Much is being written about the possibility of a global conflict in the near future. Tensions are running high and it feels like the entire planet is a powder keg just waiting for the spark that will ignite it.
The geographical position of the United States means that unless the Canadians or the Mexicans allow foreign troops to operate on their soil, a ground invasion is probably not going to happen, ditto foreign air forces conducting bombing raids from bases in either of the two countries.
It’s our location that has thus far removed us from many of the horrors of conventional warfare. We do not face incursions of enemy troops (Incursions of illegal immigrants will be discussed another day). We do not face the nightly bombing raids that Europe faced during the last great conflict.
Yes, we have seen a few Russian fighter jets buzzing off the Californian coast, but had we been at war, they would have been shot out of the sky over the Pacific.
Because of the logistical problems of actually getting as far as the United States, any conventional war in which we are involved will most likely be fought on foreign soil, as it was in World War II. Yes we will incur casualties, but our homeland, our infrastructure, will largely remain intact. We would not see our children running to the relative safety of bunkers and cellars as the children of Europe did nightly during World War II, and as they do now in Ukraine and to some extent in Syria.
A future war that targets the United States will be anything but conventional.
The International Campaign To Abolish Nuclear Weapons lists an approximate number of 16,400 nuclear warheads divided between eight countries with the USA and Russia holding over 13,000 of them. It also notes that Russia is investing heavily in modernizing those warheads and the systems used to deliver them.
Both the United States and Russia have EWS (Early Warning Systems) that alerts them to an attack being launched by the opposition.
When the EWS is activated there is little time to do what would be the logical things to do:
- Check that the system isn’t malfunctioning
- Call your opposite number to make sure it’s not a computer glitch on their end.
It takes an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) just 30 minutes to travel the distance between Russia and the United States, and substantially less than that if the missile is fired from a submarine that is closer to our shores.
So, once an attack is detected there are just minutes to decide whether retaliatory action is required.
Both the United States and Russia have a Launch on Warning systems in place. This system is based solely on electronic information and has no parameters to deal with false alarms and equipment malfunctions that indicate a launch has taken pace when it has not. A cyber attack on either system, indicating that a launch has taken place when it has not, is not out of the realms of possibility.
Even if the launch on warning system is over-ridden, the presidents of both countries would have to make the decision to fire in retaliation prior to any detonations taking place, the only certain confirmation that the attack is real and imminent.
Should the call be made to their opposite number and assurances given that it is indeed a false warning, one only has the assurances of the other that this is the case. As tensions heighten around the globe, would either party accept this assurance?
It is the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) that has kept us safe from nuclear war so far. But what if total annihilation wasn’t the aim and what if Russia wasn’t the antagonist?
Many other countries already have nuclear weapons…China, Israel, India, and Pakistan, for example. Other nations are thought to be developing their nuclear capabilities. There is no reason to think that only Russia is likely to launch an attack on the United States.
The Report Nuclear weapons in the Twenty-First Century is worth reading. It suggests that we should be thinking about a strategic nuclear war rather than always picturing total annihilation.
They suggest that lower yield warheads could be used against specific targets, taking out the command structure for example and that these weapons are far simpler to manufacture and maintain than their high-yield cousins. This could well make them more attractive to ‘rogue nations’.
A benefit of lower-yield weapons is that the collateral damage sustained by the near target area may be reduced, an important factor in attacks near urban areas. States the report. It goes on:
A 5-kiloton (kt) nuclear explosive detonated on a 30-foot-thick missile silo door will vaporize that door, destroying the missile inside. With precision delivery many hard targets might be able to be defeated with nuclear explosives having lower yield than we might currently employ.
Of course, they fail to point out that if we know this, then the likelihood is that other nuclear states know this also.
We shouldn’t discount other methods of warfare, even if traditionally they appear to be more in line with terrorist operations than the actions of nation states.
Radiological Dispersal Devices are commonly known as ‘dirty bombs’. Their aim is not to kill as many people as possible but to contaminate an area and render it useless by scattering radioactive material over a wide area using conventional explosives. There have been several instances of terrorists being involved in trying to procure materials to make dirty bombs, most notably the British National Dhiren Barot who is now serving life in prison.
In 2004, British authorities arrested a British national, Dhiren Barot, and several associates on various charges, including conspiring to commit public nuisance by the use of radioactive materials. In 2006, Barot was found guilty and sentenced to life. British authorities disclosed that Barot developed a document known as the “Final Presentation.” The document outlined his research on the production of “dirty bombs,” which he characterized as designed to “cause injury, fear, terror and chaos” rather than to kill. U.S. federal prosecutors indicted Barot and two associates for conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against persons within the United States, in conjunction with the alleged surveillance of several landmarks and office complexes in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Newark, N.J. In a separate British police operation in 2004, authorities arrested British national, Salahuddin Amin, and six others on terrorism-related charges. Amin is accused of making inquiries about buying a “radioisotope bomb” from the Russian mafia in Belgium; and the group is alleged to have linkages to al-Qaeda. Nothing appeared to have come from his inquiries, according to British prosecutors. While neither Barot nor Amin had the opportunity to carry their plans forward to an operational stage, these arrests demonstrate the continued interest of terrorists in acquiring and using radioactive material for malicious purposes. (source)
The chances of foreign terrorists getting hold of the nuclear material required, getting it into the country and detonating it are low. The chances of someone already on American soil getting the material, building and detonating a dirty bomb are higher. There is nothing written regarding the possibility of a nuclear power executing the same act, one would assume that it would be entirely possible for them to do so by ‘turning’ someone in the nuclear industry in the target country.
The aim of dirty bombs is to cause panic, fear and chaos rather than to kill and maim. You can read more about these devices at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Could the fact that the United States is located outside the realm for a conventional war be behind Obamas seemingly gung-ho attitude to policing the world and getting involved in conflicts that should be of no concern to him?
He knows that other NATO countries will get the flak, both verbally, politically and physically if he oversteps the mark. He is in effect throwing his supposed allies under a truck in his desire to do things his way, and those allies are stupid enough to tolerate it.
It’s likely that if he had countries on our doorstep that could create mayhem on the streets of Washington that he would reel in his bullying and power-hungry ‘I want to be the leader of the world’ tendencies.
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Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!