Right Wing Delusional Fuckebagges Offe The Deep End Of Stupid Motherfucken Dumshittery

He advocates slashing our nuclear arsenal even as the North Koreans threaten us and the Iranians close in on their own nuclear weapon.

Yeah. Reducing the number of MEGATON hydrogen bombs on ICBMs we have–each SINGLE ONE OF WHICH could blow up an entire metropolitan area of a 20 mile radius anywhere in the world–is relevant to addressing the danger of some tiny punke asse shittehole like NK or Iran gaining the ability to lobbe a couple kiloton bomb a couple thousand kilometers.

Actually, right-wing neocon shitteholes like Liz Cheney aren’t delusional. They are calculating lying filth.


  1. Timothy Park says

    You made several claims about the United States nuclear arsenal which were of debatable validity.
    1. You said that our ICBMs have warheads with a yield of more than one megaton. Our ballistic missile force consists of 450LGM-30G Minuteman III silo-launched ICBMs, with a total of 550 warheads, none of which have a yield of more than 400 kilotons. Although I couldn’t find a good source, I believe that all of our Minuteman missiles carry only one warhead, meaning the other hundred are spares.
    The UGM-133 Trident II, our submarine launched ballistic missile, also has the range to qualify as an ICBM. It carries 4-8 warheads, none of which have a yield greater than 500 kilotons. In fact, it appears that the combined yield never adds to more than 800 kilotons (the eight warhead configuration uses a bomb with a 100 kiloton yield. We can deploy as many as 336 of them on 14 Ohio-class submarines.
    We also have cruise missiles, which are carried by B-52 Stratofortresses, as well as B61 and B83 gravity bombs, both of which are carried by the B-2 Spirit (the stealth bomber). Of all the various warheads in the US arsenal, the only one with a yield over a megaton is the B83 (1.2 Megatons), and it isn’t an ICBM warhead, as your post stated.

    2. Even if a you were correct that our ICBM warheads were one megaton each, you’d still be wrong that a “SINGLE ONE OF WHICH could blow up an entire metropolitan area of a 20 mile radius”. To do that would take something like the tzar bomb, which had a yield of 57 megatons and was too big to put on any ICBM ever built anywhere in the world (the Russian R-36). Calculations made with an online calculator I found give blast radius for a one megaton nuke of no more than 11.7 kilometers. While I wouldn’t generally trust online calculators a a source, this one matches my own knowledge of yield scaling and matches more reliable third party sources when answering known problems. When you lower the yield to something more realistic, say 300 kilotons, that radius drops to only 7.1 kilometers.

    But we don’t have to rely exclusively on theoretical calculations. We can, instead examine what happened when the energy equivalent of several hundred kilotons of TNT was released in a blast over a somewhat populated area. I am referring to the Chelyabinsk meteor, which hit Russia on February 15th of this year. It broke up in the atmosphere some 15-25km up, which is within your 20 mile radius, but killed no one. The most impressive damage it did was to collapse the roof of a zinc factory. True, if it had air-burst lower, or even impacted the ground before breaking up, the story would be different. The problem is that you said that at that range an explosion of the size caused be a US ICBM (which this was) would level buildings, which is clearly false.

    Don’t get me wrong, nukes are extremely lethal, and I agree with you that we should cut the size of our arsenal (although I’d wager we disagree on just how this should be done). It just irks me when people exaggerate the damage done by nukes or the capability of our arsenal. It also bothers me when people I consider to be my allies on a given issue use inaccurate data, and I find it really annoying when people who apparently didn’t do much research start accusing their opponents–even opponents I also disagree with–of being “delusional” or “lying filth”.

    Anyway, here’s a list of URLs as citations. I tried to post them as in the text, but it kept messing up the formatting:

  2. MIke Schau says

    As much as I like websites such as this and am an athiest it is nice to see a rational, fact based reply to such low level gutter talk and personal insults. That is the reply of choice for too many liberals so come on and use logic!
    Oh yeah I am not, repeat not a liberal.

