Putin, Trump, and the Nuclear Danger

Yves here. This Real News Network interview with MIT’s Theodore Postol (the second part of a series) discusses some of the history in the fraught relationship between Russia and the US which spurred Putin to invest heavily in technologies that could circumvent some of our core weapons platforms.

AARON MATÉ: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Maté. This is part two of my conversation with Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at MIT. We’re talking about Russian president Vladimir Putin’s recent speech where he announced upgrades to his country’s nuclear arsenal, calling it a response to the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty in 2002, as well as the recent Nuclear Posture Review issued by President Trump. I want to go to one more clip from his speech where he’s reacting to Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review which lowered the threshold for nuclear use by the US, and this is what Putin said.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Translator): Several points of the renewed US nuclear strategy which lower the threshold of using nuclear weapons provokes great concern. You can reassure anyone in any way behind the scenes, but if we read what is written and what is written is that it can be launched in response to an attack with conventional weapons or even a cyber threat.

AARON MATÉ: So, that’s President Putin speaking last week. Professor Postol, so he’s talking there about this lowered threshold under Trump’s review which called for the authorizing the use of nuclear weapons even in response to a non-nuclear, non-military attack like a cyber attack, like if vital US infrastructure is hacked and damaged, the Trump review would authorize nuclear weapons in response to that. As we wrap, Professor Postol, your thoughts on this move by the Trump administration, and overall, where you think this nuclear competition is going under Trump in the aftermath now of Putin’s speech.

THEODORE POSTOL: Well, I think this competition has been in place, in fact, as Putin said it, certainly since 2004. He actually signals 2004 as a time where there was a decision made in Russia that you couldn’t talk to the Americans and we’re just going to have to go ahead and build some weapons to make it clear to them that there’s no possible advantage they can gain from missile defenses. He made that pretty clear in his speech. And the issue of using low yield nuclear warheads in conventional military situations or in response to a cyber attack, first of all, I don’t know how you would know where the cyber attack came from. I think when you look carefully at the issues associated with cyber attacks, it’s so easy to conceal the true perpetrator, the identity of the true perpetrator. It would be a remarkable, remarkably reckless thing to do, to respond in any military way to a cyber attack without absolutely having the information that clearly showed you knew who did it.

And against anybody who’s even modestly competent, even some of these hackers who really are not very competent people, you can hide your address, your location from anybody you’re attacking. So, it’s kind of a crazy, thoughtless and dangerous kind of statement to be making that you’re going to use nuclear weapons or any kind of military force in response to a cyber attack unless you claim also that you have the means to determine unambiguously who was responsible for the attack.

So, it shows a kind of reckless attitude on the part of the Department of Defense people and ignorance, or ignorance, or recklessness and ignorance among the people who wrote the Nuclear Policy Review, and I’m afraid that that is evident in a whole bunch of things they say. The idea that a low-yield nuclear weapon would be seen as different from a higher-yield nuclear weapon shows a complete lack of understanding of how information promulgates in the world.

We did not even know when the World Trade towers were attacked who did the attack. I was in Washington when that attack occurred. We, at one point, did not know if there were tens of aircraft across the country or more that were going to engage in similar attacks. We had to ground the whole air travel across the nation.

This is, when something like this happens, you don’t really know what’s going on. It takes time to collect the information. You’d need to have sensors, you’d need to have the ability to evaluate the information from these sensors and that information doesn’t exist if you don’t have those abilities.

So, the fact that you could pick up a telephone and talk to somebody on the other side of the world does not mean you know who’s on the other end of the telephone and what’s really happening there. And all of this is embedded in this incredibly dangerous and uninformed position put out in this Nuclear Posture Review. It’s just hard to believe that any competent soldiers were involved, at least from my point of view. I know many competent soldiers and I think any of them would tell you immediately you never know exactly what’s going on and sometimes not ever. It’s a crazy policy.

