Deterring Regime Change

Nuclear weapons programs come with costs: financial, reputational, and the potential for being made a target by other nuclear powers. There is also an opportunity cost in diverting smart scientists, engineers, and managers from work that might produce improvement to people’s daily lives and the economy.

Leaders understand that there are costs. In starting his nuclear weapons program in the 1970s, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan declared “’We will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get [a nuclear weapon] of our own.”

The Iranian documents presented by Benjamin Netanyahu yielded one new piece of information: That Iran planned an arsenal of only five rather small (10 kiloton yield) warheads. Likewise, Kim Jong Un has declared his arsenal complete after what seems a rather sketchy set of tests.

Those in favor of war against both countries or trying to strangle their economies with sanctions claim that those countries are acting out of aggression, that if they are successful in their quest for nuclear weapons, they will immediately use them. But the actions of Iran and North Korea indicate otherwise.

In his 2002 State of the Union speech, George W. Bush listed Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the Axis of Evil. The next year, the United States invaded Iraq, whose nuclear weapons program had been removed after the 1991 war. Shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Libya gave up its nascent nuclear program.  In 2011, Muhammar Ghaddafi was deposed and killed. The lesson for Iran and North Korea was obvious: Only nuclear weapons would deter the United States from attempting regime change.

Both Iran and North Korea, like many other nations, most of which never went nuclear, probably investigated the possibility of nuclear weapons from their first acquisition of nuclear technology. In 1957, the United States provided a research reactor to Iran. In 1963, the Soviet Union provided a research reactor to North Korea. Additionally, some of the capabilities developed in peaceful applications of nuclear energy can be transferred to nuclear weapons design and production.

In response to their designation a “Axis of Evil” and actions that followed against Iraq and Libya, it would be reasonable for Iran and North Korea to design deterrence strategies against forcible regime change by the United States. Nuclear weapons seem like a good bet, but how many and what kind?

That need must be balanced against national resources. Bluffing worked in the past, notably by the United States after it had expended its only two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. President Harry Truman’s statements indicated that the United States had many more atomic bombs in reserve, when in fact it had one more plutonium pit but was building more. A few demonstrations plus a good bluff can equal deterrence.

North Korea has demonstrated a very powerful nuclear device that likely has some thermonuclear features. It has also demonstrated missiles that could reach the United States. It has supplemented these demonstrations with photos of what it claims are its nuclear devices and diagrams of how they might fit onto those missiles. We do not know that those photos represent what was tested, nor do we know how much fissile material they have, how much is needed for each device, or how many missiles they have. We do not know how quickly they can manufacture nuclear weapons or missiles.

But given the demonstrations, and given what we know about their plutonium-producing reactor and the centrifuge facility shown to Siegfried Hecker, we in the United States cannot assume that there are no weapons aimed at the United States or our allies, South Korea and Japan. North Korea already had a strong deterrent in its ability to destroy Seoul with conventional artillery. Now a capability to hit the United States with nuclear weapons must be assumed.

Iran had the same objective but decided on a different path. They developed a simple weapons design along with a variety of missiles and planned to build five nuclear weapons that they would keep secret until needed. Again, bluffing was part of the strategy. Detonating a nuclear weapon or two, whether as a demonstration test or against Israel would change the expectations of an aggressor. When the opportunity came to trade the program for improved economic conditions, they agreed to restrictions beyond what was expected by Western experts.

The nuclear strategies of North Korea and Iran, up to now, are not the strategies of aggressors. They have left their options open to grow the programs in the future, but that is only prudent. The programs might be called “minimum deterrence.”

Threats of nuclear destruction, as Trump has issued, fit with both countries’ worst-case fears of regime change by the United States. John Bolton, now the President’s National Security Advisor, has explicitly advocated regime change in both countries. North Korean and Iranian government officials should be thinking hard about their deterrents.

A more effective strategy would be to show how the threats can be removed via negotiations.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is Iran’s test of whether it can back off from its nuclear weapons program. If Trump violates the plan, Iran will reconsider its deterrent.

North Korea now seems to be in a position where it is willing to negotiate with its nuclear program. If they can feel safe from regime change and have ways to grow their economy, the weapons program will become less important to them.

The Trump administration seems to believe that these two countries can be threatened into compliance with its desires. That is a naïve and dangerous view. States act in what they perceive to be their own interests. Bowing to threats is likely to incur further intimidation or worse. Their response to a threat-only posture is likely to be to ramp up their deterrent. And the end of threats would be wars that the United States can ill afford.

 

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.






187 replies
  1. 1
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Excellent!

  2. 2
    catclub says:

    that if they are successful in their quest for nuclear weapons, they will immediately use them. But the actions of Iran and North Korea indicate otherwise.

    Also every single other nation with nuclear weapons capability except the US.
    Russia, France, China, England, Israel, India, Pakistan

    who did I miss?

  3. 3
  4. 4
    TenguPhule says:

    Leaders understand that there are costs.

    So America is boned then.

  5. 5
    TenguPhule says:

    @catclub: Great Britain.

  6. 6
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: You are quite welcome. Of course it is easy to like as it is essentially my take on this too.

  7. 7
    TenguPhule says:

    Threats of nuclear destruction, as Trump has issued, fit with both countries’ worst-case fears of regime change by the United States. John Bolton, now the President’s National Security Advisor, has explicitly advocated regime change in both countries. North Korean and Iranian government officials should be thinking hard about their deterrents.

    North Korea and Iran obviously favor regime change in the USA.

  8. 8
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Get a room already! //

  9. 9
    Jay S says:

    Thanks,
    I have been meaning to ask if there are valid offensive strategic targets of such low yield weapons for Iran given the environment and likely enemies. I guess the deterrent posture or second strike + bluff is plausible.

  10. 10

    @TenguPhule: As do a great many of us.

  11. 11
    Barbara says:

    The degree of focus on Iran’s nuclear program irks me because it seems to be for reasons that seem mostly not relevant to any actual geopolitical threat to us, but rather, to historic antipathy and to being used by SA and Israel to meet their needs, not ours. I realize that Iran is a sponsor of international terrorism, but so is Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. And Pakistan has to be one of the less stable countries on the planet, and certainly the least stable nuclear power that is also, most likely, the culprit for giving North Korea a lot of its technical knowledge on the subject. I am biased because I have represented Iranians in various pro bono proceedings and it’s clear that whether it is in the next decade or the decade after that, Iran will be a very different country — more democratic and with a lot more power held by a generation that wasn’t even born in 1979.

    ETA: My husband’s thesis is that Trump and those who support him are stuck in a revolving loop in which the decade of the 1970s plays over and over again.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Timurid says:

    @Jay S:
    The obvious message would be to Israel. It’s small and crowded enough that even a couple of low yield devices would do catastrophic damage.

  14. 14
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    Hey Cheryl. I was told that you’re a good person to ask this. I’m planning a story that involves a global 1983 nuclear war occurring in the backstory and I was wondering if you could give me any suggestions on resources to get a rough idea of what the aftereffects of such an event would be 20 years later.

    Others have given me good recommendations I plan on pursuing too.

  15. 15
    rikyrah says:

    Free Thought Is for White People

    Michael Harriot
    Today 8:38am

    ………………………………….

    On Tuesday, the artist formerly known as Kanye West went on a media blitz explaining his allegiance to Donald Trump, his nonsensical Twitter rants and—most importantly—the concept of “free thought.”

    Stopping by TMZ’s studios with the conservative sentient talking point, Candace Owens, Kanye explained, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice.”

    Kanye and conservatives have embraced the term “free thought” as a way to explain that black people aren’t required to all think alike. That blackness is not bounded by the Democratic Party, progressivism and perpetual victimhood. Kanye and his conservative clansmen contend that unless black people dispossess themselves of this insipid Negro hive mind, we will never be free.

