Saturday, February 18, 2017

Could America Really Win a Limited Nuclear War?

Geoff Wilson and Will Saetren have an interesting  post at National Interest that asks several interesting questions:  could the U.S. win a limited nuclear war? Should we spending more energy planning for a scenario?  They offer an emphatic (and persuasive) NO.  The question is not an academic one:  the Defense Science Board has recommended that the Trump Administration make the U.S. nuclear arsenal more capable of fighting a limited nuclear war.  In addition, the U.S. still has tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.  Finally, Russia's apparent violation of the Intermediate Ballistic Missile Treaty could result in the U.S. itself adding new intermediate missiles in Europe.

 Against this backdrop, Wilson and Saetren argue that trying to win a limited nuclear war is misguided.  The whole piece is worth reading, but this example was particular chilling:
That belief is a fantasy. The real problem with this proposal is that any use of nuclear weapon, limited or not, could lead to escalation.
In fact, the Reagan administration launched a wargame in 1983 to test the Madman Theory and analyze the viability of U.S. nuclear warfighting plans. Codenamed Proud Prophet, the exercise had NATO launch limited nuclear strikes against Soviet targets in response to conventional provocation. But instead of backing down, the Soviet team doubled down, launching a massive nuclear counterattack at the United States, to which the U.S. responded in kind.
Wargame over.
When the dust settled half a billion people had been annihilated. NATO was gone. The results were reportedly such a shock to Reagan that his schedule had to be cleared for the rest of the day. The blowback was swift.
Read it all here.

1 comment:

  1. There is no such thing as a limited nuclear war. By the time the weapons in the arsenal are exhausted, life on earth would cease to exist.