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[P]
Tactical nuclear weapons

By I am Jack's username in MLP
Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 08:38:29 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Just saw Wolf Blitzer talk to Steve Buyer (R-IN) and Bob Wexler (D-FL) about using tactical (small) nuclear weapons in Afghanistan.

A transcript of the debate (search for "unthinkable") is now available. Current policy allows tit-for-tat use of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, or biological).


A CNN quick poll asked "If Osama bin Laden is responsible for the anthrax attacks, should the [U.S.] consider using tactical nuclear weapons?"

After I cast my vote, results were:
65% Yes (921)
35% No (506)

65%! The mind boggles...

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Poll
Nuke Afghanistan?
o Yeah, and Iraq! 10%
o Yes 2%
o No 12%
o Never, are you insane? 54%
o None of the above 5%
o Thermonuclear bombs don't kill people, people do 13%

Votes: 136
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o transcript of the debate (search for "unthinkable")
o Also by I am Jack's username


Display: Sort:
Tactical nuclear weapons | 70 comments (62 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
This is why democracy is bad... (3.69 / 13) (#2)
by theboz on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 07:52:14 PM EST

...and a representative republic is good. The majority of U.S. citizens are not mature or responsible enough to make this sort of decision. Of course, neither are the majority of people from any country. This is why we hire people to (supposedly) represent us in government. We may not be enough of a political expert to decide how to deal with problems, but we can pick who we want to deal with them for us.

Stuff.

"They care, we don't. They win." - Ford (4.20 / 5) (#4)
by I am Jack's username on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:18:31 PM EST

[Democracy bad, representative republic good] We may not be enough of a political expert to decide how to deal with problems, but we can pick who we want to deal with them for us.
-- theboz

And people (kinda) chose Bush2 to have the final say for things like this? More boggling!

"Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question." - Thomas Jefferson, First inaugural address, 1801-03-04
--
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

It's not a perfect system... (2.83 / 6) (#11)
by theboz on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 09:25:50 PM EST

But it tends to work better than most others we humans have thought up so far. I'm still holding out with the hopes that people will realize that making me the God-king of Earth is the only truly perfect form of government.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Jefferson (1.00 / 4) (#15)
by finial on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 11:28:10 PM EST

But Jefferson was a complete and total twerp who had no idea what he was doing. The country was lucky to have survived his presidency.

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.50 / 2) (#23)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:17:16 AM EST

That's got to be one of the most ignorant statements concerning an American president I've ever seen...
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Truth (2.00 / 3) (#31)
by finial on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:05:26 AM EST

If you read current research, you will find it's the truth. Sorry to burst your bubble.

[ Parent ]
"Current Research"? (2.50 / 2) (#33)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:02:07 AM EST

What the hell is "current research"?

I've read a lot about that particular time period, both "current" and older, including at least two bios of the man, and I've never encountered anything remotely like what you are talking about.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Really? (4.00 / 3) (#36)
by finial on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:23:58 AM EST

And you've read nothing about the near dissolution of the Union by the secession of New York and New England? Or the treatment of the people in newly "acquired" New Orleans? Or his near bankruptcy of the country caused by his extreme isolationism? Or his deliberate antagonism of England, a far superior naval force? Or his decimation of what little there was of the American Navy in spite of his having antagonized the world's formost naval power? Or sending what tiny and few gunboats there were to a fiasco war with Tripoli which was won by pure luck? Or his subversion of the Constitution by railroading political enemies, including Chief Justice Marshall, into trumped to trials that had no basis in fact? (Jefferson was never a fan of the Constitution he considered the laws of Virginia to be supreme - see KY & VA resolves.) Or is attempted subjegation of the legislative branch to the judiciary? Or his dealings with (what later became) Haiti? Or his rigging of the electoral process in the Northwest Territory? Or the destruction of his own political party? And if you examine the Sally Hemmings situation, I think you'll be appalled. It was even shocking to his contemporaries.

Try something other than a synchophantic biography. Try a book where Jefferson is a more peripheral character but whose actions have a great impact on the events. Here's one. [amazon] [brookline] It's well researched, well written and quite enlightening.

[ Parent ]

Correction (none / 0) (#37)
by finial on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:33:06 AM EST

Or is attempted subjegation of the legislative branch to the judiciary?

should be:
Or is attempted subjegation of the judiciary branch to the executive?