    Part of privilege is the freedom to ignore history, data and proven facts to embrace the possibility of the universal oneness of all mankind. Black people don’t get to do that because we live in a brick-and-mortar world that constantly reassures us of one fact:

    Free thought is for white people.

    ……………………………………………………..

    White people can use their “free thought” to ignore the historical ramifications of 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow because it never affected them. A white man telling me to overcome the effects of slavery is like a zoologist telling me where to find a unicorn.

    Every society is built on the precedence of the past. It’s how laws, politics and the economy work. School funding, wage inequality, the racial makeup of neighborhoods, drug laws, college exams and every aspect of the criminal-justice system are still wet with the remnants of slavery and Jim Crow.

    Conservative blowhards are quick to tell black people that slavery was something a few white men did centuries ago. Then, with the same lipless mouths, they advocate for gun rights, Confederate monuments and Christian ideals based on some shit that a few white men did centuries ago.

    “Free thought” means “white thought.”

  16. 16
    Amir Khalid says:

    I get the impression that John Bolton was picked because he is perfectly in sync with Trump about getting one’s way with threats. Is there going to be anyone left in the administration who will push back?

  17. 17

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: I can’t think of any off the top of my head. If I come up with something, I’ll let you know.

  18. 18

    @Amir Khalid: Both of them love threats. However, Bolton likes to throw them at Russia, while Trump is more reticent in that direction. That’s where friction is most likely to ensue.

  19. 19
    Yutsano says:

    @Amir Khalid: FWIW Mattis is still there, and he doesn’t seem to have much need for the Walrus of Doom. Also read some (rose-coloured) information in WaPo re: Pompeo possibly doing run arounds to get to Dolt45 directly. But as we have all learned so far, there is no controlling the threats from the Orange Fart Cloud’s mouth. It’s just a matter of sussing what is bluster versus what should be taken seriously.

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    However, Bolton likes to throw them at Russia, while Trump is more reticent in that direction. That’s where friction is most likely to ensue.

    This could get fun. I’ll get the popcorn ready.

  20. 20
    NotMax says:

    Only thing I might take issue with is not mentioning how homegrown the uprising against Ghadaffi was. Not implying the U.S. played no role.

    @Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)

    No more need for street lights.

    :)

    Ever read Lucifer’s Hammer?

  21. 21
    TenguPhule says:

    @Barbara:

    My husband’s thesis is that Trump and those who support him are stuck in a revolving loop in which the decade of the 1970s plays over and over again.

    1980s.

    At least the 1970s apparently had Free Love.

  22. 22
    TenguPhule says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    However, Bolton likes to throw them at Russia

    And Iran.

    I think he’s smart enough to see where Trump can be pushed and dumb enough to think he can control how it unfolds.

  23. 23
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I’d like to hope that Bolton will indeed have something to quarrel with Trump about. What if anything has he been saying lately about Russia?

  24. 24
    rikyrah says:

    From Forever FLOTUS:

    “They will doubt you today and they will doubt you for the rest of your life. When you hit those roadblocks you have to ask for help. No one gets through college on their own. Never be isolated. Everyone struggles. You.Are.Not.Alone.” -First Lady #CollegeSigningDay #ClassOf2018

    — DaniDemocrat (@DaniDemocrat) May 2, 2018

  25. 25
    rikyrah says:

    Four cops brutally beat mentally ill black man who is wearing nothing but a blanket https://t.co/SPmXyQ9871

    — Raw Story (@RawStory) May 2, 2018

  26. 26
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @TenguPhule:
    Some of the pop culture and music was alright, but I can’t imagine living under Ronald Reagan and the Religious Right for the rest of eternity, waiting for the big one to start.

  27. 27
  28. 28
    Elizabelle says:

    OT: Cambridge Analytica is shutting down.

    Too late, mofos.

  29. 29
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    Thanks.

  30. 30
    raven says:

    Puerto Rican Air Guard C-130 went down near Savannah.

  31. 31
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    OT but have you seen the blockbuster in the NY times about how the Redskins cheerleaders were treated. Basically paraded naked with body paint) in front of the Redskins sponsors after their passports had been confiscated so they couldn’t leave even if they wanted to.

  32. 32
    Elizabelle says:

    The Guardian:

    SCL Group and its Cambridge Analytica consultancy, which were at the centre of this year’s Facebook privacy row, are closing and starting insolvency proceedings.

    The company has been plagued by scandal since the Observer reported that the personal data of about 50 million Americans and at least a million Britons had been harvested from Facebook and improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

    Cambridge Analytica denies any wrongdoing, but says that the negative media coverage has left it with no clients and mounting legal fees.

    “Despite Cambridge Analytica’s unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully, the siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers,” said the company in a statement.

    “As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the company into administration.”

    The company has started insolvency proceedings in the US and UK.

    The rats. They has fled. Sink away.

  33. 33
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @NotMax:
    Actually, no, but I read the plot summary on Wiki just now. Sounds interesting. Not exactly the scenario I’m going for but potentially useful. Thanks for pointing me in that direction!

  34. 34
    Elizabelle says:

    @raven: I know. That’s so sad. All 5 on the aircraft dead; to hear of more. Weather reconnaissance plane on a training mission.

    I love seeing those things at low altitude. They’re incredible. RIP. One witness said the captain may have dived the plane into asphalt to avoid a warehouse full of chemicals, sounds like.

  35. 35
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: The only thing I miss about the 80s is the early morning cartoons. Sure, they were merchandise driven, but the voice actors still put some real effort into their characters!

  36. 36
    rikyrah says:

    Where Can We Be Black? https://t.co/YBFtOpDkeg via @RollingStone

    — Pretty Foot (@PrettyFootWoman) May 2, 2018

  37. 37
  38. 38

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Articles/books on the aftermath of Chernobyl disaster. Anthony Bourdain visited there in one of his shows.

  39. 39
    germy says:

    More info and a very helpful infographic put together by the fantastic @WendySiegelman (a recommended follow, btw) on #Emerdata and Cambridge Analytica and SCL:
    https://t.co/OvBgGQGvtA pic.twitter.com/tshQdD0Anh— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) May 2, 2018

  40. 40
    raven says:

    @Elizabelle: It’s right outside the base. I actually have a bunch of pictures of me in a 130 there from a couple of years back.

  41. 41
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @TenguPhule:
    I think I mentioned it before but I really liked when the art and animation for American cartoons was outsourced to Japan for a time in the 80s and early 90s. The movements were usually very fluid and natural looking; a vast improvement from the schlock that dominated the airwaves from the late 60s and 70s.

  42. 42
    Aleta says:

    When we reduced and eliminated weapons research, those scientists (modelers) and supercomputer resources switched over to climate research.

  43. 43
    J R in WV says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    On the Beach, by Nevil Shute for one novelization.

    Someone already mentioned On Thermonuclear War by Hermann Kahn, a strategic analysis of how the Cold War would turn very, very hot and how that would work out.

    There’s an optimistic Civil Defense book by an engineer who worked at Oak Ridge, how to protect your family from fallout, etc. Very detailed how-to book… Nuclear War Survival Skills by Cresson H. Kearny. Researched instructions for building crude but effective fallout shelters from materials found in your home with hand tools. On the web for free.

  44. 44
    raven says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Alas, Babylon is a 1959 novel by American writer Pat Frank (the pen name of Harry Hart Frank)[1] It was one of the first apocalyptic novels of the nuclear age and has remained popular more than half century after it was first published, consistently ranking in Amazon.com’s Top 20 Science Fiction Short Stories list (which groups together short story collections and novels)[2] and has an entry in David Pringle’s book Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels. The novel deals with the effects of a nuclear war on the fictional small town of Fort Repose, Florida, which is based upon the actual city of Mount Dora, Florida.[3] The novel’s title is derived from the Book of Revelation “Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” The cover art for the Bantam paperback edition was made by Robert Hunt.

