Greedy Goblin

Friday, January 13, 2017

More nukes for peace!

Both Trump and Putin announced their plans for increasing their nuclear weapon capacities. Needless to say that liberals went crazy over the impending doom. They are totally wrong. A nuclear arms race is the best thing that can be done for peace.

Conventional weapons can be and routinely are paraded in conflict zones as show of force. From there it only needs an idiot to start shooting. Nuclear weapons are much more conservatively handled, if not for else than out of fear of losing them in an accident. It's a no-brainer that provoking the opponent by parading weapons front of him is a bad idea if you want peace.

Conventional weapons can be and routinely are used in low-intensity conflicts, targeted strikes and other war-without-declaration actions. These conflicts than spiral out of hand and and create a real war, like it happened in Ukraine. Nukes can't be used for that.

Conventional weapons can be and routinely are given to proxies and friendly militias to carry out one's bidding. This went great in Syria, right? These proxies often can't be controlled and turn on their former masters or just go on a genocide. No one in his right mind would - and there is no precedent in history that anyone did - give a nuke to some Islamist militia wishing and hoping that they will only use it against the regime he doesn't like and won't join the An-Nusra the next week.

In summary, conventional weapons are used in an escalating manner, hoping that a limited military action will scare off the opponent, while in reality he just escalates back. Nukes can only be used in an "all in" manner, that leaders don't want and never did since WW2.

In an utopia where countries would only have nukes there would be only two possibilities: peace and total destruction. No one wants total destruction. Wars happen because leaders think they can win easily. They are wrong, just ask W. Bush. A nuclear buildup, especially if matched with limiting funds on conventional weapons and deployments will move the World towards this utopia, therefore to peace.


Anonymous said...

"Nukes can't be used for that." Never thought of it that way.

Nukes can also be used for asteroid mining. Also atom research has other applications as well. (Turning some stuff into another kind of stuff)

Carson 63000 said...

I don't see any indication that either Trump or Putin are talking about "limiting funds on conventional weapons and deployments" to accompany increasing their nuclear weapon capacities, though? Do you?

Anonymous said...

When you are building a nuke or any other weapons for that matter you are using money that could be used much more efficiently somewhere else. US is trillions in debt but instead of investing in things that will show return like health care, education or business, hundreds of billions are going to used for things that are at best never going to be used and at worst going to kill everyone.

vv said...

Main problem with nukes is that they can be used by mistake. That almost happened a few times during Cold War. More countries with nukes - more chances to mistake. And for some idealistic people total destructions is victory.

Alkarasu said...

The nukes can be also repurposed for nuclear fuel when you don't need them anymore (actually, there's a lot of them used that way right now).

Gevlon said...

@Carson: I hear them talking about limiting outside military operations all the time.

@Anon: you need weapons to avoid being invaded. I'm saying that nukes are both the most cost-effective and the least offensive weapons.

@vv: theoretically yes. But neither happened in the last 70 years.

Anonymous said...

"@vv: theoretically yes. But neither happened in the last 70 years."

It got a bit too close more than one time in the last 70 years though, mostly through mis-reading of information.

MAD is a thing, yes, but the USA has 6970 nuclear warheads, Russia has 7300. The UK, France, India, Pakistan have several hundred each.

How many do you think you need?

vv said...

Nothing happened only because both sides did a lot of job to prevent it. And few people still had to go against instructions and protocols. Like this guy:
You can't expect that dozens or hunderts of sides would be able to do anything like that. Too many variables.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: practically none. Practically both the USA and Russia could disband its whole Army, Navy and Air Force AND get rid of 80% of their nukes and still be in complete safety under the deterrent of the remaining 20%. But such action would be political suicide. Any leader doing it would be immediately seen as a pacifist traitor.

So the politically acceptable version is loud nuclear buildup at the expense of conventional forces.

Ðesolate said...

