Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nuclear apples and oranges

I just realized that I forgot to make something clear in my latest post about Russian and US nuclear capabilities: a lot of the current debate about a possible US nuclear attack on Russia is a case of comparing apples and oranges.  Let me explain.

My posts dismissing the possibility of a US nuclear attack on Russia are based only on two things:

a) a certitude that any such attack would result in the complete obliteration of the USA.
b) the working hypothesis that the US is a "rational actor".

If you carefully read the writings of those who are warning about a UN nuclear attack on Russia, they fall into two very different categories:

Group A: they say that a nuclear war in unwinnable (Paul Craig Robers is one of them) but that the US leaders are deluding themselves.

Group B: they say that the US has the capability to strike Russia and not be obliterated in a retaliatory strike.

I do not disagree with Group A.  I don't necessarily agree either.  My purely subjective feeling is that the US "deep state" will not risk it all on such a dangerous move and that the top US military comment would not go along with such an insane plan even if ordered.  But I am not a psychic, a psychologist, a psychiatrist or somebody with any kind of access to the US leadership.  I don't know what they are thinking today.  The closest I have ever been to the US elites was in the late 1980s early 1990s - a very long time ago.  So I do not know for a fact that the US is still a "rational actor".  Maybe they have all gone completely insane as a consequence of a massive overdose of imperial hubris.  Could be.

It is Group B which I categorically disagree with.  All I am saying is that there is no conceivable scenario under which the US could strike Russia without risking unacceptable retaliatory damage if only because the current Russian nuclear deterrent is much stronger than the US one and that this will remain true for the foreseeable future.

So let's not compare apples and oranges, rational scenarios and those based on the hypothesis that one side has gone completely insane.  Force planning and psychiatry are different sciences :-)

Kind regards,

The Saker