I think so. It’s certainly the case in the US, where people protest the imposition of mask-wearing over the corpses of a million dead Americans, but this is something else. It’s a post from Adam Something, whose work I normally appreciate, but this is insane.
Let’s talk a bit about nuclear war.
As the invasion falters, Putin will be making more and more nuclear threats – the only thing he has left. These will most likely be just that: threats. I doubt him, or the Russian elite is suicidal.
If it came to nuclear war, Russia would essentially be deleted from the face of the planet, while the West would generally survive in some form or another.
A nuclear war right now would not be the end of humanity. Sure, it would suck, and by that I mean a LOT of people dying, at least a billion plus. However, it wouldn’t erase life from the planet.
Our goal must never be the ‘deletion’ of Russia. There are 140+ million Russian people who deserve as much right to survival, and peace and happiness, as everyone else in the world. Incinerating them in a nuclear war is not a desirable result, ever, under any circumstances. That the West would “survive” does not excuse the act, and “survival” has a wide range of meanings. How many of these Western people would die? If one hundred survive, is that a victory?
Humanity not going extinct is an awfully low standard to meet. A “mere” billion dead is not a trivial number, and I think he’s lowballing it. A limited tactical strike on some battlefields, sure, casualties could be limited, but if we trigger a world-wide spasm of major powers targeting the civilian populations of their opponents, that billion is only what dies immediately…then the collapse of civilian infrastructure follows, killing more, and the riots and wars that break out kill even more, and then the world famine destroys yet more.
Consider how most of our media (movies, games, etc) dealing with nuclear war takes place during the cold war, or its fictional continuation. At that point we did have enough nukes to format the planet. However, since then we have decommissioned 80% of our total nuclear arsenal, meaning a nuclear war would be fought with only a fifth of the firepower.
Also, not all our (as in: humanity’s) nukes are ICBMs. Many of them can’ t even be deployed unless you haul it above a city with a plane. Many are “just” warheads sitting in warehouses, and couldn’t immediately be launched. This is especially true to Russia, as they would be deleted long before any of those warheads could be used.
Another thing to consider is how those strikes would be distributed. Russia has to blanket the whole of Europe and US, possibly more, while the West only has to strike Russian strategic targets. This is a guaranteed death sentence for the Russian elite, including Putin. Hence I don’t think he’ll press the button, or even if he tried, he’d end up with a hole in his head.
Yes, we have gradually reduced the size of nuclear arsenals. But one-fifth of overkill is still mass murder.
Also, assassinating Putin and his cronies sounds like the most desirable outcome of such a war…but this is the crudest, clumsiest, ugliest way of achieving that end. It requires killing tens of millions (at the least) ordinary, innocent Russians to stop a handful of criminals.
Then the following is pollyannaish nonsense:
Otherwise radiation from nuclear bombs dissipates very quickly. You know how in Fallout games everything is still radioactive after 200 years? As far as I know that’s bullshit.
48 hours after the strike, the radiation will have already gone down by 99%, and at 72 hours it should be safe to come out. The tricky part is to not be in the blast radius, or at least be in a basement when a strike happens near you. That, or a sturdy enough building, in which case you should stay in the middle, on the lowest floor. Don’t go to upper floors, as fallout will accumulate on the roof.
Food and drink in closed containers that were inside during the strike should be generally safe to consume, so chances are you won’t die of hunger or dehydration.
To sum up, Putin will threaten with nukes, but it’s unlikely he will actually use them. Even if he does though, the world won’t end, plus your chances of survival aren’t bad if the bomb wasn’t dropped directly on you, and you can stick it out in a basement for 3 days.
Pure madness. Just avoid being in the blast radius! You’re safe as long as you stay in the basement! Fallout will only accumulate on the roof! Also on all the acreage dedicated to growing your food, and on all the reservoirs that supply your drinking water. You won’t die of hunger or dehydration right away, that’s true, but how long will the canned food and bottled water in your house last? Haven’t we learned already about how supply chains can be disrupted? This is a survivalist fantasy, and I hate it.
It is true that biology is remarkably resilient, and we won’t get that video game/syfy movie nonsense of monstrous mutants roaming a radioactive wasteland. Even in the best of circumstances, where the victims are an isolated population that can be supported by the remainder of society, you’re going to see a surge in cancer incidence over many years, and even longer term effects on mental health and social interactions. People have studied these things in great detail. You can look up the long-term consequences of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, for instance, and it wasn’t over after 3 days.
This paper examines long-term consequences of one of the most serious catastrophes ever inflicted on humankind: the atomic bombing that occurred in Hiroshima in 1945. While many victims died immediately or within a few years of the bombing, there were many negative effects on survivors in terms of both health and social/economic aspects that could last many years. Of these two life factors, health and social/economic aspects, the latter has largely been ignored by researchers. We investigate possible long-lasting effects using a new dataset covering the middle and older generations in Hiroshima some 60 years after the tragedy. Our empirical results show that Atomic Bomb Survivors did not necessarily suffer unfavorable life experiences in terms of the average marriage status or educational attainment but did experience significant disadvantages some aspects including the husband/wife combination of married couples, work status, mental health, and expectations for the future. Thus, survivors have suffered for many years after the catastrophe itself.
That’s an analysis of the survivors, and doesn’t include the 200,000 dead, obviously. We’re talking decades of suffering from a single relatively small and primitive nuclear bomb.
Don’t downplay the threat and dangers of nuclear war. Keep it up and you’ll find Jim Bakker running advertisements for his food buckets on your YouTube channel.
One other thing I have to mention: my views on this subject are a product of the 1960s-1980s. In particular, a big influence was George Streisinger, who most of you might have heard of for his essential work as a pioneer of zebrafish research. But also, at the same time, he was a major activist working against nuclear war and for disarmament. There was a whole cadre of biologists at that time who started out as physicists during WWII who then switched to genetics and molecular biology; George was a Hungarian Jew who fled that country to escape the Nazis, and studied viral genetics. He would be shocked to learn that some people now regard nuclear war as a minor setback in their goal of exterminating their enemies.
He was one of the good guys. I’ll always be on his side.
Rob Grigjanis says
Idiots like Adam Something should talk to some people who have actually lived through a conventional war before they start babbling about the ‘up’ side of a nuclear war.
Having some flashbacks here.
Anyone with this attitude should be forced to read John Hersey’s Hiroshima, clockwork orange style if necessary.
“We would therefore prevail, and suffer only modest and acceptable civilian casualties from their remaining force which would be badly damaged and uncoordinated.”
Susan Montgomery says
Let’s see if we’re up on Civil Defence with this handy quiz…
The whole article is a little too close to Gen. Buck Turgidson’s thinking in Dr. Strangelove. This is the “we’d only lose a million, a million-and-a-half, tops!” kind of nonsense that was always what made nuclear strategy so ridiculous and allowed Kubrick to mock it so successfully in Dr. Strangelove. To hear this coming out of the mouths of current commentators (though, of course, ones too young to have lived through the Cold War) as a serious proposition is both sad and terrifying.
To be fair, the “giant mutants” in Fallout seem to be a result of secret, and not so secret, testing of a retrovirus called FEV (Forced Evolution Virus) on the general populous, and we really have no idea, from the lore, where they really found it, other than it already existed before they started messing around with the stuff, how many accidentally releases might have taken place (the government and corporations in that universe are a reflection of our sometimes insanity dialed to eleven), or if some more benign version might have found its way into some percentage of the population much earlier, but the conditions to trigger it just where not there yet. Since we get giant bears, roaches, scorpions, etc. as well… its kind of likely it did get leaked, and/or was already present on some level…
But, yeah, since FEV doesn’t, presumably, exist in our world… :shrug:
On the more serious matter of this kind of thinking… Yikes! And double yikes, given the number of idiots that actually think, even today, that nuclear war would be “survivable” – but, what do you expect from idiots who also defend all these new anti-abortion bills, which are desperately, “trying to save human life!”, but can’t even understand the basic practicality that, even if you agreed with their definition of “human life”, and the need to protect it, do not give one single crap about the quality of that life.
Snarki, child of Loki says
No doubt Russia’s nuclear forces are as up-to-date and well maintained as their conventional arms.
Kagehi @6: The big, green humanoids were originally the only things caused by FEV in the Fallout series. The giant scorpions and giant lizards were supposed to be radiation-induced mutants per the game being a homage to old sci-fi movies about giant radiation-spawned monsters but got retconned to being the result of FEV in later games.