This whole discussion is somewhat flawed from the start (taking this as a one dimension development). If Russia and the US aim modernizing their nuclear arsenal (what is part of all this) to ensure their capabilities can't be nullified by countermeasures (of any type) this stabilizes the nuclear balance.

Simply Stocking up is shit. There is no benefit in being able to blow up the world 120 times if 80 times was already achieved. Keeping in mind that a big deal of this arsenal is stocked up somewhere purely for numbers, just soaking up money.

Anonymous said...

>you need weapons to avoid being invaded

The problem is that nuclear weapons are too powerful and politically significant. You can use them to retaliate against an all-out invasion of your homeland, but not much else.

If someone starts fishing within your EEZ, or interfering with your commercial shipping, or if they start arresting your citizens, or even if they invade some minor territorial possession of yours (e.g. Falklands) then it would be ludicrous to retaliate with nukes.

Therefore you're going to maintain a conventional military force in order to handle gunboat diplomacy, peacekeeping, aggressive posturing, patrol + escort duties, assassination, etc.

> the politically acceptable version is loud nuclear buildup at the expense of conventional forces.

But the actual plan calls for loud nuclear buildup AND conventional buildup at the expense of reduced funding for welfare programs.

Anonymous said...

@ Gevlon
@Anon: you need weapons to avoid being invaded. I'm saying that nukes are both the most cost-effective and the least offensive weapons.

US already has like 6000. Also a giant ocean separating US from any potential enemies, who barely have a navy (for now, China is building from what I understand). Countries next to US are friendly, depend on US economically and have almost no military. Who is going to invade US? Conventional is far superior and more cost efficient at fighting the enemies we do have. How are you going to fight ISIS? With nukes? You need airplanes, special forces and infantry(this one provided by allies) to fight ISIS in the middle east, plus the law enforcement/intelligence to prevent terrorist acts at home.

How can we kill ISIS? With normal bullets and bombs, not nukes. What makes Russia and China throw a fit? Building conventional military bases in Europe and South Asia. Putin was shitting his pants when Obama was installing missile defense in Europe. US is also building more bases in the Phillipines to contain China.

None of those things are possible with nukes and that's why investing in them is a waste of resources.

maxim said...

I view this as a reaction to the unnatural reduction in nuclear capacity that surrounded the unnatural fall of USSR. Merely balance being restored.

I am not optimistic about this, though. Every nuke that gets created is, at the very least, a nuke that can potentially be stolen by terrorists, which incurs additional security risks and expenses.

Where is the line that turns nukes from a defensive safety measure into a liability? Nobody knows, and if we ever find out it'll be far too late to do anything about it.

Also, there is some talk about USA being on the cusp of a radical new military tech that will render nukes meaningless. If so, now is not a bad time to tie up Russia's resources in an old-tech arms race. USA's resources also get tied, obviously, but USA has way more resources at least in terms of people and financial than Russia at this point.

Alkarasu said...

"Practically both the USA and Russia could disband its whole Army, Navy and Air Force AND get rid of 80% of their nukes and still be in complete safety under the deterrent of the remaining 20%."

That is incorrect. The moment a nuclear power disbands its regular army, it would get invaded by the first non-nuclear power that wants it, and there won't be anything to stop it. The nuke is a weapon that can't be used unless you want the whole world to burn. Current "peace" holds only because everyone agrees, that using the nuclear weapons is something no sane person would do. But that means that you can't actually use them for self-defence - if you use them, you would show everyone that you are insane (even if you do have a legitimate reason for that), and you would be happily nuked into oblivion. While nuking everyone else in retaliation. Nuclear arsenals are pretty much useless for anything above scaring others from using their own nuclear arsenals.

And all that talk about raising the number of nukes looks very much like a cover for the replacement and modification of the current charges - they are, after all, pretty ancient, loaded into outdated missiles, and, truth to be told, were never actually tested (so we can only assume they can go off at all).

Halycon said...

