My past myths about nuclear war I used to believe in (pls. add yours as well)

Here are some myths I believed about nuclear war I used to believe in. Anyone can share their previous myths:

1. That fallout would be long-lasting and severe after a nuclear exchange.

I once believed legit that fallout after a nuclear war would really be so intense and would last long, but considering the 7-10 rule and the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were eventually habitable, I don't see how the idea that radiation would render much of the world and former urban cores uninhabitable by radiation as seen in Hollywood films and other post-apocalyptic media about nuclear wars.

https://www.quora.com/Why-were-Nagasaki-and-Hiroshima-habitable-after-1945-and-Chernobyl-not-after-their-meltdowns-Whats-the-difference


Granted, cancer rates would certainly go up. And the ozone layer would get reduced and it's bad, but not world-ending.


2. Cities would get screwed.

I don't trust some nations but I do trust the US + NATO and Russia, nations with the greatest abilities to conduct total nuclear exchanges, would follow their doctrines, be rational, and really avoid nuking cities in a nuclear war, going instead for hard military facilities and nuke facilities such as ICBM sites (they have an efficiency incentive to do so):

https://www.quora.com/How-long-would-it-take-humanity-to-recover-from-an-all-out-nuclear-war

https://www.businessinsider.com/likely-us-nuclear-targets-2017-5
 
I once believed legit that fallout after a nuclear war would really be so intense and would last long, but considering the 7-10 rule and the fact that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were eventually habitable, I don't see how the idea that radiation would render much of the world and former urban cores uninhabitable by radiation as seen in Hollywood films and other post-apocalyptic media about nuclear wars.
Look up the difference between ground-burst and air-burst. Start checking how many reinforced silos and bunkers would need direct nuclear hits. Or how some civilian strategic targets such as railworks nodes are inherently built in such a way (metallic structure with very low surface to "catch" a shockwave) they'd need direct hits to be demolished. Then you start realizing that Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with one minuscule air-burst each, were not really representative.
I don't trust some nations but I do trust the US + NATO and Russia, nations with the greatest abilities to conduct total nuclear exchanges, would follow their doctrines, be rational, and really avoid nuking cities in a nuclear war, going instead for nuke facilities such as ICBM sites (they have an efficiency incentive to do so):
Too bad, the smaller nations, that cannot survive this fight due to their much higher concentration of assets and lower population, tend to have a counter-value policy. The British boomers would turn Moscow into a crater, while the French policy was... well, let's let Charles explain it:

"Within ten years, we shall have the means to kill 80 million Russians. I truly believe that one does not light-heartedly attack people who are able to kill 80 million Russians, even if one can kill 800 million French, that is if there were 800 million French."

That's de Gaulle here, and he established a policy of counter-value strikes because he knew that counter-force or counter-value would mean pretty much the same thing for such a geographically small country as his (and even moreso now as the colossal majority of the French powerplants are nuclear, so if they get attacked as part of strategic warfare, France and a large part of Europe get the Pripyat treatment). Then there's Israel's Sampson Option on whoever decides to have a serious second go at the Jewish people.

So what do you think happens when small countries kill 100 or 200 million Russian/Soviets as a final act of spite? Do you seriously believe USSR would go "oh, well, it wasn't the US who did that, so we'll just roll over and die while the US will just lose a few bases and ports"? Noone serious does. It is believed, BTW, to be a form of blackmail directed to the US, to make sure that if WW3 happened, they wouldn't sell out continental Europe to the Soviets under the threat of nuclear war, because abandoning Western Europe would mean the destruction of the US after forcing the Soviets' hand.

Nuclear warfare isn't just between the US and USSR, but also involves countries that are geographically unable to survive such a war and have both the means and the will to make everyone else lose along to not be alone in Hell.
 
Here are some myths I believed about nuclear war I used to believe in. Anyone can share their previous myths:

2. Cities would get screwed.
The problem here is that even in a strict Counterforce Strike a great many military targets have cities wrapped around.
(Scenarios such as Eric L. Harry's Arc Light apply a massive amount of BS to try and explain how the United States only suffers 6 million civilian dead)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_military_bases
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e5/U.S._Military_Installations_Map.jpg

Just hitting these and its not really going to make any difference as to whether you deliberately targeted the big cities.
 
I used to think MIRVs could hit anything, if a MIRV was fired at Australia it would take out the east coast as well as adelaide and perth thousands of kilometres away. It was only much later that MIRVs fall in an obling 200 miles long and 100 miles wide in the direction of the missiles flight.

I also used to think, related to the first point, that Australia would be plastered in a nuclear war. It was much later that I learned that while there were a vast number of warheads there wasn't nearly as many delivery systems able to reach Australia, and the vast majority of those were aimed at CONUS. So Australia would only get the dregs of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, and likely survive as a nation.
 
I used to be one of several radiological officers when I drove a fire engine for a living. Believe it or not most of the population would make it through the shooting just fine but have a very poor chance of surviving the aftermath either short or long term. Population centers usually would have received smaller sized air burst H bombs. Only specific military or transportation sites would have received surface bursts. Air bursts if the fireball does not reach the ground USUALLY give off little fall out.

