Declassified effects of nuclear weapons and countermeasures
  • Protection is needed against collateral civilian damage and contamination in conventional, chemical and nuclear attack, with credible low yield clean nuclear deterrence against conventional warfare which, in reality (not science fiction) costs far more lives. Anti scientific media, who promulgate and exploit terrorism for profit, censor (1) vital, effective civil defense knowledge and (2) effective, safe, low yield air burst clean weapons like the Mk54 and W79 which deter conventional warfare and escalation, allowing arms negotiations from a position of strength. This helped end the Cold War in the 1980s. Opposing civil defense and nuclear weapons that really deter conventional war, is complacent and dangerous.

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  • Dr Harold L. Brode’s new book, Nuclear Weapons in ...

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  • Thursday, October 01, 2015

    Jeremy Corbyn, Britain's Labour Party leader and probable next PM rejects credible nuclear deterrence. This is the triumph of stupid secrecy on the truth about tactical nuclear weapons capabilities to deter conventional war or at worse to reduce (not increase) the civilian collateral damage from war

    There's been some concern after BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg interviewed the probable next Prime Minister, hard left wing CND supporter and Marxist Jeremy Corbyn, asking him if he will press a button to launch a nuclear armed Trident SLBM, and he opposed nuclear deterrence:

    Laura Kuenssberg: "Would you ever push the nuclear button if you were Prime Minister?" 
    Jeremy Corbyn: "I am opposed to nuclear weapons ... They are the ultimate weapon of mass destruction that can only kill millions of civilians if ever used ... Listen.  The nuclear weapons that the United States holds - all the hundreds if not thousands of warheads they've got - were no help to them on 9/11.  The issues are threats of irrational acts by individuals ..."

    On the topic of irrational acts by individuals, what if President Putin (who immediately after Corbyn's interview started bombing the enemies of his friend Assad the butcher in Syria), goes totally crazy?

    Remember that the ratio of nuclear weapons to conventional weapons casualties during the 46 year Cold War was 0, because the prime use of nuclear weapons was to deter an invasion of Western Europe by Russia, and no invasion occurred despite the failure to use nuclear weapons elsewhere to deter or end wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan during the 1980s.  Theanti-nuclear myth is that fighting with conventional weapons that don't deter wars is a more humane option than ending war using credible nuclear deterrence.

    In WWI, Britain's fired 170 million shells at German trenches, of which 1.5 million were fired in the brief barrage before the Battle of the Somme.  In 1917 alone, Britain produced 50 million shells containing 185 kilotons of explosive. Altogether, from 1914-17 Britain fired 290 kilotons of high explosives in shells at German trenches.

    The "equivalent megatonage" or equivalent to 1 megaton nuclear weapons, isn't just 0.29 megatons, but is immense because the area of destruction and thus casualties scale by only about the 2/3 power of energy, not directly with yield, and each average shell contained only 3.7 kg of explosive. Thus, the equivalent megatonnage of Britain's shelling in 1917 alone is:

    50,000,000(3.7 x 10-9)2/3 = 120 separate 1 megaton nuclear weapons.  In the whole of WWI, the British Army fired 170 million shells, with equivalent damage to:

    170,000,000(3.7 x 10-9)2/3 = 408 separate 1 megaton nuclear weapons.

    If you're worried that we haven't included fallout, don't worry: we didn't include the 113,000 tons of gas used in WWI in that calculation.  But seeing that gas wasn't used in WWII despite dire scare-mongering prior to the war - largely responsible for the appeasement policy that led to the war, according to Herman Kahn's analysis - there's no particular reason why nuclear weapons will be used to maximise fallout by high yield ground bursts near cities, rather than air bursts.  Likewise for the time-scale of the attack: in 1939 pundits were claiming that there would be an immediate all-out "knockout blow" lasting days, not six years of protracted war.  As Kahn argued, even a dictator like Hitler didn't fight WWII in the wildly irrational way that the consensus of expert opinion in 1939 predicted.  There's even less reason for a country to try to disarm itself by detonating every warhead it has within five minutes of a nuclear war starting.

    Now consider WWII, where London alone received about 18.8 kilotons in roughly 188 thousand separate 100 kg explosives in the 1940 Blitz :

    188,000(10-7)2/3 = 4 thermonuclear weapons, each 1 megaton.

    The 1.3 megatons of conventional bombs dropped on Germany in WWII was likewise equivalent to:

    13,000,000(10-7)2/3 = 280 separate thermonuclear weapons, each 1 megaton.

    About ten percent of the conventional bombs failed to detonated, creating a massive bomb disposal problem that slowed down civil defence in WWII, where the protracted air raids over many months progressively reduced shelter utilization in London, increasing the casualty rate.  The point is:

    Conventional weapons failed to deter two world wars, which were each the size of a substantial nuclear war (in terms of devastation and overall casualties).  Disarmament after WWI led to WWII.

