Trump administration considering new "low-yield, tactical-use nukes"

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by jpietrzak8, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. jpietrzak8 macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #1
    Donald Trump really doesn't see a problem with using nuclear weapons. Well, he does see one problem -- they aren't convenient enough for the modern battlefield. He'd like to include smaller warheads into the arsenal; ones that generals could choose to use in tough situations without quite as much of an effect as a full-yield weapon:

    A high-level panel created by President Donald Trump to evaluate the nuclear arsenal is reviewing various options for adding a more modern "low-yield" bomb, according to sources involved in the review, to further deter Russia, North Korea or other potential nuclear adversaries.
    ...
    "The [nuclear review] has to credibly ask the military what they need to deter enemies," added another official who supports such a proposal, particularly to confront Russia, which has raised the prominence of tactical nuclear weapons in its battle plans in recent years, including as a first-strike weapon. "Are [current weapons] going to be useful in all the scenarios we see?"​

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/09/trump-reviews-mini-nuke-242513

    From reading the article, this sounds like creating warheads that are of an approximate yield similar to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. (Most modern American nukes are hundreds of times more powerful than those were.)
     
  2. steve knight macrumors 68030

    steve knight

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    #2
    is this panel made up of family members and billionaires that know nothing of war?
     
  3. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #3
    Point of a nuke is to end the war. I don't think you want "to go there" if it's not going to have a war ending impact on the enemy, might as well use a bigger bomb.
     
  4. jpietrzak8 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #4
    Huh. If the point of a nuke was simply to "end the war," nukes would have been used many times in the past half-century. There are now more than half a dozen nations with some sort of nuclear arsenal, and most of them have now been in wars while having the nuclear option...
     
  5. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #5
    The only time a nuke has been used in real war it did exactly that. How many of these wars you are talking about were won with total victory/surrender of the enemy?

    Using a small nuke is essentially the same as using a large nuke as far as the international community would see it, thus no point. If you are going to take out Pyongyang you might as well go big.
     
  6. BeeGood macrumors 68000

    BeeGood

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    #6
    Hopefully this is just sabre rattling. I don’t like this idea at all (using nukes as convential/tactical weapons).

    Once you open that door there is no going back. We will obviously “win”, but say goodbye to Seoul, Tokyo, Okinawa and Guam.
     
  7. jpietrzak8 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #7
    The only time a nuke has been used in real war, Japan had already lost. Their navy was already shattered, America was already firebombing their cities to ash and preparing to set up a beachhead somewhere, and the Russians were preparing to invade as well.

    The nukes were entirely unnecessary to end the war. They may have sped things up a bit, but that's all.
     
  8. Mac'nCheese Suspended

    Mac'nCheese

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    #8
    I can find a source later but this started under Obama, for the record. His administration started (continued? Not sure) the moderinization of our nukes which include getting rid of the old computer systems (they used floppy disks!) and new, smaller yield nukes which are way more accurate than the old nukes.
     
  9. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #9
    Every administration has considered low yield nukes all infantrymen train for it, Donny isn't special in that regard
     
  10. sorcery macrumors regular

    sorcery

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    #10
    The only current practical purpose of a tactical nuke is to defeat Russia in a European war.
    Adventurous policy. Hope to die of old age before this happens.
    Edit: Doubt if this has much to do with the President, the establishment has him hamstrung already.
     
  11. DearthnVader macrumors 6502a

    DearthnVader

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    #11
    The use of nukes vs another nuclear super power is suicide for the human race, no one has any business building more of them, we need to be figuring out ways to get rid of them.
     
  12. jerwin macrumors 68020

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    #12
    Yeah. A beachhead! You might want to read this article:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Downfall

    some highlights

    It's kind of a cliche to shout "Twenty-Twenty Hindsight!" But there were a lot of unknowns. The US didn't have perfect information. It's entirely possible that the US decision makers din't even have access to all the information that the US had assembled. After all, Leslie Groves (director of the Manhattan project) had described radiation as "a very pleasant way to die," in congressional testimony following the surrender.
     
  13. jpietrzak8 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #13
    For me, I would argue a slightly different point. My argument is not that using the bomb saved the lives of American soldiers; compared to forcing an amphibious landing against a well-defended coast, it certainly did (even considering how much practice the US had gained in its island hopping campaign). But I have two considerations to that:

    (1) The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, effectively, of zero military value. The invasion was scheduled to happen in a matter of weeks; no significant troops or materiel, so far as I know, were stockpiled at those locations; certainly, the loss of those two cities did not make an appreciable difference to the strength of the defenses at the proposed landing sites.

    There certainly were military sites they could have attacked. Air fields, harbors, army installations, supply depos, leadership bunkers. A nuke is a nuke wherever you set it off, and I'm sure would make the same point. But no, they chose to go for relatively poorly defended civilian targets.

    In short, these two bombings seem to have been designed to maximize civilian casualties, in order to promote fear. They were, pure and simple, terrorist attacks. Personally, I question the premise of murdering civilians to save soldiers lives, even in a "total war" situation.

    (2) The two bombings seemed to have been done because the American leadership was in a hurry. Heck, the entire invasion plan, with its predictions of extreme loss of life, seemed to assume that we had to conquer Japan in a hurry. Why? The war in Europe was already over; America already controlled the Pacific, and Japan was pretty much pushed back to its home islands. Time was now against Japan; the longer time went on, the weaker they would get.

