Would you retaliate on the USSR when a nuclear attack is imminent.
Fire them missiles!
61.3% (19)
61.3% (19)
Dont fire them missiles!
35.5% (11)
35.5% (11)
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Poll: MAD or Mutual assured destruction

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Edit: for some reason I cant change the 2d poll option. Its supose to read: "Dont fire them missiles!"

Edit 2 Also read about this guy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Arkhipov it's about a russian officer preventing the firing of a nuclear torpedo. Not that relevant but still rather interesting. ^^

I recently came across this dilemma about the madness of MAD and I'm curious to find out what you guys would do.

OK so here's the situation:
It's the War and you are the US president. Your secretary of defense comes in and tells you that the Soviets for whatever reason have launched their nuclear missiles at most major US city's and that the vast majority of the missiles can't be stopped and will kill millions of people.

Now here's the kicker. While you're being moved to some bunker you have to decide whether to retaliate by firing the US missiles at the USSR's cities and killing millions of Russians or to spare their lives by doing nothing.

... image

Personally I wouldn't do anything. Theres no advantage to retaliating except for the satisfaction of revenge and I'd rather go down in history as the sucker that didn't fire than one of the madman that destroyed half the planet, but though I understand either choice. But please tell me what youd choose.

Fire back at them obviously. You kind of have to act in some way in this situation

If it was a single missile, then I could hold back on the off chance it was a misfire. Dozens? That's grounds for targeting every major military and civilian center in retaliation, and pulling the trigger is something you must do in response as a leader.

Shadowstar38:
Fire back at them obviously. You kind of have to act in some way in this situation

The Gentleman:
If it was a single missile, then I could hold back on the off chance it was a misfire. Dozens? That's grounds for targeting every major military and civilian center in retaliation, and pulling the trigger is something you must do in response as a leader.

I can see where you're both coming from, but on the other hand why would you? In this scenario the US is doomed either way. The only thing launching the missiles accomplishes is the satisfaction of revenge by again killing millions of people who probably didnt have all that much to do with the nuclear attack in the first place. In my opinion theres no rational advantage to fireing

Prince Regent:
The only thing launching the missiles accomplishes is the satisfaction of revenge by again killing millions of people who probably didnt have all that much to do with the nuclear attack in the first place.

Well you know, its not like their missiles wont be killing millions of innocent people too.

Genocidicles:

Prince Regent:
The only thing launching the missiles accomplishes is the satisfaction of revenge by again killing millions of people who probably didnt have all that much to do with the nuclear attack in the first place.

Well you know, its not like their missiles wont be killing millions of innocent people too.

That's what makes it a dilemma. Both options are rather awful, but then again thats why Im asking you to choose. ^^

Prince Regent:

I can see where you're both coming from, but on the other hand why would you? In this scenario the US is doomed either way. The only thing launching the missiles accomplishes is the satisfaction of revenge by again killing millions of people who probably didnt have all that much to do with the nuclear attack in the first place. In my opinion theres no rational advantage to fireing

The leader firing didn't take the US's civilians into account before launching their attack. I cant afford their people the same.

Not launching does set a pretty bad precedent. It will go on to show that you go throw nukes around like candy and there is a good chance that you wont suffer any negative consequence of doing so.

Prince Regent:

Shadowstar38:
Fire back at them obviously. You kind of have to act in some way in this situation

The Gentleman:
If it was a single missile, then I could hold back on the off chance it was a misfire. Dozens? That's grounds for targeting every major military and civilian center in retaliation, and pulling the trigger is something you must do in response as a leader.

I can see where you're both coming from, but on the other hand why would you? In this scenario the US is doomed either way. The only thing launching the missiles accomplishes is the satisfaction of revenge by again killing millions of people who probably didnt have all that much to do with the nuclear attack in the first place. In my opinion there's no rational advantage to firing

US is doomed? the 50 most populated cities in the US combined make up only 15% of it's total population, the last city on that list has less than 400,000 people living in it.
In any case a nuclear attack will not even reach that, a first strike will be aimed at nuclear facilities which means that if the US can launch in time(and it can) it can strike back at Russia/Alien Mothership before it loses a large part of it's 2nd strike capabilities, there's a reason why the land based missiles it employees called minutemen and that's because they are intended to be launched from launch ready alert in under 60 seconds(and yes i know the GW reference).
Even in the worse case scenario the death toll predictions were between 8 and 25M(depends on the target priority e.g. military vs civilian) people dead during the first 48 hours of a all out strike against the US.

