Pushing the Edge on Nuclear War

Exclusive: Official Washington’s neocons and liberal hawks are ratcheting up tensions again over Ukraine with the goal of humiliating and even destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia and there’s no modern-day JFK to tamp down the enthusiasm, an existential risk that ex-U.S. diplomat William R. Polk examines.

By William R. Polk

Decisions on nuclear weapons are and will remain the most important part of our quest for world security since even small mistakes or wrong actions would probably be catastrophic. We now seem to be moving closer to the danger point of provoking their use. So I want particularly to emphasize four points on the issues we all face and then raise a few other general considerations:

–Technical mistakes are always possible. More have happened than is generally known. In the Eisenhower administration, NORAD at least once spotted on radar a flight of geese over Iceland and went to Red Alert. It took a critical period of minutes to recognize the cause and stand down the alert. During that time, the danger of a missile launch or an aircraft attack was clear and present.

President John F. Kennedy addressing the nation regarding the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

President John F. Kennedy addressing the nation regarding the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Some years later, a nuclear bomb was actually dropped on America (by a U.S. Air Force bomber flying where it should not have been while carrying a weapon it should not have been carrying).  Fortunately, the firing mechanism was faulty and the bomb did not go off. Had it detonated, in the confusion SAC and other formations would have been hard to stop from reacting to the supposed attacker. These are just two of many incidences of dangerous times.

I fear that we are again heading into dangerous times.

–Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is often said to be “stable” under certain conditions. It follows that it becomes unstable under others. Thus, we can predict that since our world is in rapid transformation, we cannot rely upon temporary stability.

For years, as former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara observed, we have had at least 500 missiles armed with nuclear weapons on “hair trigger” alert in Europe. If you multiply the number of missiles by the number of months, the scattering of sites over a large area and continuous changes of personnel, it is obvious that even the best designed systems of command and control are always fragile.

Much more fragile is the situation in countries that do not spend the enormous amount of money (and talent) required to maintain missiles and nuclear weapons. Without “upkeep,” both missiles and bombs are inherently dangerous. And dangerous both to the country in which they are located and to their assumed targets. I find this particularly worrisome in the confrontation between India and Pakistan.

–Decisions on war and peace are often discussed in the abstract. That is, the assumption is that decision on their use is determined by “national” interests. As has been said, “The risk and consequences of nuclear war are so great as to outweigh any possible advantage in trying to use them.” That gives some analysts and practitioners a sense of security. They should not have it.

That is because decisions are not made by “nations” but by people. And, in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the deadly serious war game (designed by Thomas Schelling) played in the Pentagon (by teams of the most senior U.S. officials) demonstrated that there were circumstances in which even sober, well-informed and intelligent officials would find that their less ruinous choice would be opting for general war. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine War: A Reverse Cuban Missile Crisis.”]

Ironically, I think we owed much of the “success” we had in the Cuban Missile Crisis not to the agreement to withdraw the Jupiter missiles from Turkey, although this was clearly necessary and I had long been advocating it, but to the bravery or even foolhardiness of  Nikita Khrushchev.  He risked a coup d’état and certain death by accepting the humiliation we necessarily imposed on him.

And Kennedy, of course, deserves great credit for partially masking the Russian defeat. That was the real significance of the withdrawal of the Jupiters. Had other men been in the White House or the Kremlin, the outcome might have been very different. I might not be writing or you reading. We both would probably have long since been dead (or for those of you born after 1962, you might never have lived).

–Since human beings make the decisions, we must be aware of decision makers’ vulnerabilities. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, I was one of about 25 civilians fully engaged in the events. I was not at the center but in the second or third “echelon.” So I did not feel the full strain, but by the Thursday of the Crisis, I was thoroughly exhausted. My judgment must have been impaired even though I was not aware of it.

I do remember, however, a terrible episode fortunately lasting only a few minutes at which I thought to myself, “let’s just get it over with.” When later I met with my Soviet counterparts, I got the impression, although they denied it, that my feelings were not unique. How the strain impacted on the inner group I can only guess. But reading McNamara’s later remarks, I suspect they were far stronger than on me.

Now, please consider a few other random issues:

First, contrast North Korea and Iraq: the logical deduction from the contrast of our approach to North Korea (which does have weapons) and Iraq (which did not) is that having a nuclear arsenal is the ultimate, sometimes the only, defense.