[ Parent ]
Synchophantic? (2.00 / 1) (#39)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:44:46 AM EST

One of those two bios was "American Sphinx". I'm not claiming he was perfect, only that he was a good president. Whether or not he was a shithead personally has little bearing on that question.

A lot of the other stuff you mention is pure bullshit, and is notable for what it lacks, things like the Lousiana purchase. And I'm trying to square the "destruction of his own political party" with the fact that the two presidents who succeeded him were protoges of his... And calling a military action that succeeded a mistake is also a fascinating thing.

Sounds to me like you read one piece of revisionist history and took it for fact.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Sphinx (3.66 / 3) (#40)
by finial on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:00:30 PM EST

Actually, I wrote a dissertation on it. Two, in fact. I can research facts quite well for myself, thank you. Do a little more research into Jefferson's henchmen, Thomas Callender and DeWitt Clinton and see if you come away with the same perspective. (You do know that Jefferson had his papers sanitized after his death, right?)

Ah, yes. Mr. Ellis. Disgraced professor of Mt. Holyoke College. Can't even tell the truth about his own life, let alone someone else's. We will see whether, when the source checking of his books is finished, he deserves his reputation. Right now, he's not very well thought of in academic circles.
[ Parent ]

Ah, I see... (1.00 / 2) (#41)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:07:59 PM EST

You are the revisionist...
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
What? (2.50 / 2) (#42)
by finial on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:14:03 PM EST

In what way? Because I told you something you didn't know?

[ Parent ]
You haven't (2.00 / 2) (#43)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:29:38 PM EST

You haven't told me anything I didn't know. You've made claims that I don't buy, as I've seen no backing other than the say-so of some random internet poster.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Claims (3.50 / 2) (#45)
by finial on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:03:42 PM EST

What claims? About Ellis or about Jefferson? If it's Ellis you're complaining about, is the Washington Post good enough? or maybe you want something from Ellis himself?

As far as Jefferson goes, I don't know what to tell you. There is always more than one point of view. I'd ask you to consider that and read a little more widely. Duel is one of many good books. If you have a couple of months to spare, you might also want to read Dumas Malone's six volume work [1][2][3][4][5][6] which paints a pretty complete portrait. And even though it presents Jefferson in the most flattering light possible (outside of Ellis, that is), it isn't really all that flattering, particularly of his second term.



[ Parent ]
The People (3.83 / 6) (#22)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:16:06 AM EST

Actually, they chose Gore, but the electoral college rules made Bush the winner.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Did shrub cause this situation? (3.66 / 3) (#32)
by sonovel on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:36:31 AM EST

So do you think the previous White House inhabitant would be better?

I'm no fan of Bush, but Clinton created the mess we are in now.

I'd rather have Bush over Clinton.

Of course, I'd rather have Gore over Clinton too.

I haven't a real clue who would would be better now, Gore or Bush.

In 1992, I knew Gore would be a better president than Clinton, but he turned weird in the 2000 election. It wasn't enough to make me vote for Bush.

His endless repetition of "I'm here to help you, the helpless little guy" was cloying.



[ Parent ]
Clinton created this mess? (none / 0) (#62)
by speek on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:22:54 PM EST

I don't even know what to say about that statement. Are you saying Clinton, and only Clinton caused our current problems? Are you saying Clinton was the primary problem-maker, and Bush Sr. and Reagan were only minorly involved? Care to elaborate?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Clinton is president most responsible. (none / 0) (#64)
by sonovel on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 12:01:34 AM EST

I figure that there are many people who may take responsibility for things related to the attacks of 9/11.

However, one man had the largest power relating to foreign policy. One man had the most capability to influence domestic policy to preventing such attacks.

So, if any _president_ is responsible, it is the guy who was in the White House for the 8 years before the attacks, not the guy there for 8 months.

If any person in the U.S. is most responsible for these things, it is Clinton.

However, I really consider many people more responsible than anyone in the U.S.

It just seemed odd to hack on Bush for this situation. He had very very little to do with creating it.

I don't think too highly of Bush, I didn't even vote for him.

It is just obvious that the previous inhabitant of the White House did things that didn't discourage to actually encouraged the attacks of 9/11.



