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Low-yield tactical nukes in Vietnam?
vanity | 11 July 2012

Posted on 07/11/2012 7:25:41 AM PDT by moonshot925

Would it have been worth it to use low-yield tactical nuclear weapons during Vietnam War?


TOPICS: Conspiracy; History; Military/Veterans; Science
KEYWORDS: nuclear; vietnam; war; weapons
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I was thinking of the B57 nuclear bomb. The 4 available yields were 5KT, 10KT, 15KT and 20KT.

3,100 were produced from 1963 to 1967.

It could be carried by the F-4 Phantom II, A-6 Intruder, A-4 Skyhawk, SH-3 Sea King and other aircraft.

Dikes, dams, bridges, roads, tunnels, caves and other targets could be bombed with these low-yield weapons.

1 posted on 07/11/2012 7:25:46 AM PDT by moonshot925
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To: moonshot925

are we still fighting that war?


2 posted on 07/11/2012 7:27:21 AM PDT by brivette
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To: moonshot925

Much simpler, lower cost strategy would have been to invade Cambodia and capture the entirety of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. One northern general stated that if the US had done that, the war would have been over in 6 months. It’s all about supply lines.


3 posted on 07/11/2012 7:28:42 AM PDT by Thane_Banquo (Support hate crime laws: Because some victims are more equal than others.)
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To: moonshot925
Would it have been worth it to use low-yield tactical nuclear weapons during Vietnam War?

Could have done it from orbit...it's the only way to make sure.

4 posted on 07/11/2012 7:31:22 AM PDT by JRios1968 (I'm guttery and trashy, with a hint of lemon. - Laz)
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To: moonshot925
Would it have been worth it to use low-yield tactical nuclear weapons during Vietnam War?

Yes. We were fighting a war our leaders were unwilling to win. One nuke between N Vietnam and China would have done the trick. Our enemies learned we weren't willing to use our own weapons. We still aren't.

5 posted on 07/11/2012 7:32:54 AM PDT by aimhigh
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To: moonshot925

I don’t know about Vietnam but they sure would have come in handy in Korea.When the (insert racial slur here) started pouring over the border a couple of small,well placed,nukes on the *Korean* side of the border along with the public announcement that “there are plenty more where *those* came from” would have been very effective.


6 posted on 07/11/2012 7:34:25 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Jimmy Carter Is No Longer The Worst President Of My Lifetime)
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To: moonshot925

We needed something like a bunker buster that could cave in tunnels. 2/3 of the NVA lived ungerground. We needed to fight an insergant war like an insergant war. This was NOT WWII


7 posted on 07/11/2012 7:36:34 AM PDT by 70th Division (I love my country but fear my government!)
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To: Thane_Banquo
Much simpler, lower cost strategy would have been to invade Cambodia and capture the entirety of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. One northern general stated that if the US had done that, the war would have been over in 6 months. It’s all about supply lines.

Destroying the dikes and dams surrounding Hanoi during their rainy season would have caused at least 100,000 to drown.

8 posted on 07/11/2012 7:39:29 AM PDT by moonshot925
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To: moonshot925

Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier...


9 posted on 07/11/2012 7:39:48 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: moonshot925

Wouldn’t have done any good.

After the Demonrats took-out RMN, they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in VN.


10 posted on 07/11/2012 7:39:54 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: moonshot925
Would it have been worth it to use low-yield tactical nuclear weapons during Vietnam War?

I don't know, but they would have been wizard at Tora Bora.

11 posted on 07/11/2012 7:40:04 AM PDT by Jim Noble (Diseases desperate grown are by desperate appliance relieved or not at all.)
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To: moonshot925

How many “boat people” drowned after the Communists captured the South?


12 posted on 07/11/2012 7:41:14 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: moonshot925
Watts 1968
LA 1992
etc.....
13 posted on 07/11/2012 7:41:22 AM PDT by Feckless (I was trained by the US << This Tagline Censored by FR >> ain't that irOnic?)
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To: Thane_Banquo
It’s all about supply lines.

Supply lines are no good if there's nothing to supply. If we had bombed Haiphong and Hanoi into rubble, smashed the NViet irrigation systems and dropped Agent Orange onto their rice paddies, North Vietnam would have struggled to feed their own people and would have no capabilities left over to bother the South.

We were unwilling to fight as we fought WW2. And so we lost.