  45. 45
    oatler. says:

    Where have you gone Thomas Pynchon
    Our nation turns it crazy eyes to you
    woo woo woo

  46. 46
    Tim C. says:

    Who else thinks Adam and Cheryl would make a cool Superhero team?

  47. 47
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Japan and Korea. The Korean ones alas were not so good on quality control. It as kind of a golden age for cartoons, then the 90s happened and quality went to shit across the board in America, while spiraling upwards in Japan. Batman being one of the few exceptions.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    germy says:

    To refresh folks' memories, Bannon's strategy consisted of:

    1. Fire Rosenstein.

    2. Cease cooperation with Mueller.

    3. Invoke (mythical) retroactive executive privilege.

    But first:“Ty Cobb should be fired immediately,” Bannon said.

    https://t.co/CRj3m6dnCY— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) May 2, 2018

  50. 50
    But her emails!!! says:

    @Tim C.:

    Who else thinks Adam and Cheryl would make a cool Superhero team?

    Sounds more like a 60s sitcom.

  51. 51
    TenguPhule says:

    In lighter news, which we all desperately need.

    Durian’s pungent smell mistaken for gas leak, prompts evacuation

    The pungent smell of the rotten durian fruit at an Australian university library has been mistaken for a gas leak, prompting an evacuation of the building.

    Specialist crews wearing masks searched the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology university campus library on Saturday, but all they found was rotting durian in a cupboard.

  52. 52
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @TenguPhule:

    then the 90s happened and quality went to shit across the board in America

    Oh I don’t know, stuff like Gargoyles and SWAT Kats was good. Then again Garoyles was backed by Disney.

    I could also point out a bunch of WB cartoons (B:TAS, you already mentioned) and even some early Nicktoons that were excellently animated.

  53. 53
    But her emails!!! says:

    @TenguPhule: How could they tell it was rotting?

  54. 54
    germy says:

    Attorneys representing Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant who has accused President Donald Trump of committing sexual assault, have issued subpoenas for key “Apprentice” video recordings that they say will prove their client’s claims.

    The New York Times reports that subpoenas were issued “both to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns archives of the reality show, and to the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Ms. Zervos says [Trump] groped her in 2007.”

    The subpoena seeks every video in MGM’s possession that features Trump talking with or about Zervos, as well as Trump talking about any women in a “sexual or inappropriate manner.”

  55. 55
    Brendan in NC says:

    @Yutsano: The Walrus of Doom!!! So Stolen!!!

  56. 56

    @Elizabelle: Cambridge Analytica isn’t actually closing down. They’re changing their name to Emerdata, but you would hardly know that from the news coverage. A few reporters covered it in mid-March.

  57. 57
    jl says:

    @TenguPhule: How could they tell it was rotting? I guess an institute of technology has advanced methods at hand.

  58. 58
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Always exceptions to the general rule.

    SWAT CATs was fairly edgy for its time as it was not afraid to kill people (cat people, granted and almost never directly shown) but suffered from the network not playing them in order and often playing reruns instead of new episodes. Also, they recycled a lot of the standard action sequences.

    Gargoyles started well, then got weird, then got really weird. i like to pretend the series ends after the Xanatos baby rescue.

  59. 59
    Aleta says:

    @germy: That’s cool.

  60. 60
    TenguPhule says:

    @But her emails!!!:

    How could they tell it was rotting?

    Apparently they looked at it.

  61. 61
    Leto says:

    @raven: Considering they have a pretty terrific safety/flight record, I wonder what happened. I work with a number of ex-aircraft maintainers (A-10 folk) and we’re all keeping an eye on this.

    Also because we here love them so much:

    The Hill Verified account @thehill
    4h4 hours ago
    More
    NY Times editor resigns over “inappropriate communications” with female employees: report http://hill.cm/bYLNnRj

  62. 62

    @raven: Yes! Alas, Babylon is a good reference for Goku. I read it only recently.

    Also, perhaps Canticle for Leibowitz.

  63. 63
    gene108 says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    If you haven’t read it, I would suggest On the Beach, as a starting point for what a post-nuclear apocalypse would be like. The novel is 60 years old, but I think some things hold up well.

  64. 64
    Amir Khalid says:

    Roma 2-2 Liverpool on the night in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal in Rome. Roma trail 4-7 on aggregate. But they came back from three goals down in the quarterfinal to knock Barcelona out, so nothing is certain yet.

  65. 65
    TenguPhule says:

    Palestinian president says Jewish behavior caused the Holocaust, sparking condemnation

    President Mahmoud Abbas said books by Jewish authors conclude “that animosity toward Jews was not because of their religion but because of their social activities.”

    Via Wapo.

    Must be a day ending in Why.

  66. 66
    Barbara says:

    @Elizabelle: Yeah but I didn’t notice them saying they would never transfer any assets or personnel to a newly minted corporation with a new name and the same mission.

  67. 67
    Leto says:

    @TenguPhule: Robotech is another one that had adult themes through out, plenty of death, but with a theme that love/peace would prevail. Yes, I know it was three separate series mashed together, packaged and brought to the US as one show. The animation hasn’t really held up, but I still love it. It was the first anime that I saw (weekday mornings @ 0630 in 1985).

  68. 68
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Gargoyles started well, then got weird, then got really weird. i like to pretend the series ends after the Xanatos baby rescue

    Doesn’t everything if it goes on long enough (not arguing btw)? The Xantos baby rescue happened in the third season, the one that nobody likes and is considered non-canon, so I agree that should have ended around the time. Greg Weisman and the original crew were replaced after 3rd season’s first episode.

    As for the Swat Kats, I’ll always blame Ted Turner for killing it. He never understood it and wanted to promote Captain Planet instead.

  69. 69
    Elizabelle says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Dang. Rats found a liferaft.

    Well, foo on Emerdata too. May they have some horrible days ahead.

  70. 70
    TenguPhule says:

    @Leto: Yep. I loved it when it first came out. Robotech, Star Blazers and Transformers were the best. Wore out the VHS tapes that had all the episodes of Star Blazers season 1 & 2 and almost every one of the original Transformers seasons 1-3 from the original broadcasts due to how often I used to watch them as a kid.

  71. 71
    allium says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but online there’s the 1983: Doomsday collaborative alternate history setting where the 1983 Soviet false nuclear attack alarm wasn’t quashed by Stanislav Petrov. The fictional AP teletype reports are particularly chilling.

    Fun fact: the real-life incident took place at the same time as the 1983 Primetime Emmy Awards!

  72. 72
    Gravenstone says:

    @catclub: Because we immediately used ours (in the midst of a hot war), the presumption has always been adversaries would do the same against us (barring MAD considerations). Projection as a political PoV, if you will. Your list simply points out the fallacy of that argument.

  73. 73
    Ruckus says:

    @Barbara:
    That loop is of the 70s but the only outward view is backwards 20 yrs.

  74. 74
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    The trouble with a lot of these sources is that they’re too old. My understanding is that a 50s-60s nuclear war would have been much like the London Blitz of WW2: suriviable, would have left scars for years, but the world wouldn’t have ended. The 80s were something else: while even with the tens of thousands of nukes each side had between them, humanity still would have survived but modern civilization, in the Northern Hemisphere at least, would have been completely annihilated.

    I also learned that the SU had a lot developed a lot of biological and chemical agents that people forget about.

  75. 75
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    the Xantos baby rescue happened in the third season

    Actually its near the end of season 2. Which is why I like to stop there.

