first to employ.

In the Reagan Era there was always talk about the use of tactical nukes in Germany and Poland in the event of a Russian armor "blizkrieg." NATO nukes have historically not just been a deterrant against strategic bombing, but against the massive armor and infantry superiority of Russia and China. The basic belief was that the U.S. and its allies could not win a full-scale conventional war in Europe or Asia. It would also do whatever was necessary to avoid yielding any more territory in Europe or Asia. Thus, a lot of mobile low-yield short-range nukes scattered over West Germany and the rest of Europe.

There was actually a really interesting diplomatic crisis back in '87 or '88 if I remember right when the West German government voted to remove the low-yield short-range nukes in their borders (perhaps realizing that unification was close, and having nukes aimed at their back yard was a bad thing.) This movement was quickly quashed by a personal meeting between Reagan and Kohl.

While both the U.S and Soviet Union were committed to MAD on a strategic level. There were a lot of thought experiments and mind games about who could get away with what on a tactical level. The problem is that nobody could agree on whether the use of a few tactical nukes on tanks in Poland or the Korean DMZ would result in strategic attacks against cities. (And that is not getting into issues of nukes in naval warfare.)

To my memory, the U.S. has always been willing to consider being the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. It has just set some pretty high standards about how dire of a situation justifies their use.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:24 AM on May 27, 2005


but one of the nice perks of being the only superpower in the world is we get to make many of the rules and do not necessarily have to follow them.

wow.

please, please tell me you're joking.

if you aren't...good god. i don't even know what to say.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:27 AM on May 27, 2005


"just a guess, can't what administrations do and say publicly (clinton and his goal to ratify a test ban treaty) be different from whatever blackops, skunkworks some part of the government might be working on?"

I doubt it. The American government isn't very good at keeping secrets. Supposedly the Bush White House is superb at message discipline, and it leaks like a sieve. Hell, Clinton couldn't even keep Lewinsky a secret.

"sure we don't want other people and countries developing this stuff, but one of the nice perks of being the only superpower in the world is we get to make many of the rules and do not necessarily have to follow them."

You're overestimating the importance of force (where the US is undoubtedly superior). Power -- the ability to get other people to do, or not do, what you want -- ultimately depends on consent. It's psychological, not material. If you have to resort to pointing a gun at someone to get them to do something, you're using force, not power.

As Louis Halle describes it in The Cold War as History: "... real power is always something far greater than military power alone. A balance of power is not a balance of military power alone: it is, rather, a balance in which military power is one element. Even in its crudest aspect, power represents a subtle and intimate combination of force and consent. No stable government has ever existed, and no empire has ever become established, except with an immensely preponderant measure of consent on the part of those who were its subjects. That consent may be a half-grudging consent; it may be a consent based in part on awe of superior force; it may represent love, or respect, or fear, or a combination of the three. Consent, in any case, is the essential ingredient in stable power--more so than physical force, of which the most efficient and economical use is to increase consent. By using physical force in such a way as alienates consent one constantly increases the requirements of physical force to replace the consent that has been alienated. A vicious spiral develops that, continued, ends in the collapse of power." (See Vietnam, Iraq.)

Psychologically, it's much easier to accept that nuclear weapons are too dangerous for anyone to have, as opposed to being told that nuclear weapons are too dangerous for you to have, but it's fine for me to have them. India has a name for this: nuclear apartheid.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that nuclear weapons aren't that difficult to build, and it's only getting easier. Because the technical barriers aren't that high, the importance of strengthening the political and psychological barriers -- the nuclear taboo -- becomes even greater.
posted by russilwvong at 11:30 AM on May 27, 2005


"if you aren't...good god. i don't even know what to say."

Here's one suggestion: I guess when the Founders said that "all men are created equal", they were just kidding.
posted by russilwvong at 11:33 AM on May 27, 2005


"To my memory, the U.S. has always been willing to consider being the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. It has just set some pretty high standards about how dire of a situation justifies their use."

Yep. Good summary. I read an interesting discussion of the European defense problem recently: Strategy, by Edward Luttwak.
posted by russilwvong at 11:34 AM on May 27, 2005


Like, I really find plans to underground nuke North Korea troubling? I would find it more troubling if there were no such plans for such a contingency. Ditto with Iran, although by comparison, Iran is almost friendly.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:35 AM on May 27, 2005


So, anyone wanna use fundable to go in with me for a posh, exclusive fallout shelter? NYC area. Staten Island, really, so it's not like the Koreans or Iranians will be aiming directly at us.
posted by Soliloquy at 11:53 AM on May 27, 2005


OMG, this is like, totally stupid.

