They Will All Go Together When They Go
July 16, 2005 6:24 AM   Subscribe

The atom bomb is 60. It's very popular now and becoming more so daily. The most recent nuclear nation to threaten to use theirs is China. The U.S, Europe, and the U.S.S.R. got through a half century Cold War without immolating themselves. Will South and East Asia be as successful and/or lucky in the near future?
posted by jfuller (23 comments total)
And is there a particularly Asian fatalism toward mass death? And if so, will it have a formative influence on this century's atomic history?
Indian general: India can afford to lose 25 million people. But could Pakistan?
Mao Zedong: If the worse came to the worst and half of mankind died, the other half would remain, while imperialism would be razed to the ground, and the whole world would become socialist. In a number of years there would be 2.7 billion people again.
posted by jfuller at 6:25 AM on July 16, 2005

I have the bomb and I am safe.
posted by loquacious at 6:41 AM on July 16, 2005

as far as the birthday of the bomb, see also.
posted by crunchland at 7:00 AM on July 16, 2005

Not to mention the continuing problem of proliferation -- it's going to keep getting worse.
posted by warbaby at 7:58 AM on July 16, 2005

Actualy, it was just one chinese offical shooting his mouth off, but I'm doubting that someone in that position would say something like that unless he was "supposed" to.

It would be like John Bolton saying we'd nuke Mexico if they didn't stop sending over illegals. Or something. Okay now I'm just shooting my mouth off...
posted by delmoi at 8:13 AM on July 16, 2005

pfft. a-bombs are passe. gimme a h-bomb anyday..
posted by keswick at 8:21 AM on July 16, 2005

Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room.
posted by danb at 8:22 AM on July 16, 2005

is the first time for a decade that a senior official in Beijing has used such provocative rhetoric.

This is just one person's half-informed opinion. But doesn't this necessarily result from the Chinese seeing the US weakened militarily and economically as a result our far flung adventurism around the globe and actually being emboldened by it. All this War on Terror stuff actually has made us appear weaker to nations that are actual (as opposed to perceived) threats. Bush = strong military indeed.

I could completely be off my rocker with that statement, but it seems a reasonable enough conclusion. I can't recall if the Chinese were making similarly aggressive statements during the Reagan-Bush I-Clinton years, so this could be more of the same.
posted by psmealey at 8:32 AM on July 16, 2005

Another commemoration: The simnuke project should have had their demonstration by now. Somewhere in the desert, this group was going to make a simulated explosion exactly sixty years after Trinity.
posted by greasepig at 8:40 AM on July 16, 2005

Mutually assured destruction, as much as it wrought havoc with my ability to sleep soundly as an adolescent, seems now to have been the best deterent in a bad situation. What scares me about the current talk about nukes is their limning as a "tactical" weapon. I've gone back to having trouble sleeping at night.
posted by OmieWise at 8:41 AM on July 16, 2005

“We . . . will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds . . . of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese.”

General Zhu still has his job and that alone is cause for concern. And yes, psmealy, I agree that what has happened with Iraq has emboldened countries like China - how can't it? Recruitment is down, we are spending an insane amount of money just to keep it going (not to build our military mind you).

The problem with the WOT™ is that George Bush and this administration, along with Tony Blair are really the only ones on the globe that are convinced that's what Iraq is about. When our state department is telling us that Iran is REALLY the place where terror resides, it's hard to convince countries like China that we went into Iraq (a country that had no legitimate ties to Al Queda or 9/11) for the noble purpose of eradicating terrorists. China needs oil too I suspect.

The concept of preemption works two ways and one has to wonder if Chinese officials are sitting around saying, "you know, that America is getting a little too close to our back yard".

Personally, I am worried about China and have been for some time. Their infrastructure continues to grow and although their naval capacity is not as advanced as Americas, they could easily outnumber our troops by the millions. And as their trade capacity continues to sky-rocket, there is a lot less to loose in a conflict with a weakened American army and an obvious laissez faire attitude toward their leadership.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:49 AM on July 16, 2005

See also Robert Longo's stunning, large-scale charcoal drawings of the early detonations.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:25 AM on July 16, 2005

you girls just like to worry. either it's global warming or mass extinctions or china blowing us off the globe... you're a bunch of pussies. either log the fuck off and go get in your bunker or stop jerking off to your armageddon fantasies and get on with life. jesus.
posted by keswick at 10:26 AM on July 16, 2005

And is there a particularly Asian fatalism toward mass death?
posted by jfuller at 6:25 AM PST on July 16

For a history class, I read a book on racism during WWII (I can't for the life of me remember the title). One phrase made me giggle: the West had an impression of the Japanese as a people with a "compulsive death wish."

Individual Asians have no such death wish, let me assure you, just like Americans, Britons etc. It's the leaders who believe that the sacrifice of a few hundred thousand, millions, what have you, for the greater good is acceptable, just like Bush believes that the death of a few thousand soldiers is acceptable for the war on terror. Now, I'll be the first to admit of course that a few thousand is nowhere close to hundred thousands and millions. However, it is a fact that China and India has much larger populations than every Western nation. Percentage wise, there might not be too much of a difference in what the a country is willing to pay for gain, but translated to real numbers, it will be significantly greater. This is precisely what the Chinese and Indian leaders are counting on. In short, Asians don't have a death wish or "fatalities toward mass death." Most want to make money, raise children and live their lives...sound familiar?

either log the fuck off and go get in your bunker or stop jerking off to your armageddon fantasies and get on with life. jesus.
posted by keswick at 10:26 AM PST on July 16

*trying to ease anxieties by returning to normal routine: back to room/bunker and starts masturbating to armegeddon and other fantasies* Really keswick, I had no idea other people led that life like I do. Thanks for making me feel less lonely! *hug*