  76. 76
  77. 77
    Yarrow says:

    The Trump administration seems to believe that these two countries can be threatened into compliance with its desires. That is a naïve and dangerous view.

    If you replace “these two countries” in the first sentence with anyone or anything else, that’s pretty much how Trump runs his life. Threaten them into compliance with what he wants.

  78. 78
    tamiasmin says:

    We are always hearing about worst-case scenarios on the Korean Peninsula. I wonder what a best-case scenario would look like. People in the DPRK must know that their brothers and sisters to the south have a robust economy and an enormously higher standard of living than they enjoy themselves. South Koreans would surely be glad to have the North’s conventional artillery, to say nothing of nuclear weapons, turned away from them, if not destroyed. Both countries might welcome reunification under the right conditions. But that is the sticking point: how to reunite two societies and two governments that have diverged so sharply over three quarters of a century. I expect that it will require not a few large steps but many small ones to reestablish trust. Kim’s stepping across the border was one. Talks, however tentative at first, will be another. Cessation of threats and insults will be a good step. Perhaps there could be small delegations of ordinary Koreans visiting back and forth, cultural exchanges, small-scale joint projects. Other countries may help (or hurt), but it will be the two peoples’ desire to be one, if it is strong enough, that will produce the happiest outcome.

    Whenever I think that things are hopeless, I remember South Africa. I thought for years that apartheid could only end in a bloodbath. But I was wrong. I had forgotten the most amazing quality of our quicksilver species: the ability, usually midwifed by a few remarkable people, to move past fear, suspicion, and hatred to a more hopeful future.

  79. 79
    Leto says:

    @TenguPhule: Never saw Star Blazers, but pretty much every other Saturday morning toy pushing cartoon was watched religiously. I remember thinking about how there was a lack of good cartoons for my son when he was growing up, but then I think he got the better end of the deal via Dexter’s Lab, Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing Valkyrie, Power Puff Girls… they had better stories/animation and you can still watch them now and not absolutely cringe (I’m looking at you, OG Thundercats and Silverhawks).

  80. 80
    TenguPhule says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: I’m talking about the Gathering I & 2. The one burying the hatchet between Goliath and Xanatos.

  81. 81
    TenguPhule says:

    @tamiasmin:

    I wonder what a best-case scenario would look like.

    Most of North Korea dies of the black plague, are successfully quarantined to prevent it from spreading. No military action occurs.

  82. 82
    TenguPhule says:

    @tamiasmin:

    Perhaps there could be small delegations of ordinary Koreans visiting back and forth, cultural exchanges, small-scale joint projects.

    This has been tried. Repeatedly.

  83. 83
    JCJ says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Ha! My wife occasionally likes to cook durian somehow. It is awful. She has to do it outdoors. Sometimes when I walk in to a grocery store in Bangkok there will be a big display of durian in more manageable sizes than a whole fruit. It is a very good way to make you hurry past.

  84. 84
    The Pale Scot says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Depends on total global megatonnage released, which would be dictated by your plot.

    you could start with Threads, the Brit docudrama that’s on youtube. If you’re able to watch the whole thing thru chances are you gonna ditch doing the book ’cause you’ve spent enough time in that world cover a life time.

    The movie predicts 160 MT total delivered by 500-800 warheads from 100kt to 2-4mt, every airfield, port, transportation hub, storage areas and surrounding residential areas gets hit with multiple warheads. And goes after that for another couple of years.

    The only words that describe this are “The living will envy the dead”

    I think they obliquely mention that the USA gets hit with many times the MT that the UK does. The final nail would be that food production gets reduced to a fraction of what’s necessary (fields will be drenched in radionuclides, unusable for decades) , and there is no way to transport what produced. Food willl be rationed to the military and those able to work, the rest starve. Add a couple of hundred Chernobyls’ burning until there’s nothing left. That will dwarf the radiation released by the warheads

    Probably after a year the nuclear winter will have affected the Southern Hemisphere crops, how much? who knows.

  85. 85
    JCJ says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Hang on Reds! I was relieved when they got those two away goals to take away that potential tiebreaker.

  86. 86
    TenguPhule says:

    @Leto:If you get the chance you should watch Star Blazers the original series and then the remake Star Blazers 2199. It was an exceptional translation from Japanese to English with only a few minor howlers (sushi lunch described as “delicious cake” being one of the most memorable) and at the time the networks were required to show them in the correct order. For its time it showed a level of tactical intelligence that was something even adults could appreciate (especially season 2, which has what is essentially the Battle of Midway IN SPACE with really cool beam and missile weapons).

  87. 87
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @TenguPhule:
    😑 Wait, did they recycle the plot?

  88. 88
    The Pale Scot says:

    FYWP
    Add: Take a look at the S.Pacific islanders still waiting 60 yrs later to go back to their homes

  89. 89
    The Moar You Know says:

    Some of the pop culture and music was alright, but I can’t imagine living under Ronald Reagan and the Religious Right for the rest of eternity, waiting for the big one to start.

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: I suspect the overwhelming conservative lean of my generation (early GenX, which really needs to be split in two as the early GenXers are largely fascists while the later ones are pretty damn liberal) is due to, as my wife always says, that every one of us went to bed not knowing if we’d wake up to Armageddon the next day. Sounds insane, but that’s literally what was going on. You get used to it very quickly.

    The difference between then and now is that back then the religious right was universally regarded as an annoying joke (even by Reagan, who personally despised them but was smart enough to never say so in public), while nuclear holocaust was a daily possibility. Now the religious right is an existential threat to the nation with an enormous amount of power, and nuclear war is a pretty distant possibility that nobody even prepares for anymore.

  90. 90
    rikyrah says:

    Top 10 Ways Black People Keep Racism Alive, According to Wypipo

    Michael Harriot
    Today 9:45am

    As one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of wypipology, I am constantly searching for ways to translate my studies into real-world applications. Fortunately, there are hundreds of white people who generously take time out of their day to accuse me of being the real racist.

    These scholars keep in constant contact with me to point out how I actually keep racism alive by talking about racism.

    Because I am always open to sharing the wisdom of white America, I wanted to combine the practices that tartar-saucians often describe as “race-baiting” into one top 10 countdown for those who are interested in keeping racism alive.

    10. Play the Victim
    One of the biggest reasons racism exists is that black people love playing the victim. It has been one of the favorite Negro pastimes ever since Africans locked themselves in chains, stowed away on American cruise ships and crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

    9. Engage in Identity Politics
    When black people vote for black candidates, they are playing right into the hands of identity politics. Despite the fact that Donald Trump’s white voters were motivated by race, female voters are encouraged to vote for female candidates, Catholics voted for John F. Kennedy, Mormons voted for Mitt Romney, and politicians openly invoke their Christian identity to appeal to evangelical voters, the moniker of “identity politics” applies only to black voters.

    A majority of white people have never voted for a black presidential candidate. Yet it is black people who keep racism alive because white is not considered a political identity. It is a birthright.

    …………………..

    7. Discuss History
    Black people love bringing up old shit like slavery, history and truth. They will often bring up slavery at inopportune times, like history classes. The only logical reason blacks insist on making every discussion on the Civil War about slavery and white supremacy is that every available historical document about the Civil War actually cites slavery and white supremacy as the reasons for the conflict, and mentions nothing about Southern pride and cultural heritage.

  91. 91
  92. 92
    Amir Khalid says:

    @JCJ:
    Injury time. ZOMG this is a nailbiter.

  93. 93
    Cermet says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: No; once uranium encased hydrogen bombs were made in the many hundreds (before 1960 : mid- 1950 or so; used on all ICBM’s, bombers, and IRBM’s) that wouldn’t be how it would have proceed at all. All targeted cities would be utterly leveled (these warhead’s tended to be in the 5 – 50 megaton range; not like today’s 0.25 Mt) and fallout would kill most every living mammal in the northern hemisphere. Of course, with a full exchange today, even insect life is likely doomed.