  3. thumper1990 says

    @Timothy Park

    While I appreciate your zeal for factual information (and I eman that, your post was interesting) what really matters here is the fact that, alst I checked, the US had more nuclear weapons than all other nuclear-capable countries put together. You can stand to lose a couple.

  4. thumper1990 says

    @Mke Schau

    ‘Grats on not being a Liberal (why do I get the sinking feeling you couldn’t define that word off the top of your head?). Got anything to add to the discussion, or…?

  5. says

    Well, keep in mind, these are the people who think an AR-15 or Uzi is the minimum necessary fire power for keeping dogs and noisy children off their lawn.

  6. Timothy Park says

    And I agree with you. The last paragraph of my comment started out “Don’t get me wrong…I agree with you that we should cut the size of our arsenal”.
    Anyway, here’s a list of the size of various countries deplorable nuclear arsenals, by number of warheads:
    US: ~2,200.
    Russia: 1,700-2,800.
    UK: ~225.
    France: ~450.
    China: 240-840.
    India: 80-100.
    Pakistan: 70-100
    Israel: Possibly as high as 200. Israel doesn’t officially have nukes, but it is commonly thought that they do.
    North Korea: less than 25.
    Iran: 0, as yet.

    Please note that these are only deployable warheads, those that are actually ready for use. Because a nuclear war is unlikely to last very long, warheads that aren’t on a missile or in a bomb bay are largely irreverent. In any event, the number of warheads in the US arsenal is ~2,200, while the total possessed by the rest of the world is at least 2,900, probably closer to 4,500. So your claim that the “US had[s] more nuclear weapons than all other nuclear-capable countries put together” is false.

    As for Iran and North Korea, here’s my own assessment of the threat posed by these states: Iran doesn’t have nukes yet, but can get them comparatively quickly and easily as long as they have access to unmonitored reactors. Frankly, given the extreme hostility they face, both in the region and the world at large, they’d be insane not to get nukes, which would be a good safeguard against invasion (no nuclear-armed state has ever been invaded). Everything we’ve seen so far indicates that the Iranians are what is refereed to in game theory as a rational player, and that they value their own survival enough not to launch first strike without considerable provocation. This means that we’re probably safe from them even if they get the bomb, with on major catch: once a county gets nukes, we have to treat them with far more respect. So the critical question when considering what to do about Iran is this: do you want an extremist Muslim theocracy to have partial veto power over what the US and Europe can do in the Middle East, and if not, what are you willing to risk to stop that from happening.
    The situation with North Korea, on the other hand, is much more dangerous. They don’t have many nukes, and they probably don’t have the ability to put the few they do on missiles (bombers are a different story). The problem is that they also don’t have rationality. As you know, the country is in essence one giant cult centered around the Kims, who appear to be mentally ill in a decidedly less than harmless way. This means that even though a war would spell complete annihilation for North Korea, we can’t trust them not to start one anyway. True, their latest round of threats is most likely posturing, but the question must be asked “what if it isn’t?” North Korea can’t deliver nukes to the US, but it can hit South Korea and Japan with chemical weapons. On the off chance that happens, we would need to destroy their entire military as quickly as possible, and like it or not, the best way to do that is nukes, provided that China and Russia wouldn’t retaliate. Liz Cheney was wrong, however, to assert that cutting our stockpile would negatively effect our ability to do this. One Ohio-class submarine could do the job with the help of the bombers we’ve moved to the region (and you’re kidding yourself if you believe we didn’t ship nukes along with them). In fact, they’d be better for the job, because they can (and probably already did) get close enough to North Korea to hit targets within five minutes of launch.
    As for what do with our arsenal in general, the problem is rather straight forward: a large part of our arsenal is on bombers or Silo-based Minuteman IIIs. We don’t keep bombers in the air 24-7 anymore, and airfields are “soft” targets. As for silos, thanks to accuracy improvements in missile technology since the 1970s, we can’t build a bunker which will both survive a nuclear attack and be capable of launching its missile afterwards. If we, hypothetically, decided to give up the land based ICBMs and bomber force, we would be left only with submarines as a nuclear deterrent. The problem with this is that subs can’t always be contacted quickly, meaning they’d only really be good for a strike against enemy cities as a form of vengeance. Because of this the US has adopted launch-on-warning posture, meaning we will launch or missiles as soon as we see an attack coming on radar. The problem with this strategy is that it raises the risk of false alarm from “ha ha, what do you think we’d mistake for hundreds of targeted nuclear blasts” to “oh god, we’ve already come really close multiple times.”
    The solution is to insure our ICBMs would survive a first strike. As I said, no silo will do so, but their is another way: deny the enemy fixed targets for their warheads. The cheapest way to do that would be to build 20 relatively “soft” shelters per missile, far enough apart that no single blast could take out two missiles. One such shelter would contain the real missile, the other 19 would contain decoys. By periodically shuffling the missiles, we could insure that no one would know where the real missile was. Since the shelters would be much softer than a modern silo, they could be made much more cheaply. End result: a force of 250 missiles would required 5,000 warheads to successfully destroy. I think we should build such a system, and retire most of our Minuteman IIIs and bombers, and some subs for good measure. This would make us more secure, less likely to accidentally start WWIII, and require less warheads.
    So, in summary, you are correct that the US “can stand to lose a couple” of nukes, just not quite for the reasons you thought.