14 posted on 07/11/2012 7:42:53 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 (If I can't be persuasive, I at least hope to be fun.)
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To: moonshot925

We weren’t just fighting the North Vietnamese but the Soviet Union and Red China. Any use of nukes on our part would have prompted a similar response from North Vietnam’s two major patrons.


15 posted on 07/11/2012 7:44:00 AM PDT by Malone LaVeigh
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To: moonshot925

From a purely military POV this would no doubt have been highly effective.

However, we were engaged in a cold war in which Vietnam (and Korea) were merely sub-theaters.

Maintaining plausible status as “the good guys” was critical to our eventual victory in that war. Our deciding to use nukes to deal with an essentially irritating rather than existential threat would have dealt a severe blow to that plausibility.

It also ignores the distinct possibility of escalation by the other side.

We got through the Cold War without it going nuclear. We really shouldn’t pretend today that things couldn’t have gone very wrong indeed. Hundreds of millions, possibly billions, of people could have died.

Anywho, would we have wanted to give our implicit approval to the use of nukes in counter-insurgent warfare? If so, on what logical basis could we have objected to the Soviets later using them in Afghanistan?


16 posted on 07/11/2012 7:44:00 AM PDT by Sherman Logan
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To: moonshot925

I have always thought we should have taken all the good Viet Namese and put them out to sea in a single kayak, then nuke the entire country, sink the kayak and wait for radiation to subside and pave it so it could be a parking lot for SE Asia.


17 posted on 07/11/2012 7:47:45 AM PDT by Misplaced Texan (July 4, 2009 - the first day of the 2nd Revolution!)
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To: moonshot925
There were Army missiles in 'NAM that were at least nuclear-capable. At least one Nike Hercules battery was operational for a bit in the late 60s-early 70s. Those could carry up to a 40 KT warhead. They also had a surface-to-surface mission mode.

For obvious reasons, details of this deployment are super-sketchy. I only know about it from collecting anecdotes about how difficult it was to transport the equipment sets, which were not designed for forward deployment. There was a similar (confirmed) nuclear deployment in S. Korea in the same timeframe. A battery consisted of 18-24 missiles. I've got no details on warheads equipped, exact timeframes or length of deployment.

And to answer the titular question, IMHO nukes would have been next to useless in 'Nam. The whole issue in 'Nam was that we were fighting a guerilla war with a decentralized enemy. There wasn't any target anywhere worth wasting a nuke on.

18 posted on 07/11/2012 7:48:58 AM PDT by jboot
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To: Malone LaVeigh
We weren’t just fighting the North Vietnamese but the Soviet Union and Red China. Any use of nukes on our part would have prompted a similar response from North Vietnam’s two major patrons.

In 1965 we had 9,345 strategic warheads while the Soviets only had 929.

We had a 10 to 1 advantage.

It would be foolish for the Soviets to respond because we were the ones who had nuclear superiority.

19 posted on 07/11/2012 7:51:11 AM PDT by moonshot925
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To: DBrow

You’d have to drive INTO Hanoi just to deploy the thing.


20 posted on 07/11/2012 7:55:36 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: brivette
"are we still fighting that war?"

Better late than never.


21 posted on 07/11/2012 8:00:39 AM PDT by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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To: moonshot925

929 warheads is still a lot of warheads. How many do you need to wipe out civilisation?


22 posted on 07/11/2012 8:01:09 AM PDT by sinsofsolarempirefan
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To: moonshot925; All

Lloyd Bentsen urged the use of nukes in Korea. The idea was rejected, in part because of the problems caused if the North Koreans did not surrender.

We had already destroyed every dam, dike, canal, power node, and power plant, so there was no guarantee that they’d quit if we dropped The Big One on Pyongyang.

And if we dropped it and they did not surrender, there goes the “nuclear deterrent”, since there was an example of it plain not working.

Likewise nuking something in VN, it was unlikely that they’d just quit, and highly likely that they’d gain more global sympathy and more UN help. And every lefty government in the world would report a rash of radiation-induced problems, money being the antidote (look at the very effective DU penetrator. The enemy, rather than spend millions on a better-armored tank, spent 100,00 on a publicity campaign to get us to stop deploying them).


23 posted on 07/11/2012 8:01:34 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: SJSAMPLE

lol Well, within two klicks, anyway. Against a known tunel complex, though, it would be highly effective.

I hear rumors that there were quite a few Army folks with specific Crockett training.


24 posted on 07/11/2012 8:04:02 AM PDT by DBrow
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To: moonshot925
It would be foolish for the Soviets to respond because we were the ones who had nuclear superiority.