Doesn't fit what the Pentagon says. The new nuclear buildup isn't for city destroyers. It's for tactical dial a yield nukes. The goal is to be able to safely take out a couple city blocks with minimal or no fallout from unused material at any detonation preset selected. They want nukes that can actually be deployed selectively. So called Tactical Nukes.

Halycon said...


oh. That radical tech is years out from deployment. The problem is power draw.

Railguns at this point can only be mounted on 2 types of ships. Carriers where they are utterly useless because doctorine doesn't have one of the things coming within engagement range, and 3 fancy cruisers that are basically a tech R&D ship that will never see real deployment. Nothing else hits the power needs.

There's a new type of tracking system coming into play for the defensive and extreme long range acquiring of targets, but yet again it's power draws are insane.

Defensive lasers are a thing in use on only a single ship amphibious ship with plans to move it to the rest of that class but not to the fleet at large because of operational differences between at sea and landing.

Oh, and a new type of sea-sea missile is in development.

Basically the Navy is in need of a keel to keel refresh to use any of those weapons. The workhorses are all cold war 80s tech at best. We don't have designs for the ships to use the new stuff yet because you don't design a ship for a weapons system that's untested. We know the stuff is going to work, they just haven't hit trials for firm numbers to aim for when designing ships.

Side note on that.. it's why Trump's call for a navy build out is idiotic. What we need now and what we'll need in 5 years are going to be completely different. Spending billions now is the height of lunacy when we know everything's going to change that soon.

Air superiority is stuck in physics hell on big breakthroughs and NASA/JPL is mostly in charge of coming up with the big aerospace physics stuff. So since I haven't heard anything out of NASA about some new thingy that'll revolutionize how things fly through the air it's unlikely.

We've needed a replacement for the B-52 since ever... it turns 62 this year. The Air-Force has had some cool offensive laser tech in R&D hell for decades with nothing coming of it. But they are adapting a cut down version the Navy's laser defence system on ships for jets.

Marines.. haha.. no. Marines use whatever anyone else will give them.

Army.. dunno a lot about the Army. The Army is always the big pie in the sky ideas that are all technically possible on paper but nearly impossible to get to work in the field. I pretty much discount everything the Army says about R&D coming down the pipe until I've seen it work. Their stuff simply has to work in so many environments it's nearly impossible to get everything to work all the time. They are trying to get a Navy Railgun to work with both a fixed gun emplacement and a flatbed truck version. What the Army is good at is incremental improvements, no one revisions like they do. But they aren't a house of radical new military tech.

So there ya go, that's the big run down of US military tech coming down within the next couple decades. Other than whatever the heck the Department of Energy is doing with Nukes.

dobablo said...

If nuclear weapons were convention they would be banned under the Geneva Convention due to being both excessively injurious and indiscriminate. Their use on a population centre would be a war-crime for intentionally killing civilians. From that perspective it is very hard to justify increasing their current numbers.
Nuclear weapons are political and aspiration. The US and Russia publicly growing their stockpiles undermines their argument against proliferation (How can you justify building more nukes to defend yourself when we aren't permitted any). The likelihood of incidents occurring increases exponentially as the number of nuclear powers increases which is especially worrying when MAD does not apply to smaller nations with only a handful of nukes.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately the "Mutually Assured Destruction" plan of creating a peaceful utopia through nuclear buildup falls apart when the lunatic, who can no longer grab a conventional weapon and start a localized war, manages to build his own nuclear weapons and starts launching them indiscriminately. This will force all of the superpowers being targeted to either A) Respond in kind and risk panicking additional superpowers into actually destroying the majority of the world's population...or B) Respond only with conventional weapons and prove that "Mutually Assured Destruction" is not in fact "Mutually Assured" - as well as of course potentially losing the war.

Provi Miner said...