[ Parent ]
Bush and Bush (none / 0) (#66)
by speek on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 02:11:17 PM EST

Ok. See, I would put more of the blame on Bush Sr. - after all, the Gulf War against Iraq, and the troops in Saudi Arabia are the biggest complaints of Bin Laden and his followers. It was also largely the result of slimy political manipulation by the US at the time, so I happen to think it's something the US shouldn't have done.

Of course, Clinton continued the sanctions (though, politically, he probably didn't have much choice), and he moronically sent in the cruise missiles to take care of things for him. No doubt, Clinton was a dick.

However, I really wonder how many Arab and Muslim people are confused and think that we, in the US, re-elected George Bush (Sr.)? How many think the US just loved that guy who stomped on Saddam so much, that we decided to re-elect him 8 years later? And, even if they aren't confused, and they know it's his son - do you think that makes much difference to them? Seems obvious, from a certain viewpoint, that the US chose to go back to a government that would like to throw bombs at the Arab world....

Oh well. Neither here nor there, really.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Eight years (none / 0) (#67)
by sonovel on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 04:28:01 PM EST

You sound like those who used to blame Carter for problems in the mid to late eighties.

Clinton was an idiot when it came to dealing with the middle east. His either random (cruise missle to aspirin factory) or lack of (Somalia, Cole) responses led right up to the latest attacks.

He had eight years to improve on sanctions. If this is the biggest cause of the 9/11 attacks, he is to blame, not the guy who had only a couple of years of them.

If Israel is the problem, blame Clinton again. He had eight years to try to help the situation, and it was much worse at the end than the beginning.

I don't think that Clinton's act justify the attacks. However, he had the most impact or potential impact on the situation of anyone in the U.S., ever.

Note that I was talking about what U.S. person was most responsible. If ignorant people in the middle east think Shrub is his father, whose is to blame for that? That isn't Bush's (Sr. or Jr.) fault.



[ Parent ]
The blame game (none / 0) (#68)
by rantweasel on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 06:53:18 PM EST

I'd say, if I had to pick one president to blame, it'd be Reagan. He got us into Afghanistan in the 80s, and then dropped them like a hot rock as soon as the Soviets were out of there. That's where a lot of the anger towards the US comes from, that's why the govt. was unstable enough for the Taliban to overthrow, not to mention a whole lot of buddy-buddying between Reagan and some people who we later declared "evil". (See Saddam Hussein and the Iran-Iraq war) But you're right, it's not one person, and it's not all US presidents (or even US residents). Pretty much anyone involved in Middle East politics in the last 30 years or so who wasn't working exclusively for peace? Just because the situation is screwey doesn't mean that nukes (low yeild, high yeild, whatever) are justified. The way to win the war on terrorism is to make the world a happy place, the way to never be attacked by terrorists is to be everyone's friend... At least that's my theory.

[ Parent ]
stop trying to hijack words (3.83 / 6) (#13)
by marx on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 10:57:26 PM EST

The word "democracy" today means "representative democracy". Stop trying to act like everyone's fundamentally misunderstood something about the form of government in the US.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Other notable CNN poll results. (3.80 / 20) (#5)
by sasha on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:32:51 PM EST

No better is the misinformation and ignorance of the public underscored than in CNN polls. Either that, or the ability of CNN to crank out completely artificial poll data without much notice. I wouldn't be surprised at the latter. All these results come from the CNN "QuickVote" section of its website, and might not reflect television polls, etc.

Media coverage of US troops in Afghanistan has been:

  • Too detailed, threatening military lives - 0%
  • Not enough, impossible to tell what's really going on - 0%
  • Striking a good balance between troop safety and what I need to know - 100%.

Has the US done enough to justify its war on terror to the Islamic world?

  • Yes - 64%
  • No - 36%

Is Al Qaeda sending coded messages to followers via video statements?

  • Yes - 76%
  • No - 24%

Should the US now strike targets in nations outside Afghanistan?

  • Yes - 46%
  • No - 54%

Would you support racial profiling if it helps authorities find more terrorists in the US?

  • Yes - 79%
  • No - 21%

After the US attacks, which do you consider more important?

  • Upholding human rights laws - 58%
  • Giving more power to police and security services - 42%

Did the president make a clear and decisive case for prolonged war against terrorism?

  • Yes - 88%
  • No - 12%

Should European countries participate in anti-terrorist US military action?

  • Yes - 92%
  • No - 8%

Should the US Air Force shoot down hijacked airliners that threaten cities?

  • Yes - 83%
  • No - 17%

Has the US response to the terrorist attacks been quick enough?