So we pop off a nuke in NVN and suddenly one goes off in Taiwan. Now what? Even with a 10-1 nuclear superiority, do you really want to get into a game of global tit-for-tat?

25 posted on 07/11/2012 8:11:18 AM PDT by Malone LaVeigh
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To: Malone LaVeigh

good point..


26 posted on 07/11/2012 8:17:25 AM PDT by brivette
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To: moonshot925

McArthur was fired for the strong push to use them in Korea.

We got away with using them once, and for a variety of reasons. Use ‘em again, even the small ones, and a precedent is set.

I’m not saying it would be bad, but it would change the worlds geopolitical culture regarding the use of nukes.

BTW, this site is pretty cool. It shows just how little physical damage nukes actually do (compared to what most people think they do):

http://www.carloslabs.com/node/20


27 posted on 07/11/2012 8:22:52 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Yeah. MacArthur agreed with you and was fired for it.

I think he was right, too. It would be a very different world today if we had actually fought wars to win.


28 posted on 07/11/2012 8:24:42 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: cuban leaf
"Use ‘em again, even the small ones, and a precedent is set."

ALL weapon types are used eventually.

We should have let Taiwan take back china decades ago we would have avoid Korea, Vietnam and what is to come.

29 posted on 07/11/2012 8:30:58 AM PDT by Steve Van Doorn (*in my best Eric Cartman voice* 'I love you, guys')
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To: moonshot925
Really bad idea.

1. Nukes are impossible to use without harming innocent bystanders/noncombatants.

2. Using nukes would have turned our allies even further from us - and we had very few standing with us to begin with in Vietnam.

3. Horrible terrain for using nukes: too many compartments/obstacles/hill masses to employ the blast/burn/ irradiate parts of the weapons.

4.Would have affected the US and allied forces almost as much as the target, as far as downrange radiation contamination goes. Not that it would have influenced our Defense Department too much at the time - we are still "enjoying" the poisonous aftereffects of the deforestation plans. We were just an expendible item to them, like Kleenex, back then.

In short, no way, Jose...

30 posted on 07/11/2012 8:37:05 AM PDT by Chainmail (Dems have short memories: we don't)
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To: moonshot925

No.


31 posted on 07/11/2012 8:40:00 AM PDT by Lazamataz (I'm watching 'The Walking Dead' and rootin' for the zombies.)
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To: DuncanWaring

Bingo.


32 posted on 07/11/2012 8:41:27 AM PDT by Williams (No Obama)
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To: Thane_Banquo
Re: “Much simpler, lower cost strategy would have been to invade Cambodia and capture the entirety of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”

Or, simpler still...

Invade North Vietnam.

And promise to use tactical nukes - ONLY in North Vietnam - if Russia or China responded with ground forces.

I'm not a war historian, but I can't recall a single war between bordering countries where one country - North Vietnam in this case - had NO FEAR of a counter invasion.

33 posted on 07/11/2012 8:42:25 AM PDT by zeestephen
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To: Malone LaVeigh
So we pop off a nuke in NVN and suddenly one goes off in Taiwan. Now what? Even with a 10-1 nuclear superiority, do you really want to get into a game of global tit-for-tat?

Then we would execute a preemptive first strike against the Soviet Union and China.

It is called "massive retaliation".

34 posted on 07/11/2012 8:45:01 AM PDT by moonshot925
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To: DBrow

Not sure if nuking the NV would have been as preferable then say nuking the idiots who tied our hands behind our backs.


35 posted on 07/11/2012 8:48:38 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (ABO 2012)
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To: Gay State Conservative
Good answer, good answer.

I'll be keeping my eye on you.

(language warning for the blue-haired little old ladies on FR)

36 posted on 07/11/2012 8:48:38 AM PDT by whd23 (Every time a link is de-blogged an angel gets its wings.)
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To: moonshot925

Vietnam was fought about the same way I fight fire ants in my yard.

I can kill every hill in the yard tho it takes a lot of effort but then in a few days they will re-appear.


37 posted on 07/11/2012 8:48:38 AM PDT by yarddog
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To: moonshot925
Nukes not necessary. Study Op Lam Son 719. Had it been implemented in 1965-68 rather than 1971, things would have been different. Using US Troops on the ground (prohibited in 1971-officially)not merely in the air as we did in 1971. We controlled the air, the sea and could have sealed the Mekong River near Savannkhet, Laos. Draw your finger west from Dong Ha to Savannkhet along Highway 9. Through Khe Sanh, Lao Bao and into Laos near Sepone (Tchepone).