  7. smrnda says

    Number of warheads might not be the best way to compare. If the US has the same number of warheads as Russia, but they are of higher megatonnage, then it could be possible that we’d still have more than everyone else combined. If we both have guns that hold six bullets, but I have a .45 and you have a .22, we aren’t really totally on equal footing. Of course, guns are a bad comparison since the value of having more bullets is probably greater than the value of having bigger bullets. Just that all the numbers seem to be missing something.

  8. jimvj says

    @Timothy Park

    Thanks for your in depth replies. The short answer to dizzy Ms Lizzie is that if we need 100% of our current nuclear force to deal with the “Nuke kid on the block” as Jon Stewart put it, then we are in deep doodoo. And all the recent Republican presidents tolerated us being there.

    So, reductio ad absurdum, Liz is – to quote our loquacious host here – a “Right Wing Delusional Fuckebagge Offe The Deep End Of Stupid Motherfucken Dumshittery”;

    and, like her father, she lies like shit on shinola.

  9. Timothy Park says

    I did hint at the yields achieved by US warheads in my original comment. Anyway, I calculated the deployable megatonage of each country. The numbers are based off the assumption that each bomber possessed carries a load designed to maximize megatonage, I made educated guesses as to the yields of the warhead owned by India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea:
    US: 915 megatons.
    Russia: 1,710 megatons.
    UK: 22.5 megatons.
    France: 30 megatons.
    China: 360 megatons.
    India: 10 megatons.
    Pakistan: 10 megatons.
    Israel: 0-100 megatons.
    North Korea: 0.625 megatons

    So the rest of the world has somewhere around 2,000 megatons, but we have at most 915.

    The question of whether it’s better to have lots of little warheads or a few big ones is a little more complex. It depends somewhat if your interested in carpet-bombing the biggest area possible, or if you want to destroy hardened targets like missile silos.

    The blast radius of given nuke is directly proportional to the cube root of the yield. Area, on the other hand, is directly proportional to the square of the radius. So the area destroyed by a given nuke is directly proportional to its yield raised to the 2/3th power. This means that all else being equal, it will always be better to build lots of small warheads. Of course, there are limits. For example, smaller warheads are generally less efficient in their use of mass and volume than bigger ones, there is a certain point beyond which you simply can’t build a smaller nuke, and you need certain yields to destroy a bunker, no matter how close you get.

    Which brings be to the second scenario: destroying hardened targets like missile silos. In this case, it’s not about how much area you can destroy, but how much you can miss by. Since ~1980, new missiles have been capable of getting close enough to the target to destroy it 90% of the time or more. Assume for the sake of argument, that doubling the yield of the warhead will increase this to 100%. Therefore, a missile with two small warheads will, on average, destroy 1.8 silos, whereas one with a single large warhead will destroy only one.