If defense is decided upon as a national objective, as presumable all governments will decide, nuclear weapons must be acquired covertly to avoid attack in the acquisition phase. This is presumably and logically still a danger in the Iran case if the Congress turns down the current agreement.

Second, Iran (along with Japan and other countries) illustrates that the division between nuclear bomb possession and nuclear bomb potential is fungible. If the Bush administration had pushed even harder toward a war with Iran or had Israeli threats been even more dire, Iran might have added to its extant and growing nuclear establishment, which then did not produce weapons, weapons from North Korea or Pakistan and/or gone all out to build its own.

That would not have been an irrational act by “mad mullahs” but, under the circumstances, a wise move. Under parallel circumstances, the United States certainly would have done it. Russia, China, India and Pakistan did it. Israel is a different but comparable case.

Third, the India-Pakistan confrontation raises another related question. Even though Pakistan took much punishment in three wars without using its nuclear weapons, we should not be deluded into thinking that it never will. There must be a “red line” beyond which a nuclear war is inevitable.

Fourth, some commentators have argued that the risks of escalating to nuclear exchanges are so obvious and so well known that they will have a conservative effect on everyone. Generally that is true, but we have seen situations where decision-making  is variable, unpredictable, even irrational.

And, events which appear “singular” are actually steps in a process. Thus, when an act is taken and fails to produce the desired result or calls for a reaction, it may and usually does become step “A.” Step “B” becomes the logical extension. And somewhere down the alphabet successive steps became inevitable.

In the Cuban Crisis, JFK was acutely aware of this. He was determined not to be trapped by sequence, but it was difficult to avoid. Our military, as I had reason personally to see, was not so aware or so guided by concern with “process.”

Would the Pakistani general staff be smarter than ours? Does Pakistan have a civilian commander to take the place of JKF? And, finally, does Pakistan have a group that could perform like the Crisis Management Committee and other advisers in and around the presidency? If so, I have not seen them.

Fifth, Americans, and presumably all other peoples, have very short memories. This may be less true of officials than of the general public, but my reading of history and my experience in government make me doubt it.

I would wager that if one tested even supposedly well-informed college students on the report Carl Sagan orchestrated with some our leading scientists on the effects of nuclear weapons he would find little knowledge, understanding or fear. And beyond students, I shudder to think what the result would be. (It would be a very useful contribution to world peace to republish Sagan’s report. I summarized it in a previous article.) To call it horrifying is to mince words.

Since we cannot predict how our own successors will act and certainly cannot predict how other governments in the future will act I argue that in anyone’s hands, nuclear weapons are deadly threats to us all. It follows that we must try, as we intermittently and feebly have tried in the past, to get rid of them before they get rid of us.

The argument is often made that reduction to a “sufficient” deterrent number could work, but what that number would be, who could determine it for the several nation-states and how it could be enforced is, I think at best, problematical. Beyond zero, everything is slippery.

Sixth, Henry Kissinger to the contrary, there is no such thing as limited nuclear war. Kissinger, Schelling, Kahn, Wolhstetter et al were perhaps deluding themselves, but they certainly were deluding us.

This was the major result of the Pentagon war game I cited above. The war game showed conclusively that the basis of our Cold War strategy was perhaps just lucky but certainly was not decisive.  However, no one wanted to consider the result. We had invested in a whole industry of Cold War rhetoric and were determined not to give it up.

Last, while the minute hand on the clock on the cover of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is probably now a bit further from midnight than at various times in the past, there are fresh warning signs that:

–We are moving back toward a confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. And, while Russia is not so formidable as it appeared a generation ago, it still has a nuclear arsenal as large and as deployable as ours. Led by us, NATO is moving into areas of great sensitivity;

–While North and South Korea seem to have reached a sort of deal over at least propaganda and artillery exchanges, all the elements are in place for further trouble;

–While the fate of Kashmir and the division of water between India and Pakistan catch our attention less often, the risks of a serious confrontation remain;

–While Israeli threats to bomb Iran appear to have worn somewhat thin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to threaten war;

–While the United States has backed off from its blockade and sanctions program against Iran, the prospects for hostilities remain if Congress refuses to recognize the Iran nuclear agreement

If we want our children and grandchildren to live, we had better use the “minutes” before midnight to get our act in better shape, rather than just sitting back and relaxing. We have much to do and now is the time to get started.