But then again, it is coming from you.
posted by c13 at 11:53 AM on May 27, 2005


As far as the government not using the weapons because of worries about what the world would think, cleanup costs, etc.
Think about the Iraq war ongoing and how concerned this government was about what the world thought (or thinks)
About cleanup costs and related: This government claimed Ground Zero was all cleaned up and spic and span and no worries about health problems, now we have firefighters, police and citizens suffering the effects from all the crud floating around after the buildings fell.
Think about Gulf War syndrome and denial. Think about Depleted Uranium ammunition effects and denial. Agent Orange in Vietnam and denial. Denial, Denial, Denial.
Do you really think they're going to tell you the truth if this country gets nuked and is radioactive based on past behavior?
"Oh, it's perfectly safe to move back into your homes. Ignore the green glow at night, that's just cleanup solution wearing off. . . "
Insane Dickheads.
posted by mk1gti at 12:09 PM on May 27, 2005


yeah, but they're OUR insane dickheads.
posted by muppetboy at 12:22 PM on May 27, 2005


"Think about Depleted Uranium ammunition effects and denial."

Not to get sidetracked, but is DU really that bad?
posted by russilwvong at 12:45 PM on May 27, 2005


but is DU really that bad?

U may not be THAT bad, but here is uraniuminsolublecompounds/ what OSHA has to say about it.
Of course these regulations are for us civilized people, the ragheads and slanteyes can handle a little uranium just fine.
posted by c13 at 1:28 PM on May 27, 2005


I mean here..
posted by c13 at 1:32 PM on May 27, 2005


As I understand it, DU is certainly toxic: it's a heavy metal, like lead. But it's not especially radioactive. Quoting from the link I posted: "Consider, for example the deposition of a respirable particle of depleted uranium dioxide in the human lung. If that particle is approximately spherical and has a diameter of 1 micrometer (aerodynamic diameter about 3 micrometer), it will emit an average of only one alpha particle every 100 days. Meanwhile the cells of the lung are being irradiated in a milieu of even more energetic alpha particles from natural radon and its decay products that are present in all the air on the surface of the earth."
posted by russilwvong at 1:59 PM on May 27, 2005


ParisParamus: "Like, I really find plans to underground nuke North Korea troubling?"

People in South Korea might find it a bit more troubling, particularly if it were actually carried out.

"Ditto with Iran, although by comparison, Iran is almost friendly."

Again, people in Iran (not all of whom are unfriendly to the US, as you note) might find it a bit more troubling. Shiites in Iraq might also express some concern.

If you're a Great Power (and you want to stay that way), you need to think about the political and psychological effects of your actions, not just the material effects.
posted by russilwvong at 2:10 PM on May 27, 2005


So just what kind of plan is this? Like a "we'll do this in a year or so" plan or a "emergency action" plan? Because to me pre-emptive strike implies we're just going to be nuking countries. I'm hoping I'm wrong about this. I'm hoping we aren't really planning on attacking more countries - with nuclear weapons none-the-less. Because that is really, really distressing. Also, can someone tell me how detonating nuclear weapons underground (where the water is) has only minimal "collateral damage"? Ah, well, guess it's time to just embrace the apocalypse. Mmmm....sweet, sweet death.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:14 PM on May 27, 2005


Bulgaroktonos writes "The use of American nuclear arms against a non-nuclear armed country need not result in our own destruction given the current balance of power."

But can you think of any better way to blow the lid off the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
posted by Mitheral at 2:40 PM on May 27, 2005


So just what kind of plan is this?
---------------------------------------------
I think it's a 'let's decrease the selfless population/Ebenzer Scrooge' kind of plan . . .
posted by mk1gti at 2:48 PM on May 27, 2005


ddl i can't believe that on every issue you could be so clearly a partisan hack.

i don't remember for sure , but i think i recall you saying at one time that you are a "progressive" just what is it that you believe that is "progressive" and not apologetic , to the neocon point of view? so far i have never read anything that approaches a progressive kind of thought in your posts. convoluted, obtuse , yes. progressive , no.

(sry for the side track )
posted by nola at 2:51 PM on May 27, 2005


p.s. nice strange love ref. Divine_Wino :)
posted by nola at 2:55 PM on May 27, 2005


In the era of a single, ruthless superpower, whose leadership intends to shape the world according to its own forceful world view

WTF? You oughta' be ashamed of yourself. Also, do your homework, ignoramus; we never had "brakes" on our nuclear weapons research/programs.
posted by nocode at 3:09 PM on May 27, 2005


i like it. operation "desert scrooge"...
posted by muppetboy at 3:09 PM on May 27, 2005


Waaall, I been to a picnic, a rodeo and a world's fair, but I never seen nothing like that.