    Bottom line: for “carpet-bombing large areas”, its best to have smaller warheads until the warhead gets too inefficient. For bunker-busting, the more warheads between 90-500kt you can firer, the better. Since you aren’t going to know ahead of time which one you’ll have to do, your going to want to build a system that can do both: as many warheads in the 100+ kiloton range as will fit.


  10. eucliwood says

    Look. Bottom line. GET RID OF THE BIG RADIUS BOMBS. CARL. SAGAN. ALL THE WAY. The only thing yoj can do with a large area bomb is bomb enemy’s innocent non war civilians anyway.

  11. thumper1990 says

    @Timothy Park

    Thanks for the correction; I appreciate it. I’ve been going around believing that since secondary school.

  12. Timothy Park says

    @eucliwood Much as I would like to live in a world where there is a way to successfully get rid of all nukes, I see no realistic methood to accomplish that goal. Before I get to why, I want to address the arguments you made. You claimed that we should get rid of “large radius bombs” because
    1. Carl Sagan said so.
    2. The only use for such a weapon is to attack civilians.

    Number one is an appeal to authority fallacy. What Sagan believed is completely irrelevant. What matters is how good his (and others’) arguments were. Unfortunately for those advocating for disarmament, the arguments I have seen him make amount to pointing out that a nuclear war would be really, really bad (no disagreement here), and this analogy:
    “Imagine, a room, awash in gasoline. And there are two implacable enemies in that room. One of them has 9,000 matches. The other has 7,000 matches. Each of them is concerned about who’s ahead, who’s stronger. Well, that’s the kind of situation we are actually in.”
    This analogy was extremely faulty. To begin with, one match is just as dangerous when locked in a gasoline soaked room as 1,000, but a single nuke isn’t as big a threat as 1,000 nukes. Also, in a gasoline soaked room, dropping a lit match is suicide, regardless of what the your enemy does. In fact, the enemy doesn’t even need to exist, no rational person will ever drop a lit match in that situation. On the other hand, in the mutually assured destruction “game”, if you can prevent the enemy from retaliating (or if their is no enemy to retaliate) it may well make sense to launch an attack. Lastly there is no realistic way to use a match to prevent harm to yourself, where as a nuke can indeed prevent the enemy for using theirs (just not reliably enough to make launching a first strike a good option).
    Your second argument is based off a faulty premise. Do you really believe that nukes are incapable of being used against military targets? Not only have I provided several examples in this thread of ways in which nukes could be used against a military, believing they couldn’t requires one to think that military assets, including foot soldiers on the field of battle, possess some sort of magic nuke-proof armor.
    But even assuming your right an nukes have no use except to attack civilians, it still doesn’t make sense to disarm. Here’s why:
    Disarmament can be accurately modeled as a two player, simultaneous game (it actually closer two nine players, but for our purposes, it doesn’t make much of a difference). If both players keep their nukes, we get mutually assured destruction. If both disarm, we get world peace (probably not actually, but I’ll be generous and give you this one). If one keeps their nukes while the other disarms, the one who kept the bomb achieves domination over the other.
    What we want is for both parties’ optimum strategy to be “always disarm”. For that to happen both parties must believe that they both prefer peace to world domination, and that at all but one of them prefers to be subjugated than to live with mutually assured destruction. (Note that you can assume players are altruistic in game theory, so long as the payoffs reflect this.) Good luck convincing every nuclear state that this is really the case. Once you do so,you’ll have to keep all of them convinced, forever, because if you fail, then someone will build nukes.
    The bottom line? No matter how much either of us want to get rid of nuclear weapons, we can’t put our desires ahead of the truth. To paraphrase Robert Heinlein, “those who aim for the impossible will likely get the disastrous possible instead”.

  13. atheist says

    Actually, right-wing neocon shitteholes like Liz Cheney aren’t delusional. They are calculating lying filth.


  14. birgerjohansson says

    Big-yield bombs will cause immense firestorms, on top of everything else.