AARON MATÉ: You know, compounding the dangers, I have to mention this. You put out a paper last year with some colleagues in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, talking about how because of the modernization program of the nuclear arsenal undertaken by President Obama, the US has increased the killing power of its nuclear weapons by a factor of three or more. Right?

THEODORE POSTOL: Right. I mean, in fact I, who have during my career, have reviewed actually real nuclear war planning because I was at the Pentagon working for Chief of Naval Operations. When I look at the situation we have today with the American nuclear arsenal, I don’t know how we’re going to use all these weapons because the number of what you might call targets, Russian ICBMs and command centers, has been reduced substantially because of arms reductions. So, the number of missiles we would shoot at is much smaller. And it turns out that these weapons that we’re modernizing are much more numerous than any of the targets we might have shot at earlier in an attempt to disarm Russia.

And because we have so many weapons that are now capable of attacking the Russian forces that were not capable earlier, we now have weapons freed up for other missions. I can’t find targets for them. I’m sure people do find targets for them, but the point is that the effective firepower of our arsenal relative to the threat we’re now facing is very, very, very large, even by these crazy, nuclear war fighting standards, which I think are crazy, that are applied in a lot of the military planning today.

AARON MATÉ: So, we have targets that don’t exist and a couple that with what you were talking about earlier, which is missile defense systems which don’t even really work.

THEODORE POSTOL: Yeah, and it’s a very dangerous situation when you have people on all sides either misunderstanding or not caring what the facts are. This comment from the White House, “We have no missile defenses that work. It’s a joke.” Now, Putin seems to understand that. So, he’s not afraid that we have a working missile defense. He’s afraid we might think we have a working missile defense because our political leadership is so out of touch with the realities of our own military capabilities and limitations.

AARON MATÉ: Okay, one last question. One thing that is commonly cited, I believe it’s even cited in the Nuclear Posture Review that was recently released by the Trump administration, is that Russia has pulled out of the INF, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. I believe that happened after the US, under Bush pulled out of the ABM. But if you could address that, what about that charge against Russia, that they’re …

THEODORE POSTOL: Well, I think that’s a very unfortunate thing the Russians did. However, their argument for doing that is not ridiculous. What they have said is, “Look, you have these ballistic missile launch sites that you’re putting in. You have one in Poland and one in Romania.” Now, these ballistic missile launch sites, they’re defensive, supposedly ballistic missile defense systems, they are derived, they’re land based but they’re derived from a sea-launched system. They’re called vertical box launchers. A typical destroyer or a cruiser, a modern cruiser or destroyer has them.

They look like kind of square coffins and inside the square coffin is a missile. And that missile can be a surface-to-air missile or a ballistic missile defense missile or a cruise missile, a missile that’s designed to fly like an airplane and carry a nuclear weapon. And those launchers are designed from the beginning to be compatible with launching any type, any kind of these types of missiles. And those launchers have been put in the ground in Romania and in Poland for supposedly for ballistic missile defense interceptors. But they can carry nuclear armed cruise missiles, sea launched cruise missiles that would be launched from these ground locations.

And the Russians had been complaining about this for years, for quite awhile. And the United States doesn’t want to talk to them about it. So, the reaction was “Okay, this is a violation of the INF treaty. You’re putting a missile of long range into Europe that can attack Russia, and so we’re going to withdraw from the INF. We’re not going to follow all the terms of the INF.”

Now, I happen to disagree with that Russian decision. I think their argument is sound. Let me be clear, their argument has merit. But I think it would be better just to ignore the situation for now and just try to not allow things to escalate beyond what they’ve already done. But I want to underscore the Russian argument is not bogus and people ought to be thinking about it and addressing it.

AARON MATÉ: We’ll leave it there. Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at MIT. Thank you.


AARON MATÉ: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.

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  1. Bill Smith

    “Trump’s review which called for the authorizing the use of nuclear weapons even in response to a non-nuclear”

    The United States has refused to adopt a no-first-use policy, saying that it “reserves the right to use” nuclear weapons first in the case of conflict. From here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_first_use

    So what has actually changed in regard to that?