Verbatim:

Prince Regent:

Shadowstar38:
Fire back at them obviously. You kind of have to act in some way in this situation

The Gentleman:
If it was a single missile, then I could hold back on the off chance it was a misfire. Dozens? That's grounds for targeting every major military and civilian center in retaliation, and pulling the trigger is something you must do in response as a leader.

I can see where you're both coming from, but on the other hand why would you? In this scenario the US is doomed either way. The only thing launching the missiles accomplishes is the satisfaction of revenge by again killing millions of people who probably didnt have all that much to do with the nuclear attack in the first place. In my opinion there's no rational advantage to firing

US is doomed? the 50 most populated cities in the US combined make up only 15% of it's total population, the last city on that list has less than 400,000 people living in it.
In any case a nuclear attack will not even reach that, a first strike will be aimed at nuclear facilities which means that if the US an launch in time(and it can) it can strike back at Russia/Alien Mothership before it loses a large part of it's 2nd strike capabilities, there's a reason why the missiles it employees called minutemen and that's because they are intended to be launched from launch ready alert in under 60 seconds.
Even in the worse case scenario the death toll predictions were between 8 and 25M(depends on the target priority e.g. military vs civilian) people dead during the first 48 hours of a all out strike against the US.

Fair enough the US is not doomed in any realistic scenario and im quite impressed (and slightly frightened) by how much you know about a potential nuclear attack. but since these are hypothetical scenarios, let me ask you an irrealistic and somewhat tweaked version of the question:
If the nuclear attack would reduce most of the USA and the USSR to a fallout style radioactive wasteland. Would you still launch them missiles.

Shadowstar38:

Prince Regent:

I can see where you're both coming from, but on the other hand why would you? In this scenario the US is doomed either way. The only thing launching the missiles accomplishes is the satisfaction of revenge by again killing millions of people who probably didnt have all that much to do with the nuclear attack in the first place. In my opinion theres no rational advantage to fireing

The leader firing didn't take the US's civilians into account before launching their attack. I cant afford their people the same.

Yeah, do bear in mind the rest of the planet when you're playing with nukes. You'd be killing the planet. I live on this planet, but I do not live in the US or Russia. What did the UK ever do to you, eh?

I once questioned my history teacher about this topic. I believed I asked him, when he was teaching about the Cuban Missile Crisis, "Why would either side fire their nuclear warheads and be known for the rest of time as the dickheads who killed the planet?". Can't remember his answer cos it wasn't important, point is, don't be a dick just because they're being dicks.

I'd play the long game and take the hits. I'd gain worldwide support for not blowing up the world. Resettling and rebuilding the devastated US would do wonders for the economy and if the sneaky ruskies tried to invade I would fire tactical nukes at juicy targets. Also, the US still has oil. Small population + oil production = huge potential for healthy welfare state.

I'd fire without second thought.

Then issue evacuation orders to whatever were the target cities.

Prince Regent:

Fair enough the US is not doomed in any realistic scenario and im quite impressed (and slightly frightened) by how much you know about a potential nuclear attack. but since these are hypothetical scenarios, let me ask you an irrealistic and somewhat tweaked version of the question:
If the nuclear attack would reduce most of the USA and the USSR to a fallout style radioactive wasteland. Would you still launch them missiles.

Well let me put that into context, the USA and the USSR(well former) do not live in a vacuum. If the USSR strikes first it's either as a prelude to an invasion into the continental US. Or if they really fire a nuke at every city, street and house in the US as a way to get them out of the way prior to invasion into Europe, Japan, or heck even Canada.
MAD works not because they know that they will lose just as many people(because strategically 50M is a small price to pay for world domination), it works because it make first strike as a tactical move pointless.
So if you really want to ask the question would you press a button just to kill 50M people than the answer is no, if the question is would you stop Russia from pillaging the US, Canada, Japan and the rest of the world then answer is without any hesitation and with a clear conscience.

It's like Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker, they figured people wouldn't have the will to retaliate so the Peacewalker is made to do the retaliation instead.

As for me I'd order the counter attack, if we fall so are the russians. Can't just let them get away with it.

I think we're forgetting that thermonuclear war is a winnable proposition, and If we forgo retaliation there is no way to win the peace.

Prince Regent:
Fair enough the US is not doomed in any realistic scenario and im quite impressed (and slightly frightened) by how much you know about a potential nuclear attack. but since these are hypothetical scenarios, let me ask you an irrealistic and somewhat tweaked version of the question:
If the nuclear attack would reduce most of the USA and the USSR to a fallout style radioactive wasteland. Would you still launch them missiles.

The US would be doomed. Most people in the US would survive, but the US as a society and political entity would not. Whatever the survivors rebuilt would not be like the US that was.

