M.A.D – U.S. public fallout shelters are dilapidated. Most are in ruins – if they even still exist at all. Russia is not the one living in fear of the threat of a nuclear strike – U.S. citizens are. America may have won the Cold War but did it also lose its mind in the process by not offering protection for its own citizens?
October 2016 – WASHINGTON – Russia currently has over a thousand nuclear warheads aimed at America. Just one of those warheads could kill more Americans than died in the Vietnam War. A dozen could collapse the nation’s power grid and other vital networks. So any kind of nuclear exchange, even a “small” one, would be a catastrophe without precedent in American history. Unfortunately, the strategy that Washington has fashioned to avert such a catastrophe is so focused on preventing a cold, calculated act of aggression that it largely ignores other ways nuclear war could unfold — and maximizes losses the nation would suffer no matter what form the conflict took.
This is the hidden danger in our current strategic posture that policymakers seldom talk about in public, and some may not even grasp. You see, the perverse logic of nuclear deterrence that Washington crafted during the Cold War makes any effort to actually defend America “destabilizing” — a bad thing — and thus favors being defenseless. So aside from a very minimal collection of radars and interceptors on the West Coast designed to deal with North Korea, America has no strategic defenses.
What it has is offenses — about 1,500 nuclear warheads distributed in hardened silos, stealthy submarines and long-range bombers. These forces are known as the nuclear “triad;” along with flying command centers, secure communications satellites and aerial-refueling tankers, the triad is designed to make any act of nuclear aggression potentially suicidal for the perpetrator. The plan is to respond proportionately to any level of nuclear aggression, and make that plan abundantly clear to any nation that might contemplate an attack.
(1951) Yes, believe or not, the U.S. government’s Civil Defense policy was actually based on such nonsense
The assumption is that no sane leader would deliberately launch an attack knowing the retribution that would follow. That seems logical enough, but think about the other ways a nuclear exchange might occur. What if we find ourselves facing an irrational adversary with nuclear weapons? What if the other side is rational, but suffers a mechanical failure in its command system? What if it misreads U.S. intentions in a crisis such as war in Eastern Europe? What if parts of its nuclear arsenal are seized by elements intent on fomenting war?
These are not just science-fiction scenarios. The Russian early-warning network of satellites and ground-based radars is so fragile that it could easily fail, or result in mis-interpretation of threat data. If Moscow seriously thought it was under attack, it would be strongly incentivized to launch quickly before its weapons were destroyed on the ground. That might well signal the end of American civilization, because like I said — Washington has decided as a matter of policy to render itself defenseless to a sizable nuclear attack.
How did we get into this situation? Strategic theorists began espousing the cause of offensively-based deterrence early in the postwar period, arguing it simply wasn’t feasible to defend against large-scale nuclear attacks. Even if defenses were 90% effective, the handful of warheads that might get through would kill tens of millions. So the only solution within our grasp was to dissuade potential aggressors by threatening unacceptable consequences. Over time, this thinking evolved into a belief that being defended could actually make war more likely, because if Russia (or China, or whomever) thought many of its warheads might be intercepted, then it would buy more and more weapons to assure it could retaliate after an attack. So the only way to avoid a dangerous arms race, it was said, was to forego building real defenses. This arrangement came to be known as a “mutual-hostage relationship,” and its logic was enshrined in arms control agreements between Moscow and Washington during the 1970s. –National Interest