    1. ambrit

      It’s a matter of time. When the available nuclear weapons delivery systems were based offshore in the sea, or on landmasses thousands of miles away, the ‘actors’ here had a limited but discrete amount of time to make up their minds whether or not to launch a retaliatory strike. Time was available for the launch controller from the Duchy of Grand Fenwick to call up the launch controller of Freedonia and yell: “It’s a mistake! Don’t shoot! We’re disarming the warhead now! We owe you lunch!”
      With the missile launch systems now right on the Russian border, no such time buffer exists any longer. Now, if some idiot pushed the wrong series of buttons, not an impossible event, considering such ‘mistakes’ as Chernobyl, the Russians would not have a moment to call up NATO and yell: “You idiots! what’s the matter with you?” The Russians would have to assume that this was a first strike using nuclear weapons against Russia and institute a full force nuclear retaliation. Once one of those forward deployed missiles or cruise missiles is launched, WW3 is guaranteed. Game over. A new Dark Ages, worldwide. (And that’s the optimistic scenario.)
      Once you resort to any nuclear weapons, you have crossed a threshold. The game becomes orders of magnitude more destructive.

      1. Bill Smith

        The idea that there would be a lot of warning time is a Hollywood idea. Since the late 1960’s when the Soviet Yankee class ballistic missile submarines started patroling off the US East Coast the warning time was assumed to be 5 minutes.

        That didn’t count that since Kennedy was president the CIA guesses that the Soviet embassies in Washington and New York had small nuclear weapons in them.

        Read “Raven Rock” for some stories about this.

        Likely the Soviets felt the same way about the US.

        1. ambrit

          Five minutes is a lot better than zero seconds. A cruise missile launched from Poland would be over Russia in a minute, or less. They’ll know where the launchers are. What they won’t know for certain is what type of warhead is on any particular delivery system. That’s why any self respecting Russian commander will have to assume the worst, and act accordingly.
          When considering the Russian response to this problem, it helps to remember what happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis. America almost started a war over it.

        2. The Rev Kev

          You have to wonder when the US, against international law, seized and occupied the Russian consulate in San Francisco, whether that they were hoping to find a nuke that would forever brand Russia as the crazy ones. Might have been a gamble on the part of Obama that did not pay off.
          Just finished reading an interview of Putin by Megan Kelly – the full one – that has some interesting points in it (https://russia-insider.com/en/kremlin-publishes-full-megan-kelly-putin-interview-nbc-cut-best-parts-video-transcript/ri22747) but one notable one was when Putin asked Kelly the reaction of the US if Russia put missile ‘defenses’ in Mexico and Canada and also had the Russian Navy sailing up and down the east and west coast of the US with their missiles.

  2. Carolinian

    he’s not afraid that we have a working missile defense. He’s afraid we might think we have a working missile defense

    So is Putin the cop trying to talk the crazy guy down off the high ledge? We have a left that spends lots of time talking about global warming–which may destroy the planet in 100 years–and doesn’t talk at all about nuclear weapons which could destroy the planet in 30 minutes. They are even rehabilitating and giving hugs to George W. Bush who kicked off this latest episode of MAD. Meanwhile the faction-less can only stand appalled on the pavement below, hoarsely crying “don’t jump.”

    1. John k

      And Obama continued the dance with the trillion or so to reduce the size of the nukes.
      Dem elites egged on by cia are not helping with Russia, Russia, which ended trumps talk of why not be friends?

      Recently heard the committee has moved the hand to just a few minutes to midnight.

      We’ll nuke ‘em after next cyber attack… we’ll, have to nuke somebody, we’re exceptional.

      Incredible optimism that no accident could possibly happen given the current elites and msm hysteria.