Nuclear fallout, if memory serves, has an AVERAGE half life of less than 2 weeks. The problem would be water and food supply and adequate fallout protection for the surviving population. Three days. Three weeks. Three months. Three years. No safe water. No food. No transport. Too many guns in the USA. A bad situation for everyone. My old home town would have received close to 10,000 RADS over 2 months. Down wind from just about everything. Glad the war did not happen.
 
Nuclear fallout, if memory serves, has an AVERAGE half life of less than 2 weeks. The problem would be water and food supply and adequate fallout protection for the surviving population. Three days. Three weeks. Three months. Three years. No safe water. No food. No transport. Too many guns in the USA. A bad situation for everyone. My old home town would have received close to 10,000 RADS over 2 months. Down wind from just about everything. Glad the war did not happen.
People all too often forget about logistics and about how fragile modern society is. When the bombs drop, you don't play Fallout, you die from dysentry.
 
Well, if we’re talking about a nuclear war in the modern age, probably one between Russia and the US, would Russia even have enough deployed and ready weapons to even effectively destroy NATO military capacities? They might be forced into countervalue strikes just out of the fact that they can’t destroy enough of the enemy with what they have. China faces a even greater problem with this, seeing that they lack a significant long range capacity and their small number of nuclear warheads. So maybe countervalue is more effective in the modern world for Russia and China.
 
I've always assumed that the key problem from fallout wasn't the intensity so much as the fact that certain isotopes continue to present a low-level hazard for decades. After it settles on the ground the fallout leeches into the soil and is then absorbed into the food chain. It gets sucked up by plants, then cows eat the plants, then their milk is contaminated etc. The result is that people growing up in a post-nuclear environment are continually subjected to low-level nuclear poisoning.

Post-war Britain in particular would struggle to feed the survivors. Everybody would essentially have to work on a farm - there would be very little fuel and no help from outside - but the farmworkers and the horses aren't going to be strong and healthy, they're going to be sick. I assume that with clever land management and lots of resources the problems could be mitigated, but post-war there won't be that level of sophistication. Britain will be like Haiti post-Hurricane Matthew, there won't be UN emergency teams coming to help or a US aircraft carrier just off the coast sending supplies.

But I could be wrong. It would be interesting to know how much lead was pumped into the atmosphere during the years when lead was added to petrol, bearing in mind that it would have been spread over eighty years or so. We survived that.
 
Me, I used to think that a nuclear war would be the end of the world, but yet there are ways to well..."survive" one even though there will be massive chaos in the aftermath of such an event, so much so that it might dwarf all the other periods of instability given the factor of fallout affecting food supplies and the environment. That and also used to think it's unwinnable, though technically the odd thing is, it can be, only by the one who lost the least; morbid optimism but at least that's something to account for (though again it might not last in the post-apocalypse environment).
 
While the Southern Hemisphere would not get off scot-free, there are targets there that would be hit even in Oz, the number of bombs going off especially ground burst would be pretty small. The exchange from the Northern Hemisphere is not such that you'd see the "On the Beach" scenario.The problem was/is that the Southern Hemisphere, with exceptions, is highly dependent on the Northern Hemisphere for all sorts of things from food to manufactured goods. When that stops, and it will, and when local food production decreases, and it will, very bad things will happen - massive famine and epidemics (the later even if no bioweapons are let loose).

BTW China is screwed, i expect no matter what it will get some counterforce hits from the USA to eliminate nuclear and major military complexes, and I have no doubt the Soviets will spare some large nukes for most of the major cities.
 
The problem here is that even in a strict Counterforce Strike a great many military targets have cities wrapped around.
(Scenarios such as Eric L. Harry's Arc Light apply a massive amount of BS to try and explain how the United States only suffers 6 million civilian dead)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_military_bases
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e5/U.S._Military_Installations_Map.jpg

Just hitting these and its not really going to make any difference as to whether you deliberately targeted the big cities.
As a citizen of Omaha, NE I’d have to bid you all good night, and good luck, if the counterforce ever started.
 
Ok so my first myth was that any war would be a full strategic exchange from the get go, thanks to films like by dawn's early light or looking glass.

And the second was that nuclear weapons were magic weapons that could destroy everything , everywhere and that's not the case .

Regards

Butch
 
The problem here is that even in a strict Counterforce Strike a great many military targets have cities wrapped around.
(Scenarios such as Eric L. Harry's Arc Light apply a massive amount of BS to try and explain how the United States only suffers 6 million civilian dead)
As much as I enjoy that novel, it bothered me that the U.S. was able to receive a 600+ megaton counterforce strike - one that destroyed dozens of military bases, and which caused radioactive fallout to blanket D.C. - and then proceed to launch a military invasion of Russia in retaliation. Given the immense level of social and economic disruption that would have resulted from even a limited counterforce attack, the U.S. government and military would be too busy dealing with the aftermath at home to be able to invade Russia, even with Russia also suffering heavy damage from the nuclear exchange.