William R. Polk is a veteran foreign policy consultant, author and professor who taught Middle Eastern studies at Harvard. President John F. Kennedy appointed Polk to the State Department’s Policy Planning Council where he served during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His books include: Violent Politics: Insurgency and Terrorism; Understanding Iraq; Understanding Iran; Personal History: Living in Interesting Times; Distant Thunder: Reflections on the Dangers of Our Times; and Humpty Dumpty: The Fate of Regime Change.

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22 comments for “Pushing the Edge on Nuclear War

  1. Mr .Johnson
    August 28, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I suggest reading up on Operation Fishbowl and Starfish Prime.
    Kennedy did not in any way stop or postpone the nuclear atmospheric explosion tests during the Cuban Missile crisis. Imagine that. At least one of these nuclear explosions took place almost exactly at a time where both sides were on a bring of nuclear annihilation.

  2. Erik
    August 28, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    The scenario of nuclear confrontation over Ukraine seems unlikely to me so far. If the US aggressor continues to suppress the aspirations and kill the defenders of East Ukraine, perhaps Russia would defend them directly. One hopes that they will intervene before the US can claim East Ukraine by smuggling in tripwire forces so as to claim casualties.

    The right wing would love to sacrifice US soldiers for their personal aggrandizement, and they cannot demand war profits or domestic power without a foreign war. Usually they attack little countries, a technique they learned in childhood bullying, but usually they get their butts kicked even then, and still claim victory and the necessity of more wars.

    So the right wing may well carry the conflict to the borders of Russia as they clearly plan, as they did in Korea to the borders of China, which defeated US forces directly and severely.The US right wing learned nothing, of course, and merely drowned their sorrows in the blood of two million NK civilians which they secretly firebombed to death. Goodness knows why they still resent us. If they try that in Ukraine, we may hope that Russia will inflict another and similar defeat upon the US right wing.

    At that point, pushed back to reasonable boundaries, the US right wing might threaten nuclear retaliation if Russia took West Ukraine. Probably Russia would stop if so, and the US would have no civilians to firebomb without getting West Ukraine firebombed.

    If Russia decided to take what it could of West Ukraine (which is very unlikely because it would have to administer and aid a fractured state), perhaps staying in the background, the US right wing would have the choice of making good on foolish threats with a certainty of retaliation, or recognizing that it has no such essential interest in Ukraine. The US did not use nuclear weapons in Korea, and would be far less likely to do so in Ukraine.

    I think that the arguments against the US right wing provocations in Ukraine prove the selfishness, hypocrisy, and malice of the US right wing. They do not care about human life other than their own, and until that is threatened will do nothing for anyone. So the US and Russia can fight proxy wars for the profit of their right wing, especially the US right wing, but they will not in fact consider nuclear war to avoid losing such a fight, when they can simply lie to their own people about what happened.

    If an accidental launch/release occurred during a nuclear mobilization, it would likely be shot down or disarmed. Otherwise it would be plainly an accident. The worst response would be a single closely-similar retaliation. The side claiming the accident would likely be forced to concede whatever gains it had made in the proxy war.

    • Logan Waters
      August 28, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      “If an accidental launch/release occurred during a nuclear mobilization, it would likely be shot down or disarmed.”

      Tragically, there is no mechanism to shoot down or to disarm most nuclear weapons. Once launched, they are unstoppable. The sole exception, of course, are manned bombers and fighters carrying out bombing missions.

    • Peder
      August 30, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Erik no one wants to go to war over Ukraine. Putin saw how easy it went i Crimea so he thought we do the same with east ukraine. But he miss understood the situation on 4 points 1 Merkel would not react. 2 Obama was weak. 3 he over estimated his own economy. 4 the Ukranian army would not fight.

      At the moment he i stucked in a bad situation, runing out of money and so is his supporters. So the trick is to get Putin down from his tree because we need him in the middle east.
      But at the moment he is stuck in Ukraine figures say that the russian army has lost 2300 soldiers in Kia and. 3000 in serius wounded. This numbers come from calulation made on the amount of benefits there is paid out to next of kin and wounded soldiers.