We’ve got almost a million dead from Covid-19 virus in the USA in the last two years.
A large segment of the population still refuses to get vaccinated, won’t wear a simple mask in stores, and a lot of those don’t even believe the virus is real.
The latest accomplishment for our leaders was to not vote for more money to fight the pandemic.
Chemical WMD, then biological WMD, THEN the nukes. Half the world’s human population might already be doomed by then, so nukes may not be as devastating as you think.
People are fixated on the nukes, but it’s the chemical weapons that Putin appears he might be setting up a false flag for.
I like Adam Something, but this post of his is downright stupid, callous, and callously stupid.
small and primitive nuclear bomb
I think you mean, “tactical.” That’s what the kids are calling it these days.
“over in 3 days”
First thing that came to mind for me (besides the scene in The Day After where farmers were being told how to clear their topsoil of the radiation fallout dirt so they could grow again…a difficult task given that their trucks and tractors hadn’t recovered from the EMP yet…(oh, speaking of which, that’s an even larger problem now given that EVERY vehicle has a chip in it these days to do anything at all, including starting up and fuel injection, never mind climate control and the radio and cruise control – the supply side chain problem with new and used cars is because of a chip shortage since the automakers gave up their contracts in 2020 and had problems getting back in the queue for 2021 models)).
Starting over, after that side trek, first thing that came to mind was the episode of MASH, I presume based on true stories: some of the American troops that were stationed in guard duty posts near the drop spots of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from 1946 through 1948 (including some who were still in the Army and saw duty during Korea) were showing signs of radiation sickness and cancers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaeropus went extinct in my lifetime. I wish my survivors all strength they will need. Personally, I’m happy I’ll die before humanity’s demise — I hope.
The Survivalist fantasy of living after nuclear war by drinking canned water etc relies on people breathing air without radioactive dust in it. As radioactive atoms remain so for millions of years, this is not a good plan. The radioactive dust from Hiroshima and all the testing got dispersed worldwide, and is now part of earth’s “background”. But you can’t pretend the solution to pollution is dilution when you’re facing global thermonuclear war.
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened in 1986.
The area contaminated with fallout is large at 1,000 sq. miles and 36 years later considered uninhabitable.
The earliest estimate of when it becomes habitable again is in 320 years.
Some radioisotopes bioaccumulate e.g. strontium-90 into bones or Iodine into the thyroid.
Yeah, I also had something to say about that in the comments.
Adam is mostly good though. Recommend his channel.
Ted Lawry says
In response to the numbers creeps who debate how many would die in a nuclear war, I always say that it will only kill one person: you! That’s it, just you. Now doesn’t that make you feel so much better? Only one dead, so that’s all right then? We appreciate your sacrifice!
Walter Solomon says
If any quote deserved a Gumby, it would be this one. Watching White Light, Black Rain was enough to make me realize nuclear war should be avoided at all cost and taken very seriously if threatened by someone who’s capable of doing it.
Consider a spherical cow.
Apparently Adam thinks fictional accounts that are in no way realistic are a good basis for destroying the planet.
The entire biosphere needs to be alive or the humans don’t get air to breathe or food to eat, but clearly those are a mere inconvenience to this exercise in shallow thinking.
The broader problem behind this fictional scenario is the unspoken central tenet that the only important living things are the humans.
Kids today, eh?
To answer the first question, I thought everyone who grew up during the Cold War was already desensitized to “megadeaths” or for that matter total destruction.
Not erasing all life on earth is, however, setting a very low bar. I think even the worst case nuclear winter scenario would have left things living near geothermal vents for instance, and who knows, a half billion years later the earth might have an entirely new ecosystem just as diverse as the one we have now.
In reality, the nuclear bombing of a city of millions is already a humanitarian disaster that would redirect medical resources and other aid. There is no such thing as “deleting” nations unless you go for all of them at once. There are survivors on the borders and the ones far enough away not to experience the immediately devastating effects of radiation would suffer from starvation and poor sanitation leading to widespread disease.
Anyone who thinks the world can brush off the use of a single nuclear weapon let alone a broad retaliatory strike is living in a fantasy. No, we don’t want this. The scary part to me is that we don’t even have the widespread understanding of mutual assured destruction that existed during the Cold War so there are assholes who think this is “winnable.” (In Russia and apparently outside as well.)
But at least I’m happy the US will be totally safe after Ronald Reagan got us to build that impenetrable shield to protect us from nuclear strikes. Or…. well, I haven’t followed it carefully, but they have had nearly 40 years to build it, so it must be up there in space, right?
Ray Ceeya says
I grew up 20mi from the Umatilla Weapon’s Depot, a major storehouse for nerve gas, and 30mi from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where they made plutonium. I’m used to the idea of being obliterated. Growing up during the cold war, it wasn’t if, but when. 1991 was a real surprise for me. The Cold War was over. Putin seems hell bent on bringing it back though.
The world is cutting ties with Russia quick. They are being isolated far faster than I expected. At this rate I expect complete economic collapse within six months. For them it will be 1998 all over again, but worse. A lot worse. I’m really starting to question Putin’s end game. He’s already lost this one. There isn’t anything he can do with nukes that would change that. Bombing any targets isn’t going to force the west to lift sanctions.
He’s like the drunk guy who gets kicked out of the party so he yells and screams and throws beer bottles at the house.
feralboy12@2 Shovels? If there are enough backhoes to go around, we might have mass graves for the lucky victims whose bodies aren’t left to rot in the street.
Ronald Couch says
Wow, this is a shout out to the power of propaganda. If we think that we are smarter than our great grandparents were in 1917 guess again.
yes life would survive and would likely reform an ecosystem at least as diverse and interconnected as the one we have been f’ing up.
the unstated assumption seems to be that we wont be utterly destroyed and there will just be few of us. Our society our social infrastructure be more or less intact. our economy would be no worse off then having a recession for a while.
there ain’t enough nor any kind of drugs that could make me believe any of that crap.
No doubt they are also somewhat unsure of the effectiveness of their bombs, which is why they might decide to launch ALL of them. Suppose you knew for a fact that the majority of them were duds. Would that really make you feel more sanguine about an exchange? If 90% of them were duds, is that really all that much better? 99%, even? What is the minimum number of mushroom clouds that would make you think “whew, dodged a bullet there”?
At this stage, though, I’m more worried about other WMDs and tac nukes and neutron bombs. If Putin decides that he can’t take Kiyv so he’s going to wipe out the city’s entire population just to prove he’s a tough guy, how should the West respond? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’ll bet it’s being debated in capitols throughout NATO right now.
I am old enough (even older than our gracious host) to remember growing up in England and laughing at Americans who were reportedly teaching school kids to get under their desks in the event of an atom bomb strike.
But I also remember being at boarding school at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and an older student (a prefect, in the hierarchical term of the day) popping his head round the door to the dormitory that held about a dozen of us and saying: “Well, you may not wake up in the morning.” He meant “we” but he was talking to us. We did, but the prospect was seared into my brain.
Adam Someting’s essay illustrates how easily humans forget what was once common knowledge.. He should remind himself how Mutually Assured Destruction works. Even putting aside the immediate effects from a nuclear exchange, there remain the long-term effects, “long” as in generations. Strontium-90, anyone?
I’m surprised he didn’t say to “duck and cover..”
No reportedly about it.
I was there.
We lived near a Trident nuclear missile submarine base, near an ICBM assembly plant, and not too far from a plutonium producing reactor. If there was a nuclear war, we knew we were going to get hit hard. All the roads out of the area had signs on them that said, “evacuation route”.
We had duck and cover drills in grade school.
The schools also gave us a handout for what to do after that.
We were supposed to go home, and while waiting for our parents to come home from work, gather camping supplies and food for our escape into the mountains. Presumably to wait for civilization to restart. There were no instructions about what to do if our parents didn’t show up because they had been vaporized.
Rob Grigjanis says
My parents were teenage refugees at the end of WWII. What I could get them to talk about was enough to convince me of the unspeakable horror and cost of any war, apart from, and far more convincingly than, all the stuff I read. I can only guess that anyone who talks in an offhand way about ‘survivability’ hasn’t actually talked to survivors.