  94. 94
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    And Roma score from an injury-time penalty. GAAAH.

  95. 95
  96. 96
    rikyrah says:

    Talented Teen Trumpeter Just Got Into Juilliard, but His Family Needs Help Covering the $71,000 Price Tag

    Anne Branigin
    Today 9:50am

    William Leathers was just 12 years old when he met legendary jazz musician Wynton Marsalis. That year, William had become the youngest trumpeter accepted into the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. After hearing William play, Marsalis went up to William’s teacher and said, “This kid belongs at Juilliard.”

    Five years later, William has received that coveted invitation to study at one of the world’s most renowned—and selective—music programs (Marsalis himself is a member of the jazz faculty at the school). But the Canadian teen has one major hurdle: the cost of attendance.

    William is just one of three undergraduate trumpeters to be offered a spot at the prestigious New York City school, CBC.ca reports, but because he is an international student, his family will need to fork over $364,000 in Canadian dollars to cover his tuition and housing for four years (that’s almost $71,000 U.S. dollars per year).

  97. 97
    TenguPhule says:

    @JCJ: Durian is one of those experiences I will forego, if Andrew Zimmern can’t handle it then I sure as hell can’t.

  98. 98
    joel hanes says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Cambridge Analytica is shutting down

    The principals have already reincorporated under a different name.

  99. 99
    rikyrah says:

    Yo OZARK:

    BREAKING: Missouri legislative report indicates Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign lied about how it got charity donor list.

    — The Associated Press (@AP) May 2, 2018

  100. 100
    Amir Khalid says:

    We made it by the skin of our teeth. Lost 4-2 on the night, won 7-6 on aggregate. Roma know how to fight back, but this time they fell short.

  101. 101
    Jamey says:

    Am sure there’s good support for the argument that Iran was planning a small stockpile of “tactical” nukes, but where I fail to make the leap with you is the belief that Iran did not plan to develop warheads and delivery systems to force a nuclear stalemate with Israel.

  102. 102
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @The Pale Scot:
    I actually did see that once. Very good aside from a really stupid scene where a woman pisses herself when the warning sirens start blaring. IIRC, Iran has something to do with the war (either the SU or the US invades) with the nukes flying on the Persian Gulf, blowing up NATO naval forces.

    It never did mention what happened to Southern Hemisphere. I think a lot of Western and Soviet regimes would fall fairly quickly. In the late 20th century and today, a lot nations in Africa relied on imported fuel and fertilizers for their agriculture. When that stops, heads will roll.

  103. 103
    TenguPhule says:

    @Cermet:

    even insect life is likely doomed.

    Roaches take over the world.

  104. 104
    Amir Khalid says:

    @JCJ:
    I hope we stay focused against Real Madrid.

  105. 105
    joel hanes says:

    @TenguPhule:

    The only thing I miss about the 80s

    1. My youthful health, energy, and hopes.

    2. Pearl’s Oyster Bar in downtown Palo Alto

    3. Padding barefoot down to the end of the driveway in the early morning cool to get the newspaper so that I could read the new Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side.

    4. M. Dung, Scoop Niscar and company on KFOG San Francisco, when their tagline was “The coolest station in the nation”.

  106. 106
    Brachiator says:

    Iran had the same objective but decided on a different path. They developed a simple weapons design along with a variety of missiles and planned to build five nuclear weapons that they would keep secret until needed. Again, bluffing was part of the strategy. Detonating a nuclear weapon or two, whether as a demonstration test or against Israel would change the expectations of an aggressor.

    If Iran launched even a single nuclear weapon against Israel, they would be met with a massive counter strike by Netanyahu and most other Israeli leaders. Netanyahu keeps pushing the idea that any nuclear weapons held by Iran poses an unacceptable risk.

    When the opportunity came to trade the program for improved economic conditions, they agreed to restrictions beyond what was expected by Western experts.

    I think this is true, but does not change how regime is viewed by Netanyahu or Trump.

    The nuclear strategies of North Korea and Iran, up to now, are not the strategies of aggressors. They have left their options open to grow the programs in the future, but that is only prudent. The programs might be called “minimum deterrence.”

    I think this might be true of Iran; not so sure about North Korea.

    North Korea now seems to be in a position where it is willing to negotiate with its nuclear program. If they can feel safe from regime change and have ways to grow their economy, the weapons program will become less important to them.

    North Korea’s problems are exacerbated by their decision to build nuclear weapons, but would not much change if they gave up nukes. They cannot grow their economy because they are still in thrall to a brutal dictator, whose family has always ruled on the basis of a cult of personality and economic deprivation. Hell, even Russia failed to really grow its economy, but simply evolved from an inefficient communist regime into an equally inefficient semi-failed state dominated by criminals and oligarchs. North Korea’s continued existence as a separate, independent nation depends on Kim crushing his people. If he can change, hell, give him 5 solo Nobel Peace prizes.

    The Trump administration seems to believe that these two countries can be threatened into compliance with its desires. That is a naïve and dangerous view. States act in what they perceive to be their own interests. Bowing to threats is likely to incur further intimidation or worse. Their response to a threat-only posture is likely to be to ramp up their deterrent. And the end of threats would be wars that the United States can ill afford.

    This is true. North Korea and Iran still pose foreign policy challenges. But Trump gets in the way of any solutions, despite anything his crazy supporters might thik.

    ETA: How many nuclear weapons, and what types, do Pakistan and India have? Pakistan, like North Korea, essentially hurt itself by pursuing nuclear weapons, shifting money that could have been used for economic development into military uses. Ironically, Pakistan could shoulder some of the costs because the US stupidly gave Pakistan economic and military assistance. Pakistan’s view of India as some kind of existential threat is largely a mixture of stupidity and paranoia, and an inability to look at disputed territories such as Kashmir through any rational perspective. India has not always been rational with respect to Kashmir, but does not hate Pakistan nearly as much as the government of Pakistan appears to believe.

  107. 107
    Elizabelle says:

    @joel hanes:

    Padding barefoot down to the end of the driveway in the early morning cool to get the newspaper so that I could read the new Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side.

    I like that. Tactile memory of newspaper reading; digital cannot compete.

  108. 108
    rp says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Watch The Day After and Threads. Both are available on Youtube I think.

  109. 109
    Brachiator says:

    @JCJ:

    My wife occasionally likes to cook durian somehow. It is awful. She has to do it outdoors. Sometimes when I walk in to a grocery store in Bangkok there will be a big display of durian in more manageable sizes than a whole fruit. It is a very good way to make you hurry past.

    I was curious to know if this thing was as unpleasant as described. Thanks very much for the info.

    Does it also taste as bad as it smells?

  110. 110
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’m planning a story that involves a global 1983 nuclear war occurring in the backstory and I was wondering if you could give me any suggestions on resources to get a rough idea of what the aftereffects of such an event would be 20 years later.

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: A very good “post end of the world” story is Stephen King’s The Stand. It’s a biological disaster instead of a nuclear one, but the description of what the remainder of humanity has to deal with (and the ongoing problems from evil jerks afoot in the world) is really well done.

  111. 111
    Brachiator says:

    @TenguPhule:

    even insect life is likely doomed.

    Roaches take over the world.

    There’s the old joke: After the ultimate nuclear war, the only thing that will survive will be Keith Richards and cockroaches. And Keef will be hungry.

  112. 112
    rikyrah says:

    Ty Cobb says there is still a path for Trump to sitdown with Mueller.

    Less than an hour later, he’s off the Trump legal team.

    — Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) May 2, 2018

  113. 113
    Yutsano says:

    @TenguPhule: It’s a bit of a cheat but I had durian ice cream once. Did have some of the funk but the taste is really worth it.