      • Kiza
        August 31, 2015 at 5:18 am

        Peder, you obviously think that you are very smart and very well informed. Yet, you utterly fail to grasp the implications of what you wrote. Let us even disregard how many US and Canadian mercenaries (soldiers with no dog-tags) have been killed whilst attacking Eastern Ukraine. But, if it is true that 2,300 Russian soldiers were KIA (as you smugly declare), what will Russia be prepared to do next if you are right? It appears that in your “smart” mind you fail to comprehend that killing is not a one-way street and that, if you were right, no self-respecting Russian leader would be doing anything else now then thinking how to blow up something which belongs to US and kill as many US citizens as possible. Or do you consider that only the US has a right, not to mention an inclination, to take revenge for the deaths of their people?

        Finally, it just happens that Ukraine is the Russia’s front yard and the US is creating trouble there, so far away from its border. How long can Putin keep his military and his people away from starting a to pay the US back, just as Mr William Polk writes.

        Thank you Mr Polk for writing so sensibly. Writings such as yours are desperately needed to return some true perspective to world affairs.

    • Ray Paolini
      August 31, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      You have your “wings” on backwards, sir.
      R Paolini,

  3. Joe Tedesky
    August 28, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Any discussion about Iran achieving a nuclear bomb is an Israeli red herring. In fact, more so than worrying about Pakistan or even India, it is my contention the real concern should be placed upon Israel. I say this only due to the fact, that Israel is very violent and extreme in their responses to almost anything. One does not mess with Israel. I would also point to how the U.S. maybe a bigger worry than Russia as well. Readers to this site know exactly what I am talking about. Between a Nuland or a Breedlove, need I go on? If more prove is needed, then read a speech by Putin, then listen to John McCain or even Obama. Then you tell me who to worry about the most.

    Kruschev may have been shunned by his peers over his attempt to make everlasting peace with Kennedy. For sure JFK’s assassination was a major coup d’état. Between the CIA, the corporate militarists they saw John Kennedy as being a true Benedict Arnold. So in their overly weird patriotic minds something needed to be done to this Kennedy Traitor. John Kennedy paid the ultimate price for trying to wage peace. I am sure that his death serves as a warning to anyone who sits in the Oval Office, and by their actions Kennedy’s predecessors are minding their P’s and especially watching their Q’s. “What ever you say Boss”, is the safest motto a president should have, if they wish to stay alive.

    Lastly, the whole word should disarm their nuclear weapons. I would go so far as to suggest we outlaw all war, but this might spoil the profiteers profits, and you can’t do that. If we really were a smart species we would hammer our weapons into plowshares. Fixing the world’s climate change mess would no doubt replace the war profits into green nature profits. Where are the visionaries when we most need them?

  4. Bob Van Noy
    August 28, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    I too Mr. Polk, have vivid memories of those days in the early 1960s, as a private with forward observer team with the 101st. Airborne, Cuba was on our agenda. We too would “game,” however on one day in the spring of 1963, while my unit was on full alert we quickly flew out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky to, I think, Homeland AFB in Florida, there we were issued live ammo (a very rare thing in gaming) and prepared for the invasion of Cuba. After several hours the C-130’s shut down their engines, refueled and we flew back to Fort Campbell? I was personally frightened speechless as our jump master (a veteran of Korea) advised us about what to expect, and I thought, “Bob, you’re just mean and tough enough to survive”.

    Imagine my horror as, years later, (2003) I watched “The Fog of War” documentary on Robert McNamara by Errol Morris. I learned that Fidel Castro, anticipating an Airborne invasion had covered every possible drop zone with punji sticks, bad enough, but he was also prepared to use battlefield nukes against us and “sacrifice” the island. Robert McNamara, in the documentary, was stunned by this revelation, and as I watched my hands began to sweat as I realized we would have been cooked.

    War is so stupid and unnecessary. These “bright” guys who don’t fight and don’t offer personal sacrifice are so quick to commit others to death for an abstract idea. It truly is criminal. They should publicly make their case or be tried for war crimes instead of being allowed to hide behind their secret analysis…

    Thank you and Robert Parry for fighting the good battle, and thank the Kennedy Brothers for having level heads.

