Russian Talking Heads No Smarter than American Talking Heads

The stupidity of people in the media is repulsive. I cheered Nate Silver’s statement that

Plenty of pundits have really high IQs, but they don’t have any discipline in how they look at the world, and so it leads to a lot of bullshit, basically.

So it’s with something between resignation and satisfaction that I see Russian media types being just as stupid.

A Russian television anchor has raised global eyebrows by noting in a commentary that Russia is “the only country in the world capable of turning the USA into radioactive dust.

Apparently the guy’s reached his important position without ever learning that the U.S. has nuclear missile subs.

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About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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25 Responses to Russian Talking Heads No Smarter than American Talking Heads

  1. Profclaus says:

    I’m sure that if they wanted to France, China, or the U.K. could turn a portion of the U.S. into radioactive dust as well (if they wanted to). The fact that we have nuclear weapons as well might mean it does not go so well for them. Russia is forgetting that there are more than 2 nuclear powers. So far only one country has shown the resolve to use the weapons as weapons…

  2. Troublesome Frog says:

    I’m still just surprised that we have as few nuclear powers as we do. When you consider the fact that we started building nukes in the age of analog before RADAR was commonly deployed in fighters and when cars crapped out after a few tens of thousands of miles, it’s really amazing that nuclear proliferation has gone so slowly. Most 1940′s era technologies are accessable to determined hobbyists these days.

  3. J@m3z Aitch says:

    T-Frog,
    I think a lot of countries have decided it’s just not worthwhile, unless they have a particularly antagonistic relationship with the west in general (not just the U.S.). Better to keep relatively good relations with the western countries rather than deal with them hassling you over nukes.

    Unless, of course, you have pretensions to–or more fairly, the goal of–becoming an equal player on the world stage, like India.

  4. Matty says:

    That covers most cases but Israel is neither antagonistic to the west or likely to become a superpower. The exception that proves the rule?

  5. J@m3z Aitch says:

    I think a fair case can be made that Israel is a unique combination of technologically sophisticated and existentially threatened.

  6. pierrecorneille says:

    I understand why Russia isn’t the only country in the world that could do it. But why would the US having nuclear missile subs mean Russia couldn’t nuke the US?

  7. Profclaus says:

    The US Nuclear Subs (ignoring the fact that the officers were recently found to cheat on their exams) are our response to their strike. Our nuclear subs are designed to send nuclear warheads as a response to the launch of nuclear missiles from Russia (or their bombers which are a stalwart of their nuclear defense force). Our subs are not targetable from the Russians until after they have launched their missiles, so they are our primary form of deterrent. Russia could nuke the US, however, the response from our Missile subs would have much of the Russian infrastructure glowing in radioactive slag. The US triangle of deterrent includes subs, ICBMs and Bombers, however, our subs are our most reliable deterrent. The Russians have many fewer missiles, however their MERV technology allows for more destruction per launch. They have many fewer subs, but also mobile nuclear ICBM launchers which the US does not have.

  8. Profclaus says:

    Should say MIRV (Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicle)

  9. lancifer666 says:

    One US Ohio class ballistic submarine could destroy every major and medium city in Russia and have many war heads in reserve for other possible aggressors. The US possesses 18 Ohio class submarines.

    The US currently deploys over 5,000 nuclear warheads with delivery systems that include ICBM’s (intercontinental ballistic missiles) bomber aircraft and ballistic missile submarines.

    Attacking the US with nuclear weapons would mean certain and nearly instant nuclear annihilation for any nation capable of such an insane act.

    I don’t much worry about the idiotic fantasies of Russian “television anchors”.

  10. J@m3z Aitch says:

    What profclaus (my partner in teaching Nuclear Weapons and Power) and lancifer said. Yes, Russia could do incalculable damage to the U.S. But they won’t because we have unstoppable second-strike capability, For Russia, to destroy the U.S. would be to destroy themselves. I don’t think the Crimea is prize enough to offset that.

    Of course I don’t think the Crimea is important enough to the U.S. to push things close to the brink of nuclear disaster anyway. So this news guy is just Rush Limbaugh in another language, a jackass grabbing his dick and waving it around as though he thinks anyone’s actually going to be impressed.

  11. Profclaus says:

    But it is good to remember the “good old days” of a Cold War. Hell, it might drum up more interest in our class…

  12. Matty says:

    Ah nostalgia. Maybe they will try and re hide The Secret Nuclear Bunker (currently a tourist attraction)

  13. pierrecorneille says:

    Thanks, all, for the clarifications. I sometimes have the not too endearing tendency of taking things literally.

  14. lancifer666 says:

    All this nuclear war talk has reminded me of my favorite movie Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.

    General Trugidson :Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, uh, depending on the breaks.