The US does need new nukes, note the careful use of the word "new" and don't confuse that with "more". Simply put the current arsenal while still capable can be defeated in theory. The high angle and long flight time even with MRV's it can be killed without detonation. So there will be a push to modernize it I suspect. Not that I agree with it but there you go.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to think any more. socialism and communism ideology rises right in the west and no nuke or weapon seems to help. In the disguise of Islamic matter and oil need over the last several years their momentum and power is immense. PC everywhere and destruction of cultural value systems everywhere.

Reading right now Prison Notebooks from Antonio Gramsci and I'm in shock how well their planning and execution is. Granted I don't know much about communism, so my next read will be The Gulag Archipelago from Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn as far as I can tell from several recommendations the antidote of Soviet Union and the shit Mao did.

Weapons are just tools. It where simple people like you and me that guarded nazi- or SU-camps. And all it took was a ideological framework to let them do horrible things and sleep at night with a clear conscience or even took pleasure out of the whole ordeal.

Sure why not. do an Arms race. If they burn money .. I would rather like to see all money spend on weapons to be spend on spacecraft and exploration. but hey I'm just an idiot that just now sees the parallels of SJW to cultural marxism and is a bit adrift.

Andy H.K. said...

Some extra food for thought on this topic:

Eaten by a Grue said...

I get that this is a mental exercise, but weapons are developed according to needs. If you are going to imagine a utopia with only nukes, why not just imagine a utopia with no weapons at all and every country living in peace under a government that is fairly elected and works for the people instead of exploiting them. There, now you have a utopia.

But if you are going to talk about what is going to actually exist in a real world, you will have both conventional and nuclear weapons, since obviously nuclear weapons have many shortcomings. For example, Russia is obviously not going to use nukes to annex Crimea, since they do not want to turn the thing they are annexing into a nuclear wasteland.

maxim said...

The things i heard about involve supersonic precision missiles. Supersonic speed both makes the missile impossible to take down with current interception tech and gives it the point penetration power to destroy targets that normal missiles can't really do harm to.

Slawomir Chmielewski said...

MAD works

ALL of our morality is based on MAD. ALL OF IT.

The first and probably most important ethical rule: thou shalt not kill.
Why? where has it come from? is it because we are "good" and intelligent? well, hardly any species on the planet kills its own.
"Do not kill" is not nice, is not enlightened, is not good. It is practical.
When two individuals have a dispute and killing is allowed, there is no chance for peaceful resolution. The weaker will defend itself to the last breath, cause whatever injuries he might sustain in combat are better than outright death. The stronger will get severely injured himself, cause even a significantly weaker opponent can still do a lot of damage. The stronger individual will end up hurt, therefore weakened, and will die to the next passerby that he happens upon.
Humans do wars, because we developed weapons that make most combat binary - the winner has no injuries, the loser dies. We also do combat in groups, which somehow nullify the "next guy will kill me when I'm weak" mechanic.
From this "thou shalt not kill" we derive the "right to live". Practically every other moral tenet is derived from that. "Do not steal" or the other person will have nothing to eat and die, therefore will defend its possessions till last breath. "Do not rape" cause the other male losing his mate and reproduction rights is just as well as dead, evolutionary speaking, so he has to fight till last breath. "Do not lie" about others, cause this lowers their social status and therefore their chance to reproduce, so again, it's a form of death threat that has to be answered with violence.
MAD has been at work for very, very long time. Nuclear weapons are nothing new.

Halycon said...


Think you mean Hypersonic. Supersonic already exist, all missiles are supersonic now days.

That being said... it's one of those things in R&D Hell. The problem isn't getting the missile to speed, it's getting it to land anywhere near the target. NASA has been working on the hypersonic issue a long long time with drones, which are really just missiles without a payload. Visual targeting from the missile doesn't work because the air pressure wave in front of the missile literally warps light in a chaotic lensing effect. Similar with any sort of radio guidance, air pressure distorts any communication. They have not found a way around it. Hypersonic missiles could theoretically cross the pacific ocean in under 15 minutes, we've gotten things that fast, they just land in an area the size of Wyoming.