  • Yes - 70%
  • No - 30%

Do you consider the war on terrorism "over" if Osama bin Laden is captured?

  • Yes - 3%
  • No - 97%

Was New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani right in turning down a $10 million Saudi donation?

  • Yes - 58%
  • No - 42%

(I like this one!): Who is winning the propaganda war?

  • US and its allies - 53%
  • Al Qaeda and its allies - 47%

Is Iraq involved in the recent anthrax incidents in the US?

  • Yes - 77%
  • No - 23%

Do you agree with how George W. Bush is handling the crisis following the September 11 attacks?

  • Yes - 88%
  • No - 10%
  • No opinion - 2%

Aid agencies are callin for a pause in the attack on Afghanistan to allow in more supplies. Should bombing be suspended?

  • Yes - 36%
  • No - 64%

(I like this one too!): Should the Pledge of Allegiance be required in public schools?

  • Yes - 82%
  • No - 18%

Do you believe now is the right time to send ground troops into Afghanistan?

  • Yes - 82%
  • No - 18%

Should the U.S. widen the war and go after Saddam Hussein?

  • Yes - 83%
  • No - 17%

Anyhow, you get the idea. The underlying theme seems to be demonisation of one particular individual/country/consistuency, xenophobia, utter ignorance about anything even remotely pertaining to things outside of American border, militarism, American superiority, racism, etc.

And of course, the subtle notion that all questions have only two answers - or, in rare cases, three.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.

Polls (3.00 / 6) (#8)
by Bad Harmony on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:47:43 PM EST

In other words, anyone who disagrees with you is, by definition, an ignorant yahoo. How convenient.

5440' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

Er, no. (4.33 / 6) (#9)
by sasha on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:52:48 PM EST

No. My summary of poll results rests on the premise that they are a good indicator of aggregate public opinion. Maybe.

The question at stake isn't whether they agree with me. These are the questions:

A) How could one possibly vote so decisively in favour of myths that the media propogates? It seems that CNN, in conjunction with elements of the government, determine[s] THE "controversial issues" of the day, and therefore the public infers that those are the pressing questions of their time.

B) How could such difficult questions POSSIBLY have two, simple, boolean choices? Even granted that they're simplified overwhelmingly. Such univocalism is highly disturbing, and just testifies to the influence of things like CNN.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

CNN (4.33 / 3) (#10)
by ariux on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 09:06:38 PM EST

Normally I don't agree with your posts, but I'll join in about CNN. (Not just its polls, either - the two-answer tactic you name is but one of many, as I'm sure you're aware.)

[ Parent ]

Inconsistent answers (4.60 / 5) (#14)
by marx on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 11:06:51 PM EST

These two answers are inconsistent:

Should the US now strike targets in nations outside Afghanistan?

  • Yes - 46%
  • No - 54%
Should the U.S. widen the war and go after Saddam Hussein?

  • Yes - 83%
  • No - 17%
So here is my poll question:

Are these polls fundamentally broken, or are the people who answer them idiots?

  • Polls are broken
  • People are idiots

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Just remember... (4.00 / 2) (#16)
by czar chasm on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 11:31:53 PM EST

Well, you need to remember that 73% of all statistics are made up on the spot *cough*.

-Czar Chasm
Bloo!
[ Parent ]
Results (3.40 / 5) (#17)
by sasha on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 11:38:27 PM EST

The results come from the unconscious pressing of buttons, and absence of critical thought. Whatever the media line happens to be, they pick it up. This is the best evidence.


--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.
[ Parent ]

the obligatory Simpsons quote... (3.50 / 2) (#30)
by chopper on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:27:21 AM EST

'Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that'

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Questions inconsistent (4.00 / 1) (#44)
by davidduncanscott on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:41:08 PM EST

"Widen the war" and "strike targets outside Afghanistan" are not necessarily the same thing. One could widen the war and go after Hussein by asking Britain to assassinate him, or by additional sanctions.

[ Parent ]
Poll options (none / 0) (#49)
by marx on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:58:27 PM EST

Your answer is not one of the poll options. You cannot make such an answer to any of the other poll questions, why should this be different?

Besides, "strike targets" could also mean assassination, so I don't really see how your argument has any relevance (And come on, "go after" = "sanctions"? Then "strike targets" = "sanctions" too).