Had we bombed the starch out of that area (say 10 miles N-S of Hwy. 9) and denuded the forests with Agent White previous to our attack, results would have been different and we would not have had to spray/bomb such a vast area of SE Asia.

If you study this Op, you will find the NVA fought like Tigers. They had to! It was their jugular vein. Casualty reports vary, however, many state 20K NVA and 1/2 that many ARVN KIA during this 2 month Op....

Not advocating war, simply saying, in the long run, if we had to go in, we would have sustained far fewer KIA/WIA.

38 posted on 07/11/2012 8:48:48 AM PDT by donozark (Col. C.Beckwith:I'd rather go down the river with 7 studs than with a hundred shitheads.)
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To: DBrow

My old boss, BG Miller, was one of the first artillerymen trained on the Davey Crocket before he was sent to Vietnam and Laos.


39 posted on 07/11/2012 8:58:44 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: moonshot925
It is called "massive retaliation".

It was known as Mutually Assured Destruction. A fancy way of saying suicide.

40 posted on 07/11/2012 9:02:20 AM PDT by Malone LaVeigh
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To: Chainmail
1. Nukes are impossible to use without harming innocent bystanders/noncombatants.

That is the point. We want to destroy their civilian population, transportation, infrastructure and industrial capacity. In WW2 we firebombed 65 Japanese cities and killed hundreds of thousands. It decimated their will and ability to wage war.

Using nukes would have turned our allies even further from us - and we had very few standing with us to begin with in Vietnam.

We used nuclear weapons on Japan in WW2 which killed 220,000 people. But none of our allies turned against us because of that.

41 posted on 07/11/2012 9:03:39 AM PDT by moonshot925
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To: moonshot925

No. It would have been worthwhile to actually fight a war instead of conducting a research session on various combat techniques that, ultimately, failed.

Vietnam would have been over and done with in 18 months if we had fought the war the same way we fought WWII - to win. Instead, Washington and its armchair generals played politics with American lives and we fought to lose.

Nukes wouldn’t have changed anything other tan make Vietnam more toxc than it already is with all the chemicals we sprayed over there.

Long story short, Vietnam is in the past. It is a bad piece of history for America and, so far, Washington has failed to learn a single lesson from the debacle. Let’s leave Vietnam in the past and stop trying to find ways to win a war that Washington didn’t want to win. It is what it is and we lost because the armchair generals in Washington had no will to win.

Let it go.


42 posted on 07/11/2012 9:20:08 AM PDT by DustyMoment (Congress - another name for white collar criminals!!)
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To: PapaBear3625
Supply lines are no good if there's nothing to supply. If we had bombed Haiphong and Hanoi into rubble, smashed the NViet irrigation systems and dropped Agent Orange onto their rice paddies, North Vietnam would have struggled to feed their own people and would have no capabilities left over to bother the South. We were unwilling to fight as we fought WW2. And so we lost.

Unless you are willing to kill your enemy and all that stand with him, surrender for he has already defeated you.

War is nasty business. If you go to war not only is the military a valid target but ALL the infrastructure is a legitimate target. This will also include civilians that maintain the infrastructure and agriculture.

43 posted on 07/11/2012 9:35:01 AM PDT by cpdiii (Deckhand, Roughneck, Mud Man, Geologist, Pilot, Pharmacist. THE CONSTITUTION IS WORTH DYING FOR!)
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To: Malone LaVeigh
It was known as Mutually Assured Destruction. A fancy way of saying suicide.

Destruction of the Soviet Union and China, but not of the United States.

In the 1960's Soviet ICBMs were liquid fueled and kept in shelters or pits with empty tanks. They required 1-2 hours to bring them in readiness for launch.

By the time Soviet ICBMs were ready to launch, they would have already been destroyed.

More than 70% of the Soviet bomber force would be destroyed on the ground.

The bombers that did get off the ground would be detected by our DEW line radars, intercepted and destroyed.

44 posted on 07/11/2012 9:37:35 AM PDT by moonshot925
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To: moonshot925

Only on Johnson and McNamara who tried to micro-manage the war from D.C.


45 posted on 07/11/2012 9:39:27 AM PDT by ataDude (Its like 1933, mixed with the Carter 70s, plus the books 1984 and Animal Farm, all at the same time.)
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To: moonshot925
There was actually a plan to insert SF Operators near Mu Gia Pass, through which most of NVA/war material passed. Idea being to dig small nuke into base of mountain, detonate, and thus close the pass.