  15. lorn says

    Nuclear weapons are devices primarily intended to inflict blast overpressures onto targets. Yes, there are radiant heat effects, radiation, fallout, and secondary fires, but those are not considered reliable as methods of destruction. Some analysis in the 50s suggested that shallow shelters designed for blast overpressure in excess of 50psi were counterproductive because prompt radiation from any warhead meeting the 50psi limit would kill anyone inside even if the structure remained intact. Very deep shelters might have enough shielding but they have their own issues and they are inherently very expensive.

    Larger warheads were considered necessary in the 60sand 70s to attack hardened, primarily strategic military and C&C sites, simply because mapping, targeting, and precision delivery were not up to the job of reliably getting a smaller warhead close enough to do the job. Those inadequacies have been, in the main, corrected. Circular errors are down to under twenty meters instead of hundreds. Cruise missiles delivered warheads now have circular errors measured in single digits.

    Smaller/lighter warheads allow the use of reliable, cost-effective, quick reacting solid fuel missiles. This allowed us to get rid of the expensive and dangerous liquid fueled Jupiter missiles that were necessary for megaton warheads.

    War planners noted in the 50s that killing the population directly can be counterproductive. Destroy their power supplies, communications, and transport hubs and they will be more of a burden on the leadership than a population destroyed outright. This is the same understanding medieval war planners had when they really wanted the peasant population to retreat into walled cities and castles so that stored supplies would run out sooner. With a little luck pestilence and disease would wipe out most of the defending soldiers and leadership.

    Should it be seen as necessary to destroy wide areas it is now simple enough to target multiple missiles to arrive nearly simultaneously in a grid pattern. The grid dimensions can be varied to deliver any desired overpressure. There may indeed be firestorms but war planners don’t consider such an event, given modern fire resistant construction and highways forming natural firebreaks, predictable enough to count on. They know what overpressures are necessary to destroy all construction types. If it burns after being mulched …

  16. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @6. Timothy Park :

    (no nuclear-armed state has ever been invaded).

    Pedantic I’m afraid but what about the Falkland islands which was nuclear-armed UK’s territory invaded by the Argentines in the 1980’s?

    Or the Chinese-Indian-Pakistani wars when some of those trio had nuclear weapons although may have happened just before /during?

    Or Israel attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles during the 1991 Kuwait war & also attacked by Gazan Hamas and Lebanese -Syrian Hezbollah rocket fire and Jihadist invaders (although that word may be too grand for them.) at various stages but fairly frequently over recent decades including even this year?

    Or even arguably the USA nuclear armed but attacked by Al Quadea terrorists – stateless but Afghanistan based on September the eleventh 2001?

    @10. eucliwood :

    The only thing yoj can do with a large area bomb is bomb enemy’s innocent non war civilians anyway.

    Nonsense. Just ask Edwin Teller – saw a good doco once on ideas for using nuclear bombs to dig canals, mine mountains and more! Seriously. Not that doing so would be exactly advisable necesssarily.

    Of course you could use big bombs against mass military arrays and naval fleets for example as well although again, its NOT something I’m advising. Just being pedantically accurate really.

    @Timothy Park : I am officially impressed. Thankyou for your informative, calm and factual commentary in this thread. Its made very interesting and illuminating reading.

    PS. Is it wrong to feel at least some grudging sympathy for Liz Cheney given who her father is and what that must have done to her in life?

  17. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Just ask Edwin Teller – saw a good doco once on ideas for using nuclear bombs to dig canals, mine mountains and more! Seriously. Not that doing so would be exactly advisable necessarily.

    Ahem, make that Edward Teller from whose Wikipedia page we read :

    “Teller was one of the strongest and best-known advocates for investigating non-military uses of nuclear explosives, which the United States explored under Operation Plowshare. One of the most controversial projects he proposed was a plan to use a multi-megaton hydrogen bomb to dig a deep-water harbor more than a mile long and half a mile wide to use for shipment of resources from coal and oil fields through Point Hope, Alaska. The Atomic Energy Commission accepted Teller’s proposal in 1958 and it was designated Project Chariot. While the AEC was scouting out the Alaskan site, and having withdrawn the land from the public domain, Teller publicly advocated the economic benefits of the plan, but was unable to convince local government leaders that the plan was financially viable.”