  3. hemeantwell

    Postol is spot on here. My impression is that a main driver of US war policy is its use as an economic weapon. It’s likely a stretch to say that the military wing of war planning thinks in these terms, but I think that the political strategy of weakening opponents by forcing them into arms races provides some glue for holding together the civilian-military coalition behind the US’ aggressive posture. What greatly worries me is that this insane nuclear arms innovation, embraced by both parties, which in some ways is yet another riff on a “spend until they fall apart” strategy, has the US essentially collapsing the time frame the Russians, and whoever else is under the gun, have for threat assessment. This pushes the Russians into making the sort of war investments, and statements about those investments, that we’ve recently seen, which then provides a stupefying justification for US policy.

    One of the most depressing and alarming features — no, THE most depressing and alarming feature of the current state of politics in this country has been the revival of a foreign policy discourse that takes us not just back to the Cold War, but to nuclear brinkmanship.

    1. RepubAnon

      One wonders whether Putin has decided to play the “let them spend themselves into bankruptcy” game himself, by releasing data on nonexistent weapons systems, and watching the US contractor lobby talk everyone into an expensive military buildup of “bleeding edge” technology that doesn’t work, or is too expensive to deploy, or both. Examples: the F-35, and the missile defense systems.

      Meanwhile, the real threat comes from weaponized consumer-level drone swarms, as shown in the “Slaughterbot” video. Imagine North Korea deciding to trigger a war between the US and Russia by sending out false flag killer drone swarms against targets in the US and sending out the control signals from Russia, and vice versa. It wouldn’t take many such attacks to trigger a real shooting war.

      1. Bobby Gladd

        Yeah, the slaughterbot video was interesting. Relatedly, it occurred to me while watching the dazzle-dazzle choreographed drone light shows at the Winter Olympics that

        “I can assume that many of you have watched to 2018 Winter Olympics. The opening and closing ceremonies featuring dynamic choreographed drone light shows were beautiful, amazing.

        Now, imagine a huge hostile swarm of small drones, each armed with explosives, target-enabled with the GPS coordinates of the White House and/or Capitol Hill, AI-assisted, remotely “launched” by controllers halfway around the world.

        From a distance they might well resemble a large flock of birds. They wouldn’t all have to get through.”

        1. synoia

          How would one assemble the swarm of drones for an attack?

          Their flight time is limited, and 1,000 drones would take many trucks to deliver to the takeoff point, and would require about 1 sq yard per drone to take off.

          So it would need an upper bound 1,000 sq yards at the assembly/take of point.

          That field (possibly a park) and the truck traffic would be a little obvious in an urban area, and useless out in the country.

          “Err-what are you doing with all those drones?”
          “Oh I’m going to attack …..”

          Not to mention that 1,000 drones would be quite the one time capital investment. At $500 a pop, about $500,000? And would the drone manufacturer not ask a few questions?

          You need a very wealthy terrorist, who probably has better thing to do that mount a drone attack.

          Get real?

          1. The Rev Kev

            I’m afraid that that is not so much a problem anymore They can be released from aircraft and recently a 100 drone-swarm was released from an FA-18 (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603337/a-100-drone-swarm-dropped-from-jets-plans-its-own-moves/). This suggest all sorts of other delivery mechanisms so the genie is definitely out of this bottle.
            They can be used as direct guided munitions, probably in day-or-night, all-weather to target soldiers, civilians or whoever. Here is a wicked idea. How about several of these things armed with thermite charges targeting an oil refinery or commercial gas facility. It’s all fun and games until your enemies learn about and put to use your own weapons against yourself.

  4. Louis Fyne

    the US civilian leadership and the think tanks are too smug with this ludicrous idea that missile defense + a $700 billion defense budget = acceptable losses in a confrontation with Russia or China. Paradoxically, upgraded Russian (and chinese) nuclear weapons ensures that the US isn’t nuts enough to first strike. despite all the defense contractor marketing, the Beltway isn’t going to survive 30 minutes in a US-Russia nuke exchange

    Everyone in DC is a chickenhawk so long as other people’s sons and daughters are the ones dying or away from home on Christmas.

