[FoRK] beware inevitability! a foil to the technologicalsingularity?

Kevin Elliott k-elliott
Fri Oct 14 15:44:04 PDT 2005

At 22:26 +0000  on  10/14/05, Russell Turpin wrote:
>Kevin Elliott <k-elliott at wiu.edu>:
>>If I were the USSR in the 1970's I'd have signed
>>ANYTHING that would reduce the number of US nukes. If I can get the 
>>number to 0 or close enough for a first strike then BOOM, I win. 
>>The USSR's military quantity SO exceeded the US at this point that 
>>any war looked incredibly one side
>>from the Soviet perspective. ..
>In the late 1970s, when I was in graduate school,
>my roommate was a historian who spent some
>time studying nuclear strike issues. I read more
>than ever I wanted about CEPs, overpressures,
>and the relative capacities of the US's and USSR's
>strategic arsenals.
>What you write is nonsense. The USSR had
>more warheads. About that, you're correct. The
>US had more accurate, more reliable, and better
>protected missiles. Even the most successful
>Soviet first-strike against the US would have led
>to a counterstrike that would have destroyed
>USSR's infrastructure, and killed the majority of
>its population. MAD in action. BTW, the reason
>the USSR had more warheads is that that is
>the cheaper way to create a plausible nuclear

The whole point I was making is that because of the imbalance between 
Soviet and US conventional forces in Europe, the most sensible policy 
for the USSR to follow was bilateral disarmament.  They reduced their 
cost and increased their safety, while potentially paving the way for 
a total bilateral disarmament that would have left them in a far 
stronger strategic position than the USA.

Each warhead was more important to the US than it was to the USSR. 
If the USSR could have convinced the US to reduce warhead count to 0 
(and given up it's arsenal at the same time) that was a strategic 
victory for the USSR.  The US DEPENDED on nuclear deterrence for the 
defense of Europe.  The USSR did not.  If nukes were off the table, 
their is little doubt that the USSR would have been the likely victor 
in a conventional war.

>>Moreover the "inferiority" of the US approach was being vividly 
>>demonstrated by Vietnam.
>Say what?! Other than both being aspects of
>the Cold War, I'm at a loss as to what the
>domino theory and the Vietnam war have to
>do with strategic arsenals and nuclear stand-

The conventional tactics of the US in the 1970's were inferior to 
Soviet doctrine.  The Vietnam war appeared to demonstrate that. 
Soviet SAM defense were very effective at neutralizing US air power. 
US small arms were CLEARLY inferior to Russian designs.  US training 
and morale was poor and it seems like that soviet mass attacks would 
have overwhelmed European/US troops.  Leaving the US nuclear arsenal 
as the only deterrent against Soviet attack.
Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it.
Kevin Elliott   <mailto:kelliott at mac.com>
AIM/iChatAV: kelliott at mac.com  (video chat available)

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