Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Andrew M. Tanner says he’s a rogue systems analyst and author, and he’s written this provocative essay on how a nuclear war might actually play out if Russia pulls the trigger in its invasion of Ukraine. I don’t know if his research is pristine, but from the standpoint of what a nut like Putin might be thinking right now, Tanner’s scenarios seem logical.
The essence of his theory is that Russia would not start, and wouldn’t seek to start, the nuclear conflagration that would wipe out humanity (the basis of the “mutually assured destruction” deterrent). Instead, he would attempt to take out our nukes, and we, in response, would do the same. Then both sides would pause and go, “Have you had enough?”
It’s not accurate to say this possibility would cause minimal damage. Vast parts of the American heartland would be rendered uninhabitable thanks to the radiation, and it’s hard to predict where the prevailing winds would carry the fallout (presumably eastward). Most of our missile silos are in places like Nebraska and Wyoming, where there’s land, lots of land, and the starry sky above but not so many people.
Tanner says that the technology has been refined over the decades so that lobbing nukes into cities isn’t the be all and end all anymore. I guess that depends on what the nuclear aggressor is trying to say to his opponent, but at least it’s possible for these nukes to be used as pinpoint-accurate tactical weapons. Tanner believes the giant warheads meant to take out whole cities would be reserved for the end-game, large urban centers serving as hostages and bargaining chips along the way.
An overriding theme in this essay is that states like Russia and the U.S. don’t care about their citizens. They only care about their ability to survive as states, so both have done cost/benefit analyses (in terms of human lives lost), calculating the number of deaths they can live with. I’m sure it’s a stunningly high number.
Whatever the case, it’s possible that Putin is already in the “maybe I’ll have to do it” mode, and we’ll wake up one morning to learn that he’s used a tactical nuke in Ukraine as an efficient way to bring the population into submission. If that happens, Tanner’s theory would likely mean there’d be some kind of limited exchange, and the world’s first nuclear war would begin. It could be over quickly too, both sides getting that monster out of their systems, and some new world order would emerge. Things would be tense for quite a while.
Who knows? To me, it’s just appalling that the likelihood is growing, not diminishing, that nuclear weapons will be used in my lifetime.
What sickening irony that, when the Soviet Union fell apart in the early ‘90s, we all danced for joy and talked about the “peace dividend”—money formerly spent on nukes that could now be used for good.