Frederick Shiels INSTRUCTOR MANAGER
THE DOOMSDAY SCENARIO THE DOOMSDAY SCENARIO
It is 1975. You are president of the United States. There has been a thaw in relations with the USSR (Nixon) but both side still have about 12,000 nuclear warheads each. Most of these can reach their targets via submarine, bomber, or ICBM within 60-90 minutes. If all of the weapons were launched based on a crisis or, worse, a misperceived attack by one side, the explosive power released would be 1 million times that of the a-bombs dropped on Japan.
Now, think carefully. All of your intelligence services confirm that for some in credible reason, about 1,000 Soviet missiles have been launched and headed for the US. This would average about 20 H-bombs per state, more than enough to end 99.999% of all life in the US. Cities and towns would be burned to a crisp (yes, Alaska, too). The rural areas would received a toxic soup of radiation that would finish off even people in remote areas within a few weeks. As Khrushchev once said, “the survivors would envy the dead”.
Again, You hold the power to act in this very short time. Your country is finished– almost certainly, within 2 hours. Done deal. What do you do?
The answer may not be as easy as it looks, and there may be more than one answer, but probably only one GOOD answer. No penalty for whatever answer you choose. Reward for thought-ful answers.
Author: Andrew Moran Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 2:07:35 PM EDT Subject: RE: THE DOOMSDAY SCENARIO
Drat, the date is 8 years before I could go with Plan A: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/march-23-1983-reagan-proposes-star-wars-missile-defense-system/ . Particle beams aside…This scenario comes down to “Well, we’re dead so how many people do we take with us?” My first thought would be fire more nukes at the incoming nukes! However that’d kill a lot of people very quickly.
You’d figure the nuclear warheads would meet over the ocean. Well, mission accomplished, sure a lot of dead fish and a lot more unusable water, however we live, right? Nope, first the contaminated water would spread. Also, there were a set of tests called HANE (High-Altitude Nuclear Explosion). The USSR and America wanted to see what would happen if nuclear missiles were used at high altitudes. Turns out it results in a much bigger and quicker spreading explosion and the radiation spreads faster and travels much greater distances.
I bring this up because this means we’re all dead anyway if I go with this option. The warheads would meet and explode in the air and then kill us and most likely anyway.
Plan two, Launch our nuclear weapons and take Russia out. This means countries next to them would also be effected, so goodbye China, Ukraine, and Poland.
Plan three, flee the country and leave my citizens unaware of the threat until they all die. Let’s just scrap this idea right now.
Plan four, attempt to open diplomatic channels with the USSR and hope they disarm the warheads and let us live.
I think I’d go with plan five. Launch 10,758 nuclear warheads at Russia. Then divide the remaining 1,242 warheads and launch three at each countries capital, two in their most populated area, and lastly ten into the moon because at this point, why not? I’d leave Canada alone, this is simply because this is my hypothetical and I like moose. Now every country (besides the moose-rich Canada) has two hours to talk to each other and come about a peaceful solution that doesn’t mean the end of earth. I’d call this my bigger stick policy. Where I run loudly and carry a large nuclear stockpile and all of my warheads have a single stick painted on them.
This would mean either everyone disarms their nuclear stockpiles or we all die (except the moose). While this goes on I would inform my citizens. This would cause one of two results. First, they all do as we, the government have taught them and run to the nearest school and hide under their desks and we all know desks stop nuclear warheads. Second, mass looting and panic. At least I can say I’m honest and up front with the people of my country.
