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Should We Be Preparing for Nuclear War (Again)?


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Last month the New York City Emergency Management department released an instructional Public Service Announcement (PSA). The narrator opens with the line: “So, there’s been a nuclear attack…. the big one has hit.” The announcement served to instruct residents on what to do and how to “keep radioactive dust or ash away from your body”. Quick question: did I fall asleep and wake up in 1968?

New York Public Service Announcement

Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine brought back painful memories. Memories of the Cold War era, when nuclear war was an ordinary fear for most Americans. But, in 2022, should we be preparing for Nuclear War again?

As I wrote a few weeks ago here, we thought we killed evil back in May of 2011. That’s when an American Navy Seal team breached a compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan. Those bad asses shot and killed a cowering Osama Bin Laden. America celebrated.  But, killing Osama Bin Laden did not kill evil. It simply killed the face of evil.  Our celebration was naïve, at best. 

Hold My Beer….

Enter Vladimir Putin. His wanton and evil attack on Ukraine was unprovoked. It was the kind of evil we haven’t seen since Adolf Hitler. It was a reminder of how fragile peace can be. 

Courtesy of Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Back in late February, the world was very interested in the war in Ukraine. But, as the days passed and the war entered into a quagmire, our interest waned. Take a look at this chart comparing Google Search results for Ukraine (blue) verses Twitter (red). People worldwide are more fixated on Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter than on the war in Ukraine. Search results for “Nuclear War” are non-existent.

On July 20, 2022, CIA Director, William Burns admitted the following: “Putin’s view of Americans is we always suffer from attention deficit disorder and get distracted by something else.” Vladimir Putin knows this about us. Meanwhile, the war is not going well for Putin. The head of Britain’s MI6 says Putin has suffered “a very bloody nose” in Ukraine. Moore estimates that Russia has lost over 15,000 soldiers, so far. He continued:

“That’s probably a conservative estimate. That is the same number, roughly, as they lost in 10 years in Afghanistan in the 1980s,” (at the Aspen Security Forum)

“And these are not middle-class kids from Saint Petersburg or Moscow,”

“These are poor kids from rural parts of Russia. They’re from blue-collar towns in Siberia. They are disproportionately from ethnic minorities. These are his cannon fodder.”

So, what does all this have to do with New York’s Public Service Announcement. Perhaps it’s instructive here to share a famous Russian fable:

“A scorpion wants to cross a river but cannot swim, so it asks a frog to carry it across. The frog hesitates, afraid that the scorpion might sting it, but the scorpion promises not to, pointing out that it would drown if it killed the frog in the middle of the river. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion. Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I am sorry, but I couldn’t resist the urge. It’s in my nature.”

See, things aren’t going so hot for Vlad. Ukrainian Intelligence recently intercepted a phone call from a Russian soldier to his family: “we are losing the war, but the government will never admit it.” The Russian military just shot down one of it’s best fighter jets. Two hundred Russian soldiers were killed and 300 wounded during a Ukrainian attack on a Russian base. And, intelligence officials believe that Russia is beginning to struggle with weapons and ammo after the Ukrainian military destroyed an ammunition depot. It’s like the fat kid in the eighth grade just beat up the school bully.

Meanwhile, the US, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Poland and the UK are supplying weapons and ammo to Ukraine.

The Daisy Chain

On September 7, 1964 a 60-second television ad changed political advertising forever. A three year old girl playfully plucked petals from a daisy as mission control completed a countdown. It is still the most widely recognized political ad in history.

As she plucked the last petal, an enormous mushroom cloud exploded in the background. It was a stark reminder of the seriousness of the times, both then and now.

Click here to watch the most famous political ad in American history.

The Stalemate

Many military experts see this as a stalemate at this point.  

Courtesy of genius.com via Giphy

I’m never gonna give your email address to your high school boyfrend.

Thank you!

“I think they’re about to run out of steam.

“They will have to pause in some way, and that will give the Ukrainians opportunities to strike back.”

Ukrainian cellist plays somber musical tribute amid the rubble of Kharkiv Oleksandr Osipov via Storyful, Photo: Oleksandr Osipov via Storyful

In light of this stalemate, it appears that Russia has pivoted to a strategy used in prior wars.

In both Chechnya and Syria, Russia deployed missiles and long-range weapons intended to wreak maximum death and destruction on innocent civilians.  It’s a “win from afar” strategy.  

In both scenarios Russian artillery bombed cities and towns into rubble. Private citizens were butchered and hung in visible displays of evil.  It was pure evil intended to threaten and intimidate the citizens into submission.  

A few days ago a Ukrainian drone sank two Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea. The Russian military launched multiple missiles into a bridge and a church in Odessa, killing many civilians, including a 13-year-old girl.

A news anchor in Russia opined that Putin may deploy an underwater drone to detonate a nuclear bomb and obliterate the United Kingdom. She further claimed that such a move would be justified in retaliation for supporting Ukraine.

The United States could use conventional weapons to destroy Russian units responsible for the use of weapons of mass destruction, whether those forces were in Ukrainian or Russian territory. The danger of such a response is that it would engage the United States in direct military conflict with Russia. While such conflict would not automatically cross Russia’s doctrinal threshold for a nuclear response (a threat to Russian nuclear command and control or the existence of the Russian state) it could still risk escalation. It would also, however, show the world that the United States is serious about defending states that renounce the development and use of nuclear weapons.

