This is the official Perth blog site for posts, comments, and other contributions about leadership, behavioral finance and economics, and about management generally, as well as other related topics that take our fancy.
Font size: +

How About We Figure Out How to Have the Worst Possible Nuclear War?

We need to imagine the very worst that could happen as a result of the Ukraine war if are to have ever have the remotest chance of preventing it.

A Nice Little War

The opinion of those who follow these things is that at this particular time in history, this is the nearest we have come to nuclear war since the Cuban missile crisis. Here’s a stupid question; can we and our enemies figure out how to make it even more maximally worse?

The Russians see nuclear weapons as their get-out-of-jail free card. Putin and his henchmen cite them as their ultimate fallback. They are, at least on the surface, absolutely ready to use them. They are even developing a nuclear-powered missile as we speak. Plus, they have hypersonic missiles that we, courtesy of our hmmm visionary leaders, don’t have yet. So, they are ready to roll.

If or as the Ukrainians get any nearer to Russian territory, we’ll see the knives really come out. That’s the danger point. It could happen any time (e.g., a credible breakthrough by the Ukrainians, or the Russian army disintegrates, or whatever).

I guess our military and civilian leaders are ready too, reluctant as they might be. So, we’ve got a situation where both (or all) sides are armed to the teeth and ready to go. They’ve made all their plans, and the leaders are mentally prepared for what it will take and the terrible impacts it will have. So, nothing more we can do about changing their minds now. The die is cast.

No More Jaw-Jaw

There’s no point in discussing with the other sides the shape of all those terrible things since that’s all been factored into the nth detail. The only thing that could possibly move anyone, no matter how implacable, is if they see things they haven’t thought about.

So, there’s no mileage in talking about mass starvation, the elimination of medical care, or the disappearance of animals as well as humans or whatever. It’s only the things that we haven’t thought about that can possibly make any difference. So that’s what we have to do. Think the Really, Really Unthinkable.

The best way to achieve this would be to form working groups of hawks on both sides that would be tasked with sussing out the impacts that neither side has thought of. Then they would get together and, with the resulting shortlist, work out how they can make the impacts even worse, if that’s at all possible. Then preferably these should be put to commissions of civilians on either side to see if they can make those impacts even worse. So, of course the civilians we will need are the hawks, definitely not the doves.

Now of course this is a crazy idea because who wants to make things worse than they can already be? On the other hand, if it’s going to happen anyway and we all have mentally prepared ourselves for what will happen, then we can be pretty sure that nothing we can do now will make it less likely.

Let the Hawks Have It

And what is the alternative to a nuclear war that all sides have already factored in? Might as well gun for the very worst outcome on the chance that it might make it slightly less likely to happen than the second worst (what we envision now) which is bad enough anyway that it doesn’t matter if we go even more over the top.

You might, reasonably, think that this idea is so bizarre and no-one, not even the Russians would entertain it. But as we speak they have been arguing publicly over the idea of exploding a nuclear bomb over Russian Siberia, essentially an EMP – electronic magnetic pulse bomb. This idea came from hawks in the Russian media. Great minds, etc.

In other words, we have to explicitly and formally drop any pretense that empathy, rationality, sympathy or just plain fear will do anything to stop the inevitable. We can’t assume that the bad guys will drop their ultra-hawkish views for any of those good reasons. Only the worst reasons have the slightest chance to head things off at the pass.

Yep, its cruel when we have to use screwed up nihilistic reasoning such as this one. Desperate times require desperate measures.

Just my penny’s worth

The fire next time.












Sam-I-Am – How About Using SBF to Transform Global...
Can AI’s Rule?

List of all Perth posts