As mentioned, a nuclear war between the US and USSR would not be over in 30 minutes, it'd go on for days. Not many days, but long enough that launching your own missiles would destroy things that would otherwise be used against you.

Which was why the doctrine was, and is, of a total response. There's no slow escalation, no nuclear ladder. One flies, they all fly. Maybe not right away, but they all will be used.

...

As an aside, WW3 wouldn't "kill the planet"...except that the Soviets made sure it would. After the US and USSR kick each other to bits, all sorts of nations suddenly are comparatively much more powerful, and become real threats. Because of this, the Soviet "sharing the pain" doctrine had them launch missiles at neutral powers and even allies, to stop them from conquering what used to be the USSR afterwards.

Why are people assuming we exclusively targeted the USSR?

The Soviets were aiming at every NATO nations, and we've targeted every soviet aligned state.

thaluikhain:
As an aside, WW3 wouldn't "kill the planet"...except that the Soviets made sure it would. After the US and USSR kick each other to bits, all sorts of nations suddenly are comparatively much more powerful, and become real threats. Because of this, the Soviet "sharing the pain" doctrine had them launch missiles at neutral powers and even allies, to stop them from conquering what used to be the USSR afterwards.

Behold! The power of looking at the links on wiki!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061211090729.htm

Nukes bring dirt up, dirt causes shenanigans in the atmosphere and the cooling effect would screw things up and kill lots and lots of people. Even teeny tiny nuclear powers killing each other would screw things up.

Odgical:

thaluikhain:
As an aside, WW3 wouldn't "kill the planet"...except that the Soviets made sure it would. After the US and USSR kick each other to bits, all sorts of nations suddenly are comparatively much more powerful, and become real threats. Because of this, the Soviet "sharing the pain" doctrine had them launch missiles at neutral powers and even allies, to stop them from conquering what used to be the USSR afterwards.

Behold! The power of looking at the links on wiki!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061211090729.htm

Nukes bring dirt up, dirt causes shenanigans in the atmosphere and the cooling effect would screw things up and kill lots and lots of people. Even teeny tiny nuclear powers killing each other would screw things up.

Not true, that's been discredited for decades.

You'll note they talk about the effects of 100 15 KT devices. That's a combined yield of about 1/30th of the Tsar Bomba, which was tested above ground some decades ago, and did not end the world, not to mention the very many other nuclear devices tested above ground which also did not end the world. Or, for that matter, large scale conventional fires.

Way back when, various groups tried to turn people against large scale nuclear war (which isn't a bad idea), by producing exaggerated or totally misleading claims (which really is). Nuclear winter was one of these. The original model took the Earth as a featureless perfect sphere, with no day or night, warmed by a 1/3 intensity sun all the time, and had large amounts of dust deposited in the upper atmosphere without any mechanism involved. Under such circumstance, nuclear winter might occur, but frankly, we'd have other things to worry about.

Odgical:

thaluikhain:
As an aside, WW3 wouldn't "kill the planet"...except that the Soviets made sure it would. After the US and USSR kick each other to bits, all sorts of nations suddenly are comparatively much more powerful, and become real threats. Because of this, the Soviet "sharing the pain" doctrine had them launch missiles at neutral powers and even allies, to stop them from conquering what used to be the USSR afterwards.

Behold! The power of looking at the links on wiki!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061211090729.htm

Nukes bring dirt up, dirt causes shenanigans in the atmosphere and the cooling effect would screw things up and kill lots and lots of people. Even teeny tiny nuclear powers killing each other would screw things up.

There have been over 1000 nuclear weapon tests yielding 510,300 KT in total in about 50 years and it caused no long term adverse effects(except for maybe creating Godzilla which now lies in wait some where under the French Micronesia)..

thaluikhain:
snip

Okay, the study was in 2006 and nuclear tests are done specifically to reduce fallout. I take your point, though. You know how hard it is to find actual studies of the effects of nuclear explosions? It's like they're secret or something, I dunno. Anyway, I... kinda feel I need proof on this one before I say you're right and apologise. What ya got?

Why bother? The only reason to fire those missiles is spite.

Odgical:

thaluikhain:
snip

Okay, the study was in 2006 and nuclear tests are done specifically to reduce fallout. I take your point, though. You know how hard it is to find actual studies of the effects of nuclear explosions? It's like they're secret or something, I dunno. Anyway, I... kinda feel I need proof on this one before I say you're right and apologise. What ya got?

http://warreview.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/nuclear-winter-is-bunk.html

The author, Stuart Slade, is/was one of the people working for the US to determine, amongst other things the best places to aim nuclear missiles at to destroy nations.