I'm emigrating to the Duchy of Grand Fenwick real soon now.
posted by warbaby at 3:15 PM on May 27, 2005


"In the era of a single, ruthless superpower..."

doesn't that describe most of human history?
posted by muppetboy at 3:21 PM on May 27, 2005


Yeah, for the idealic wiles of Grand Fenwick . . . and Tully Bascomb. Now there's a leader . . .
posted by mk1gti at 3:47 PM on May 27, 2005


Just had a thought. Are these religious nutters even from the same planet as us? Perhaps they were pod people dropped from the skies . . .
posted by mk1gti at 3:48 PM on May 27, 2005


"No longer are nuclear bombs considered "the weapon of last resort." No longer is the nuclear bomb the ultimate means of deterrence against nuclear powers, which the United States would never be the first to employ."

When nukes made it into war plans they were seen as the ultimate way for destroying a country's industrial capacity. Now the military is trying to develop weapons solely to use against bunkers. Sorry, to me this sounds like progress.
posted by raaka at 5:04 PM on May 27, 2005


i think i recall you saying at one time that you are a "progressive" just what is it that you believe that is "progressive" and not apologetic , to the neocon point of view?

I don't think that I ever made the claim to be a progressive. I can tell you that I'm to the left of Kansas and to the right of San Francisco (my home). Everything else I'm an independent. I'm pro gay-marriage (some close friends got married in SF last year), pro-choice, and pro-evolution. If you think that means I'm still somehow "apologetic" to the "neocon point of view" then that's your right. I think free thinking (as in not the republican party line nor the metafilter liberal groupthink) is the way to go.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 5:38 PM on May 27, 2005


Not only have you belabored us with one of your personal soap operas but you talk about yourself alot.

ps. There is no groupthink--we are all unique snowflakes here.
posted by y2karl at 5:59 PM on May 27, 2005


Not only have you belabored us with one of your personal soap operas but you talk about yourself alot.

I, uh, think Heywood was the one who had the flameout over there. I walked away from that thread when it became was clear that he was batshit nuts. And I think I was just trying to defend allegations of bias here.

And, yes, y2karl, you are a unique and delicate snowflake. I do commend you for having your own perspective on the world that doesn't follow any party line. I quite frequently disagree with you, but I appreciate the fact that you think for yourself and find connections between events that a lot of people would miss.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 6:20 PM on May 27, 2005


I'm a melting snowflake. Or maybe just a flake . . .
posted by mk1gti at 6:24 PM on May 27, 2005


or a fluke
posted by mk1gti at 6:24 PM on May 27, 2005


Nukes melt all the snowflakes.
posted by Balisong at 7:52 PM on May 27, 2005


Like, I really find plans to underground nuke North Korea troubling? I would find it more troubling if there were no such plans for such a contingency. Ditto with Iran, although by comparison, Iran is almost friendly.

What a spectacular Colonel Flag imitation. Spot on. You oughta be in pictures...
posted by juiceCake at 8:41 PM on May 27, 2005


I heard on Paul Harvey that they tracked down Russian children who lived in the path of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and discovered the "mutant children" have superior brains... SO, I guess we can wrap this discussion up now...
posted by nocode at 8:57 PM on May 27, 2005


nTeleKy, you miss the point. These are plans for horrific future scenarios; say NK launches a nuke at Japan, or the US, and a response is needed. Or, even shudder, it appears they are about to. Again, better to have a capability and plans than not. Above all because having the capability and plans makes it less likely it will happen.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:03 PM on May 27, 2005


but the point i'm making ddl ,is that you would not call your self a neocon apologist. and yet only an apologist of the right could rationalize walking away from nuclear proliferation treaties ,and instead taking a pro nuclear, aggressive stance. which is being done here.

i'm really just amazed at how your need to be a "independent" thinker , has kept you from being moved to speak against decisions that affect not only others but you personally.

just when will you find your clear eyed approach shaken, i'm wondering?

its like i'm watching a child sticking a hand gun in it's mouth , and you're there, telling me why everything is going to be fine.
posted by nola at 9:10 PM on May 27, 2005


muppetboy writes "'In the era of a single, ruthless superpower...'

"doesn't that describe most of human history?"


No - first, true global superpowerness was created in the 20th century (although the 18th/19th century British Empire can be said to be a nice preview of what was about to happen). Before that you always had two or three ruthless powers fighting to enslave the weaker people, but none of them was truly global or capable of controlling more than a fraction of the world (or conducting more than one major war at a time). And during most of the 20th century we had two ruthless superpowers.
posted by nkyad at 9:14 PM on May 27, 2005




yay for humanity.
posted by muppetboy at 11:38 PM on May 27, 2005


PP, you seem to suggest that a reasonable response to a nuke attack by NK is to nuke them.

What would be gained that way? US would just show to the world that also you are class 1 idiots.

I think that time has passed the nuclear weapons of the cold war era. They are just way too massive and indiscriminate.

The current U.S. effort to build smaller, more usable nuclear weapons is thus completely logical. I am not saying it is the right, or wise thing to do. It is just the only logical way.