Really droll and provocative, Andrew and I won’t show all my cards at once. I may need to read through this again but I want to stress: 1. It is not what the president does With Himself that is the point (think Henry Fonda, FAILSAFE) but what he does as president on behalf of the country and the World/Mankind., 2. Help me understand the benefit of the pinpoint targeting of the USSR to take out an additional 200 million or so lives, or, more likely, ensure that 90% of the World’s population will die fast or worse slow deaths. Just checkin’. Good work.
p.s. absent a technology you don’t mention, there is close to zero chance that any warheads would meet and explode in the air. Just as when the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies collide in 4 billion years, the is almost no chance that any 2 stars will collide (law of large numbers/distances).
pps right, scrap #3 because the President could not make it much past the White House heli-pad before the nukes hit the fan
scrap # 4 because they no can disarm missiles in the air in 1975 (reliably, if Ever), much less open up diplo- channels.
- Blog post on What do we do with Inequality and what does that mean to You?This is the first of an ongoing series, with some dialogue and comment, we hope. It is are that we will take an extended passage from a journal and launch a discussion series based on this. But I encountered a rare passage from an author in MONTHLY REVIEW (not always the most vivid of progressive publications) that I found so compelling that I want the first “cut” to speak for itself. Imagine at a very practical level, what it is like to “grow up with advantages” in modern America—and without them. See how this passage captures that, and drawing implications should follow. Our source is from Michael Yates in the March 12, 2012 issue of MR, pp. 9-10 in an Article entitled “The Great Inequality,” … he quotes at length from his own book, Naming the System: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012) pp.58-59… (Yates is co-editor of Monthly Review and an economist, formerly of the U. of Pennsylvania): In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I lived for many years, there is an extraordinarily wealthy family, the Hillmans, with a net worth of several billion dollars. One of their homes, along once fashionable Fifth Avenue, is a gorgeous mansion on a magnificent piece of property. About three miles east of this residence is the Homewood section of the city, whose mean streets have been made famous by the writer John Edgar Wideman. OnNorth Lang Street there is a row of three connected apartments. One of the end apartments has been abandoned to the elements to the rodents and drug users. This is gang territory, and if you are African-American, you do not go there wearing the wrong colors. Poverty, deep and grinding, in rampant on this street and in this neighborhood, which has one of the nation’s highest infant mortality rates. Consider two children, one born in the Hillman house and another in the North Lang Street apartment. In the former there are two rich and influential parents. In the latter there is a single mother working nights with three small children. Let us ask some basic questions. Which mother will have the best health care, with regular visits to the doctor, medicine if needed and a healthy diet? Which child is more likely to have a normal birth weight? Which child is likely to get adequate health care and have good healthcare in early childhood? If the poor child does not have these things, who will return to this child the brain cells lost as a consequence? Which child is more likely to suffer the ill effects of lead poisoning? Which child is more likely to have an older sibling, just 12 years old, be responsible for him when the mother is working at night? Who will be fed cookies for supper and be entertained by an old television set? If the two children get ill in the middle of the night, which one will be more likely to make it to the emergency room in time? Which child will start school speaking standard English, wearing new clothes, and having someone at home to make sure the homework gets done? Which child will travel, and which will barely make it out of the neighborhood? As the two children grow up, what sort of people will they meet? Which will be more likely to meet persons who could be useful to them when seeking admission to college or looking for a job or trying to find funding for a business venture? Which will be more likely to be hit by a stray bullet fired in a war over drug turf? Which will go to the better school? Which will have access to books, magazines, newspapers, and computers in the home? Which one will wear worn-out clothes? Which will be embarrassed because his clothes smell? Which will be more likely to have caring teachers who work in well equipped and safe schools? Which will be afraid to tell the teacher that he does not have crayons and colored paper at home? Which will learn the grammar and the syntax of the rich? Which child will join a gang? Abuse drugs? Commit a crime? Be harassed by the police because he is black? When these two children face the labor market, which will be more productive?
To ask these questions is to answer them. And when we considered that the poor child in the United States is better off than two thirds of the world’s population, we must consider that most of the world’s people live in a condition of deprivation so extreme that they must be considered to have almost no opportunities at all. They are almost as condemned as a person on death row in a Texas prison.
Strong words? Yes. Mr. Yates would not back down from a single one of them, nor would we. Please let us know what You think.