  5. Abe
    August 28, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Developed in 2005, the new US Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations (DJNO) calls for “integrating conventional and nuclear attacks” under a unified and “integrated” Command and Control (C2).

    http://www.wslfweb.org/docs/doctrine/3_12fc2.pdf

    Under the revised nuclear doctrine, local commanders are granted greater latitude to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to achieve military goals:

    “Integrating conventional and nuclear attacks will ensure the most efficient use of force and provide U.S. leaders with a broader range of strike options to address immediate contingencies. Integration of conventional and nuclear forces is therefore crucial to the success of any comprehensive strategy. This integration will ensure optimal targeting, minimal collateral damage, and reduce the probability of escalation.”

    “Combatant commanders may consider the following target selection factors to determine how to defeat individual targets. … 1. Time sensitivity. 2. Hardness (ability to withstand conventional strikes). 3. Size of target. 4. Surrounding geology and depth (for underground targets). 5. Required level of damage.”

    “Nuclear weapons and associated systems may be deployed into theaters, but combatant commanders have no authority to employ them until that authority is specifically granted by the president.”

    “Deployed nuclear-strike capabilities include … theater-based, nuclear-capable dual-role aircraft.”

    “Nuclear-capable aircraft offer a greater degree of flexibility in escalation control because they may be a highly visible sign of resolve and, once ordered to conduct a nuclear strike, are recallable, if necessary. Aircraft-delivered weapons also provide strike capability across the range of nuclear operations.”

    War planning is largely described as a management decision-making process, where military and strategic objectives are to be achieved, through a mix of instruments, with little concern for the resulting loss of human life.

    In this context, nuclear and conventional weapons are considered to be “part of the tool box”, from which military commanders can pick and choose the instruments that they require in accordance with “evolving circumstances” in the war theater.

    None of these weapons in the Pentagon’s “tool box”, including conventional bunker buster bombs, cluster bombs, mini-nukes, chemical and biological weapons are described as “weapons of mass destruction” when used by the United States of America and its coalition partners.

    • Abe
      August 28, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War
      By Michel Chossudovsky
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX9Lv7Jc_sQ

    • Abe
      August 28, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      F-22A stealth fighters arrive in Germany for Raptor’s inaugural deployment to Europe
      http://theaviationist.com/2015/08/28/in-pictures-f-22a-stealth-fighters-arrive-in-germany-for-raptors-inaugural-deployment-to-europe/

      • Abe
        August 28, 2015 at 8:04 pm

        The F-22 was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities including ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles.

        The high cost of the aircraft, a lack of clear air-to-air missions due to delays in Russian and Chinese fighter programs, a ban on exports, and development of the more versatile and lower cost F-35 led to the end of F-22 production.

        Deployed to Europe, the F-22 is a destabilizing weapons system. It to could be deployed in air-to-ground attacks on Russian radar in Kaliningrad Oblast, or HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) of US strategic bombers on conventional or nuclear strike operations against Russia.

        • Mortimer
          August 29, 2015 at 2:48 pm

          sounds pretty Lethal to me.
          bet the US pilots are
          twitching with anticipation
          to kick Russian butt,
          they’re already programmed.

      • Abe
        August 28, 2015 at 10:34 pm
        • bobzz
          August 29, 2015 at 3:59 pm

          This is an excerpt from my review of Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard & How the West Was Checkmated on Amazon:

          And the American military may not be as formidable as supposed. Russia and China became fed up when the hegemonic US went after Syria. The NATO fleet tried to bluff both of them in the Mediterranean; they fired two tomahawk missiles toward the Syrian coast. Neither reached their target. The Russian cruiser Moskva or one of the Chinese ships electronically diverted the missiles in flight sending them harmlessly into the sea (298-300).
          Again, the USS Donald Cook, bristling with all manner of weaponry and electronic gear, was in the Black Sea when a Russian SU-24 bomber made a run and disabled all of the Cook’s electronic systems leaving the Cook helpless. The SU-24 made a dozen passes at the Cook with no response, and she immediately set sail for Romania. No American ship has ventured into the Black Sea since (up to the time of writing). The Pentagon complained (334-337); they were lucky it is still peacetime. Did the “free press” mention this?

      • Zachary Smith
        August 29, 2015 at 1:30 am

        From the wiki:

        The F-22 is currently being upgraded with a backup oxygen system, software upgrades and oxygen sensors to address the frequent oxygen deprivation issues and normalize operations.

        That indicates they never did figure out how to fix whatever it was that was killing the pilots, so they added a workaround.