    Powell recalled that he almost had “an aneurysm” when [women can be just as big of a chicken hawk as men Madeleine] Albright challenged him to explain “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?


    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this week that a war with North Korea would be “worth it” in the long term.

    Graham made the comments in an interview with CNN.

    “All the damage that would come from a war would be worth it in terms of long-term stability and national security,” the senator told CNN.


  5. David

    This all seems a bit confused.
    I’d be very surprised if anyone in Washington thinks that they have a working missile defence system, except in the very limited sense that enough interceptors launched together might just knock out one North Korean ballistic missile, with a bit of luck. There are no systems, deployed or in prospect, which could defend the US from an attack by Russian ICBMs, and it has to be assumed that the US government knows that. Indeed, the one operational ABM system in the world is the one deployed around Moscow (allowed under the ABM Treaty), which has short range interceptor missiles with nuclear warheads, intended to destroy incoming warheads at a range of less than 100km. Not so much trying to hit a bullet with a bullet as trying to melt a bullet with a blowtorch.
    The missiles in Poland and Romania (about ten in each according to reports) are SM3 interceptors with a range of about 700km, derived from those fielded on Aegis cruisers. They are kinetic energy weapons and have no warheads. Even with a warhead they wouldn’t have the range to reach Russia, and anyway are not designed to attack land targets. It’s doubtful whether the Russians actually believe the INF Treaty has been violated, but it’s a fair enough pretext to express their intense unhappiness about NATO creeping close to their borders. Postol’s argument, so far as he has one, is that at some later date you could take the interceptors out of the silos and put other types of missiles in, with nuclear warheads. But so what? Such an initiative could not be kept secret, and the Polish and Romanian publics would freak out massively. And for what, when, as the article rightly notes, the US can obliterate Russia already (and vice versa)? There are enough good arguments against US nuclear policy (and missile defence for that matter) without making bad ones.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There is considerable evidence that people come to believe the PR they sell, even when they know better. The classic example is that studies have shown that attorneys who are representing clients they are pretty sure are guilty when they first start working with them come to believe their innocence. And then there’s optimism. I’m told that it is pervasive in medicine that people, when asked how a clinical trial is going, will say something like “I have a good feeling about it” even though there is no way they know anything unless the protocols have been violated in a big way (it’s double blind, placebo controlled, you know nothing until the whole thing is over and you put the results together).

      These arms makers and the people in the arms services buying them have been selling the idea that ABMs are effective. I would not be surprised to find that many have come to believe that even thought they would freely admit their limits when questioned.

      1. David

        Agreed, but we are talking about two different technologies here. The AM lobby has been quite successful over the last 20 years shoveling funding into systems designed to tackle short and medium range missile threats in very small numbers. A rather ambiguous test programme, about which there are considerable doubts, led to the system being declared operational a decade ago. Whether it usefully is, nobody knows. But not even the most fervent AM advocates are arguing that the US has, or will have in any foreseeable timescale, an AM system capable of stopping a full-out nuclear attack by hundreds of Russian missiles, and it’s hard to see how they could be mistaken about something as fundamental. Postol’s argument seems to be that he thinks it’s possible that Putin might think it’s possible that the US leadership might think it’s possible that their small and limited system would somehow make them invulnerable against a huge threat its incapable of addressing. Like thinking that the Honda Civic parked outside is actually a Ferrari with vertical take-off. I’m prepared to believe a great deal of Washington, but there are limits.

      2. kemerd

        Putin’s main contention is not that ABM would successfully thwart a Russian attack but rather would enable the US to launch a successful nuclear attack where it knocks down most of Russian arsenal and the ABM would take care of the remaining few Russian missiles fired in retaliation. In many occasions, he said that is main problem they wanted to address that Russia would retain the capability to destroy the US even in the aftermath of a surprise US nuclear attack.

        Incidentally, there were at least two articles published in foreign affairs (early 2000s and in 2013) discussing this very scenario and those authors seem to believe US already have that capability at that time. I don’t have the links now but the concept is called “nuclear supremacy” and these nut-jobs seriously discusses such a possibility.

