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How Mad Is This ?


Buddhas Hand

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The doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) assumes that each side has enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the other side; and that either side, if attacked for any reason by the other, would retaliate without fail with equal or greater force. The expected result is an immediate irreversible escalation of hostilities resulting in both combatants' mutual, total and assured destruction.

The doctrine further assumes that neither side will dare to launch a first strike because the other side will launch on warning (also called fail-deadly) or with secondary forces (a second strike), resulting in unacceptable losses for both parties. The payoff of the MAD doctrine is expected to be a tense but stable global peace.

The primary application of this doctrine started during the Cold War (1940s to 1990s) in which MAD was seen as helping to prevent any direct full-scale conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union while they engaged in smaller proxy wars around the world. It was also responsible for the arms race, as both nations struggled to keep nuclear parity, or at least retain second-strike capability. Although the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction continues to apply.

Proponents of MAD as part of U.S. and USSR strategic doctrine believed that nuclear war could best be prevented if neither side could expect to survive a full-scale nuclear exchange as a functioning state. Since the credibility of the threat is critical to such assurance, each side had to invest substantial capital in their nuclear arsenals even if they were not intended for use. In addition, neither side could be expected or allowed to adequately defend itself against the other's nuclear missiles. This led both to the hardening and diversification of nuclear delivery systems (such as nuclear missile silos, ballistic missile submarines and nuclear bombers kept at fail-safe points) and to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

This MAD scenario is often referred to as nuclear deterrence. The term deterrence was first used in this context after World War II; prior to that time, its use was limited to legal terminology.

Timeline of the Doomsday Clock Year Mins Left Time Change Reason 1947 7 11:53pm — The initial setting of the Doomsday Clock. 1949 3 11:57pm +4 The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, officially starting the nuclear arms race. 1953 2 11:58pm +1 The United States and the Soviet Union test thermonuclear devices within nine months of one another. (This is the clock's closest approach to midnight since its inception.) 1960 7 11:53pm −5 In response to a perception of increased scientific cooperation and public understanding of the dangers of nuclear weapons, as well political actions taken to avoid "massive retaliation." The United States and Soviet Union cooperate and avoid direct confrontation in regional conflicts such as the 1956 Suez Crisis. Scientists from different countries help establish the International Geophysical Year, a series of coordinated, worldwide scientific observations between nations allied with both the United States and the Soviet Union, and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which allow Soviet and American scientists to interact. 1963 12 11:48pm −5 The United States and Soviet Union sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, limiting atmospheric nuclear testing. 1968 7 11:53pm +5 Regional wars wage: Vietnam War intensifies, Six Day War occurs in 1967 and Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 takes place. Worse yet, France and China, two nations which have not signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, acquire and test nuclear weapons (1960 (Gerboise Bleue nuclear test) and 1964 (596 nuclear test) respectively) to assert themselves as global players in the nuclear arms race. 1969 10 11:50pm −3 Every nation of the world, with the notable exceptions of India, Pakistan, and Israel, signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 1972 12 11:48pm −2 The United States and the Soviet Union sign the SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. 1974 9 11:51pm +3 India tests a nuclear device (Smiling Buddha), SALT II talks stall. Both the United States and the Soviet Union modernize MIRVs 1980 7 11:53pm +2 Unforeseeable end to deadlock in US-Soviet Union talks as Soviet-Afghan War proceeds. As a result of the war, the US Senate refuses to ratify SALT II agreement between both nations and President Jimmy Carter pulls the United States from the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow and considers ways in which the United States could win a nuclear war 1981 4 11:56pm +3 Soviet-Afghan War hardens the US nuclear posture. Ronald Reagan becomes president, scraps further arms control talks with the Soviet Union and argues that the only way to end the Cold War is to win it. 1984 3 11:57pm +1 Further escalation of the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. 1988 6 11:54pm −3 The U.S. and the Soviet Union sign treaty to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear forces, relations improve. 1990 10 11:50pm −4 Fall of the Berlin Wall, dissolution of Iron Curtain sealing off Eastern Europe, Cold War nearing an end. 1991 17 11:43pm −7 United States and Soviet Union sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. (This is the clock's earliest setting since its inception.) 1995 14 11:46pm +3 Global military spending continues at Cold War levels; concerns about post-Soviet nuclear proliferation of weapons and brainpower. 1998 9 11:51pm +5 Both India (Pokhran-II) and Pakistan (Chagai-I) test nuclear weapons in a tit-for-tat show of aggression; the United States and Russia run into difficulties in further reducing stockpiles. 2002 7 11:53pm +2 Little progress on global nuclear disarmament; United States rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces its intentions to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; concerns about the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack due to the amount of weapon-grade nuclear materials that are unsecured and unaccounted for worldwide. 2007 5 11:55pm +2 North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon,[4] Iran's nuclear ambitions, a renewed U.S. emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia.[5] Some scientists, assessing the dangers posed to civilization, have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind.[6] 2010 6 11:54pm −1 Worldwide cooperation to reduce nuclear arsenals and limit effect of climate change.[7] 2012 5 11:55pm +1 Lack of global political action to address nuclear weapons stockpiles, the potential for regional nuclear conflict, nuclear power safety, and global climate change

does anyone else think that it is a sign of a really messed up world that the doctrine of mutual assured destruction is a considered a rational military strategy ?

and do you agree with the bulletin of atomic scientists that we are nearly as close as we have ever come to doomsday ?