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

I put myself badly... (none / 0) (#50)
by davidduncanscott on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:31:52 PM EST

I suppose. I wasn't answering the question, I was pointing out that the two questions were not simple equivalents. There are at least two different defensible ways to read each question. That's the point, and that's why it isn't braindead to answer them differently. I'm not favouring any of the readings, nor am I answering the poll.

[ Parent ]
This reminds me... (none / 0) (#55)
by Biff Cool on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 11:56:45 AM EST

I'm sure this somewhere on K5 as MLP.  This reminds me of a line from a series of really cynical comics on the war (here).

How about "How the fuck would I know?" Who's qualified to answer a goddamn poll about coded video statements? Any American who bothers to answer that poll probably masturbates to Tom Clancy novels.

My ass. It's code, with pictures of fish attached. Get over it. --trhurler


[ Parent ]
Douglas Adams on Xenophobia (none / 0) (#63)
by swr on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 09:13:11 PM EST

The underlying theme seems to be demonisation of one particular individual/country/consistuency, xenophobia, utter ignorance about anything even remotely pertaining to things outside of American border, militarism, American superiority, racism, etc.

[What follows is an excerpt from "Life, the Universe and Everything" by Douglas Adams.]

The darkness of the cloud buffeted at the ship. Inside was the silence of history. Their historic mission was to find out if there was anything or anywhere on the other side of the sky, from which the wrecked spaceship could have come, another world maybe, strange and incomprehensible though this thought was to the enclosed minds of those who had lived beneath the sky of Krikkit.

History was gathering itself to deliver another blow.

Still the darkness thrummed at them, the blank enclosing darkness. It seemed closer and closer, thicker and thicker, heavier and heavier. And suddenly it was gone.

They flew out of the cloud.

They saw the staggering jewels of the night in their infinite dust and their minds sang with fear.

For a while they flew on, motionless against the starry sweep of the Galaxy, itself motionless against the infinite sweep of the Universe. And then they turned round.

"It'll have to go," the men of Krikkit said as they headed back for home.

On the way back they sang a number of tuneful and reflective songs on the subjects of peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life and the obliteration of all other life forms.



[ Parent ]
I'll bite (3.57 / 19) (#6)
by jayfoo2 on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 08:35:08 PM EST

Ok even though I'm pretty sure this is an intentional or unintentional troll I'll bite and ask why not?

First of all the United States' stated foreign policy position is that biological and chemical weapons are weapons of mass distruction. Our response to the use of WMD may include the use of WMD's in return. Because we do not have biological or chemical weapons as part of our active stockpile we will use the only WMD we do have, a nuclear bomb.

The US has maintained this position for years. It is intended to deter the use of chemical and biological weapons on our troops and citizens. It is the direct equivalent to nuclear mutally assured distruction.

Note that our foreign policy does not say that we will automatically use these weapons. We have however made it very clear to just about every nation that the possible answer to a biological attack is a nuclear strike.

So I don't think that anyone should actually be surprised by this. This is not a new line of thinking nor is it purely reactionary. The threat of retaliation has been an effective deterant (until now) and for it to remain so we have to continu e to consider it a valid option.

Now should we be using nukes in this situation? My answer is no. The reason being is that if Al-Queda is the responsible party the proper and proportional response is not to nuke Kabul or whatever village they are hiding in. Going in with precision weapons or special forces is proportionate and humane however and I'm all for it.

If we were to find that this was fully sponsored by a government (ohhh lets just say Iraq for argument sake) then this would be a state-to-state attack using a WMD. In that case if we experienced significant casualties (thousands) then I would probably support the retalitory nuking of the responsible country.

Yes that is awful but deterance is really the only valid protection we have against such an attack. The message that if you are a state and you attack our civilians with a WMD we will obliterate your country.

It's a horrible concept, just like the idea of MAD with the Soviet Union. But until everyone starts loving one another (and please don't rant that it's all the US's fault to begin with. We've had that discussion) then it's the best we got.

Now flame me all you want but please stay on topic. Tell me why we wouldn't use a nuke to respond to a state sponsored biological attack.

Target Selection (4.66 / 9) (#18)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 11:47:16 PM EST

Now should we be using nukes in this situation? My answer is no.
Especially since right now we'd have no legitimate target except for Trenton, New Jersey.

I'd say that people are getting way ahead of themselves here. The 9/11 attacks were wholesale, while these anthrax mailings are definitely retail. They look less the work of Osama bin Laden than Theodore Kaczynski.