If he doesn’t have such sources, I strongly recommend that Adam (and everyone else) watch the 1983 film Testament. I saw it when it came out, and I’ve known since then that I’ll never be able to watch it again, despite the amazing performances (Jane Alexander is God), because it is utterly heartbreaking.
There is no hell hot enough for Putin, whether or not he uses nukes. Or for Bush, Cheney, Blair, and so many others over the centuries/millenia, including their apologists (hi, jrkrideau!).
Like many of you, I lived with duck-and-cover drills in elementary school. That stopped after the late 50s…perhaps because they realized how useless and traumatizing it was. I grew up in an area that was a major east coast commercial port, had one of the larger US Navy bases that supported aircraft carriers, and had three major Naval air stations in the area. It also was significant business center and, as a legacy of the naval stores industry, had a number of chemical plants around. All of these would be targets.
I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with dreams of the nuclear holocaust complete with air raid sirens. It was years later that I realized that the air raid sirens were actually the siren of the areas volunteer fire department.
My final tale of the nuclear war age was a drive around San Francisco with a friend who attended the Air Force Academy for a couple of years. (He dropped out which was another story.) As we were driving he told us how on weekends they would go to different Air Force bases to train and conduct war game simulations, some of them for nuclear war. He noted that at the time (mid-70s) most people still thought of nuclear war in terms of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…one bomb on a city. Horrible enough, sure but even by the mid-70s they were targeting multiple bombs on a city the size and importance of SF. Targets would include key roads and bridges at multiple locations, the railroad, the financial center and other commercial areas, and communications facilities on Mount Sutro and San Bruno Mountain. All that within the 7 miles diameter of SF. Areas around San Francisco would be similarly attacked.
That this nightmare has reemerged late in my life is enough to make me despair.
I think people are treating Adam Something a bit too harshly.
Is his estimations about the number of deaths and effect on civilization of nuclear war off? Yes, probably. The logistic system disruption will likely kill more than the bombs themselves, which he seemed to ignore
But people seem to be thinking that he is advising that nuclear war is a good thing for the west or something, which he certainly is not. All he says is that it will not be the end of the world. Which is probably true. He is just fighting against the extreme fear mongering that are popping out now that Putin is going even more crazy. Adam has been pretty steady throughout this war for advising for sanctions, weapon shipments and then hoping ukraine will outlast Russian aggression before the russian economy collapses.
Also, remember that Adam something is Czechian, so if nukes go off in ukraine, which would likely be the first target, he is a lot closer that most of us here. He seems to be just saying that russia would be crazy to start a nuclear war, but if it did, humanity would survive.
This is highly doubtful. Video games and media portrayals are not an accurate scenario for a post nuclear planet. That is why we are mocking the idea that it’s something human society would survive. Rendering large swathes of the planet into dead zones via nuclear strikes is likely to kill most living humans within 1 year. It’s not as if urban or suburban populations can live off the land.
John Morales says
I once again highlight how religious thought pervades our idiomatic language.
A cognitive hazard, that.
John Morales says
No, it’s not really doubtful. Planet is a big place. Humans are all around. Humans are social. Any group of humans will develop or maintain a human society.
Also, did you really mean to make the claim that the reason you mock the idea that it’s something human society would survive is based on Video games and media portrayals not being an accurate scenario? Hope not.
Rob Grigjanis says
Ooh, do tell us about the cognitive hazard, John. I once again highlight “fuck off, John” as a generally applicable response.
I live in Australia. I do not want a role in the movie On the Beach.
John Morales says
Since you ask, it encourages religious thinking (duh). Part of it is the type of thinking that there is some cosmic justice in the world with which one is clearly aligned. And, from there, the desire to expedite that justice is justifiable as a proper endeavour.
But then, I know you think religious modes of thought are on balance either neutral or beneficial.
Anyway, my point was not that you’re personally cognitively-impaired by religious infection, but that religious themes pervade our language. God only knows.
Becky Smith says
Just finished reading 2034, a very scary look at the near future, including the use of tactical nukes. On another note, my dad died at the age of 67 from cancer resulting from overexposure to radiation 30 or so years earlier from nuclear bomb testing in New Mexico. He was in the Air Force at the time.
Some humans might survive. That’s not the same thing as human society. Modern society would grind to a halt without an international supply chain to run the power grids and food supply.
Rob Grigjanis says
“on balance”? You know nothing of the sort. Religious modes of thought occupy the full spectrum from “harmless” to “horribly destructive”.
Duh. Disingenuous clueless twit.
well the one thing I can say about the prospect is at least we could stop worrying about global warming.
John Morales says
OK. So you don’t think religious thinking occupies any part of the spectrum (heh) that can be considered beneficial. I’m not quite as jaundiced as you are.
There you go; you fully acknowledge the verity of my observation.
Yeah, I know… you don’t think it’s a hazardous mode of thought, you were just expressing yourself with that idiom.
A bit like fish and water. You’re swimming in it.
(Care to essay expressing the same sentiment as “There is no hell hot enough for Putin” in non-religious terms?)
Rob Grigjanis says
Fuck off, John.
See my comment @20. You’ve got it backwards, no need to be snide in your misunderstanding. The OP is making claims about videos and media. I quoted that, and will continue to mock that as a wildly false premise.
John Morales says
This? “Apparently Adam thinks fictional accounts that are in no way realistic are a good basis for destroying the planet.”
So, you’re claiming you find it apparent that Adam thinks fictional accounts that are in no way realistic are a good basis for destroying the planet.
Yeah, about that. I quote from the OP’s quotation: “If it came to nuclear war, Russia would essentially be deleted from the face of the planet […]”
That is not an endorsement of nuclear war nor of the deletion of Russia, it’s a prognostication based on a conditional.
I take it that your “wildly false premise” is that nuclear war would be no biggie, which I don’t think is implied (rather the contrary) in what was quoted.
(It was you who introduced “destroying the planet”, BTW)
Ted Lawry #18
Yes, it would. My life in return for removing all those nukes from the world? I’d take that deal any day. It would be a bigger contribution to the future of humanity than I ever dreamed of. I’d be single-handedly doing more for de-armament than everyone else, ever, combined. Sign me up!
Perhaps part of the problem here is that it’s getting increasingly difficult to imagine any future that doesn’t involve a fuck-ton of people dying. We’re really down to just debating who and how. Nuclear war, conventional war, climate change, economic collapse, another pandemic; any of these could kill horrific numbers of people and we’re likely to face more than one at a time.
And really, it’s not as if the status quo is that great. We’ve got nine millions deaths every year from starvation alone. That’s without anything going particularly wrong. That’s just the world we were living in all along.
Are we de-sensitized? Or were we just never really that sensitive to begin with?
The devastation that would be caused by the use of one hydrogen bomb in one city is already unthinkable. Note that “Fat Man” (dropped on Nagasaki) had explosive yield of around 20 kilotons. Russia’s arsenal includes bombs in the 300-800 kiloton range. (These are all smaller than Cold War nightmares of 20 megaton bombs, but still enough to kill many people.)
So I’m already in “extreme fear.” Since the end of the Cold War, I have been in extreme fear of India and Pakistan or North and South Korea targeting each other’s cities. It’s remarkable that a nuclear bomb has not been used in war since 1945. But spare me the load of crap about it not being the end of the world. Yeah, probably not. So the fuck what? Neither will global warming. Neither would have a Nazi victory in WWII. The world would have gone on, just under much worse circumstances. The use of a single modern nuclear weapon in war would be a catastrophe on an unprecedented scale. If the war ended right then (which is unlikely) the scale of suffering would be something that has never before been observed. However, it’s extremely unlikely that it would end there.
Sorry if I’m being too pollyanna to hold out for something better that “not the end of the world.”
First. there is no overkill at all. START eliminated most of both US and Soviet nuclear arsenals and restricted both to around 1500 warheads (Russia gets more warheads than the US, but not by all that much – under 100).
Figure just for airfields, a half dozen warheads to ensure those are unusable, similar for depots and military bases, counter value strikes (cities and such) would be extremely limited and both nations have far more cities than both have warheads.
Destroy the participating nations? Oh, most certainly, but the majority of the population of the earth would breathe a sigh of relief with the two largest sinners out of action.
And no, no nuclear winter. The scenarios were ran in the 1990’s with far superior modeling and verified by observations from smoke from the first Gulf War. Remember, globally we were supposed to get really harsh winters from the oil fire smoke, instead minor regional intensification occurred.
