Nuclear War: A Thought Experiment

The U.S. is heading into rapidly escalating new cold war tensions with not one but two nuclear-armed nations, and flirting with Armageddon hasn’t gotten one iota safer.

By Caitlin Johnstone and cross-posted from her blog.

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Russia has declassified the video footage of the largest nuclear explosion of all time, the Arctic detonation of the so-called “Tsar Bomba” in 1961.

The explosion was 1,500 times more powerful than those which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, and ten times more powerful than all munitions detonated during the entirety of World War Two. Its mushroom cloud was 42 miles high, over seven times the height of Mount Everest. It was 59 miles wide. It yielded 50 megatons, but could have been rigged to yield twice as much with technology that was available at the time.

The footage is a sight to behold, and serves as a sobering reminder that not only have we been living on the same planet as these horrible things for many generations, but the only reason any of us are still around is by sheer dumb luck. We’ve come inches away from total nuclear war not once, not twice, but many times during the last cold war due to miscommunications and technical malfunctions, which could have easily gone the other way if things had been just a tiny bit different.

And now America is heading into rapidly escalating new cold war tensions with not one but two nuclear-armed nations, and flirting with armageddon hasn’t gotten one iota safer. People like to think of nuclear standoffs as the leaders of nuclear-armed nations each hovering a finger over “the button”, but in reality there are thousands of individuals in the world who have the ability to independently start a nuclear war, any one of whom could easily do so because of confusion, miscommunication, or other unforeseen circumstances amid heightening tensions.

Nuclear brinkmanship has so very, very many moving parts, with so very, very many things that could go wrong. It’s an impossible situation to retain control of

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