Thursday, March 12, 2015

On Thermonuclear War

I read excited prose in the newspapers, that the resurgent Russians are conducting endless war games in Eastern Europe which routinely simulate nuclear strikes, both tactical and on cities such as Warsaw.

As a teenager, I studied jaw-dropping books such as "On Thermonuclear War" by Herman Kahn (1960) (Wikipedia).

During the Cold War, NATO forces in Europe relied on nuclear weapons to address their numerical inferiority against a mass conscript Red Army. Allied war games had a curious deficiency: it was almost impossible to persuade officers to 'go nuclear'. And for good reason.

Doctrines were tweaked and special orders were given. What they found was that when the simulated conflict was forced to go nuclear, even if only tactical (kiloton) weapons were initially used, things rapidly escalated into Kahn territory .. and all out thermonuclear war. Count those megadeaths!

I really hope folk haven't forgotten all that.