As for protracted harm from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, most of that harm was from fallout from the devices, nothing was brought into the fireball and irradiated. Hell, they recovered sizable chunks of the fissionable cores from both weapons! Modern devices have a max of a half ton of fallout, so that’s quite limited.
Still, for me, the best use for a nuclear weapon is for use as a really expensive doorstop and as such, don’t need a fissionable core or explosives.
The depleted uranium tampers, useful for elevator or aircraft counterweights. The fucking things are simply products of the insanity factory.
As for wars in general, I say that instead, we line up both armies and let both do what they do best. The last drinker standing wins the war.
Or even safer, a cook-off.
John Morales says
Yeah, yeah. ‘unthinkable’ is not literal. But, still.
So, don’t make claims about it being the end of the world when arguing about it.
Here’s the thing; I was born in 1960 so I remember how it was. I remember the dissolution of the Soviet Union and stuff. I remember the treaties and the disarmaments over the years.
But all the time (and right now) many such munitions are around. They could be used now, could have been used before. That’s the point of having them.
Better for humanity if no-one had them? Sure.
Better for one country if they don’t have them while others do? Nopety-nope.
So, I can’t see things changing — the arsenal will be around until the whole world is lovey-dovey.
Anyway. You made your best point here: “It’s remarkable that a nuclear bomb has not been used in war since 1945.”
Not because they haven’t been around, not because they’re unusable, but because of MAD. Mainly.
You can’t really say “It would be the end of human society” as if there’s only one. The societies I’m familiar with would end. The folks on Sentinal Island wouldn’t notice much.
One good thing — the comments on Adam Something’s post are almost universally critical of his position.
I don’t recall ever doing so. Look, the end of my life isn’t the end of the world either, and I am still not eager for it to happen. Indeed, I would be in “extreme fear” if someone were to threaten my life plausibly right now.
The end of the world isn’t “the end of the world” for that matter. (Yes, I know that it actually is by definition.) But I meant the part in scare quotes figuratively as “an irreversible event of great significance.” The end of life on earth, even if it were a possible outcome, is an insignificant event on a cosmic scale. Nobody “needs” us but us, and we wouldn’t be around to care.
Sometimes I take solace in the above. However I would rather live in world where nations weren’t carrying out massive unprovoked invasions, let alone dropping nuclear bombs on cities. I also don’t think this is an unreasonable requirement.
One of the good guys was SF aurhor Arthur C Clarke.
He died March 19th 2008, so exactly 14 years ago.
How about “It would suck, so let’s not.”?
I seem to recall a time not too long ago when the prospect of a single jetliner being blown up by a “shoe bomber” was enough to send a nation of around 300 million into a tizzy. But now we’re gonna be like “Oh, yeah, just a few of our cities and a ‘deleted’ nation on the other side, not the end of the world.” Huh? Granted it’s more a restoration of Cold War thinking than a completely new phenomenon, but it’d be nice if people could work at a consistent scale with these things.
The video itself seems to have been taken down.
It may be a glitch, but maybe he got enough push back from people who are knowledgeable about the modeled outcome of a nuclear conflict to understand that his ‘society will be fine” scenarios are ludicrous.
The US Covid-19 virus pandemic death toll is now equal to 323 9/11 World Trade center attacks.
The US Covid-19 virus death toll is equal to 17 US Vietnam wars’ deaths.
It is 3 World War IIs combat deaths.
A significant fraction of our population refuses to do anything to fight this pandemic and doesn’t care about it at all.
A lot of US residents have become desensitized to mass death.
In my experience, the impact scale for any given disaster is proportional to its implications for the assessor’s political opinions.
COVID-19 has so far killed 6 million (officially – the excess death rate is likely to be up to ten times that great), world-wide, and it’s had a major impact on the world’s economy, with devastating local knock-on effects. People who think decimating the worlds population with a nuclear war would not bomb us back into the stone age are blind to how dependent we are on a functioning world economy.
Ray Ceeya says
I saw “The Day After” and “On the Beach” when I was way too young. It’s no wonder Gen-X became so Nihilistic. Our retirement plan was to “Just Die”.
Nuclear war, any sort of major nuclear exchange, would be the end of teh world as we know it.
Would kill tens or hundreds of millions of innocent people. Very likely more.
That is more than bad enough to say it should never be allowed to happen and prevented at almost all costs.
Too obvs? Seems so.
John Morales says
Well, yes. So obvious that Putin is correctly counting on it. Thus the nuke-rattling.
As for cases where a single atomic bomb is dropped or a single nation “deleted” in the not so charming parlance of sociopaths who ignore or downplay the genocide this would be.
FWIW Population of Kyiv was 2,962,180 or 2 point nine million people. Certainly less now that so many have bene killed or fled and become refugees but then the death toll would still be staggering large.
The population of Moscow is 12.4 million individual human lives.
The population of Ukraine is 43 million human living individuals.
The population of Rusia as a whole is 145.5 million people – the largest population in Russia and “deleting it” – turning it into radioactive glass devoid of living things , certainly “advanced” lifeforms would mean a nuclear “carpet bombing extending along the
Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia#Geography
Attempting even part of this would be the end of life as we know it and the world as we know it.
So let’s not ok.
Let’s not even begoin to pretend we could achive this, okay technically not unthinkable, but appallingly beyond nightmarish scenario.
Grew up in the Cold War here. I’ve been to Hiroshima and the museum and seen the clothes schoolgirls there were wearing when they were hit among more. Read accounts and imagined many times what it would be like if the world ended in nuclear fire as we came all too close to doing many times.
A coiple of my strongest childhood memories a eof seeing aplay depciting a nuclear war and aftermath performed by my classmates in drama class at high school and reading the powerful young adult novel The Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence, A novel I’d highly recommend FWIW.
See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_of_the_Dust_(novel)
That the scenario it grimly relates is extremely optimistic in all likely reality of nuclear war should be more than enough of a deterrent to anyone ever advocating nuclear bombing as any sort of “winning” strategy.
^ Typos fix A couple of my strongest childhood memories are of seeing a play depicting a nuclear war and aftermath ..
John Morales says
Again: that’s Putin’s point. Your very attitude is his leverage.
To answer the title question :
Clearly yes soem are and others were never sensitive to that threat in the first place.
Those people would be very ethically wrong, lacking in empathy and understanding and are NOT people that should be empowered or in office or heeded.
John Morales says
You might think it’s clear, but I don’t. You’re just bullshitting, I think.
BTW, if one has never been sensitive, that someone could not be in the process of becoming desensitized. A very poorly-thought out second clause, I’m guessing intended to add rhetorical weight but instead indicating the paucity of your case.
It’s like John Morales has almost but not quite stumbled upon the problem of nuclear proliferation, which has been something that other people have worried about since the 50s.
John Morales says
Um, the problem at hand (Russia) has nothing to do with proliferation.
(Everything to do with Putin, though)
John Morales@69 Care to state your view instead of just criticizing others’? I take your point (or part of it) to be that effective deterrence requires a willingness to use nuclear weapons, or at least the ability to convince your opponent of this. I also understand the game theoretic element well enough and have done some reading on the topic, but it doesn’t change the horror.
According to an NYT article:
If so, this is much worse than mutually assured destruction because they have an incentive to try out such a strike. I also think their calculation is wrong and that NATO would not simply back down to avoid escalating the war.
One thing I am certain of is nobody is going to ask me what to do. Hence, I am at liberty to agree with StevoR or anyone else that any use of a nuclear weapons is far worse than many other extremely undesirable alternatives, such as backing down to Putin’s threat. I mean hypothetically, if it seemed credible. It is premature to back down now, while Ukraine is fighting a conventional war to defend their sovereignty. We should give Ukraine unequivocal support.
A strike by Russia followed by a skillfully executed retaliatory strike by NATO is a catastrophic outcome even if it stops soon after. Unfortunately, the strategy requires convincing Russia that this would be the outcome. There is a lot of reason to feel “extreme fear” at this situation, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the “end of the world”. That’s a red herring.
birgerjohansson@56 And Arthur C. Clarke is appropriate to this discussion, particularly his short story The Last Command.
John Morales says
I did, @69.
(It’s a view, it’s stated, it’s mine.
More philosophically, one can criticise others’ advocated ideas and attitudes without advocating one of one’s own)
@ John Morales :
Even assuming that to be true, then so what?