    And my favorite line when General Trugidson wrestles Russian Ambassador De Sadesky to the ground after seeing him photographing the “Big Board” with a concealed camera.

    President Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen. You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!

  15. Matty says:

    Have you seen this? http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2014/01/strangelove-for-real.html

    Apparently the key premise of that film that military officers could launch a nuclear strike without permission was true.

  16. Dr X says:

    The military can also stop the president from using nukes, like this past October when Obama gave the order to detonate a nuclear device at Charleston, SC. It’s true. I read it on the internet.

  17. Matty says:

    Wait, are you implying that stuff on the internet isn’t true just cause I’m entertained by it? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. AMW says:

    I get that the U.S. has a massive deterrent to a Russian nuclear strike. But, dick waving aside, is there another country that is capable of nuking the U.S. into oblivion? And do the Russians lack that capability? This is a totally sincere question; my understanding was that both sides could annihilate the other, but I may have overestimated Russian nuclear strength.

  19. Profclaus says:

    The only country to completely give up their nuclear arsenal is South Africa. They did not have the delivery methods to cause much concern for the US anyway. Russia, China, the UK, and France all have enough weapons and delivery methods capable of destroying significant portions of the US. The decision to annihilate is always an interesting one. The other nuclear “powers” India, Pakistan, N. Korea do not have ICBM delivery methods to directly attack the US. The outlier, Israel, unofficially has nuclear weapons however, their rockets are much shorter ranged so should not be a threat to the US.

  20. Matty says:

    Using the Federation of American Scientists data Russia is the only nation close to the US in terms of total warheads or number actually deployed*. France is next but it’s a big jump down.

    Using the total inventory of nuclear warheads the top three are Russia 8,500, United States 7,700 and France 300. All other nuclear powers have less than France.

    There are a lot of unknowns with regards to the power of the warheads and how many it would take to ‘obliterate’ the US but if we assume for the sake of argument it would take Russia all 8,500 to achieve it France would need all 300 of their nukes to be around 28 times more powerful than the Russians. I can’t rule it out but that seems unlikely so yes there is at least a good chance that Russia is “the only country in the world capable of turning the USA into radioactive dust.”

    If I get James point though we should’t be measuring ‘capable’ purely in terms of technical capacity but whether it is actually possible for the Russian government to do this taking account of all factors, with the deterrent being a big reason why it is not.

    Incidentally I was surprised to see China down in 4th place with 250 warheads none of them thought to be deployed.

    *The US and Russia actually seem to swap the top spot on these two measures

  21. Profclaus says:

    If we assume that each of the warheads were only as big as the primitive bombs used in WWII (most modern warheads are much much bigger), if only 50 warheads were detonated (one for each state) it would still devastate the US and our economy. While it may not make the entire US a radioactive dust ball, it would have serious long term impact on the US population. The fallout from these bombs would be a problem as well as the “nuclear winter” that came after the bombing. The other countries do have the capability to nuke the US into oblivion even if they do not have their weapons currently deployed.

  22. Matty says:

    OK I’ll defer to that, I know nothing about the relative size of these things. It does highlight the absurdity of the cold war arms race though that it left both sides with enough firepower to obliterate each other several times over, you would think killing everyone once would be enough.

  23. Troublesome Frog says:

    Matty,

    Well, modern warheads tend to be “small” relative to the types of bombs that could be built practically (due to the inverse square problem, it’s much more destructive to drop a few “small” bombs on a city than one big one with equivalent energy content), but even if you ballpark 3 warheads per target city, running down the list of the 100 most critical US cities is a pretty grim exercise. If you rank by population, you’re already down to hitting places like Reno and Scottsdale.

    I think that after that, you’re pretty well in overkill mode. The main reasons for lots of warheads are making sure the enemy can’t destroy all of yours in a first strike and making sure that if you have trouble delivering them, plenty of them still land on target.

  24. lancifer666 says:

    One would hope that the main deterrent to using a nuclear weapon would be the massive loss of life caused by the device. Even if all of the casualties were “the enemy”.

    Sadly there are people that would consider this a benefit not a deterrent.

  25. Major Zed says:

    THIS article is really scary. A few quotes:

    * Eisenhower considered using nuclear weapons twice, during the Taiwan Straits crisis of 1954 and a flare-up over Berlin in 1959

    * John F. Kennedy… came “within a hairbreadth of nuclear catastrophe” three times

    * Lyndon Johnson contemplated deploying nuclear arms to prevent China from building them.

    * Richard Nixon considered using them three times—other than in Vietnam—including one case in which North Korea shot down a U.S. reconnaissance plane in 1969.

    We don’t know about more recent examples because there is a huge time lag in the public finding out about it.

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