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The alternative strategy being to be utterly wiped out by a nuclear strike?

MAD kept everyone alive during the cold war, I'd say it worked. Its just a higher level of posturing, as long as it remains as just posturing, no harm done.

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The doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) assumes that each side has enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the other side; and that either side, if attacked for any reason by the other, would retaliate without fail with equal or greater force. The expected result is an immediate irreversible escalation of hostilities resulting in both combatants' mutual, total and assured destruction.

The doctrine further assumes that neither side will dare to launch a first strike because the other side will launch on warning (also called fail-deadly) or with secondary forces (a second strike), resulting in unacceptable losses for both parties. The payoff of the MAD doctrine is expected to be a tense but stable global peace.

The primary application of this doctrine started during the Cold War (1940s to 1990s) in which MAD was seen as helping to prevent any direct full-scale conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union while they engaged in smaller proxy wars around the world. It was also responsible for the arms race, as both nations struggled to keep nuclear parity, or at least retain second-strike capability. Although the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction continues to apply.

Proponents of MAD as part of U.S. and USSR strategic doctrine believed that nuclear war could best be prevented if neither side could expect to survive a full-scale nuclear exchange as a functioning state. Since the credibility of the threat is critical to such assurance, each side had to invest substantial capital in their nuclear arsenals even if they were not intended for use. In addition, neither side could be expected or allowed to adequately defend itself against the other's nuclear missiles. This led both to the hardening and diversification of nuclear delivery systems (such as nuclear missile silos, ballistic missile submarines and nuclear bombers kept at fail-safe points) and to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

This MAD scenario is often referred to as nuclear deterrence. The term deterrence was first used in this context after World War II; prior to that time, its use was limited to legal terminology.

Timeline of the Doomsday Clock Year Mins Left Time Change Reason 1947 7 11:53pm — The initial setting of the Doomsday Clock. 1949 3 11:57pm +4 The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, officially starting the nuclear arms race. 1953 2 11:58pm +1 The United States and the Soviet Union test thermonuclear devices within nine months of one another. (This is the clock's closest approach to midnight since its inception.) 1960 7 11:53pm −5 In response to a perception of increased scientific cooperation and public understanding of the dangers of nuclear weapons, as well political actions taken to avoid "massive retaliation." The United States and Soviet Union cooperate and avoid direct confrontation in regional conflicts such as the 1956 Suez Crisis. Scientists from different countries help establish the International Geophysical Year, a series of coordinated, worldwide scientific observations between nations allied with both the United States and the Soviet Union, and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which allow Soviet and American scientists to interact. 1963 12 11:48pm −5 The United States and Soviet Union sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, limiting atmospheric nuclear testing. 1968 7 11:53pm +5 Regional wars wage: Vietnam War intensifies, Six Day War occurs in 1967 and Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 takes place. Worse yet, France and China, two nations which have not signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty, acquire and test nuclear weapons (1960 (Gerboise Bleue nuclear test) and 1964 (596 nuclear test) respectively) to assert themselves as global players in the nuclear arms race. 1969 10 11:50pm −3 Every nation of the world, with the notable exceptions of India, Pakistan, and Israel, signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 1972 12 11:48pm −2 The United States and the Soviet Union sign the SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. 1974 9 11:51pm +3 India tests a nuclear device (Smiling Buddha), SALT II talks stall. Both the United States and the Soviet Union modernize MIRVs 1980 7 11:53pm +2 Unforeseeable end to deadlock in US-Soviet Union talks as Soviet-Afghan War proceeds. As a result of the war, the US Senate refuses to ratify SALT II agreement between both nations and President Jimmy Carter pulls the United States from the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow and considers ways in which the United States could win a nuclear war 1981 4 11:56pm +3 Soviet-Afghan War hardens the US nuclear posture. Ronald Reagan becomes president, scraps further arms control talks with the Soviet Union and argues that the only way to end the Cold War is to win it. 1984 3 11:57pm +1 Further escalation of the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. 1988 6 11:54pm −3 The U.S. and the Soviet Union sign treaty to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear forces, relations improve. 1990 10 11:50pm −4 Fall of the Berlin Wall, dissolution of Iron Curtain sealing off Eastern Europe, Cold War nearing an end. 1991 17 11:43pm −7 United States and Soviet Union sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. (This is the clock's earliest setting since its inception.) 1995 14 11:46pm +3 Global military spending continues at Cold War levels; concerns about post-Soviet nuclear proliferation of weapons and brainpower. 1998 9 11:51pm +5 Both India (Pokhran-II) and Pakistan (Chagai-I) test nuclear weapons in a tit-for-tat show of aggression; the United States and Russia run into difficulties in further reducing stockpiles. 2002 7 11:53pm +2 Little progress on global nuclear disarmament; United States rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces its intentions to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; concerns about the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack due to the amount of weapon-grade nuclear materials that are unsecured and unaccounted for worldwide. 2007 5 11:55pm +2 North Korea's test of a nuclear weapon,[4] Iran's nuclear ambitions, a renewed U.S. emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons, the failure to adequately secure nuclear materials, and the continued presence of some 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia.[5] Some scientists, assessing the dangers posed to civilization, have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind.[6] 2010 6 11:54pm −1 Worldwide cooperation to reduce nuclear arsenals and limit effect of climate change.[7] 2012 5 11:55pm +1 Lack of global political action to address nuclear weapons stockpiles, the potential for regional nuclear conflict, nuclear power safety, and global climate change