You think that invalidates the notion that we shouldn’t launch or even threaten to launch WW III and a nuclear catastrophe of unprecedented murderous desctructive scope which would end the modern world as we know it because oh noezz!!1ty! a dictator has “leverage” over us for not doing so?
Or could we, instead, still rationally rule out the above possibility and alternatively find better ways to oppose and ultimately even remove such a dictator? Like economic and other sanctions, inspiring an internal coup, even full on sending in a hit squad to assasinate him? (Probly also a bad idea but not as bad as launching nuclear bombs.)
Nope. I’m stating a fact that there are some people – who as noted frex in the OP here – are either desensitised and complacant about nuclear war enough to seriously contemplate advocating it or were always so sociopathic, ignorant and lacking in understanding that the idea of a “winnable nuclear war” makes reasonable sense to them such that they think one could actually be waged. I think, as noted, that people who think that way are horribly wrong and shouldn’t be heeded.
Really? Huh. How so?
I thought it was pretty clear that I was referring to two separate groups –
1) those that had or were becoming desenitised
as well as
2) those who were never sufficiently sensitised or understanding of the ethical and socio-political gravity of nuclear war such that both those categories of people could imagine waging a “winnable nuclear war” – a pospect that I consider horrific due to its consequences notably ending the world as we know it today.
(Not destroying the entire earth as a physical planet nor killing off all life on earth or even necessarily rendering our species extinct although I think the last mentioned one is a serious possibility if nuclear armageddon occurred.)
You think I’m making a poor case why exactly and how would you suggest making a better one, John Morales?
John Morales says
Defending a sovereign country from actual invasion is hardly threatening to launch WW III and a nuclear catastrophe. Even if Putin makes that claim.
“We”? Not like I get a say in the matter.
Anyway, that’s exactly what’s happening right now. Every day of those sanctions, more destruction in Ukraine, with all the concomitant consequences.
I think I’ll give up pointing it to you, but for a last time: That’s what Putin is counting upon. Right as we write this. For weeks now.
Ahem. Me in my previous comment: “More philosophically, one can criticise others’ advocated ideas and attitudes without advocating one of one’s own”.
Also: “Not like I get a say in the matter.”
Nor am I informed of the applicable circumstances in the same way that people who come up with those policy determinations. No point in my pontificating from a position of ignorance.
But hey, sure. Don’t attack Putin while he destroys Ukraine. That’s the right call, because otherwise, well, don’t want WW3, right?
(Chomp, chomp goes the salami)
OK I am kind of slow and quite possibly dense so if you could spell it out in simple words what we should be doing that we are not doing now to get Putin out of Ukraine and even possibly out of Russia.?
Cristian Eigel says
@pz, I believe you misunderstood Adam’s point of view. He lives in Germany, as do I. The threat of war is maybe stronger felt here. The media also doesn’t help whipping up the fear. Many of us have relatives in countries at the border with Ukraine, Polish, Hungarians, Romanians, Moldavians. The war is much closer felt here. People go to pharmacy to ask for Jod tablets. Which if you think about it, makes no sense to stockpile on in a multi-million people city, which would probably be one of the targets. People stockpile on all sorts of other things. Of course many of us try to remain optimistic in this situation. Adam’s article is written from the point of view that nuclear attacks on the Russian side are unlikely since they are very dangerous for Putin as well.
John Morales says
unclefrogy, why ask me what “we” should be doing?
In that very comment you cite, I’ve explained why I’d rather not make an uninformed opinion. That doesn’t mean I can’t see how the invasion is ongoing, how the destruction is ongoing.
But hey, here’s an idea. Change this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_veto_power for starters.
We’ve seen how well that works.
no you have opinions and suggestions and preferences you just do not want to state them directly and clearly you just carp about everyone else
Yes we are in a very difficult position. We are in a very crowded world watching a ruthless murdering sociopath who thinks nothing of killing men women and children his own or anyone else trying to recreate the Russian Empire we could probably defeat him in a conventional war but he is threatening to launch his strategic weapons into this very crowded world. this is the situation as we know it so what should we do that we are not doing. he shows not much interest in what the rest of the world thinks so I do not think he would make any distinction between the UN , NATO or the U.S. we attack him in his judgment what does he do?
John Morales says
unclefrogy: “so what should we do that we are not doing”
Wherefore am I suddenly the guru on the mountaintop?
This is getting silly.
On point, Cristian @80 actually addressed the topic at hand.
Ronald Couch says
So Russia has 1,458 active nuclear weapons and another 3,039 “available” while the U.S. has 1,389 active nuclear weapons and another 2,361 “available” whatever that means, assuming these figures are true. I’d say it’d be the end of anything we know as a civilization as that concept is generally understood. At least in the developed western world. And that is just in the first few weeks.
So if you want to bet your life and your family’s lives and your friend’s lives that this won’t happen, well I guess you can go ahead and do that. But, it does show the over success of our propaganda, I guess. Everybody thought that WWI would be over in a few weeks. How well did that work out?
There once was an ASI named Joshua, who said these important words: “The only winning move is not to play.”
Let’s do nothing about Ukrainian civilians being murdered because nuclear war is scary and it’s not like its my family being shot at is what I gather from this thread. Also Putin is going to stop if he is victorious because one victory will be enough since he is a reasonable person. American left is kinda disgusting to be honest.
Ronald Couch says
vy@87. Well, let’s see doing nothing: Nearly total sanctions on Russia. Their billionaires yachts are confiscated, their finances in various banks are confiscated. Complete economic warfare and pretty successful at that. So yeah by those definitions nothing at all has been done. Plus at this point NATO and the US has gotten Ukraine to fight Russia with absolutely no danger to them and strengthened NATO all of which were I am sure goals of the west to begin with.
Rob Grigjanis says
vytautasjanaauskas @87: I thought the thread was about Adam Something’s video. I don’t have the impression that most people here are saying “do nothing”. I’m certainly not. At the very least, we should keep supplying Ukraine with whatever they need to keep fighting, sanctioning Russia, and putting more NATO troops on the eastern border; Baltic states, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. I wonder whether Moldova has been asked if NATO troops would be welcome there…
I also think that, when the Russians started targeting civilians, NATO should have said “keep it up, and we’re coming in”. Wishful thinking, I know.
I’m guessing you’re Lithuanian. I understand your concern.
No one said that.
You attempted to make a strawperson and then tried to set it on fire. You are so stupid that you ended up with a pile of straw that you couldn’t even light on fire.
No one said this either. It isn’t even the subject of this thread.
You are fighting imaginary strawpeople that you make yourself. And losing anyway.
OK, so you are a typical out of contact with reality right wingnut. Explains everything.
BTW, the American supporters of Putin are all right wingnuts, white supremacists, and flat out Nazis.
You are 0 for 3. Every sentence was completely wrong.
@ vytautasjanaauskas :
Then you gather wrongly.
There’s a big difference between doing nothing and launching the flippin’ Apocalypse that ends the world as we know it for everyone.
No, Putin isn’t a reasonable person and also, no, he’s not looking very victorious and this war isn’t going as Putin planend or hoped at all. Thankyou Ukrainian resistence and military.
Not everyone her eis from theUSA. I’m not. (Aussie FWIW) Plus if you don’t like the Amercian left then look at theoutright nazis of the American reich wing..
R. L. Foster says
I’m not going to address most of this moron’s conclusions because, for the most part, they are utter bullshit. But I am very troubled by his use of terms like “format the planet” or “Russia deleted from the face of the planet.” Format? Delete? WTH? He is applying gamer/coder lingo to horrific real world situations. He makes it sound as if after a major nuclear exchange we just reboot the game and we go on with our lives with a few minor adjustments. He seems to think people are like the characters in a video game who are impervious to mental, psychological or emotional shocks. Or hunger and radiation poisoning. Does he really think people emerging from the rubble after a major nuclear exchange will just brush themselves off and rebuild within a matter of months? The Hiroshima/Nagasaki analogy shows a total lack of understanding of the situation. For one thing, the rest of Japan was still a functioning society. They could rush in and render immediate assistance. Even the Occupation forces came in and helped out. This won’t be the case after WW3. Every major city American will be a ruin. Rural areas with large military installation won’t be spared from the fallout. The infrastructure will be gone. There won’t be big rigs rolling in from the West Coast with fresh fruit and vegies. Who has enough rice and beans in their pantry to get them through the next year? Hell, if you are still able, you’ll be shooting squirrels off the back deck, assuming they aren’t already dead. As I said, utter bullshit. It pisses me off that there are people this stupid.