I was a bit chilled, however, when there was a report around the middle of last month that the White House had asked for a legal opinion as to whether tens of thousands of gallons of flaming jet fuel could be considered a WMD. Anybody hear what came out of that?

[ Parent ]

Perhaps it would be ... (3.00 / 3) (#19)
by pandeviant on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:05:21 AM EST

.. a public relations disaster ?

[ Parent ]
it's called escalation (4.50 / 6) (#46)
by montjoy on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:09:08 PM EST

We really don't need any nukes going off in that area. It would send the signal to India or Pakistan than a limited nuclear exchange is ok. Little bombs can escalate into bigger and bigger bombs. Eventually it wouldn't matter if it was "tactical" or not.

God help us then.

Not to mention that this would be political suicide for the United States.

[ Parent ]

Does the average American know... (3.14 / 7) (#12)
by barzok on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 09:42:35 PM EST

just what a tactical nuke is? My bet's on no. So they're responding to a poll where they don't even know what the answer is that they're giving. Not exactly new in this country, but still...

Hell, I'd settle... (3.75 / 4) (#20)
by physicsgod on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:22:18 AM EST

For the average American knowing where to target the tactical nuke. Or at least Bush.

I also wonder how many Americans realize that we don't make nukes anymore. You can't just pick one of these things up at WalMart (thank gods), and every nuke we launch now is one less we can use later. Unless we start building plutonium productions plants again. You thought the NIMBYism around power plants was bad?

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Building them (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by wiredog on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 08:47:07 AM EST

I think the Hanford reactors are still there. And we're still producing enriched uranium in Oak Ridge Tennessee.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Plutonium pit manufacture still goes on. (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by claudius on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 08:51:10 AM EST

Actually, we still do manufacture plutonium pits as part of our stockpile maintenance program. Until a few years ago this was done at the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, but this capabaility has been moved to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Even if START II is implemented as amended by the Helsinki Summit letters, the number of accountable U.S. warheads will be reduced by the end of 2007 to a level of about 3,500. The use of a few low-yield bombs and warheads in Afganistan would amount to essentially zero reduction in our capacity to heap mass death and suffering upon our enemies, and the strategic value of such an attack, in terms of enhancing deterrence, would only increase with a demonstration of the efficacy of our stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing. (Of course, we still have to live with ourselves if we opt to use nuclear weapons--I personally wouldn't want to cope with that burden).

Incidentally, why "physicsgod" for a username?

[ Parent ]
We do make nuclear weapons (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by Wyatt Earp on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 12:19:58 PM EST

While the Rocky Flats and Hanford sites are shut down for clean up, nuclear material for weapons is still produced at: the Pantax plant in Armarillo TX, Oak Ridge TN, Savannah River SC. If I remember correctly. I think another poster was right when he said the weapons are assembled at Los Alamos. Sandia National Labs were established to bring assembly line production to our nuclear weapons manufacturing in the late '40s. To get the US production away from the "craft" way of building them.

[ Parent ]
Tactical nuke (4.00 / 3) (#38)
by wiredog on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:43:23 AM EST

The line between a tactical nuke and a strategic nuke is fuzzy, and defined by how it's used as much as the size. A 15kt nuke when used on a city is strategic, and when used on an infantry division is tactical. Tactical nukes don't have to be thermonuclear, they can be gun-type uranium bombs. IIRC, the artillery fired nukes are that type.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Harsh definition (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by jkeene on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 09:06:18 AM EST

Back in the '80s, many Germans said the definition of a tactical nuke was one that exploded in Germany.

[ Parent ]
Tac Nukes vs. Strategic Nukes (none / 0) (#54)
by Armaphine on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 11:45:58 AM EST

Actually, IIRC, a tactical nuke is one of low yield, a few megatons or under, and is generally used when you want to take out an area, say, a mile or five in radius.

A strategic nuke, OTOH, is one of those that are in the hundreds of megaton range, and is used when you want to take out something like, say, France.

Basically, the upshot is that a tactical nuke could be used in a small arena without too great of trouble, whereas strategic nukes are used in little political games like MAD.

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.
[ Parent ]

Tac Nukes (none / 0) (#57)
by Wyatt Earp on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 12:43:00 PM EST

Yes there are two "classes" of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the major nuclear powers, Tactical and Strategic.