If we're talking about a full nuclear assault designed to destroy the entire country, I'd let it happen. Make those pricks die the slow death in the nuclear winter they create. Also, might as well give humanity a chance to recover rather than turning half the world into radioactive glass.

In other circumstances, I'd have to retaliate, but I'd fully expect an invasion to come soon after their attack.

You'd have a moral obligation to fire the missiles. Any nation that enacts a policy of global death cannot be allowed to endure.

On a related note, when a British PM gets elected, one of the the first things he or she does is to decide on the sealed orders given to submarine captains on what to do in the event of war with the USSR, whether to launch missiles at Moscow or not. These orders were to be burnt unread when the next PM gets elected should this not occur.

...

As an aside, the UK targeted Moscow with everything because of the Soviet ABM system. Previous they'd have attacked targets all over, but with the unreliability of the missiles against an ABM system, they decided they'd only be able to guarantee they'd get Moscow. As it happens, the Soviets didn't run anything too important from Moscow, they just pretended they did in the hope that the missiles would be aimed there, rather than where the real targets were.

Also, seems a bit odd to worry too much about that, as the US would almost certainly be hitting all sorts of places in the USSR should war break out anyway.

The idea is that you rig the command structure in such a way that there nolonger is any choice, just the garanteed response of nukes for nukes.

Then you make sure that your opponent knows this about you. This is the deterrent and without it, the rational response for your opponent is to simply nuke you to oblivion.

Yes, because if you do not fire then you have left a nation state willing to commit nuclear genocide and risk starting WW3 for whatever reason. Your nation is dead, but you can still damage the fuck out of those who unjustly did so, if only to lay the foundation for their demise by those that will most likely be targeted next.

I think of it like this, someone is going to murder you with little to no good reason, and it can be assumed others will be next, and you find yourself in a position to take them down with you or at least severely damage them to the point where murdering others would be difficult. My course of action would be to take them down with me, not (only, I mean I think some spite is justified against my murderer) out of spite, but for the sake of that murderer's future victims.

I would strike back without hesitation. This way the USSR would realize that the more they nuke US cities the more USSR cities will get nuked. Meanwhile if you let it happen they may interpret it as a signal they can just nuke all the cities without risking any counter-attacks.

Verbatim:

There have been over 1000 nuclear weapon tests yielding 510,300 KT in total in about 50 years and it caused no long term adverse effects(except for maybe creating Godzilla which now lies in wait some where under the French Micronesia)..

1000 rainstorms each dropping an average of 5mm of rain across a span of 50 years is no big deal.

One big theoretical storm dropping 5000mm of rain in 24h is, however, a very different prospect.

thaluikhain:

http://warreview.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/nuclear-winter-is-bunk.html

The author, Stuart Slade, is/was one of the people working for the US to determine, amongst other things the best places to aim nuclear missiles at to destroy nations.

That does not convincingly qualify Stuart Slade as an expert in the effects of post-nuclear war on the climate.

I am also wary of that for other reasons:
1) No other sources cited. What are the studies for his "nuclear autumn"? Who did them? When? Are there any other studies?
3) Immoderate language: "deliberate scientific fraud", "phony", "nutcases", etc. This carries the whiff of a hatchet-job rather than sober analysis, which makes me query whether the author has an axe to grind.

There surely is plenty more research on the effects of global thermonuclear war from much safer sources.

Why the fuck would you fire back, history has shown us that basically all intelligence reports on nuclear strikes so far have been incorrect.

This means there is a very high chance that you are going to be destroying the world if you choose to fire. Even if the missiles are definitely coming, the entire world is fucked, so the logical option is not to fire and hope the other side didn't.

I'm concerned that hitting them after they hit us will just turn the atmosphere into coal dust and kill us all. If it were just 1 nuke sent at us, I guess we'd have to retaliate to say, "quit it!" but otherwise, it would be like using a hand grenade against an enemy as you both hide in the same 8x8 tool shed together.

I'll assume that America as a country no longer exists, population (near)zero, and that everywhere got hit in less than a day (so you're reacting instantly). If that's the case what's the point? Your country's dead either way and it's not like there's gonna be any voters left to get pissed at your decision.

Yes. Drag them all to hell with me. It is the only good last thing I will be proud of before all of my life goes down the drain. Kill millions in response, and drag them all to hell.

On a related note while I was doing some reading on MAD I came across this guy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Arkhipov a Soviet naval officer who stopped the firing of a nuclear torpedo during the cuban missile crisis and by extention quite possibly prevented a full out nuclear war. It doesnt really have mucht to do with the poll, but its too interesting to not share.

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