    So, why did the US want to invade so quickly, without preparing the way ahead of time? Why not blockade for a year or two, strengthening the eventual invasion force, starving Japan of supplies and food, and attempting to negotiate a surrender during that time?

    My guess is that the US wanted to maximize its post-war position. They wanted to take Japan now, before the Soviets made any more gains. The nukes not only helped accelerate this timetable, they also provided an additional threat to the Soviets that we had this incredible new power, and we were prepared to use it against civilians.


    In any case, the tactical value of the nukes is obvious in the context of the supposed invasion. I don't question that. It is the strategic value of the nukes that I question; the manner in which they were used does not seem to have been military in nature, but rather political. And a very immoral political use at that.
     
  14. jerwin macrumors 68020

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    #15
    Hiroshima-- 6 August 1945
    Nagasaki-- 9 August 1945



    X-Day-- 1 November 1945 (Invasion of Kyūshū)
    Y Day-- 1 March 1946 (Invasion of Honshu)

    Plus-- the invasion plans incorporated the use of "up to 9 more nuclear weapons."

    This was the situation in August 1945

    [​IMG]

    If the weather had cooperated, and Kokura Arsenal was targeted, would people still be arguing about Bockscar's moral responsibility?
     
  15. jkcerda macrumors 6502a

    jkcerda

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    #16
    So trump "inherited" it?
     
  16. jpietrzak8 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jpietrzak8

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    #17
    The fact is, Japan surrendered. They found the situation untenable, but unlike Hitler, they were willing to concede.

    Therefore, I must ask: why was our intelligence so incredibly bad? We were apparently quite ready and willing to throw tens of thousands of soldiers into the teeth of a meat grinder, where we knew the butcher bill would be incredible. And the only solution to avoid that, our leadership determined, was to unleash a weapon of mass destruction and murder tens of thousands of civilians.

    As you note, they were preparing more nukes for the actual invasion. Not only that, chemical weapons were being prepared as well.

    So, again, I've gotta ask: what exactly was the rush for? Why did we feel the need to kill our way to a win in late 1945 or at worst early 1946? Because that was all that the weapons of mass destruction bought -- a few months quicker surrender of Japan.
     
  17. jkcerda macrumors 6502a

    jkcerda

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    #18
    Didn't use nukes in. Vietnam. How did that turn out?
    Using nukes was about more than winning the war. It was sending a message to the rest of the world that we were willing to use them
     
  18. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #19
    Wasn't it to ensure that they surrendered to the US, not the Russians?
     
  19. Mousse macrumors 68010

    Mousse

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    #20
    Yarp. The Cold War is over and the Davy Crockett pocket nukes with it.

    No nukes, period. When a government uses chemical weapons, the rest of the world condemns them for atrocities and considers them a rogue nation. When they use biological weapons, also condemned for atrocities. What makes Trump think its okay to use nukes? Y'all know the rest of the world would yank the rogue nation label off NK and slap it on us.
     
  20. jerwin macrumors 68020

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    #21

    wikipedia begins its article on tactical nuclear weapons thusly


    The distinction is often held to be important.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactical_nuclear_weapon
     
  21. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #22
    The U.S. and the Soviet Union have experimented with low-yield nuclear devices since the 1950s.

    In the U.S. there were programs like the Davy Crockett, essentially an overlarge RPG that could chuck a 0.01-kiloton nuclear warhead about 20 miles, and the M65 cannon, which was used in the Upshot–Knothole Grable test to fire a 15-kiloton warhead.

    The Soviets, along with the British and French, played with their own programs.

    Of course, the U.S. has larger conventional weapons. The MOAB used earlier this year had bast yield of 11 tons, or 0.011-kiltons. Essentially, the same power as the tiny nuke launched by the Davy Crockett.
     
  22. yaxomoxay macrumors 68040

    yaxomoxay

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    #23
    Problem is that there was another country ready to prove that it was willing to use them.
    While the option should always be on the table - naturally - even tactical nukes can pose the risk of escalation.
     
  23. rjohnstone, Sep 11, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017

    rjohnstone macrumors 68040

    rjohnstone

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    #24
    The problem with the Davey Crockett nukes was it would tend to be fatal the soldier firing it. In testing, the projectile lacked the range (1-2 miles) to ensure the soldiers were out of the immediate fallout zone.
    They were always in the range of the outflow from the blast. Plus they weren't terribly accurate.
    They were meant to be a weapon of last resort if a position was in danger of being overrun.

    Tactical nukes still exist in the U.S. arsenal. B61 300 ton warheads, yes tons, not kilotons, are still in active service.

    The bigger issue with using low yield nukes is the risk of escalation.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 11, 2017 ---
    The Davey Crockett didn't have a 20 mile range and it was considerably larger than an RPG.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  24. Raid macrumors 68020

    Raid

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    #25
    That game theory ended some time after Aug 29th 1949. Once Russia had their successful test, the idea of mutually assured destruction started to form. Thus possessing a stockpile of nuclear weapons became more of a deterrent to aggressors rather than a 'conflict ender'.

    It's odd that this came up today, as today is the anniversary where tactics changed in both an old weapon and a new threat.
     

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