    – Wikipedia – Edward Teller page #Operation_Plowshare_and_Project_Chariot (Not sure if *I* can link here yet.)

    Teller even advocated using nukes to get oil out of tar sands! Um, yikes!

    No one now wants nuclear war seriously.

    Doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen but I think an all out nuclear Holocaust between “Great Powers” (in the geopolitical use of the word) is extremely unlikely although regional nuclear wars doing nightmarish damage and taking millions of lives (eg. Korea, ironically named “Holy land” in the Jerusalem-Mecca – Tehran spanning region) is frighteningly plausible and a major concern.

    I don’t think this metaphorical genie can or will ever go back in its bottle again.

    I don’t think the USA reducing its arsenal will make things better although maybe its worth trying to a certain extent.

    Stopping crazy regimes like North Korea and Iran and Syria* (Thankyou much maligned Israel – imagine if Assad now had nukes or if Saddam had developed them in the 1980’s as he tried.) and any more countries getting nukes and limiting the spread of WMDs as much as possible.

    * Thankyou much maligned Israel – imagine if Assad now had nukes or if Saddam had developed them in the 1980’s as he tried. Whatever else they’ve done Israel has certainly stopped at least a couple of very nasty totalitarian dictatorships from acquiring nuclear bombs.

  18. Timothy Park says

    @StevoR: Just to be clear, by “no nuclear-armed state has ever been invaded”, I meant that no enemy army that posed a credible military threat ever occupied the accepted, “mainland”, territory of a nuclear-armed state.

    The Falklands were a British colony, so I don’t think that really counts.

    The Sino-India war was an invasion of India–which didn’t have nukes at the time–by China.

    As for Israel, it was invaded in the Yom Kippur War, some four years after they were thought to have made their first bomb. Although their were some reports that they owned nukes in the press, it appears that the matter was still very much in controversy at the time, so it’s debatable whether this was truly an incidence of a nuclear power being invaded. Terrorist attacks aren’t an invasion in the sense I meant the term, as they aren’t capable of hold territory against an opposing military (which is why they resort to hit and run attacks).

    The 9/11 attacks weren’t an invasion, they were a military strike.

    However, I must concede you were correct about the Indian-Pakistani wars. The last one, the Kargil War, occurred in 1999, after both sides had nukes. While it was only a small border skirmish, it still qualifies as an invasion of a nuclear armed state, so it appears that my initial statement was false. With this in mind, I’ll revise my position to “No nuclear armed state has ever been successfully invaded.


  19. Timothy Park says

    @lorn A few minor nitpicks:

    It seems unlikely that the radiation from a nuclear blast would kill anyone inside a bunker rated at 50psi. Assuming a 500 kiloton blast, the shelter would need to be ~1500 meters from the blast in order to structurally survive. Assuming air blocks neutrons about half as well as water per unit mass, 500 meters of air cut the neutron dose to one tenth its former value. In a vacuum, a 500 kiloton h-bomb would produce ~7 megajoules per square meter in fast neutrons at the distance described, but that should be reduced to about 7 kilojoules by the air between the bomb and the shelter. The average human has a cross section of about 0.65 square meters, and masses about 70 kilograms. This means that anyone standing outside the bunker will receive a radiation dosage of roughly 65 grays, and will be dead within 48 hours of exposure. If we could reduce that to less than half a gray, the occupants should suffer no ill effects from neutrons. Doing that requires eight half absorption thicknesses between the occupants and the outside world. The half absorption thickness of dirt is roughly 20 centimeters, meaning burying the shelter under 1.6 meters of dirt would keep the occupants safe from neutrons. Most X-ray and Gama-rays would also be absorbed by the atmosphere and shielding, meaning the hypothetical occupants of such a shelter are perfectly safe.

    Why did you use the Jupiter as an example of a liquid fueled nuclear missile? I would have gone with something like the the LGM-25C Titan II, because it was in use for far longer.


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