Nuclear winter is a concern, but I don't think it's the primary one. Rather, it hangs around in the background like a school teacher with a ruler in his/her hand whose presence alone forces countries/kiddies to play nicer, lest both be hit by that insidious ruler. The biggest issue this brings up is one of policy. Especially American foreign policy. Even though the general is not the official mouthpiece of the Chinese government, nor even part of the policy-making branch according to the article, what j.p. hung said was right: the guy still has his job. This could mean that he's a sign of a particular sentiment in the Chinese government. But then again, there must be other thoughts as well. The US should take this as a sign and reexamine our foreign policy. However, I know this will go completely unheeded because, among other reasons, this will be an admittance of wrong. Bush doesn't strike me as the kind of person who's willing to admit mistakes.
posted by state fxn at 11:40 AM on July 16, 2005

Renewed apprehension to the term: Gadget Madness.

Some interesting history collected at the White Sands Missile Range web site.

I've been watching The Last Days of WWII in anticipation of today's anniversary.
posted by xtian at 12:14 PM on July 16, 2005

posted by joelf at 12:24 PM on July 16, 2005

The Trinity Site was opened today to observe the anniversary. Ordinarily it's only open twice a year on the first Saturday of April and October. Didn't make it down, but I'm sure it was an interesting time.
posted by FlamingBore at 6:04 PM on July 16, 2005

Some fun nuclear stuff I found:

Sarov (Arzamas-16) (about)
Snezhinsk (Chelyabinsk-70) (about)
Novaya Zemlya (about)
Semipalatinsk-16 (about)
Tomsk-7 (about)
Zlatoust-36 (about)
Penza-19 (about
Sverdlovsk-45 (about)

And some slightly related fun in our own back yard:
U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)
Trinity Test Site
Deseret Chemical Depot (sadly, chemical weapons only... about)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:35 PM on July 16, 2005

Maybe the general made the remarks in one of those "semi-official" capacities because China is hoping to intimidate the US into going along with the Unocal deal? Just a thought, considering the timing and all. Not that the remark could be dismissed as a meaningless bluff if this were true, because China could still have every intention of playing rough if the Unocal deal doesn't go through as planned... Because we haven't yet developed any viable alternative technologies, the struggle for oil is a very real problem for US/China relations...

And keswick: You need to fucking grow up. What are you, like 12? Seriously. If you are out of puberty, please think a little bit about the heavy responsibilities of being an adult before you post another word on this board, for all our sakes.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 9:22 PM on July 16, 2005

Was it general Tso?

The guy sounds pretty crazy. First of all second of all over 95 percent of china's population is east of Xi'an, so he's pretty much prepared to lose everything. Secondly why couldn't the US destroy cities west of Xi'an? We've got enough nukes to go around.
posted by afu at 2:05 AM on July 17, 2005 [1 favorite]

all of the people of Earth who still retain shreds of real human feeling and conscience need to form a secret posse, round up all those (like afu) who seem to think mass murder and global devastation can be fun like a game of football (complete with cheerleaders), and put them in interment camps on the dark side of the moon before they kill whole swaths of the human population again. i mean, we'd have to treat them humanely of course, to the extent they still have claims to humanity (maybe we could plug them into a massive multi-player virtual reality environment that simulates the nightmarish world of cannibalism, rape and murder they fantasize about), but we have to find a way to neutralize their destructive, antisocial influence. i'm just stunned by the complete lack of human feeling these people have. if we hadn't more or less thrown out the concept of normative psychology in the 60's and 70's, i suspect many of these poor, lost souls would have been committed to asylums long ago. i'm just stunned by how glibly some people throw murderous ideas around these days. it isn't a uniquely American phenomenon obviously, but there's definitely some serious psychological disorder going around, inhibiting the normal functioning of impulse-control, empathy and conscience in a certain small but virulent percentage of the world population--and it seems to be a problem across all national, ethnic and ideological boundaries. There is an enemy among us, all right, but it isn't who we think it is, and it isn't just "out there" somewhere abroad.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:17 AM on July 17, 2005

If the Cold War has taught us anything, it is the folly of relying on rational actor game theory centric models of strategic interaction. We placed our trust in the results of convoluted and iterated abstractions of the prisoners dilemma, and only at the very brink did anyone ignore the mathematized dogma and rely on actual communication to find a way out.
Within game theory models of strategic exchange, actions are the only communicator. Intersubjective human communication about the intent and reasons behind taking the actions falls outside the scope of game theory, with the results we have seen. We rationally engaged in an arms race, we rationally nearly fucking wiped out the world.

Conventional interpretations of the Cold War often focus on the notion of MAD and its role in our uneasy, yet mutual peace. It's naive and innacurate. Throughout most of the Cold War potential conflicts were predicated not on instantaneous total armageddon, but an 'escalation dominance' and 'flexible response' approach. Targets were split into the separate categories of counterforce (warfighting capability) and countervalue (population centres). The more accurate silos were aimed at counterforce targets while the less accurate submarines were poised against the countervalue targets (cities).

A war wouldn't have been over in a few seconds... It would have been long, messy fight involving infantry, invasions and a mix of conventional and nuclear weapons. In the end, it probably would not have become total. Because of this, the notion of intitating a 'first strike' hot war became much more of an accessible and realistic option than simple MAD would suggest. Nuclear war was something that planners considered could be 'won' through a sustained campaign initially centered on counterforce assets and maintaining dominance in each phase of conflict escalation. "MAD" didn't save us, cooler heads just chose to ignore the strategic playbook for a fucking second to talk it out. Blind luck.
posted by Thoth at 7:18 AM on July 18, 2005

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