If the effect of a huge conventional bomb or really small nuclear bomb would be approximately the same, what is the difference?* When you use bombs, you have already failed miserably.

*I do know about the after-effects of radiation. In the case of a "bunker-busting" bomb, that would most likely detonate underground, the fallout isn't as important as in traditional bombing.
posted by hoskala at 8:12 AM on May 28, 2005


hoskala writes "What would be gained that way? US would just show to the world that also you are class 1 idiots."

I don't think it would be possible to avoid retaliation - suppose a small nuke explodes in San Francisco or LA - killing thousands and condemning other thousands, maybe millions, to death by radiation poisoning and cancer and such. Once the attacking party is known and this party is another country, how can any leader in any democratic state escape the terrible logic of vengeance? Even if you discount the desire for vengeance, the only possible response to such an act is to destroy the attacker in order to prevent the same fact from repeating itself again - not necessarily by the same means (I mean, there isn't much to be gained turning North Korea into a radiation field - better invade, occupy, reunited the countries and judge the culprits very publicly for crimes against humanity).
posted by nkyad at 1:34 PM on May 28, 2005


"Evil Empires: One Down, One To Go"

Hey, it's the official T-shirt of Osama bin Laden!

"Today however, our battle against the Americans is far greater than our battle was against the Russians. Americans have committed unprecedented stupidity. They have attacked Islam and its most significant sacrosanct symbols ... . We anticipate a black future for America. Instead of remaining United States, it shall end up separated states and shall have to carry the bodies of its sons back to America. "
posted by russilwvong at 2:26 PM on May 28, 2005


"If the effect of a huge conventional bomb or really small nuclear bomb would be approximately the same, what is the difference?"

The difference is that there's no effective defense against nuclear weapons.
posted by russilwvong at 2:28 PM on May 28, 2005


"If the effect of a huge conventional bomb or really small nuclear bomb would be approximately the same, what is the difference?"

Radiation?

Why would they have bothered to invest in nuclear weapons and nuclear research if there is effectively no difference?
posted by juiceCake at 3:48 PM on May 28, 2005


*I do know about the after-effects of radiation. In the case of a "bunker-busting" bomb, that would most likely detonate underground, the fallout isn't as important as in traditional bombing.

Really ?

...A common claim is that the radioactive fallout from this weapon, called the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, would be contained underground. But a statement from a group of senior weapons experts released today dismisses that claim, stating that an earth-penetrating warhead would produce "an intense and deadly radioactive fallout."

The weapons experts, including former directors of the Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, say that an earth-penetrating warhead cannot travel to a depth sufficient to fully contain the nuclear explosion. The resulting nuclear blast would produce a surface crater and eject large amounts of radioactive dust and debris into the air and surrounding region.

"Thus, it is not technically possible to use nuclear weapons to destroy deeply buried targets without at the same time causing significant radioactive contamination and collateral damage if used in an urban area," the statement notes.

"Attacking deep, hardened targets would require an earth penetrating weapon with a very large nuclear yield," said Dr. David Wright, physicist and senior staff scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Indeed, the Bush administration proposes to study the development of a weapon that would use the B83 warhead, which is the largest weapon currently deployed by the United States, having a yield 100 times that of the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima during World War II."


Weapons Experts: Earth-Penetrating Nukes Generate Intense Fallout

Earth-Penetrating Weapons
posted by y2karl at 5:30 PM on May 28, 2005


Why would they have bothered to invest in nuclear weapons and nuclear research if there is effectively no difference?

Not relevant today, but back at the time you couldn't pack enough TNT into the top of an ICBM to level a Soviet city. Nor could you pack enough TNT into a B-29 to flatten Hiroshima. The boom/size ratio was a pretty big important factor that probably drove a lot of the investment decisions. Pound-for-pound flattening power makes a big difference when you're trying to flatten something big (ie, the USSR).
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 8:02 PM on May 28, 2005


Yep. Nuclear weapons are cheap and powerful.
posted by russilwvong at 9:40 PM on May 28, 2005


back at the time you couldn't pack enough TNT into the top of an ICBM to level a Soviet city...

I know. Exactly my point. There are significant differences.
posted by juiceCake at 7:00 AM on May 30, 2005


An excellent summary of the issue from James Lileks

"In other words: To dissuade countries from developing weapons in places we can reach only with bunker-busting nukes, we should give up bunker-busting nukes. Noted. And if the United States had dismantled the gas chambers in the federal penitentiaries, Hitler wouldn't have gassed the Jews. Why, he would been drenched with shame-sweat just thinking about it.

Apparently it is better for North Korea and Iran to sell nukes to America's enemies than for us to use nukes to destroy these weapons before they're built. We nuke their bomb factories, they nuke our cities -- in the end they're both the same, no?

No. They're not. And even if they were, what would you rather lose -- credibility or New York?"
posted by cbjg at 12:30 PM on June 1, 2005


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