Then we hit cost, a cruise missile now days is around 1.4 million USD per shot and climbing. Who knows what cost for a hypersonic missile will be, it won't be cheap enough to just send one after another.

Andru said...

Gevlon, if both Russia and China increase their nuclear arsenal, under what authority do they demand that others not get more? Israel, Iran, hell Noth Korea while we're at it. Obviously, it means that a global nuclear arms race will bring peace for all!

Eaten by a Grue said...


MAD probably will not work for ISIS, which seems to embrace death gladly.

99smite said...

NOPE! Nukes do not secure peace, smart people and good diplomacy do!

Most conflicts after the dissolution of the USSR have been rather small and local conflicts. Nukes would have not done anything positive. They would simply have infuriated neutral neighbours who would have then retaliated wiht maximum force.

Imagine a world that is, following Gevlon's, Putin's and Trump's school of thought: A world where EVERY nation is totally safe as EVERY nation possesses nukes. Now imagine this situation had already existed in the ninties at the height of the yugoslavian conflict. What if Serbia had used a nuke to solve their problems with Kosovo Albania for good? Nuclear fallout would have ruined the whole region and Greece and Turkey had retaliated with nukes too, ending the existence of Belgrad.

It is schizophrenic to think that bigger weapons will lead to more peace.

Currently, the understanding is that no one would use such weapons as it would mean the end of human life. So, basically mankind is safe until the moment a faction who does not care about the and of human life uses a nuke to gloriously enter paradise...

And regarding tactical nukes... Any person who talks about the "safe usage" of tactical nukes is a dangerous liar. One must need to understand the physics underlying a nuclear explosion. There is a requirement for a critical mass, meaning that nukes cannot be miniaturized at will.
The dream of taking out only a few blocks in a citty, while the rest will be unharmed is just that, a dream, or rather a LIE!
Then the myth of a fallout-less bomb... Fallout is not simply unburnt or unused plutonium, but a result of nuclear fission. Just compare what happens to reactor casings in nuclear power plants, they become radioactive over time.
Contrary to "popular belief" of comic readers in the US, radioactive radiation will not give you superhero powers, turning you into the Hulk or Professor Fantastic, it kills you.

Trying to develop tactical nukes is contra indicated for the "nuke us and die shortly afterwards" theory. If nukes seem to become appliable on battlefields, and I use the term battlefield rather generously as there have not been any battlefields since the Korean war, no measures will prevent that one group might apply a tactical nuke against theri opponents while hiding that attack, so that the attacked party comes to the conclusion that somebody else attacked them... (like in that shitty movie with Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman)

Slawomir Chmielewski said...

@Eaten by a Grue
It will. MAD expects any non compliant to die, and die quickly. Which is exactly what is happening now: they are killing each other with great speed. ISIS won't last long.

Eaten by a Grue said...


But a part of MAD is "mutually". ISIS is not afraid to die so long as it takes someone else with it. So the key principle of MAD is undermined, as the adversary is not concerned with its own survival.

Imagine 100 years down the road, with nuclear weapons not only more accessible, but also more accurate and deadly. Do you think the world is safe once a radical Salafist organization like ISIS, whose deeply religious members sincerely believe in martyrdom/paradise/etc and also an all out war on infidels? If ISIS right now had the nuclear button to take some significant portion of the USA (or your country!), do you think they would hesitate for a moment? They are already doing it symbolically with terrorist attacks on nightclubs, as if to provoke us into an all out war in the middle east.

MAD works among rational actors. I would even put North Korea in that category, as I am convinced the Kim regime is primarily concerned with its own survival. Those Muslim extremists are completely different, however.

Anonymous said...

What a confusing post. We already have enough nukes for mutual destruction. Increasing their count won't change shit as traditional warfare will continue to exist.
Peace is best ensured by global trade, I'm amazed you didn't mention it in your post.