    @rikyrah: Fuck that guy. I wouldn’t let him clean the shoes on my goat.

    And I don’t have a goat.

  114. 114
    rikyrah says:

    SHYT.JUST.GOT.REAL.

    It appears China has stopped buying soybeans from the US altogether because of trade fight https://t.co/9ts7ylrTvj

    — CNBC (@CNBC) May 2, 2018

    21 out of the top 25 districts which will be hit by China shutting down buying U.S. soybeans have Republican MoC’s. Imagine that. https://t.co/fxv8UDU0mj

    — Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) May 2, 2018

  115. 115
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    BTW, the POD is the Able Archer ’83 exercise, specifically this moment:

    Lt. Gen. Leonard H. Perroots is credited with the decision not to place NATO forces on increased alert despite increased Soviet readiness, thereby reducing the possibility of a nuclear exchange.

    The “big boss” villain from another universe, is responsible for subconsciously influencing Perroots to increase readiness and the paranoia on the Soviet side as well, in order to get revenge on another character for defeating him in a previous encounter.

  116. 116
    J R in WV says:

    @Brachiator:

    “Does it also taste as bad as it smells?”

    No, that’s the painful contrast – it smells terrible, but tastes wonderful, blissfully wonderful. That’s why people can bear to get close enough to it to put it into their mouths, they know it will be a wonderful tasting experience.

  117. 117

    @Jamey: Netanyahu’s revelations are that the whole plan was for five 10-kT warheads.

  118. 118
    Brachiator says:

    @rikyrah:

    BREAKING: Missouri legislative report indicates Gov. Eric Greitens’ campaign lied about how it got charity donor list.

    This fool seems even more allergic to the truth than Trump.

  119. 119
    EveryDayIHaveTheBlues says:

    Great Post, Cheryl!

    I think South Africa is the only country that voluntarily gave up its nuke program. I think this happened at the end of Apartheid, but I’m not sure. This is probably a result of their not having any regional or international rivals, so there were better uses for their talent and money. Could you talk about the specific issues involving SA nuke efforts at some point? I don’t remember if you’ve discussed their program in the past…

    Thanks!

  120. 120
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I get the impression that John Bolton was picked because he is perfectly in sync with Trump about getting one’s way with threats. Is there going to be anyone left in the administration who will push back?

    I thought Bolton was hired because Trump thought Bolton sounded awesome on Fox and Bolton was already on death watch because Trump think’s Bolton’s mustache is scary.

  121. 121
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @EveryDayIHaveTheBlues:

    I think South Africa is the only country that voluntarily gave up its nuke program. I think this happened at the end of Apartheid

    That’s because South Africa had their nuke by then
    Vela Incident

  122. 122
    Steve in the SFO says:

    @rikyrah: $364,000, Canadian or US, sounds like lifetime earnings for a trumpeter

  123. 123
    Brachiator says:

    @J R in WV:

    “Does it also taste as bad as it smells?”

    No, that’s the painful contrast – it smells terrible, but tastes wonderful, blissfully wonderful. That’s why people can bear to get close enough to it to put it into their mouths, they know it will be a wonderful tasting experience.

    Now, I’m curious. Some interestingly varied reactions in this video.

  124. 124
    rumpole says:

    That’s some excellent writing. When I read things like that, it amazes me that David Brooks still has a job. Perhaps you could have spiced it up with a quote from Machiavelli, a lament over the decline of humility on the part of the nation-state and civility on the part of those who do not wish do die in ash, and a connection to a conversation you had with a cabbie when you were on vacation in Morocco looking for ways to furnish vast spaces for entertaining.

  125. 125
    JCJ says:

    @Brachiator:

    To me it does. My wife says it is delicious. She keeps trying to get me to try it again. Someone asked me if it was really that bad after Andrew Zimmern declared it to be awful. I found some durian candy in an Asian grocery store that was a pretty good representation of the flavor. Most people spat it out after about two seconds.

    Amir, if you are still around do you like durian? Maybe growing up with it makes people like it?

  126. 126
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @rumpole: At whom is this comment directed? The OP?

  127. 127
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @TenguPhule: As do a great many Americans.

  128. 128

    @EveryDayIHaveTheBlues: I have not posted on South African nukes. Basically, they were built by the white apartheid government to be used in case of a race war. Once that was no longer an issue, they destroyed the nukes. That’s a reasonable parallel to what I’ve said up top.

    You will also see references to Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine having given up nukes after the breakup of the Soviet Union, but that’s quite a different situation. I would question the use of the concept of “giving up.” Those were Soviet missiles stationed in those then-republics. Locals never had control of them, nor could they manufacture their own. Russia inherited the Soviet Union’s nuclear status, so the missiles went back to Russia.

  129. 129
  130. 130
    Steve in the SFO says:

    @EveryDayIHaveTheBlues: did South Africa give its HEU to Israel?

    And praise to be Steve Jobs as my iPhone typed “its” rather than “it’s”

  131. 131
    rumpole says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yeah. Honestly, that’s the kind of writing that ought to appear in op-ed sections but doesn’t.

  132. 132
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @rumpole: @Omnes Omnibus: Never mind. I skimmed too quickly.

  133. 133
    Gravenstone says:

    @rikyrah: Look for a spike in corn futures. Since most fields aren’t planted yet, a lot of farmers will either cycle out to corn or possibly wheat this season given the apparent collapse in soybean demand due to Trumpfuckery with China.

  134. 134
    Gravenstone says:

    @J R in WV: I’ve heard the description but can’t imagine how it works, since scent is such a major component of taste.

  135. 135
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Enerdata? Seriously? The mind immediately rushes to the French “emmerder” – or mine does, anyhow.

  136. 136

    @Steve in the SFO: South Africa kept its HEU. Israel is quite capable of manufacturing its own.

  137. 137
    vhh says:

    @Barbara: Groundhog Day!

  138. 138
    danielx says:

    Republican senatorial candidate declares himself to be a douche rocket – I know it’s redundant:

    Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate questions ‘cognitive thought process’ of veterans who are Democrats

    I hope Tammy Baldwin goes over him like a steam roller.

  139. 139
    MomSense says:

    Anyone else feel a horrible sense of dread about how Dolt45 will fuck up with North Korea and Iran? As Mueller and SDNY close in, I think he will want a war that will take the focus off of his legal issues and his administration’s unprecedented corruption.

    His tweets today about the special counsel investigation were different today. The freedom caucus, his fox legal analysts, Ghouliani and others are making the case to end the investigation. Those of us who have half a brain know it’s a bullshit case but I’m not sure what recourse we have now.’

  140. 140
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @danielx:
    Associating politics with military service. What a great idea:

    “And just because some people that don’t call themselves conservatives and don’t always act conservative do something conservative — like, let’s talk about John Kerry — and signed up to serve this country, that doesn’t mean that that’s not a conservative thing to fundamentally protect and defend the Constitution,” Nicholson said. “Because I’ll tell you, the Democrat party has wholesale rejected the Constitution and the values that it was founded upon. So I’ll tell you what: Those veterans that are out there in the Democrat party, I question their cognitive thought process because the bottom line is, they’re signing up to defend the Constitution that their party is continually dragging through the mud.”

    Talk about projection. And what’s with that “Democrat Party” thing? Do all of them do this

  141. 141

  142. 142
    danielx says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    Pretty much, from what I can tell. All Newt’s children are out there playing his licks.

  143. 143
    zhena gogolia says:

    I assume this has devolved into an open thread, so I’ll repost my comment from below that has nothing to do with puppehs.

    I’m so upset about Vanity Fair. Graydon Carter was doing hard-hitting stories on the Trump regime. Then he retired and they got a new woman editor. The new issue just came and it consists of 25 articles about Prince Harry and Meghan. I am not exaggerating.

