By Robert H.
Are we allowed to start worrying about nuclear war without seeming weird? Is the Cold War on again enough for that? 'Cause I was googling around a little, and America has a surprisingly good shot at succeeding totally in a first strike against Russia, which is obviously bad.
I say "surprisingly" not because I think the chances are high, but because I would have thought our chances of surviving a full scale nuclear war without the Russians hitting a single target would be zero. More than that, I would have thought the odds of just losing three or four cities would be zero. I would have thought the odds of only losing a third of our population were zero. Basically I thought MAD was still a thing, and both Russia and America could destroy each other under any conceivable nuclear scenario. The only way to win is not to play, how about a nice game of chess?
But that author wants to play up how risky a first strike would be, and yet he still leaves me with the impression that we have an outside chance of pulling it off totally.
Worrying. It makes me wonder how much further we would have to develop our ABM capability before we could shoot down any Russian nukes likely to survive a first strike, which makes me wonder if that possibility fuels erratic behavior on Russia's part. The knowledge that an age of American nuclear primacy might be right around the corner would scare me shitless if I were Russian, and obviously the worse your future position the more aggressively you play your current advantages. What's worse, the less likely you are to survive a first strike, the more likely you are to launch one, which means we are more likely to launch one, which means etc. The balance of terror doesn't work without the balance.
On the bright side, nuclear war could solve the Fermi paradox.