@vytautasjanaauskas And.. stop calling the F#$@#$# “Democrats” the “left”, they are no more “left” than the “nobles” in Game of Thrones, who given the option to give more power to peasants, decided to look at the guy suggesting it like he was utterly nuts, and then placed a “nice” noble, whose claim to the position was literally that his brain was mystically trapped so far in the past, and how, “Great things used to be!”, that no progress would likely ever get made.
The “party” isn’t capable of recognizing that its strategy, behavior, choices, or adherence to a “kinder, gentler oligarchy” won’t fix anything. Like the GOP, nothing good can come of this sort of thinking, and most, if not all, of the current membership deserves to be run out of Washington on a rail, imho. The few, on either side, with any clue that things have gone badly wrong, and that progress in the well being on actually people (instead of just the economy) is possible as such a minority that they are literally poor Samwell Tarly, saying, “Maybe its time to let the people rule themselves.”, and having everyone else in their political party (regardless of which party they are in) look at them like they just grew a second head.
@78. John Morales :
Er, we’re talking about the USA (and others?) getting involved which would be starting WW III not just Ukrainians defending their nation as they are currently doing with our support but no direct military engagement.
Are you suggesting that NATO or the USA engages Russia in Ukraine militarily?
Nor me. Nor most of us here with very few indeed if any exceptions. We’re discussing possibilities among ourselves not actually directing policies as far as I know.
That being our unwillingness to risk nuclear armageddon. I think ruling that out unless absolutely compelled not to is reasonable and, yes, even if it gives Putin some sort of advantage its not a bad thing. What’s the alternative? Rush into nuking the world? You know given the consequences of dropping even one atomic bomb are millions of innocent dead,
But I’m asking you sicne you claim Im makinga ba dcase why you think tehcase Im making is soba dand how you would strengthen it if you wer earguing that we shouldn’t advocate so-caleld “winnable nuclear war”” and the use of nuclear WMDs in anger.
I don’t think its unreasonable. You specifically said in #71 that my pointing out that yes, some people are becoming desenitised as the OP notes and also that some people were never sufficiently senistised showed the “paucity” of my case. I don’t get whty you say that and want toknow what mistake youthink that is making and how you would rhetorically fix that?
Would you deny that it is a reality that people are becoming desenitised to the prospect of nuclear war or never properly grasped the horror of it? Would that be better? Would NOT stating that aid the case against resorting to nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction? How so?
No, we don’t want WW III.
Perhaps we should find and explore other ways of targeting and stopping Putin that don’t involve millions of innocent people dying. It isn’t zero sum, nukes or nothing. Nuance not mean anything to you? Or fallacy of excluded middle / excluded other options?
Metaphorically I’d say this particular “salami” is proving very tough for Putin to chew and swallow and is already leaving a very bad taste in his mouth. Here’s hoping he chokes on it.
But at least it is “salami” and not a poison pill that is suicide not just for Putin but also suicide for everyone else too.
Sigh. Believe it or not I do try to get the spellings – and spacings right. And preview proeprly. For clarity fix :
But I’m asking you (John Morales) since you claim I’m making a bad case I’m asking you why you think the case I’m making is so bad and how you would strengthen it if it were you arguing that we shouldn’t advocate so-called “winnable nuclear war” here.
Rob Grigjanis says
StevoR @94: Do you think NATO should intervene militarily if Putin invades Moldova? Finland?
I agree John, you are extremely silly. If you say “Change this”, it is entirely reasonable to ask how you suggest how the change could be made. Since the veto-wielding powers can veto amendments to the UN Charter, which would be required to get rid of or modify their veto powers, it is far from obvious how to go about removing or modifying the veto.
“Plus at this point NATO and the US has gotten Ukraine to fight Russia with absolutely no danger to them and strengthened NATO all of which were I am sure goals of the west to begin with.”
Are you really saying that you’re cool with buying a strategic advantage with Ukrainian blood?
@ Rob Grigjanis : I really hope that remains a moot question. Dunno. Neither are NATO members are they but its tough and awful. I hope Putin doesn’t. I hope his own people take him out first. I think what Putin is doing wil lbackfire on him and already is backfiring on him.
Oh sorry I misunderstood. You’re one of those “NATO started this war” weirdos.
Since you’re dissatisfied with everyone else’s proposals, it’s natural to wonder if you have something better. I’m thinking no.
If not, you could concede that the situation is intractable. If Russia makes a credible nuclear threat, any resolution will be catastrophic (but no, not “the end of the world”, which is small consolation). Do I give Putin leverage by stating this? He either has leverage or he doesn’t, and what I think or say is irrelevant.
The day President Biden starts a foreign policy speech with “I found an interesting point in a blog comment that I’d like to share with you.” is the day I start to worry about such things.
The problem with Adam Something’s video (as I gather from PZ’s description) is that he’s doing Cold War “first strike” thinking, only stupider because he’s probably too young to have heard it all before. My friends and I back in college used to have fun playing Douglas Malewicki’s Nuclear War card game, which you might be familiar with. That was the 80s and it had been around for 20 years. It’s a silly and stupid game where you count lives like potatoes and don’t worry about shocks to infrastructure or medical care. Of course, it’s very random, and played more as a jokey nihilistic exercise than a strategy game. That was Malewicki’s point. You can “delete” nations in the sense that players just drop out and the game goes on.
I have oddly warm feelings toward the gamification of global destruction, but it’s probably because I associate it with friends all coping in their own way with something that could be very real. When I see it as a serious policy proposal, that’s when I get worried.
@100. vytautasjanaauskas : I don’t think so. I’m certainly not.
What do you think we should do and does it involve nuclear WMDs incinerating millions of innocent people by any chance?
Also your failure to respond to the points raised by #93.Kagehi, #90 raven & my #91 is noticed.
I am not going to answer any points that attempt to put words and political positions in my mouth. We should directly involve NATO forces in the conflict as Ukraine is asking. If not boots on the ground at least taking control of the air space and shoot down any Russian planes and cruise/ballistic missiles.
Failing that just give them better air defense system and more equipment. Not the pittance we are giving them right now.
@ 103. vytautasjanaauskas : Shooting down Russian planes would likely start WWII though I fear.
If we do that, what do you think Putin will do? What then?
(Ever played chess? Tried to anticipate what opponents will do?)
D’oh. I meant WW III obvs.
Actually an analogy with World War I also seems pertinent here.. all Europe dragged into war because X invaded Y allied with Z, A, B & C ..
Is the chess you play the kind where you don’t make a move because you are afraid of the next move your opponent?
I think you will find the general consensus in this forum is ‘Fuck Putin’ and his megalomaniac invasion. We are horrified.
How should those who oppose tyrants proceed without risking further escalation from a bloodthirsty madman?
@ ^ vytautasjanaauskas : Nope. Its also not chess boxing where you start punching yoru opponent phsyically.
Although quite a few very drunk games…
“Fuck Putin” is part of the problem. Russias problems are systemic. Getting rid of Putin will achieve nothing. Russia needs to undergo a similar process that Germany underwent at the end of WW2 and made to acknowledge its many crimes against its neighbors. Instead of making those crimes a matter of national pride.
For the record I cannot stand Putin. Hate war, hate imperialists, hate occupations.
Peace is what most people want and need and the legalised mass murder that is war is NOT a game.
Stating the obvious surely but still.
If getting rid of Putin means Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ends – which I hope and expect it will. That will solve a lot of things.
I would be very surprised if Putin gets removed and Russia’s invasion continues.
Why? This invasion has widespread popular support.
When something is on fire, the first step is to put out the fire. Only then can you start to fix the problem. In this case, the problem is a man who has entrenched himself as dictator for life, and has a terrifying military at his disposal.
Rob Grigjanis says
Draw a clear line. Somewhere. There is no such thing as ‘risk-free’ in this sort of situation. And not acting carries its own risks.
I’ll note that as we write, Mariupol residents are being forcibly sent to Russia. For those of us with Baltic background, that has a powerful resonance.
@ vytautasjanaauskas : I really don’t think it does.
So many Russians have protested against it really bravely even considering the penalties and Putin’s state media propaganda.
The kind of chess I play doesn’t put human lives at stake. Which is good, because I’m a terrible chess player. If we’re doing games, poker is a better analogy. “Sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.” In this case, there may be sufficient information on Russia’s “hand” in terms of an arsenal, but the bluffing concerns Putin’s willingness to use it.