Also, JASON report (secret scientific study) pretty much dissuaded LBJ from using nuclear weapons. Oddly enough, several scientists banded together to study such use after hearing LBJ saying "...we should toss in a few nukes once and awhile." Or words to that effect.

46 posted on 07/11/2012 9:44:55 AM PDT by donozark (Col. C.Beckwith:I'd rather go down the river with 7 studs than with a hundred shitheads.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Indeed indeed, all these conflicts were portrayed with their kamikazes as wars of national identity when it was all crappy ideological hypocrisy and unhealthy marriage between their people and their criminal leaders.

Using nukes would have meant we would have had also the right language in wiping away these fools, but we failed and we still fail, to PC, Compassionate Conservatism, and other ludicrous philantopies to islamic terrorist groups and civilizations.


47 posted on 07/11/2012 9:54:22 AM PDT by JudgemAll (Democrats Fed. job-security Whorocracy & hate:hypocrites must be gay like us or be tested/crucified)
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To: Thane_Banquo

I recall reading a science fiction short story back in the day that suggested salting the Ho Chi Minh trail with highly radioactive material (plutonium?) embedded in multi-ton contrete blocks.

IIRC, they would be helolifted into place with the crews being protected by lead shielding in the aircraft and by remotely controlled, drop-away lead shutters on the blocks. After being deposited, the shutters would be activated, fall away, and the entire area would soon be flooded with lethal doses of radiation. Placed densely at critical choke points, the blocks would present a human-fatal barrier that would stop travel on the trail.

Of course, the fatal flaws in the theory are: 1) that even fatal overexposure to radiation is not INSTANTLY fatal and 2) that, when called up to accomplish a higher purpose, human beings will deliberately volunteer to work in such environments - to expose themselves even though death is considered certain.

The firefighters at Chernobyl proved that. (The jury is still out on Fukushima.)

(Glad it wasn’t tried - got enough problems in Vietnam and elsewhere from Agent Orange)


48 posted on 07/11/2012 10:01:14 AM PDT by Captain Rhino (Determined Effort is the hammer that Human Will uses to forge Tomorrow on the anvil of Today.)
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To: moonshot925
A summary:

Our side was capable of using nukes, in fact targets were designated very early on...as early as when the French were still there.

We tried to cut the trails virtually daily...didn't work using guns, bombs, and booby traps.

One serious contender was to close of the passes (Mu Gia gap) through which supplies had to move...nukes would have worked nicely.

We did try collapsing tunnels using monster conventional war heads left over after the B36 was retired. Lashed them to pallets with fuze on about a two foot probe and kicked 'em out of 130's. Story was that this was intended to clear an LZ...but the targets didn't look so promising for that purpose.

(Using 10 - 20 thousand pounders from pre-Korea wasn't all that strange, we burned up a lot of ancient powder, toe poppers and even rations during that exercise.)

In the end, Korea still dominated too many minds to press DRV (or China) too hard, nukes would have set bad precedent, many of our 'leaders' had more empathy with the North than the South, Kennedy had sold the war as counter insurgency (small & cheap), we were planning our pull out at least as early as '68, and were already being protested into political mush...escalation would have sent the "students" (#) over the edge.

(#) How many here remember Al Capp's Students Wildly Irate over Nearly Everything...SWINE?

49 posted on 07/11/2012 10:14:56 AM PDT by norton
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To: moonshot925
Destruction of the Soviet Union and China, but not of the United States.

In the 1960's Soviet ICBMs were liquid fueled and kept in shelters or pits with empty tanks. They required 1-2 hours to bring them in readiness for launch.

By the time Soviet ICBMs were ready to launch, they would have already been destroyed.

More than 70% of the Soviet bomber force would be destroyed on the ground.

The bombers that did get off the ground would be detected by our DEW line radars, intercepted and destroyed.

"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy"

Well you certainly seem to have everything all thought out. Except for what happens if you're not 100% successful in your first strike.
Keep in mind that the nukes in those days were not low yield tactical weapons capable of pinpoint accuracy. They were big and dirty. They had a huge blast radius and created massive fallout. Even if a handful got through, the destruction would have been enormous. You're also just targeting the weapons we knew about. Considering the multiple failures of our Intelligence community over the past 60 years, are you really ready to go all in on the premise that the other side wouldn't have any surprises in store for us?

50 posted on 07/11/2012 10:41:01 AM PDT by Malone LaVeigh
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