The novel also significantly downplayed the effects of EMP. It mentions that the Russians detonated a few nukes at high altitude to generate an EMP over the lower 48 states. But the effects are almost never mentioned in the rest of the book. The only post-attack EMP reference I can remember is an electronics store selling imported VCRs that are labeled as undamaged by EMP. The story implies that the electrical grid, aircraft, and motor vehicles were unaffected, which would not be the case in real life.
 
As a kid, I believed MIRVs meant a missile would fly over multiple targets, dropping nukes on each, before being expended. Then I started thinking of it as a pilotless bomber; firing its nukes before going back to reload.

That was mostly because I misread an article on MIRVs once and got a few things mixed up.
 

GarethC

Donor
As a kid, I believed MIRVs meant a missile would fly over multiple targets, dropping nukes on each, before being expended. Then I started thinking of it as a pilotless bomber; firing its nukes before going back to reload.

That was mostly because I misread an article on MIRVs once and got a few things mixed up.
You’re thinking of the XK-PLUTO Weapon.
 
So what do you think happens when small countries kill 100 or 200 million Russian/Soviets as a final act of spite? Do you seriously believe USSR would go "oh, well, it wasn't the US who did that, so we'll just roll over and die while the US will just lose a few bases and ports"? Noone serious does. It is believed, BTW, to be a form of blackmail directed to the US, to make sure that if WW3 happened, they wouldn't sell out continental Europe to the Soviets under the threat of nuclear war, because abandoning Western Europe would mean the destruction of the US after forcing the Soviets' hand.

Nuclear warfare isn't just between the US and USSR, but also involves countries that are geographically unable to survive such a war and have both the means and the will to make everyone else lose along to not be alone in Hell.
The French nuclear strategy wasn't about blackmailing the US into supporting Europe, it was built on the very assumption that the US would cut Europe loose.

The French (probably correctly) assumed that WW3 wouldn't go strategically nuclear on day 1. Tactical nuclear weapons would be used in the opening phases of the war and Germany would be a total write-off. If NATO lost the conventional war in Germany itself, as many thought they probably would, what then? The Red Army invades France, of course!

The French (probably correctly) reasoned that the US wasn't going to risk nuclear war to keep Paris free. The Red Army could roll all the way to the Bay of Biscay and the US wouldn't resort to nuclear force. The French reasoned the only way to keep the Red Army out of France was to have an independent nuclear capability that they could use to threaten the USSR, without relying on the US being willing to start a nuclear war.

It turns out they were right. Soviet war plans (such as Seven Days to the River Rhine) all envisaged stopping at the French border and that any attacks on strategic targets in France (and the UK) would be carried out by conventional munitions, not nuclear ones. Non-nuclear states like the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, etc, were all to be struck by nuclear weapons.

French nuclear strategy wasn't about forcing the Americans to keep fighting for Europe, it was about assuming the Americans wouldn't fight for Europe and so Europe (and France in particular) should have it's own insurance policies.
 
The French nuclear strategy wasn't about blackmailing the US into supporting Europe, it was built on the very assumption that the US would cut Europe loose.

The French (probably correctly) assumed that WW3 wouldn't go strategically nuclear on day 1. Tactical nuclear weapons would be used in the opening phases of the war and Germany would be a total write-off. If NATO lost the conventional war in Germany itself, as many thought they probably would, what then? The Red Army invades France, of course!

The French (probably correctly) reasoned that the US wasn't going to risk nuclear war to keep Paris free. The Red Army could roll all the way to the Bay of Biscay and the US wouldn't resort to nuclear force. The French reasoned the only way to keep the Red Army out of France was to have an independent nuclear capability that they could use to threaten the USSR, without relying on the US being willing to start a nuclear war.

It turns out they were right. Soviet war plans (such as Seven Days to the River Rhine) all envisaged stopping at the French border and that any attacks on strategic targets in France (and the UK) would be carried out by conventional munitions, not nuclear ones. Non-nuclear states like the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, etc, were all to be struck by nuclear weapons.

French nuclear strategy wasn't about forcing the Americans to keep fighting for Europe, it was about assuming the Americans wouldn't fight for Europe and so Europe (and France in particular) should have it's own insurance policies.
It was left unsaid, but look at the strategic situation for the US: if they cut Western Europe loose during World War III, the survival of the US would rely on the Soviets not crossing the Rhine and kickstarting the apocalypse. At the time, they had no idea what the Soviet plans were and if they would try to call the bluff, hoping it was one. So it was a really good motivation for the Pentagon to actually stand there and fight to make sure the Soviets would be stopped before the Rhine was crossed. Something they'd probably explain to the GIs on the ground to have them understand that they would need to emulate the Soviets in Stalingrad when the Rhine came into sight, for the sake of their families. If they didn't?


In a sense, it was both a guarantee against the Soviets AND a way to make sure the US had one hell of a dog in the fight. Now, as for Germany? Well, it was still on probation for the whole WW2 thingie and WW3 breaking out would have meant the biggest parking lot ever and noone could do a thing about it.

(source of the video, Wargame: European Escalation, an excellent Cold War RTS where the mission just before that video has NATO counter Soviet special forces that were trying to take over the French MRBM field during Able Archer gone hot, leading afterwards to this drastic decision)
 
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