Another fun Cold War relic: The Compleat Strategyst, available as a free PDF from the Rand corporation. I made it about halfway through last year. It gets bogged down in examples if you can handle the corny 50s-era humor. While it’s innocent enough on the surface, this kind of game theoretic treatment was the basis of much nuclear war analysis. A better introduction putting game theory in the context of nuclear war is William Poundstone’s Prisoner’s Dilemma (which, on rereading is what inspired me to take a look at The Compleat Strategyst).
While I can only speculate about Adam Something (who is 24 years old if he’s the same guy) my guess is that he jumped right into his first-strike nation deletion theory without any of the context he might gain by studying the body of nuclear war analysis developed over roughly 5 decades after the Trinity test in 1945. He seems clever enough. Maybe he should shut up and do some reading.
@116 what is your thinking based on? Yes there are brave honest people in Russia. They are in the minority though. Polls are always tricky in a dictatorship but it seems that well over half of Russians have favorable views of this war. And they actually DO buy the official excuse of fighting nazis/NATO is out of line nonsense.
And Putins approval rating seems to have went up by 7% to 71%
What’s always crazy is how smart people who see systemic reasons everywhere are happy to believe that this war is one persons project as if it was Putin personally loading shells to shell maternity hospitals.
vytautasjanaauskas@113 There is “widespread popular support” but hardly unanimity. I observe that many Russians are actually doing what spineless American liberals like me only threaten. They’re getting out while they can. I understand that doesn’t fix anything. A lot of Germans (mostly but not only Jewish) also emigrated before WWII. But this invasion does not appear to be a cause for jubilation anywhere, including in Russia. At the very least, it looks like Putin miscalculated the response (but maybe not; it could all be going according to plan, just not one that makes any sense to me).
What happens when all these people leave? Well, “tens of thousands of professionals” is kind of a drop in the bucket. I didn’t say there was anything to be very hopeful about.
Rob Grigjanis says
StevoR @116: So many ethnic Russians living in Ukraine are simply not believed by their Russian relatives when they say they’re being bombed. So many Russians who have left Russia since the invasion say that most Russians believe in Putin.
@118. vytautasjanaauskas :
As you noted it’s very hard to tell what the Russian people really think of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Given the large number that have protested even with the brutal crackdowns and punishments for merely protesting peacefully; I don’t think we can really conclude that a majority support war given that diffculty in assessing the true figures. If youassume for evry protestor there are ??? others that agree with them but won’t risk getting arrested and beaten up and spending years in jail then ???
I really don’t know. Suspect very few people if any actually do.
PS. Going to bed now. Its far too early in the morning here in Oz for me to be awake any longer.
@ vytautasjanaauskas : “And Putins approval rating seems to have went up by 7% to 71%”
I think the multi-billion military aid package that is currently flowing to Ukraine is a very clear statement from the US. How can the West draw a line without risking further escalation? It’s very much a double edged sword situation.
My family was evicted from Ukraine in 1879. The deeds and all of the records are held in Moscow. Melitipol is not far from Mariupol. We had hundreds of 90 year old farming colonies between these two cities, and were 30% of the population at the time. One set of my GG Grandparents tried to stay, had their farmstead collectivized, and were in fact shipped off to Siberia before escaping by immigrating to Winnipeg.
If you track the increases in the approval rating they coincide with his military ventures.
Yes. I read this, though I still can’t understand how it’s possible. First off, are they really that isolated from international news sources? Second, I am trying to imagine myself on the phone with my nephew who is telling me is sheltering in a basement since his apartment building has just been bombed. “No, no, you’re imagining that. It’s just a special operation to drive out the Nazis. Don’t worry.”
Mind you, I accept that it is possible. I suppose the first point isn’t very compelling. I can read news from just about anywhere in the world but many people in the US confine themselves to specific sources that reinforce their political views. The second is a little more confusing to me. I would expect people to trust their own relatives above even the most skillful propaganda.
Rob Grigjanis says
PaulBC @128: You don’t have to look far to see how it’s possible. How many US families are split by Trumpism despite access to news sources?
vytautasjanaauskas@120 I often wonder at leftists seeing “systematic reasons” that are usually weirdly focused on economic incentives (maybe as a result of lingering Marxism), that ignore tribalism and personal animosity, and entail deep conspiracies between ostensible political opponents.
What if most of the damage caused by powerful people is not systematic at all? While it’s an oversimplification to say the invasion is all due to Putin, it may be a relatively small number of people controlling the Russian government who have made a drastic mistake and are primarily doing damage control (which of course includes maintaining popular support as long as they can). I do not claim that the outcome will be happy for anyone, but I really don’t think it is the one that Russian strategists anticipated when they began this invasion.
PaulBC@22: “There is no such thing as “deleting” nations unless you go for all of them at once.” With a few notable exceptions: the Vatican, Monaco. Not that I favor “deleting” either of those, but defanging both (in different ways) might be nice.
RayCeeya@23: The family Sovietologist grew up in Richland. Otherwise I would probably be ignorant of the fact that Richland High’s teams are (or were) The Bombers, with a mushroom cloud on their jerseys.
@120 Yes, because we can totally “trust” polls coming out of Russia, when the method he uses to stay in power is a) doing worse than the GOP has tried to rig the vote, and b) inexplicably having all his opponents disappear/die before anyone gets to vote for them. I trust any polls on the subject about as much as I would one run by Fox News, regarding the number of American’s that approve of far right wing neo-nazis.
Do hawks fly over a nuked Vilnius? Really can’t wait, evidently.
Did you intend to say nothing or did you just hit the limit of your abilities?
@132 glad you found a way to make this about US politics
Do you know that Saudi Arabia has a very low rate of rape? Why, all they had to do to accomplish this is require women reporting rapes to the police to produce a handful of male witnesses and threaten them with punishment if they fail to do so. Wonder o wonder, suddenly there’s very little rapes that go into the statistics! I would do even one better and abolish the police and the justice system, then there’d be no crimes at all.
Putin made it flat illegal to be opposed to his war, his thugs are yoinking people off the street if they only look like they might express dissent where the wrong people might hear it, so of course his approval goes up if he simply disappears everyone who disapproves of him.
Heck, he can also just tell the pollsters in his country to report whatever numbers he wants because it’s not like anyone could check if they are true anyway. That’s the privilege if you are a tyrant running a corrupt banana republic.
Rob Grigjanis says
AugustusVerger @136: Bad analogy. Polling is radically different from reading official police reports.
Also, there is still (for now) an independent NGO collecting polling data in Russia; The Levada Center, which has a solid reputation. Collecting data does not, as yet, fall under Putin’s law about intentionally spreading “misinformation” about the armed forces.
The point is that you can make statistics say anything if you deliberately limit the data that goes in. Saying that Putin’s approval went up because of the war when he’s made it more than clear that anyone not toeing the line is a criminal and has already gulag’d people over it is completely meaningless.
Also, what does polling matter if people are penalized for not saying what the tyrant wants to hear?
Just letting everyone know where you’re from and what kind of ghoulish thinking you represent.
And no, not letting your particular tiny corner of the world get a repeat of 1940 (which is not happening anyway, learn some fucking history, and learn to compare things. Square pegs, round holes?) is not an end-all-be-all geopolitical goal for the entire planet. Maybe it is for you, but that’s counselling is for, and learning to look past your nose.
Oh, and if you’re by chance not from Lithuania, then fuck you very much, I live a stone’s throw from it, and I don’t want to get nuked. Or anyone else in the region get nuked. Or anyone in the world get nuked.
And if your shittwat hawk brain still calls for a flight through that mushroom cloud, just make sure you ride Bezos’ space dick far away from Earth before blowing up.
For better or worse, there is one: Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty:
vytautasjanaauskas@103 wants direct NATO involvement in the war – which NATO leaders have evidently decided would carry too high a risk of starting WWIII, a decision I agree with. Horrible as the suffering of the Ukranians under Russian attack is, it would compare to that of an all-out nuclear war like a puff of air to a hurricane. And if anyone says “Putin would back down”, “He’s bluffing”, etc., my answer is simply that no-one outside Putin’s inner circle can know that – and perhaps even Putin himself doesn’t. (Incidentally, a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine would require bombing anti-aircraft installations inside Russia.) Unless I’ve missed it, you’ve been less explicit about what “clear line” you want, if Article 5 isn’t it. I would be against drawing any “clear lines” beyond that one, which was already there before the invasion, because doing so at this stage would have unpredictable consequences: Putin could see such a line as a challenge to his evidently fragile ego, and decide to cross it when he would not otherwise have done so, believing that NATO leaders would back down.