A tactical weapon is used for a tactical situation; disrupting supplies, disrupting transportation, eliminating bases, destroying troop movement and concentrations.

A strategic weapon is used for a more nebulous "strategic target" or something the foe can not wage war without; factories, ship yards, communication centers, government centers, missile fields, population centers.

Now that is established, one can talk about yields. A yield is the amount of power measured in kilotons or megatons of TNT the device puts out on detonation. The bombs dropped by the United States were 12-18 Kt and the largest one ever detonated (Soviet) was 56 Mt, but the largest ones ever fielded were 25 Mt warheads on Soviet SS-25 mod 3 "Satan" and 9 Mt Titan II and bomber deployed American devices.

The current American jack of all trades nuclear device is the Mk-61 or B-61 nuclear bomb.
http://www.fas.org/nuke/hew/Usa/Weapons/B61.html
One can turn down the yield on this device down to as low as .3 Kt (less than the force of the blasts caused by the jets hitting the WTC towers) to as high as 170 Kt. Other members of this family go as high as 340 Kt in yield.

The large devices like the 25 Mt warhead in the SS-25 Satan were for hitting extremely hardened targets like NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain or for airbursts over large cities like London or New York.

The Federation of American Scientist website has a good primer on nuclear weapons.
http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/nuke/index.html


[ Parent ]
"Consider" != "Definately Use" (4.20 / 5) (#21)
by sonovel on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:45:44 AM EST

I believe the U.S.'s stated policy is that we are willing to use Nukes in reponse to WMD attacks. Bioweapons are considered WMD.

So really, this poll shows that most people agree with this policy, at least in part.

However, considering the use of nukes doesn't imply that they will be used, just that the option is "on the table".

Web polls are meaningless (4.50 / 6) (#24)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:19:39 AM EST

Why anyone thinks a web poll means anything is beyond me...

Have you forgotten how "Hank The Angry Drunken Dwarf" was voted "most beautiful person" in a web poll?

Repeat after me: "Web polls mean nothing, web polls mean nothing."


-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

Why do people keep bringing that up? (3.00 / 1) (#34)
by 0xdeadbeef on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:04:09 AM EST

That is actually an example of a meaningful web poll. It contracticts your thesis.

Of course, it was only meaningful because he won.

[ Parent ]
WTF? (3.00 / 5) (#25)
by delmoi on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 03:59:10 AM EST

God, who gives a shit about the Anthrax. There only like 3 dead. Less then 1/10th of a pecent of what happened in the WTC. I don't see why the Anthrax would change anyone's mind about nukes.

A better poll would have been if you favored nuking Afghanistan if you knew that bin Laden did the WTC attack, but not the Anthrax, and seeing if the numbers were diffrent if they did both.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
A couple links. (5.00 / 2) (#51)
by EdFox on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 12:36:29 AM EST

Just to add some more information to the mix:

Nuke 'Em From On High (Wired) - An interesting piece on a "bunker-busting" tac nuke.

Tactical nukes deployed in Afghanistan - News about US and Russian tac nukes being deployed in the theatre.

Tactical Nuke != "Nuking Afghanistan" (4.40 / 5) (#53)
by avdi on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 11:21:45 AM EST

Somehow, even on this supposedly intellectual forum, a discussion of the use of tactical nuclear weapons has turned into "should we consider nuking afghanistan". The assumption seems to be that once the word "nuke" enters the conversation, we're discussing turning entire cities into glowing rubble. This concept seems to have nothing to do with the weapons the the DoD is avoiding stating their policy on.

I'll leave aside the definition of "Tactical Nuclear Weapon", and instead focus on the actual usage of weapons being discussed in the interview:

A tactical precision limited nuclear device could be inserted into a cave, if necessary, to collapse the catacombs.
This is not the levelling of a city we are talking about here. This is the destruction of a millitary target, quite possibly nowhere near a civilian city, by a weapon best suited to the job. Don't get this confused with "nuking Afghanistan".

Nonetheless, I'm not in favor of such an action. Unfortunately, the rest of the world has shown itself to be no more mature about the subject of nuclear weapons than this forum. Any nuclear detonation perpetrated by the US would be met with widespread shock, indignation, and condemnation world-wide, even if all it did was collapse and irradiate some cave in the middle of the Afghan wilderness. The US can ill-afford that kind of bad press, so it's probably better off using conventional weapons, even if it means dragging the war out and endangering more civilians and US soldiers.