  144. 144
    rikyrah says:

    @zhena gogolia:
    Judge her if she keeps on doing issues like this. The Royal Wedding is a special occasion.

  145. 145
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @danielx: Tammy’s getting a donation from this Democratic veteran And I think I will call his campaign HQ and tell them about it.

    ETA: Chickenshit motherfucker doesn’t even have a phone number on his campaign website.

  146. 146
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @danielx: Kevin Nicholson is projecting everything about him on to the Democrats.

    He’s utter scum.

  147. 147
    trollhattan says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    Did he assemble one complete English sentence there? Thank you, state that gave us Paul Ryan and Scott Walker and Joe McCarthy, looks like you’ve done it again.

  148. 148
    trollhattan says:

    @rikyrah:

    The Royal Wedding is a special occasion.

    “This is a happy occasion! We shouldn’t quibble about who, killed who.”

  149. 149
    geg6 says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    I’m a huge Graydon Carter fan, but he’d have been running royal wedding porn non-stop, too. Vanity Fair has always gone nuts with society doings. I’ve subscribed for over thirty years and this does not surprise me.

  150. 150
    zhena gogolia says:

    @geg6:

    He might have had three articles, but he wouldn’t have devoted the entire issue to it. And all criticism of Trump has disappeared.

  151. 151
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Chickenshit motherfucker doesn’t even have a phone number on his campaign website.

    I have a chickenshit motherfucker Representative (Rob Woodall, R GA-07) who lists his phone number but not his district office address. It’s possible to track it down if you’re sufficiently Internet-savvy — but I’m guessing a lot of his constituents aren’t, and will simply give up after they fail to find an office location on his official Congressional website.

    Fortunately, there are half a dozen great Dems vying for his seat. I’ve volunteered for Carolyn Bourdeaux, but would be honored to support and work for any of the six candidates.

  152. 152
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    Does he have an email address?

  153. 153
    Bill Arnold says:

    Cheryl at the OP, thank you thank you thank you for this post! Excellent detail.
    A few potential additions:
    – Iran was/is (I believe) reluctant to trigger a regional nuclear arms race, so they have a disincentive to actually testing devices, hence simple U235 devices, perhaps even gun (10K?) devices? (Haven’t looked at BN’s material yet.)
    – The DPRK is probably counting on its police-state-based resistance to human intelligence to increase uncertainty about its capabilities, probably forcing a large overestimate of its capabilities (to deliver devices).
    – Cultural style; Iranians are known (well, this is my understanding; definitely not a scholar in this area. Cough Adam cough.) for favoring ambiguity, e.g. Iran: Cultural Values, Self images and Negotiation Behavior

    Ambiguity in discourse is not only acceptable, but even admired, if it is performed in a manner which successfully confounds the interlocutor. This is in sharp contrast to American style of communication (Get to the point/Wher e’s the beef?/ Stop beating around the bush) which places a high value on using lowest common denominator language in order to ensure maximum mutual understanding of the respective intents of both sides. The assumption of uncertainty and the constant flux of the true position of one’s interlocutor is said to create a “communication system” based on the following two principles: (a) messages cannot be interpreted according to any single set of criteria; (b) an adroit operator never settles on a final interpretation of any message.

    The point, if not clear, being that this generalizes to bluffing/ambiguity about nuclear capabilities.

  154. 154
    les says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: I’m way out of the time line here, but A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller Jr. is interesting; it’s a broader focus–nuclear war as a cyclic result of civilization–but there’s some interesting takes on the immediate aftermath.

  155. 155
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: That not projection, that’s Hard Right Code talking
    Focus on these two snips

    conservative do something conservative — like, let’s talk about John Kerry — and signed up to serve this country, that doesn’t mean that that’s not a conservative thing to fundamentally protect and defend the Constitution,”

    So TRUE Conservatism isn’t about the letter of the law

    . “Because I’ll tell you, the Democrat party has wholesale rejected the Constitution and the values that it was founded upon. So

    It’s about the conservative interpretation of the Constitution. It’s the same argument used to denounce liberals Christians as not being True Christians.

  156. 156
    Cckids says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Whitley Streiber wrote a book called “Warday”; it covers a year in US life five years after a “limited” nuclear exchange.

    It’s intriguing, mainly in a sociological way. Good read!

  157. 157
    NotMax says:

    @Brachiator

    Yup, yummy and creamy.

    Perhaps you can find a Filipino (or East Asian or Japanese) market nearby. The better ones here stock durian flavored snacks, which are an inexpensive entry into the stuff.

  158. 158
    Brachiator says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    I’m so upset about Vanity Fair. Graydon Carter was doing hard-hitting stories on the Trump regime. Then he retired and they got a new woman editor. The new issue just came and it consists of 25 articles about Prince Harry and Meghan. I am not exaggerating.

    Vanity Fair has always covered royal weddings and related social stuff. Been doing this for decades.

    The hint is in the title of the magazine. A nod to a British novel.

    Vanity Fair is an English novel by William Makepeace Thackeray which follows the lives of Becky Sharp and Emmy Sedley amid their friends and families during and after the Napoleonic Wars. It was first published as a 19-volume monthly serial from 1847 to 1848, carrying the subtitle Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society, reflecting both its satirisation of early 19th-century British society and the many illustrations drawn by Thackeray to accompany the text.

  159. 159

    @Bill Arnold: Iran’s approach is significantly different from North Korea’s, which may be due to timing, cultural differences, secondary objectives, or all of the above. It makes a lot of sense, for the reasons you give, mainly the overall situation in the Middle East (to which I would add Israel), for Iran to keep its program secret. North Korea’s autocracy also leans toward secrecy, but in both cases that secrecy has a strategic advantage too, as I outlined in the OP.

  160. 160
    Brachiator says:

    @NotMax:

    Yup, yummy and creamy.

    Perhaps you can find a Filipino (or East Asian or Japanese) market nearby. The better ones here stock durian flavored snacks, which are an inexpensive entry into the stuff.

    Yeah. I’ve been looking up stores and bakeries in my area. The chase in on.

  161. 161
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Brachiator:

    Yeah, I’ve been a subscriber for many years and I’ve read the novel about 1000 times. But up until this month there was a mix of society, Hollywood, and also investigative articles on politics and business. Since Trump was elected, there were 3-4 articles in each issues exposing some aspect of the regime. This issue is ENTIRELY about the British royal family.

  162. 162
    debbie says:

    Wait. Swagger won’t save us?

  163. 163
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @les:

    You beat me to it! I was going to recommend the great, classic A Canticle for Leibowitz even though the calamity was many decades earlier than Goku wants.

  164. 164
    NotMax says:

    @Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)

    Another choice for a big picture post-apocalypse novel is Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

    The worst thing about new books, French philosopher Joseph Joubert wrote, is that they keep us from reading the old ones.

    Which is precisely how a truly great novel like George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides gets, if not lost, then seriously mislaid. Published in 1949, the same year as Orwell’s 1984 and two years after Camus’ The Plague, Earth Abides regularly appears on lists of great science fiction yet remains virtually unknown to any larger readership. In one 43-page overview of Stewart’s work, Earth Abides receives a single paragraph of five lines. And despite its having won the 1951 International Fantasy Award, even among science fiction fans the novel is little read or recognized.

    This is a book, mind you, that I’d place not only among the greatest science fiction, but among our very best novels.

    Each time I read it, I’m profoundly affected, affected in a way only the greatest art — Ulysses, Matisse or Beethoven symphonies, say — affects me. Epic in sweep, centering on the person of Isherwood Williams, Earth Abides proves a kind of antihistory, relating the story of humankind backwards, from ever-more-abstract civilization to stone-age primitivism. Source

  165. 165
    NotMax says:

    @Brachiator

    if push comes to shove, one can order the wafers from Amazon.