@125. vytautasjanaauskas : Ok. Thanks.
Not sure I accept the figures as legitimate given, well, the factors mentioned by #138. AugustusVerger & 132 Kagehi but still.
@53. NitricAcid :
Actually I think they would. They might not understand what’s happening beyond the fact that those horrible outsiders have done something that changed the world but a global nuclear winter would likely badly affect them.
This source :
Covers not just a hypothethical India-Pakistani nuclear war but also notes the impacts of a hypothetical Russian nuclear war on oceans and more :
& its final line is worth noting for truth :
& this abstract : https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.222.4630.1283
Which would be hard not to notice and likely affect even the Sentinelese though they may – just may – cope better than “more civilised” & thus technology dependent folks like us.
Of course, the specifics on just how many Bombs are detonated and where likely make a big difference and we don’t really know for sure. Here’s hoping we never find out for real.
Rob Grigjanis says
KG @139: Yes, Article 5 is a clear line on paper. I even heard Jens Stoltenberg say “all for one, one for all” with all the steely resolve of Barney Fife in an episode of Andy of Mayberry. Joe Biden went even further, talking about a “severe price” for Russia if it uses chemical weapons in Ukraine. I just hope Putin is more impressed than I am.
Right, we just don’t know. And apparently we just have to wring our hands and worry about what he might do rather than decide what we have to do.
Here’s a clear line that has come and gone, but which anyone who’s been paying attention to recent history must have seen; the targeting of civilians.
Other possible clear lines; the borders of Moldova and Finland. If Putin at some point decides they are fair game, what language has NATO use to dissuade him? I don’t remember hearing anything. I imagine they too are more concerned about Putin’s fragile ego than anything else.
Putin could also see the absence of lines as…well, the absence of lines.
Never bloody mind. Our opinions aren’t worth shit, and aren’t saving anyone. Fuck it.
Modern nuclear war would be much less devastating than cold war expectation or comparisons to Chernobyl suggest, it could be even less devastating than total conventional global war, but still it would be catastrophe beyond any calculations of gains and losses.
The biggest source of loss would be global supply chain and food production being shattered.
Nuclear winter is hard to predict as different studies and simulations vary widely in results. It may be less prominent than most of the studies predict it may be more and some unpredicted so far effects may occur that would be far more dangerous to humanity, we just do’t see it yet.
Being flippant about nuclear war or walking nonchalantly about “we will survive but you will turn to glass” makes accidental spiral of nukes more likely but it makes intentional use of nukes less likely.
But waging survival of your society dependent on whether you can win game of bluff with someone of different language and culture, different interest and goals and unknowable state of mind is pretty stupid place to be in.
Not mentioning that attempt at forceful regime change is seen as legitimate reason to use nukes by russians, so be careful with calls to assassinate Putin.
Also russians believe that “tactical” and “deescalating” use of nukes is a real thing, USA does not. Playing the game where both sides use different rules is again, stupid.
I’m pretty certain my city has nukes aimed at it. Since the begining of NATO one side was in Warsaw, the other side planned to nuke Warsaw to stop supplying of reinforcements to the frontline.
In case when nukes start flying, I am all for turning whole russia into glass if possible. If it is us vs them I have no moral issues with making sure they are not present after dust settles. But much more prefer no one gets nuked.
About NATO and article 5:
new NATO members are not so sure that NATO would decide to go into all out war in case of “limited invasion”. It is assumed so, but we realize, that in case of extremely quick conquest of territory old nato members would be tempted to agree to peace at the cost of baltics or Poland instead of going into all out, possibly nuclear war only to avenge Warsaw and Vilnius.
That;s why those countries ask for as many troops to be present, so any attempt will get bogged down and it will give NATO time to react. If Ukraine fell down in 3 days, the West would not take such clear position on the issue.
And about Russia population – it’s hard to believe in polls if people polled see on the TV that spreading fake news (ie anything that not match official news) may mean 15 years in gulag and a moment later their phone rings and they are ask “Ivan Ivanovich who lives in Viosskaya on Pobieda street 15/7, what do you think about our dear leader Vladimi Vladimirovich Putin and the special military operation against nazis on the Ukraine in this anonymous poll?”
Also even reliable polls had only time to register the early effect of uniting behind the flag and not the realization how this war looks like or economic consequences.
That being said, different polls that have a chance to be viable give similar results.
Population over 35 is using mostly state TV, younger people using social media which are still allowed or is forced to use VPN or TOR.
I glanced into russian speaking chats in different games, I looked at telegram channels and russians believe and support the war overwhelmingly. It’s not an aggressive minority that caused war, most of the society believes in propaganda.
Germans were shocked and couldn’t believe in nazi atrocities, Russians need such catharsis too.
Don’t believe in feel good story of “good russians massively opposing the war”.
Last point Moldova nad Finland are completely different. Moldova is not in EU and already has transdnistria, separate breakout region and is right next to Ukraine when russian forces fight and if they reach the border they can just go further.
Finalnd is EU member with a great military and 1300 km border. Russia will not attack Finland, can’t afford to.
Probably can’t afford to take Ukraine, it only can kill a lot of them and ruin as much as possible
Well yes, we do have to worry about what a man who has been quite prepared to launch an invasion of a neighbouring country and bombard its cities, and who has the power to unleash nuclear armageddon, might do. That’s an essential part of deciding what “we” (as you imply, neither one of us has any real chance of influencing the short-term decisions of NATO leaders) have to do. But we don’t have to, and are not, “just” doing that. Various NATO/EU leaders are supplying Ukraine with arms, and imposing economic sanctions. Individually and collectively, we can support humanitarian relief efforts, and even lobby and demonstrate (though with little likelihood of having an impact) for what we think should be done.
The same clear line has come and gone in Yemen, in Myanmar, in Ethiopia… It was crossed in Libya, and NATO responded by overthrowing Gadhafi – that worked out well, didn’t it? I’m not saying these cases necessarily imply NATO should not intervene directly in Ukraine, but that a calculation of likely consequences needs to be part of the decision-making. And the same applies to drawing “clear lines” around Moldova and Finland (have those governments actually asked for them? I don’t know, but it would seem relevant).
Well, that’s what they said, at any rate. Even if they knew, it was very much in their interests post-war to act shocked and disbelieving. Much of the early persecution of Jews, political opponents etc. was done right out in the open, and huge numbers of those who served on the eastern front had to know of atrocities there even if they didn’t take part themselves – and word of them would have filtered back.
Ah, I see. So, using analogies to similar behavior, as exhibited by people I do know the behavior and dishonesty of is not allowed. Got it…. :eyeroll:
At this point, I’d say that NATO definitely would defend any NATO member.
We already know Russia and Putin are a serious danger to world and European peace. We have to stop them as soon as possible.
NATO loses most of its credibility if it doesn’t defend its members.
If a defensive commonwealth doesn’t defend itself, what good is it?
Besides which, we’ve seen enough of the Russian army to know it is a paper tiger. A lot of the equipment is old and barely functional, the soldiers are poorly led, and are poorly motivated conscripts. The conscripts don’t want to conquer Lithuania or Poland, they want to surf the net, play video games, and go out drinking in pubs.
I grew up between a Trident nuclear submarine base, an ICBM assembly plant, and a plutonium producing reactor. The thought that we weren’t a main target for Soviet nuclear bombs never crossed our minds.
Maybe so. I don’t recommend overconfidence. Russia may have made a strategic blunder expecting Ukraine to fold fast. They still have more raw power and can just keep at it.
I wonder if NYT guest columnist Chris Miller has revised his stance since Feb. 25 when he wrote:
Russia’s army is not the juggernaut he suggests in that column. It’s true they can bomb cities. You cannot take territory with cruise missiles though, not unless the other side surrenders.
@ ^ PaulBC : Eeven if the other surrenders what then?
How long do or can you occupy a nation before they rebel and kick you out? hearts and minds? RuSSia has already lost those forever in Ukraine, well for mnay generations I’m pretty sure.
Interesting ABC article here :