THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 766, April 13, 2014
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Still M.A.D. After All These Years?
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Back in the 1950's and '60s the nuclear powers—in their infinite wisdom (and with something like 65,000 Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex nukes on hair trigger)—came up with an excuse for their psychotic behavior. They called it "Mutually Assured Destruction." M.A.D. for short. The idea was, "If you blow the people who live in my territorial area to Kingdom Come, I'll do the same to yours." Small print: "We're not too worried. We have well-buried 'undisclosed locations' to hide in."
No, I'm NOT making any of that up.
Sound reasonable? Well, it doesn't matter because, reasonable or not, whether you were in the Soviet Union or North America "your" government bought into it for you. In fact, everyone in the world "bought into it" since even a relatively limited nuclear exchange would, for all intents and purposes, blow the entire biosphere "to Kingdom Come."
And they almost did. My favorite skin-of-the-teeth escape was courtesy of Russian hero Stanislav Petrov in 1983. So far, involving just the U.S., there have been at least nine other such "Broken Arrow" close calls which diligent researchers managed to pry out of the archives so far. So, if you don't count the fallout from all those nuke tests, it was luck, not good management, that kept the biosphere more or less intact.
And there were more intentional government nuclear adventures. The one etched indelibly into my memory is The Cuban Missile Crisis. Since the U.S. Government had nukes on hair-trigger in Europe targeting the U.S.S.R., the Soviet leaders, sticking to the M.A.D. plan, thought it only fair they should likewise have nukes on hair-trigger in Cuba targeting the U.S.—and began installing them.
My teen friends and I were seriously planning to occupy the huge tunnels of a nearby abandoned limestone quarry to try and survive the fallout. Unfortunately, we weren't just paranoid.
If you're curious, you can get an idea of what nearly happened here:
Ok, NOT right.
If you've got about five and a half minutes—and you don't mind being outraged—here's a scene from the 1983 movie Wargames which meticulously recreates just how that end-of-the-world launch would go:
And the U.S. Government has more than just the 450 land-based nuke-tippped missiles, likely MIRV'ed, reported by the March 9 ABC's ThisWeek. They're at sea on nuclear subs. As of 2011, perhaps as many as 2,688 warheads, eight mounted and MIRV'ed on each of the 24 Trident missles carried by each of the fourteen still commissioned Ohio Class "boomers."
And the Russian Government is still all nuked-up too of course. We don't even need to mention France, Great Britain, Pakistan, China, India, North Korea, possibly Brazil, So. Africa, and, of course, Israel for sure. So there are still approximately 17,300 nuclear warheads in the world.
And there are still those little nuclear glitches too . . .
And the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist is once again moving it's Doomsday Clock closer to nuclear midnight. As of March 15, 2014, their estimate is that we're once again within 5 minutes of annihilation.
Ok, so they ARE still MAD after all these years.
What are you going to do about it?
Don't sweat it, sooner or later something will occur to you.
L. Reichard White [send him mail] taught physics, designed and built a house, ran for Nevada State Senate, served two terms on the Libertarian National Committee, managed a theater company, etc. but his hobby is explaining things he wishes someone had explained to him. You can find a few of his other explanations listed here.
You can find corrections, updates, and additions to this article here:Golden Sources: Updates for "Still M.A.D. After All These Years?"
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