That said however, if I were in command of the US military, there is no way in hell I would go on the TV for the world to see, and state that "We will not use nuclear weapons". It may be true, but the Taliban certainly doesn't need to know that.

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir

Why Did We Use Them The First Time? (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by titivillus on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 02:06:37 PM EST

It was World War II. We had just gone through a series of island-hopping landings, where the Japanese soldiers fought from bunkers and from caves to the last man. Truman was faced with the prospect of this sort of fighting from end to end of a much larger island, and by using the nuclear weapon and convincing the japanese people and their leaders that we were crazy and mean enough to blow up the entire island, we convinced them to surrender, which ended the war and saving lives.

I want this war to be over, with Afghanistan fitted with a government and an economy built on something other than heroin and terror. I hope it can happen in my lifetime. I don't particularly want it to happen because of the profligate use of our nuclear arsenal. Because this war involves us changing some of our more beligerant friends as defeating our enemies, our friends might become our enemies should we take this option. But I know that if the Marines landing on Iwo Jima had a chance to turn Mount Suribachi, and the caves filled with armed soldiers with nothing left to lose, into a pile of slightly radioactive dust rather than losing as many soldiers as they knew they would in trying to clear those caves out, I'm sure what decision they would've taken, and I'm not sure I could argue against it.



[ Parent ]
No tactical nuclear weapon (2.00 / 1) (#61)
by crealf on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 04:23:46 AM EST

This is not the levelling of a city we are talking about here. This is the destruction of a millitary target, quite possibly nowhere near a civilian city, by a weapon best suited to the job. Don't get this confused with "nuking Afghanistan".

Considering that the US ultra-precise bombs managed to destroy 4 of 5 Red Cross hangars in Kabul, no one on the planet would accept the US to even think of trying to use any nuclear weapon on any neighbouring country. Failure would cost way to much.
Not only that, but it would be massive destruction of the environment and radiation would last for centuries effectively ruining an area for decades.
And finally if you start to use nuclear weapons in catacombs and the like, they could be obviously used by all nuclear countries against war ships on the sea (imagine Saddam has the atomic bomb, or Talibans destabilize Pakistan governement). And then no one could complain about their use, since they are just "tactical".

[ Parent ]

Where to begin... (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by wiredog on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 12:09:29 PM EST

US ultra-precise bombs

The US isn't using guided munitions on all targets. A dumb bomb is no more accurate today than in 1945.

massive destruction of the environment and radiation would last for centuries effectively ruining an area for decades

Which is why no one can live within miles of where Nagasaki and Hiroshima used to be. Right?

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]

Bombs. (none / 0) (#69)
by crealf on Tue Oct 30, 2001 at 07:23:55 PM EST

Which is why no one can live within miles of where Nagasaki and Hiroshima used to be. Right?

These atomic bombs exploded at altitude around 500 meters and radioactive material ascended air currents.

[ Parent ]

a darn (5.00 / 3) (#59)
by chimera on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 03:42:54 PM EST

Considering that the US bombings cannot differentiate between the Taliban army forces (much less so Al-Qaeda which one should separate from the Taleban) and the Red Cross food hangars despite being told exactly where the latter ones are and despite having 'smart weapons' I would strongly advice against using nukes.

The fun thing about this whole 'operation' is the fact that one calls it an operation of justice. I just ask one question: who decides what justice is?

tasctical nukes (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by mikelist on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 03:48:18 PM EST

Nuking Afghanistan (even tactical nukes have persistent radioactive contamination potential, am I correct?) is gonna accomplish, what? Afghanistan has done absolutely nothing to us (except the heroin thing), and only a anomalous churchvernment to link it in any way to the cowardly deeds of Sep 11, and the equally cowardly anthrax dispersal. Collateral damage cannot be entirely absent in a combat theatre, but the Afghan people who have little or no hope of toppling the taliban, are the ones who will end up paying, yet again for the mistakes of their government, this time a US drug war ally, the taliban. If these weapons were similarly "clean" as conventional ones...

Hallucinogenic mushrooms (none / 0) (#70)
by I am Jack's username on Tue Nov 06, 2001 at 11:40:36 AM EST

All your nuke are belong to Bush2.
--
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell
Tactical nuclear weapons | 70 comments (62 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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