This is a question I have had for a while. It is somewhat outdated, but interesting, I think, none the less.
The time: Height of the Cold War. YOU are the President of the United States. After a period of growing tension, Omaha suddenly report 500 plus inbound nuclear missiles headed for the CONUS from the Soviet Union. Confidence IS high, we are under attack. What do you do? As I see it, you have 2 choices:
Choice 1: Activate Looking Glass, release the PAL codes to your subordinates, allow the B-52s to pass their fail safe points and send the Ohio’s to their launch coordinates. We strike back with everything in our arsenal. You sit in your C and C 727 flying a racetrack pattern over the Atlantic and have a ringside seat to the end of the world.
Choice 2: DO NOTHING. MAD has failed. The U.S. is doomed anyway. If you strike back, the resulting fallout will doom the Earth to a hell of nuclear winter, and mankind will become extinct. If you do nothing, you will be forever known as the President who failed to ‘preserve and protect’ the United States. There will, however, be a human race left to reflect on what has happened, and hopefully, learn from the lessions of WW III.
You have 60 seconds to make your decision. if you chose #1, you have got to be on the runway at Andrews RIGHT NOW. If you chose 2, then you have 20 minutes to say goodby to your family and prepare your soul for the hearafter.
What do you do? What do you do?
I initiate the ultra-highest-canoe-top-secret satellite interception lasers that we got from the alien craft that crashed at Roswell in 1947 and the lesser-known crash in Cleveland in 1948. Then I lob a few neutron bombs into the USSR. After all that, I sneak out of the White House and have sex with one of my interns.
On a side-note, I once thought that a nuclear bomb had gone off one night (LATE at night), waking me from my sleep. I was lying in bed thinking, “Okay, okay, I’m gonna die… hurry up, you stupid shockwave, come obliterate me… HURRY UP!” After about five minutes, I realized I wasn’t about to die, so I went to the window and found that it was just a thunderstorm going on.
Gee, SPOOFE, why don’cha just call Superman?
Anyone with a real thought?
I’m not an expert on military matters, but I do know that I’d pray. When all else fails, there’s always God!
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily. Psalm 102:1-2
The way I see it the human race is more important than “getting back”. I would just let the nukes sit there in their silos. If i were the USSR or any other country my answer would not change. Life is to good to be ended in 24 hours.
“Even with your super speed, you can’t stop both missiles in time.”
– Lex Luthor, Superman: The Movie
I’m with Threll. No point in wasting billions more over the hundreds of millions who are already going to die. I’d just pray and have confidence that at some point in the future someone’s going to overthrow the commies and they’ll go down in history as the worst murderers this planet has ever seen.
… oh yeah, except if Superman’s available. Then I ask him to “…stop the missiles that have already been launched.”
id fly over to russia… remove their leader and take over as their president (hint removing leader by removing the city the leaders in)
I cast my vote for following the principles of Mutually Assured Destruction.
The ‘A’ stands for “assured.” We told them what would happen if they nuked us; now let’s show them.
You’re the President of the United States of America. Your primary interest must be the welfare of America and its citizens. They would want retaliation.
By not acting, you are assuring that Russia and Communism (I’m assuming this is a Cold War scenario) will dominate the planet and subjucate any surviving Americans. That can’t be tolerated.
At least by firing back, you will elminate the planet’s nuclear capabilities. The Mad Max-types that crawl out of the rubble won’t have to worry.
Well, with 500 ICBMs heading in, you’re basically just calling ahead to let him know you’re on the way right?
And thus we see the fundamental flaw in MAD.
Just on another note, people who would actually prefer to see the destruction of the human race to the triumph of communisism really scare me. They are not the types I would choose to hoist a beer with.
My apologies, Dave, just trying to satirize them “Aliens-Government Deal” conspirasts.
SERIOUS ANSWER (gasp!): Launch. If I was president at the time (you put the setting several decades ago, did you not?), I’d have the responsibility to make sure that the enemies of America do not have victory. Also, the 500 nukes the Russians are sending would guarantee nuclear winter, so the Soviets are doomed anyway. So if I were to launch, I’d spare them a slow, agonizing death from radiation/cancer/no sunlight/etc. by replacing it with an instantaneous one.
But, in the end, it’d come down to “duty”.
On a side-note… why can’t I launch nukes, THEN get to the airport and save myself? Self-serving, yeah, but it’s stupid to “sacrifice” yourself when your sacrifice would be meaningless and unnoticed. Plus, in the post-nuke world, humanity would need as many survivors as possible.
You have to remember the sixty seconds. In sixty seconds you would not have the chance to come to any neww choice: instead, you would revert to the decision you had made upon assuming office (and I think we can assume that every president, including today’s, thinks about this in advance.) Now, in order for MAD to work, our bluff had to be failsafe–the USSR had to believe that we would return fire. To insure that they believed us, we had to be telling the truth: as president you would have to have conditioned yourself to accept doing the unthinkable. Therefore, I believe that we would have returned fire, and that in light of the whole situation, not just those sixty seconds, it would have been the corrrect thing to do, the unfortunate yet inevitable consequence of making a meaningful threat.
This is not the flaw, Singledad, but rather the point; by refusing to allow anyone to gain any advantage through nuclear warfare, it became futile to use. No one was blind to the fact that this meant pointless destruction if an exchange actually occured. It is a crazy idea, but it, or rather something, seems to have worked; we have made it some fifty years without a nuclear exchange, something that no thinking person would have put money on. That might be an interesting new thread thread: Why didn’t we blow ourselves up?
Drop and roll.
Like Dennis Miller said [paraphrase]:
“Oh sure, some people will say that brings us down to their level and they win. Fine, at least some of their guys won’t make it to the trophy ceremony.”
What do you think the presidents who have had to consider this more seriously than we do, would have done? My guesses:
Truman through Johnson would have pushed the button with no hesitation.
Nixon would have pushed the button while going “Mwuhahahaha!”
Ford would have tried to push the button but missed.
Carter wouldn’t have pushed it.
Reagan would have pushed it twice, just to make sure.
MAD kept your ass alive for 50 years. (Or however many of those Cold War years you were around.)
Do you not think it would embolden a nuclear power to learn that those upon whom they would launch their missles don’t have the fortitude to retaliate?
It wouldn’t so much be that the ‘winners’ are Communists, but that they are mass murderers on an unprecedented scale, and yeah, some people would think the death of freedom on this planet is something worth launching missles over. I highly doubt after the Soviets killed a few hundred million of us, we would enter an Era of Love where everybody would just hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya.’
You probably drink light beer, anyway.
First thing to do would be consult with Generals Turgidson and Ripper. And for god sake make sure that you have stored plenty of distilled water.