  166. 166
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: Not letting that piece of shit even get a throwaway email address from me.

  167. 167
    Bill Arnold says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    allium@71’s suggestion of the “1983: Doomsday” collaborative alt history looks quite good on a couple of brief depth-first skims. Might be slightly over-pessimistic (but I’m an optimist). As you say, bioweapons are a wildcard, but in 1983 most people were still vaccinated against smallpox. (Don’t know whether vaccine-resistant strains were weaponized.) Also the outcomes would depend on how many reactor cores were targeted. (>0 would be bad. much >0 would be very bad.) and how many countries were involved. Many of the fictional references here have reality issues IMO.
    (e.g. life, even human life, is robust against seriously increased levels of background radiation, up to a point; at the level of individual organisms it sucks a lot, yes.)
    Read Voices from Chernobyl if you haven’t (largely about the USSR’s dysfunctional response, and heart-wrenching), but it’s basically very roughly analogous to nuclear war lethal fallout zones[1], which would be substantial in that era due to silo-busting ground bursts, but not the whole northern hemisphere.
    [1] to this day, when I visit a new building i usually surreptitiously map out the best places for improvised fallout shelters.

  168. 168
    NotMax says:

    @NotMax

    Clarification.

    Another choice for a big picture post-apocalypse novel (although non-nuclear) is Earth Abides by George R. Stewart.

  169. 169
    Brachiator says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    This issue is ENTIRELY about the British royal family.

    About time. ;)

    You got royal births, a sassy little Princess Charlotte, and the UK incorporating a mixed race royal even as the society and the government ponders immigration matters (which led to the downfall of the Home Secretary) and BREXIT. And the second child of Vanity Fair all time favorite Princess Diana is getting married. The Vanity editors have been waiting for this moment all their lives.

  170. 170
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Bill Arnold:
    Would you include Threads as having realism issues?

  171. 171
    rikyrah says:

    @Brachiator:
    LOL 😄
    I feel sorta guilty for being happy when I saw the advance on my Kindle?
    Can’t wait to buy the print issue!

  172. 172
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Brachiator: @rikyrah:

    To be absolutely honest, I started reading it out loud to my husband tonight, and we’re eating it up. I’m just worried that they muzzled the Trump attacks. I’m conflicted!

  173. 173
    NotMax says:

    re: DPRK

    Good, albeit couched in caution, read.

    Korea’s Nuclear Nightmare Hasn’t Gone Away

    Unless the United States changes its priorities, Korean diplomacy is probably doomed. Source

  174. 174
    MomSense says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    Have you ever checked out angelfire dot com for her photo diaries of her motorcycle trips into the Chernobyl exclusion zone?

  175. 175
    Bill Arnold says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    Didn’t see threads, but just skimmed the Threads wikipedia entry and it seems fine, mostly UK-focused.
    IMO most deaths would be caused by starvation due to a combination of a nuclear winter (models vary substantially) and more importantly broken worldwide industrial-scale agriculture and food distribution. The US agricultural regions would be gone, same with some others, contamination elsewhere, dunno scale of contamination with long-half-life isotopes, but even elsewhere fuel, seed, herbicide, insecticide, would be in short supply and distribution broken [1]. (There’s almost certainly a proper academic treatment of this somewhere; haven’t found one in a quick search, Also, you could look at newer papers on nuclear winter, e.g. Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences (2007) and the many newer papers that cite it.)

    [1] John Deere Is Revolutionizing Farming With Big Data – Datafloq but in 1983, not so much.

  176. 176
    TenguPhule says:

    @Bill Arnold: Lack of clean or perhaps any water, since the pumps all need power, perishable foods first to go, vitamin deficiencies, scurvy, Choleria.

  177. 177
    Aleta says:

    Great piece, great writing. Thanks CR.

  178. 178
    EveryDayIHaveTheBlues says:

    @Steve in the SFO: I don’t know about this. Cheryl would be the person to ask. I vaguely remember hearing about this concept somewhere, but can’t remember if it was a spy thriller or Time.

    ETA : I see Cheryl has already addressed this.

  179. 179
    Amir Khalid says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:
    There are indeed Republicans who think it’s clever to call the Democratic party that.

  180. 180
    cs says:

    I see someone’s already written about Warday, but I’d second that recommendation. The book came out in 1984 and had a remarkable premise. The authors imagined what their lives would be like in the aftermath of a “small” nuclear war. By small, I mean Washington, parts of NYC, San Antonio, and the missile fields of Montana and the Dakotas are all vaporized. There’s also a been an EMP attack which fried all computers and many cars.

    The authors put themselves in the story, and imagined themselves as journalists of a sort. They decided, 5 years after the war, to go cross country and see what a now fractured America is like. Interviewing people along the way. It’s an amazing book with great worldbuilding, and I’m sorry it’s almost forgotten now.

    For your nuclear war story, I think an interesting take would be to not have the Soviets use bioweapons. To have mostly airbursts so there’s not much long-term radiation, and to go with a weaker nuclear winter (some scientists disagreed with Sagan’s view of a severe winter).

    And work in things that we know now, but authors in 1983 wouldn’t have known, or paid much attention to. For example, post-apocalyptic internet. The network was originally designed to withstand an attack. Another is what happens when long term climate warming meets the relatively short term nuclear winter, plus the elimination of much of the industry causing the warming in the first place.

    I’d love to see a story set fifty years later with all of that in mind. Terrible conditions in some respects, but some hope and rebuilding, because that’s what humans do. The world has the chance to recover, with people who will be wiser. At least for a time.

  181. 181
    phein58 says:

    @Elizabelle: @NotMax:

    And there are many classics that not many read today, including The Space Merchants by Pohl and Kornbluth (also “Search the Sky”), and I’ll leave it at that.

  182. 182
    Bill Arnold says:

    @TenguPhule:

    Lack of clean or perhaps any water, since the pumps all need power, perishable foods first to go, vitamin deficiencies, scurvy, Choleria.

    Sucks to be without power, true. I’m unclear on how quickly grids would be reassembled outside destruction areas (which are lost) given 1983 tech.
    I think that backup generators would be prioritized for things like water supply pumps and refrigeration for medicines, and for medical facilities even in absence of centralized disaster response. Off-grid solar systems would be highly prized probably. Medicine would become much more primitive in some areas but still much much better than none. There’s e.g. plenty of knowledge (manuals, etc) from the pre-antibiotics era. [1]
    Vitamin deficiencies, probably not, if supplements can be distributed (and dose limited, like a one-a-day every 3 days). (e.g. I have a bottle of vitamin C 500mg tablets that could stave off scurvy for a decade for one person, if they otherwise had no fruits.)
    It would suck, a lot. Multitudes of grim choices would be made.

    [1] e.g. an older version of The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide. Perhaps the 1929 or 1940 edition.

  183. 183
    quote> says:

    @MomSense:

    …motorcycle trips into the Chernobyl exclusion zone?

    No, looks interesting, thanks.

  184. 184
    The Pale Scot says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷: On road all day, just got in.

    Cold war scenarios always end badly, unless the other uni guys have tech to modify the scenarios.

  185. 185
    The Pale Scot says:

    @🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳 🌷:

    woman pisses herself

    I think that was seen differently back then, WWII vets were among the audience.

  186. 186
    Betsy says:

    Cheryl, I so appreciate your posts here. This is only my second comment in all the many years that I’ve been reading BJ. I just want you to know that I’ve learned so much from you and Adam. You have truly opened my eyes and led me to be an even more informed 71-yr-old news junkie. Thank you.
    Betsy

  187. 187

    Betsy, thanks for letting me know that you find my posts helpful.

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