        I don’t know why Postol did not mention that, but that is the Russian response to that threat.

        1. Max4241


          US anti-ballistic missile systems deployed in places like Eastern Europe, Greenland, Alaska, or on board Aegis warships that patrol the sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bearing Sea, the Chukchi Sea, and the Arctic Ocean, are mop up weapons. They are there to deliver the coup de grace.

          There is still a misconception out there, that anti-ballastic missiles are designed to shoot down bullets using a bullet. Yes, they can attempt that impossible task. But their real function, is to intercept ICBMs while are they are in boost phase.

          From ignition until they reach sub-critical orbit, the stage at which an ICBM releases its payload, takes at least 20 minutes. And there it is. If an anti-ballistic missile is within range of a lumbering ICBM while it is in boost phase, it is a shotgun shooting at a clay pigeon.

          This is the point: The US has surrounded Russia with anti-ballistic missiles so that it has the option of launching a successful first strike. It has dispensed with the the old principle of Mutual Assured Destruction, which it always despised, and achieved, or so it believes, something new.

          Nuclear Primacy.

          1. kemerd

            ah, yes not supremacy but primacy,my mistake. They indeed seriously investigated this possibility. For the russian subs, they were thinking to create psychological profiles of the skippers of russian subs so that they can be “convinced” not to launch according to those profiles.

            1. Max4241

              Nuclear primacy, nuclear supremacy, hey, it’s all the same.

              The idea is, in my opinion, not to obliterate Russia with a first strike (although that choice is henceforward, on the table), but to put both Russia and China in a position where they no have military response options should the US choose to use nuclear weapons to crack nuts that cannot be cracked with conventional attacks.*

              Interesting about the sub commanders. Pych warfare. The Soviets started it, and the US responded. The Soviets were forced to go asymmetrical first as they knew they were always going to be two or three steps behind in a classical arms build-up.

              Think about how bad things are for the Russians, how asymmetrical their planning must be now. They spend less on defense than one of America’s client states, Saudi Arabia. To me, and not without reason, Putin sounds a lot like Hitler in his final days in the Fuhrer bunker, taking about how wonder weapons will save the day.

              Without the ranting and raving, of course. Putin is pretty low key.

              *Iran and North Korea. Two thirds of the old Axis of Evil. Half the reason the US thinks they’re evil is because they know it is impossible to attack them, and win, without using nukes.

    2. UserFriendly

      You seriously don’t think we could sneak a nuclear warhead into Poland or Romania without anyone noticing? They aren’t that big and lead shielding would hide any radiation.

      1. David

        OK, but what would you do with one? Or five or ten for that matter? How would you deliver them? Where would you get your guidance and targeting system from? Because of the paranoia about nuclear weapons, they are surrounded with massive security procedures – special bunkers to store warheads, heavily armed convoy escorts, restricted areas in bases, elaborate protocols for marrying up warheads and missiles. And then you’ve got a handful of (presumably) missiles capable probably only of striking Belarus or maybe the very western part of Russia. The value of this escapes me, I must say.

      2. Max4241

        There is no reason, really, for the United States to sneak nuclear warheads into Eastern Europe. There is more than enough firepower available elsewhere.

        If the United States were to attack Russia, submarines outside, and inside, Russian territorial waters would do most of the heavy lifting.

        Say the US went with a sneak attack, which seems logical if you want to win a nuclear war. That means, 3,000 plus submarine launched nuclear missiles, with warheads in the 200 to 400 kiloton range, would appear on various Russian radar screens at almost the exact same time.

        Some of these missiles would strike targets literally within seconds. All would strike targets within eight minutes. Dozens of paralyzing EMP blasts would occur across the width and breadth of Russia. ICBM silos would be double targeted. Population centers would be eliminated. Nuclear power plants would be obliterated. Command and control? Yeah, they would get some too.

        Within ten minutes, Russia would be a wasteland where, practically speaking, very little life could exist, if at all.

