If New York Were Nuked by Terrorists – What Then?

Slight side note… HBO shows a Brit made movie for time to time called “Dirty War” about just such an event in London. It’s fiction, yes, but does an excellent job of showing the issues to be dealt with in such a scenario. I highly recommend it.

Though it may seem callous, we can expect it to happen several times within the MIddle East* before it happens here. Really, the only reason they did the 9/11 thing was that they couldn’t do what they usually do here. The ME will face and internal nuclear threat before we do.

*or several other sections of the world where Muslims battle each other

I believe civil liberties would be gone. We would probably go crazy as a nation and attack countries without verifiable proof of complicity and we would of course carpet bomb Syria, Iran & France. (Ok maybe not France, but don’t doubt it).
Remember Japanese interment camps. It would be a very bad year for Arabs and Moslems.
It would probably plunge the world into a series of very major wars.
The religious right would simultaneously say those heathens deserved it and launch a crusade against perceived enemies.
Jeb Bush would be the next president unless GW just declared marshal law and kept power.
It would possibly lead the world back to the dark ages.
NYC, DC or any other major American city being nuked would be a catastrophe for the whole world. I think the other cities that would destabilize the world would be Moscow, London and major Chinese City.
If London was struck we would support UK fully and Russia & China could start WWIII on there own.

Moderator’s Note: Thread title edited just to be sure no one freaks out and runs and holes up in a bomb shelter for the next 30 years.

Who is this “Marshal” or “Marshall” fellow that people keep talking about, and what laws did he pass?

Just a common typo. Apologies

Since you asked

This from someone living in a nation which made war on Iraq because a bunch of Saudi Arabian blew up two of our buildings. .

The new banking capital of the world would be Charlotte. Life would go on.

I’m not seeing indiscriminate bombing of the ME…after all, last time I checked the oil was there. Even if you think Bush is evil, etc etc, blah blah blah…think of the money. Hell, such bombing would probably do more to destroy America (from a financial perspective) then the actual bombing of NYC.

If NYC were nuked by terrorists I’d say our most likely response would be a massive effort to re-establish our communications and economic infrastructure to go around the smoking hole that NYC had become. There would be a rescue effort of course and containment and clean up effort. I don’t see this as the end of the US by any stretch and I think folks saying that…well, I really don’t know why folks would figure that even losing NYC would bring about the downfall of the US. I’m not even seeing the end of Democracy or our civil liberties to be honest.

I am seeing a massive investigation in to who, what, when, where and how…and a hell of a lot of finger pointing, especially at Bush et al (if it happens on his watch…and even if it doesnt but happens during the next administration). Depending on WHO is president and WHO is in control of the Senate/Congress (at a guess, the Republicans), I could see this completely toppling them from power…maybe even to the point where they lose their top spot as one of the two REAL parties in the US (its happened before to political parties after all).

Military response? Well, assuming we could figure out who did it (I agree with John Mace btw…I think there would be sufficient clues to narrrow things down quite a bit), I figure our most likely response is another invasion and another toppling of some regime. If no nation state is responsible (which I’m not seeing), then I see perhaps the US focusing on assassination of suspected terrorist leaders and perhaps even terrorist groups reguardless of where they are hiding a la Israel’s Mossad.

I also see a wise president invoking the NATO mutual protection provisions of the treaty and getting them onboard more fully in this whole WoT thing. Nuking NYC would probably scare the crap out of much of Europe, who would have to be wondering when London, Paris, Moscow, Berlin, etc might be next.


Well, if a nuke got dropped on the US, maybe the Europeans could initiate a Martial Plan to help us out.

  • There would be no rioting and looting in NYC (much to my surprise; in 1999 I would have said so, but having lived through 9/11 and the blackout, I can say that a huge swell of humanitarian aid and general humanity will be the result)

  • Wall Street would be over. Decentralization of the financial world would be complete, as companies move elsewhere (I like Liberal’s idea re: Charlotte)

  • the USA as we know it would be over. As General Tomy Franks said, if another terrorist attack occurs in the United States “the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.” Posse comitatus will be permanently suspended. We will remain in a “state of emergency” for a long long time. Search and seizure of citizens’ homes, the indefinite imprisonment of people as “detainees”, and terrible pressure and scrutiny on all muslims and arabs will be the norm.