Photo of failed Russian Cruise Missile. REUTERS/Oleksandr Lapshyn

This is a f’ing circus, not a military operation”

-Unknown Russian Soldier

“Collateral Fatalities”

Back in 2000 during the Chechnyian war, Alexei Arbatov, a well-known Russian military expert wrote, “massive devastation and collateral fatalities among the civilian population are acceptable in order to limit one’s own casualties.”   

Courtesy Gayatri Malhotra via Unsplash

Don’t Mess With Tex-a-fornia

Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe, by land mass.  The country measures 233,060 square miles. By comparison, Texas measures 268,597 square miles. 

Courtesy of Scott McCambell

By population, Ukraine was home to 43.7 million people before the war. In comparison, California is home to 39.2 million people.

So, going purely by the numbers, the much revered Russian Army is getting pummeled by a country the size of Texas with the population of California. The Russian army is looting gas stations to procure food and fuel. A sign that Russia is struggling to keep their troops fed and watered.

David vs. Goliath II

Just today Ukraine reported having killed a fifth Russian General. And a Russian tabloid reported that nearly 10,000 Russian troops had been killed in three weeks. That’s more deaths than we suffered in twenty years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ordinarily this would be cause for a celebration.  It’s not often you see a David whoop up on a Goliath. 

But, before you start celebrating (again) let’s take a pause.  See, when narcissistic, egotistical dictators get backed into a corner they often take drastic steps to save face. 

See, using artillery is tedious. It requires, at least to some degree, a measure of precision. And, long range artillery is not likely to change the direction of the war in the near term.  

Bombing innocent civilians from afar creates daily images of death and destruction for the world media. According to UNICEF, more than half of Ukraine’s children have been displaced after one month of war.

Images of bloody women and children fleeing in utter despair the smoking rubble of libraries, hospitals and shopping malls. It’s a public relations disaster for Putin, if he cares.

“Again war. Again sufferings, necessary to nobody, utterly uncalled for; again fraud; again the universal stupefaction and brutalization of men.”

Leo Tolstoy (1904)

Source: AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka, File

See, using tactical artillery is like using a toothbrush to clean your driveway.  It’s a slow, tedious and largely ineffective process.

Now assume that you have a brand new, 3,500 PSI Pressure Washer in your garage. Firing up that bad boy might irritate your neighbors on a Saturday morning. And, it might add to the hole in the ozone layer. But it will make fast work of the driveway. 

One wonders how much patience Vlad has left. How long Vlad will use the toothbrush when the Pressure Washer is gassed up and ready for action. How long will he drag out this costly and disastrous campaign. His economy is collapsing, his military and their morale are in a shambles. He is increasingly losing face around the world, if he cares.

According to The New York Times, about two-thirds of the Russian population supports the war in Ukraine. But, remember that the Russian police rounded up 15,000 ”traitors” and jailed them before the invasion. These were simply people who might be willing to speak out against the war.

In late February, Vlad pulled the ultimate flex move. He put his Nuclear forces on high alert. While largely symbolic, it raises the specter of Nuclear engagement. In response, the UN secretary-general said nuclear war is “back within the realm of possibility”.

That move resulted in a spike of Americans searching Google for “how to survive a nuclear war”.

Google searches for Nuclear War

Tactical Nukes

The more likely scenario is that Putin uses chemical weapons to clear a path to Kiev. Or, that he deploys tactical nukes on Kiev, Kharkov, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa and Donetsk. Those cities have a population of over one million people. Either of those scenarios could lead to a major “red-line” escalation and a response by NATO. That escalation could bring about WWIII and the specter of a Nuclear war.

Worst Case Scenario

Let’s hope we are a long way from a Nuclear war. But, if the worst does come to pass what American cities are most likely to be hit?

In all likelihood a first strike would attempt to take out major Nuclear sites. The highest priority would be the Minuteman III ICBM sites located in the northwest.

If you’re morbidly interested in how a nuke might impact your town, click here.

For example if the largest Russian Nuclear warhead were to hit Atlanta it would result in 2,994,640 deaths and 3,479,820 casualties. Those within the first two circles would die immediately from the blast. Those that survive would likely die in about 1 month; 15% of survivors will eventually die of cancer as a result of exposure.

Courtesy www.nuclearsecrecy.com

Like our old friend Austin Powers, Nuclear war scares me.

Austin: “There are only two things in this world that scare me and one is nuclear war.”
Basil: “What’s the other?”
Austin Powers: “Huh?”
Basil: “What’s the other thing that scares you?”
Austin Powers: “Carnies. Circus folk. Nomads, you know. Smell like cabbage. Small hands.”

Courtesy Austin Powers via YouTube. Click here to watch.

So what about you? Are you afraid of Nuclear war? Or carnies? Do you worry about the state of world affairs? Or, whether Vladimir Putin just might be crazy enough to launch Nuclear weapons against his enemies? Or another rogue terrorist organization detonating a nuclear bomb in the US in an effort to start a global Nuclear war? All of these scenarios are terrifying and should cause us to tread lightly when it comes to Vladimir Putin.

I hope this article is helpful in better understanding the seriousness of our times. If you found this information interesting can you leave me a comment below? I love hearing from my readers and I promise you’ll hear back from me.


Nearly 70% of Americans in survey worry about nuclear attack. Here’s what could happen.


Russia has lost over 23,800 soldiers and 2,500 combat vehicles. – Yahoo

  • How the ‘jack-in-the-box’ flaw dooms some Russian tanks. – Washington Post

A push to prosecute Putin over Ukraine war crimes. – WSJ

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