        Nuclear missiles would be coming in from other more distant sources. Carrier planes. Warships. Western Europe. But US submarines could handle the job nicely all by themselves.

  6. Scott1

    For the US there are Fronts represented by China & the DPRK, and then the Traditional Cold War Enemy Russia.

    NATO nations, I can’t believe they don’t do war games centered on the threat of tanks.

    From what I understand from reading IHS-Jane’s, Russia has more tanks than anybody else. And these tanks are good tanks. I noticed when Poland bought 250 German Leopard’s. Those are competitive.

    US military doctrine in Europe has always allowed for nuclear bombs as a response to the certainty of otherwise losing to USSR, and now Russian Tanks.

    According to Wikipedia the older higher yield Thermo Nuclear Bombs have been made in to the Carter Neutron bombs through the installation on them of “dials” where they can be “dialed down”. The idea is to kill the tank crews and not so contaminate the battlefield with fallout.

    Russian Tanks are reported to be made with this protection for their crews in mind.

    Where does the idea and the reality become the real front and the real threat? The Russians and the threat they represent is to their neighbors. What will the US do for its allies? European allies know that under Trump they have no idea.

    Poland then buys tanks.

    The Chinese have a mutual defense treaty pact? whatever you call it with the DPRK. It is their only pact of that sort. I believe this matters.

    What if the DPRK turns it’s 70 or so submarines into nuclear sub drones?
    Since in the nuclear world it is the nuclear submarine that is the penultimate threat, what makes us worry so much about ICBMs when when the US gets hit hardest it is a sneak attack?

    That’s where I am in broad strokes far as the considerations. I am for a complete ban on nuclear weapons as I do agree they are the greater thereat than even climate change.

    I use the phrase “Apocalyptic Riot” instead of “Nuclear War” now.

    1. synoia

      What if the DPRK turns it’s 70 or so submarines into nuclear sub drones?

      Where they going to get the materiel? And the 70 rectors? And the couple of hundred missiles?

      The US does not have 70 Nuclear Subs.

      1. MichaelSF

        Scott1’s idea may be nuclear weapons installed in a “drone” non-nuclear-powered sub. Would a surface burst in the water just off a major metro area make for a fair bit of downwind fall out?

        1. David

          Perhaps, but I don’t immediately see how an ABM system helps to prevent that. Anyway, you could do the same thing with a conventional ship, even a fishing boat – you don’t need a submarine.

  7. EoinW

    The danger lies in Washington, plus the other allied capitals within the Empire. It appears these people are beginning to truly believe their own propaganda, to the point reality no longer matters. The goal may have been to get the public to believe in the lies, however it doesn’t matter what the public believes(including who was behind 9/11) because in all western countries the public has abstained from participating in decision making. Thus the brainwashers have succeeded in brainwashing themselves. This explains why it is no longer possible to make deals with the Americans.

    Yet I do not believe Washington’s goal is WW3 or even world domination. It’s mostly short term power tripping and money making. This explains why US allies – who one might have thought would have some sense – are part of the problem. Kowtow to Washington and you get to stay in power, plus remain an insider on all the money making racketeering that all western governments have evolved into.

    It is all part of the collapse of ethical values in the West. Not just those in power or their lying apologists in the media but also the millions of citizens and their moral disconnect. What the Asians must think of all this! The Russians, Chinese and Iranians must feel they are juggling live explosives. Give them credit for managing so well, so far. Will Washington toss more explosives at them to juggle? So many it’s impossible to keep it up? I can only guess that Putin’s speech was an attempt to warn Washington to stop.

    Personally I don’t think the dynamic is going to change until China and Russia crash the global economy(assuming they can do it on their own). Even that runs the risk of Washington lashing out in the most outrageous ways. But if you could bankrupt the West before we blow everything up then maybe there’d be reason to hope. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen are all failed states. America needs to be the next failed state. If the english speaking world and the EU are collateral damage then that’s probably poetic justice.

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