  • we’ll invade Iran and Syria (if we haven’t done so already), regardless of whether or not they can be proved to have been involved

  • the military’s recruiting problems will temporarily be solved, as indignant citizens join up; later, a draft will be reinstated to keep troop numbers up as our military commitments increase worldwide.

You are absolutely correct and I cannot believe that I posted it that way.

If there were clear evidence pointing to the perpetrators and who was behind them, I’d certainly expect us to go after them with no holds barred. NATO and others would almost surely come on board immediately.

But things aren’t always that easy. It’s been 4 years and OBL is still popping out tapes with seeming impunity. We could investigate the hell out of this and never come up with an indisputable answer. I’d expect that a vocal portion of the US electorate would be demanding nuclear retribution, but against whom? Without a much, much more defintive case than we had against Iraq, I see that option as off the table.

What about turning the mountains on the Afghan-Pakistan border into a “level playing field”?

Christ almighty, can you at least wait for the hypothetical in the OP to take place before starting the cultural purges?

Frankly, I agree with those who say that this situation, if it were to happen, would threaten the actual existence of the United States of America in its present form. I myself would get my hands on some sort of firearm and start agitating (peacefully) for the Bear Flag Secessionist movement. We’re sick of the Red States taking all our federal tax money, anyways.

'fraid he is. And very rightly so.
THE question to ask from a strategic standpoint will be “can they do it again?”

If you’re 100% sure that they can’t, well then “hugging their loved ones and mourning the dead” and hunting down those specific individuals responsible for that specific attack might be a defensible position.

But if those who desire the complete destruction of the US have acquired multiple warheads and/or the capacity to produce them on demand, simply hunting down individual perpetrators is begging for more of the same.

Any terrorist group worth a damn is compartmentalized: so you take down the hundred guys involved in that attack, and say you take out their command structure all the way to ObL. Do you think the rest of their organization simply folds up their tent and goes home?

And say you even take out all of Al Quaeda. Do you think Hezbollah might find a use for a few nukes? Islamic Jihad? Al-Aqsa martyr’s brigade, Judean People’s Front, People’s Front of Judea and the whole lot? Are you sure they won’t? Are you willing to roll those dice? Say you don’t, and they take out Houston next. What then? Do we still go with “limited responses” as we lose cities one by one? As people have pointed out, NYC disappearing off the map wouldn’t be the end of the US; but NYC being taken off the map is a very different thing.

As horrible as the idea is to consider, dispersed, non-centrally controlled, undeterrable nuclear-armed Muslim extremists taking shelter within larger Muslim communities will leads to only one thing: nuclear genocide. The only choice will be which side.

I’m surprised people are ringing the Military dictatorship bell so loudly. Bush would be blamed not lauded. Remember he “inherited” the problem that lead to 9/11 os he could wash his hands of his part in it. The administration would be seen as baring the responsibility for this.

I agree with whoever said it would finally get the government serious about border security.

After the initial strikes back we’d make at whoever we saw as backing this play we’d probably go into an isolationist mode.

I’ve argued much of your premise before, but your conclusion is Strangelovian. The notion that the US would launch strategic nuclear strike after nuclear strike against the Islamic world–turning civilian population centers into radioactive crematoria–is off the table. No president would go along with this reactionary genocidal option and one that did would be swiftly impeached and imprisoned.

Well I don’t like it any more than you do. But if the US has a half-dozen cities are gone, twenty million dead and no end in sight, I think there’d be precious little concern for the citizenry of Riyadh, Damascus, etc.

As some have said above, it’d be the end of America qua America; but given the choice of either losing one’s illusions about civilization, and actually losing one’s life, I wager on people choosing the latter.

Nuke Bolivia and invade Argentina.