does anyone else think that it is a sign of a really messed up world that the doctrine of mutual assured destruction is a considered a rational military strategy ?

and do you agree with the bulletin of atomic scientists that we are nearly as close as we have ever come to doomsday ?

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does anyone else think that it is a sign of a really messed up world that the doctrine of mutual assured destruction is a considered a rational military strategy ?

and do you agree with the bulletin of atomic scientists that we are nearly as close as we have ever come to doomsday ?

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The alternative strategy being to be utterly wiped out by a nuclear strike?

MAD kept everyone alive during the cold war, I'd say it worked. Its just a higher level of posturing, as long as it remains as just posturing, no harm done.

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I asked my father that same question when I was in my early teens at the time this madness was going on. He said the "other side" was just like us, sh*t scared and wondering how our govt's got us in this mess. He also said communism is like democracy, both work in theory, but greed killed what might have been wonderous times.

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IF the soviets or US had launched a full scale all in attack on the other, retaliation would have been unnecessary. You cant set off 4000+ nukes and expect to survive anywhere on earth. Just 30 underground test nukes in Nevada leave a trail of slightly higher infant mortality downwind for over 1000 miles for years. 4000+ nukes leaves the world sterile.

To answer the question: Once nuclear weaponry was in the hands of competing nations the doctrine of mutually assured destruction was the only rational strategy what would work. We are closer to doomsday than before not because of Russia or the US which are fairly stable on the nuclear front but because of nuclear proliferation. Countries like Pakistan, India, Israel, N. Korea, Some smaller baltic countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union, maybe Iran soon all having nukes and possible instability within some of these countries are of great concern. And if some or even one of those nukes goes missing?

I read a article interviewing a Russian General after the collapse of the soviet Union and he said that some people within Russia could sell tanks, jets etc even nuclear material for money but never a nuclear bomb because if that bomb gets used on a population center anywhere in the world, no matter what you do, how you try to mislead and confuse the trail they WILL find you. No matter what else happens. No amount of money would protect you. But an idealist like a ultra nationalist or religious fanatic would do it. Those are the ones to watch out for.

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IF the soviets or US had launched a full scale all in attack on the other, retaliation would have been unnecessary. You cant set off 4000+ nukes and expect to survive anywhere on earth. Just 30 underground test nukes in Nevada leave a trail of slightly higher infant mortality downwind for over 1000 miles for years. 4000+ nukes leaves the world sterile.

To answer the question: Once nuclear weaponry was in the hands of competing nations the doctrine of mutually assured destruction was the only rational strategy what would work. We are closer to doomsday than before not because of Russia or the US which are fairly stable on the nuclear front but because of nuclear proliferation. Countries like Pakistan, India, Israel, N. Korea, Some smaller baltic countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union, maybe Iran soon all having nukes and possible instability within some of these countries are of great concern. And if some or even one of those nukes goes missing?

I read a article interviewing a Russian General after the collapse of the soviet Union and he said that some people within Russia could sell tanks, jets etc even nuclear material for money but never a nuclear bomb because if that bomb gets used on a population center anywhere in the world, no matter what you do, how you try to mislead and confuse the trail they WILL find you. No matter what else happens. No amount of money would protect you. But an idealist like a ultra nationalist or religious fanatic would do it. Those are the ones to watch out for.

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I cant believe I had never heard of that. According to Wikipedia: "The incident in Norway was the first and only incident where any of the nuclear powers had its nuclear suitcases activated and prepared for launching an attack" maybe they should have added a:"that we know of" to the end of that statement. I had thought that the Cuba Missile Crisis was the closest we had come.

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