        The airplane is getting some years on it, and the rest of the world is catching up. The Russians claim they can track it on their new radars, and the Europeans can certainly see the plane’s IR at quite a distance. It’s expensive to operate, and IMO is more useful as a ‘threat’ than for actual fighting. The range isn’t a bit impressive, and if you hang extra tanks on the outside, the stealth is badly degraded. News reports say that to fly it to Syria from the UAE requires several tanker planes each way. The F-22 itself may be stealthy, but anybody at all can track those tankers.

        Back before WW2 the US sent three dozen B-17s to the Philippines to intimidate the Japanese with our cutting edge bombers. It didn’t work then, and isn’t likely to work now if push comes to shove.

      • Huh?
        August 29, 2015 at 7:02 pm

        The F22 will get blown out of the sky by the cheaper and far more maneuverable Russian PAK 5th generation fighter. As with the US F35 the F22 is a white elephant and unfortunately, as usual, the American taxpayers get to pay the bill for the clowns in the military/industrial complex that President Eisenhower went out of his way to warn about.

        • Abe
          August 31, 2015 at 11:27 am

          The question is: under the new DJNO, how many white elephants can NATO afford to lose before some local commander resorts to nuclear combat?

  6. notwistalemon
    August 29, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    No one wins at this game except the defense contractors and the corporatocracy. Everyone read, or reread, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins;and, check out his Web site.

  7. Huh?
    August 29, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    “Last, while the minute hand on the clock on the cover of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is probably now a bit further from midnight than at various times in the past . . . ”

    What planet is this author living on anyway? By all measures the “minute hand on the clock on the cover of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” should be closer to mid-night than it ever has been in history! Also, the fallacy that “limited nuclear war cannot be waged” has been proven false by the use of micro and mini nuclear weapons in the past several years in places like Ukraine, Yemen and Syria (not to mention on 9/11 at the World Trade Centers and at the Murrah Building in OKC). The problem with the recent use of these weapons is the MSM around the world has been complicit in both failing to report on these incidents and not even bothering to investigate them. As the actors using these weapons realize they can do so with impunity the use of them will increase . . . . . .

  8. Dosamuno
    August 30, 2015 at 8:26 am

    “Dr. Sasaki worked without method, taking those who were nearest him first, and he noticed soon that the corridor seemed to be getting more and more crowded. Mixed in with the abrasions and lacerations which most people in the hospital had suffered, he began to find dreadful burns. He realized then that casualties were pouring in from outdoors. There were so many that he began to pass up the lightly wounded; he decided that all he could hope to do was to stop people from bleeding to death. Before long, patients lay and crouched on the floors of the wards and the laboratories and all the other rooms, and in the corridors, and on the stairs, and in the front hall, and under the porte-cochère, and on the stone front steps, and in the driveway and courtyard, and for blocks each way in the streets outside. Wounded people supported maimed people; disfigured families leaned together. Many people were vomiting. A tremendous number of schoolgirls—some of those who had been taken from their classrooms to work outdoors, clearing fire lanes—crept into the hospital. In a city of two hundred and forty-five thousand, nearly a hundred thousand people had been killed or doomed at one blow; a hundred thousand more were hurt. At least ten thousand of the wounded made their way to the best hospital in town, which was altogether unequal to such a trampling, since it had only six hundred beds, and they had all been occupied. The people in the suffocating crowd inside the hospital wept and cried, for Dr. Sasaki to hear, “Sensei! Doctor!,” and the less seriously wounded came and pulled at his sleeve and begged him to come to the aid of the worse wounded. Tugged here and there in his stockinged feet, bewildered by the numbers, staggered by so much raw flesh, Dr. Sasaki lost all sense of profession and stopped working as a skillful surgeon and a sympathetic man; he became an automaton, mechanically wiping, daubing, winding, wiping, daubing, winding.”

    (From Hiroshima by John Hershey
    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1946/08/31/hiroshima)

    • Kiza
      August 31, 2015 at 5:37 am

      One of the most dangerous developments is when the Military-Industrial establishment poor money into moronic TV series such as Jericho, which shows nuclear war survival as possible, even likely, if you just take precautions. But I must admit that I lost interest after watching only the one and half episodes of this trash.

      If only half of the Russian nuclear weapons reach CONUS, there will be not a single non-radioactive rock in the mentioned CONUS. Maybe and only very remote maybe, a few cockroaches could survive.

      People who make TV series such as Jericho are simply criminal con-men and con-women.

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