    That's what you get when you don't even have a nuclear deterrent.  However, I don't see why we have to have the extremely expensive (£100 billion for a set of four) strategic nuclear Trident SLBM system.  Why not simply put some tactical (enhanced neutron) nuclear warheads on cruise missiles on our Astute class submarines (which now cost us only £747 million each) to deter Putin from sending massed tank invasions into Europe?  Then if Mr Corbyn has to press the button, he can rest assured that the 1 kiloton yield nuclear weapons at 500 m burst altitude over Mr Putin's tank column as it heads over a border will not cause any harm to civilians.  Sure, some cruise missiles might be shot down, but since Moscow has ABM, some Trident warheads will likewise be shot down.

    Jeremy Corbyn should however be congratulated for correctly heading his own website's absurd anti-civil defence rant "Nuclear Madness".  It is nuclear madness.

    Nuclear madness

    What Jeremy (and his anti-nuclear ranting friends like Duncan Campbell) needs to remember is, as we proved statistically in a previous post, simply "hiding under a stout table" saved 97.5% of lives in completely collapsed homes in World War II, and modern concrete city buildings with simple fire bucket countermeasures worked to save lives within the firestorm area near ground zero in Hiroshima, and simple civil defence Anderson shelters, trench shelters, and concrete buildings to deflect blast and absorb thermal and nuclear radiation were proved at nuclear tests such as Britain's first test, Operation Hurricane, Monte Bello, 1952.  I agree that the reports should have been published to defend civil defence against Duncan Campbell and CND's ranks, but we all know that UK Government is a patronising, secretive, and over-simplifying group of bureaucrats (that doesn't disprove the scientific evidence).  Corbyn's exaggerated nuclear threat and ignorant hatred/"ridicule" of civil defense is a contrived populist myth, based on covering up the credible military capabilities of tactical nuclear weapons to deter invasions.  It is nuclear madness, not sanity.



    Let's do a full analysis of the key points Herman Kahn makes about nuclear deterrence and civil defence in his badly misrepresented 1960 On Thermonuclear War, which contains many important points but is poorly organized.  It is composed of lightly edited lectures, first delivered at Princeton University in March 1959, but sadly omits some key arguments that Kahn made in his lengthy 26 June 1959 testimony to the U.S. Congressional Hearings before the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Biological and Environmental Effects of Nuclear War.  I first read On Themonuclear War twenty five years ago after reading James R. Newman's provocative (sneering and ignorant) attack on it in the March 1961 Scientific American (which was on the shelf in the university library), while I was a physics undergraduate.

    The objective approach to resolve any "controversy" by debunking myths using relevant facts:

    1. Search for "sacred cows" that are irrationally defended and protected from objective criticism.  Slay them, since they are proof of a lack of evidence based objectivity in mainstream dogma.

    2. Play devil’s advocate politely but objectively, to unearth and expose deep rooted prejudices and biases.

    3. Break key taboos by introducing heresies that are factually defensible but which produce irrational "let’s close this debate now" style censorship from the dogmatic status quo, not objective discussion.

    4. Use evidence of paranoid censorship as proof that you have won the argument because you have exposed irrational bigotry over the key facts that underpin the mainstream arguments.


    Kahn's basic objective which he should have put on page 1 but didn't is to be found in Appendix I, Improve Policy Formulation, to On Thermonuclear War, pages 579-8.  There, Kahn starts with a quotation from volume 1 of Alexis de Tocqueville's 1835 Democracy in America:

    "Foreign politics demand scarcely any of those qualities which are peculiar to a democracy; they require, on the contrary, the perfect use of almost all those in which it is deficient. ... a democracy ... cannot combine its measures with secrecy [going to the United Nations for authority to use force against terrorists is contrary to surprise tactics that bring success, by catching opponents off guard] or await their consequences with patience [democracy blinked first in Vietnam, where the Thomas Schelling Strategy of  Conflict approach hardened the enemy morale, while undermining the morale of the democracy].  These are ... precisely the qualities by which a nation, like an individual, attains a dominant position. ... Almost all the nations that have exercised a powerful influence ... have been governed by aristocratic institutions. ... nothing in the world is so conservative ... The mass of the people may be led astray by ignorance or passion ..."

    Democracy has all the weaknesses of the mob, which explains the routine failures of democracy to avoid costly wars, and also the weaknesses of democracy during war.  Herman Kahn explains on page 580 of On Thermonuclear War:

    "I chose to quote from de Tocqueville at length because I believe he describes the core of our problem as well as anybody has.  It is very difficult to believe that we can muddle through ... in the characteristic fashion of a democracy."


    The next thing Kahn should have done on page 1 is to review the lessons of historical wars, which he defers to Lecture III, beginning on page 311.  James R. Newman and other "critical" reviewers ignored this material, taking offence with the some of the relatively poor presentation in the earlier chapters.  For example, Newman attacked Kahn table of casualties versus recovery times for different sizes of wars, which Kahn labelled "provocatively" with the rhetorical question: "Will the survivors envy the dead?"  It was a poorly thought out idea.  What Kahn should have done was probably to have stuck to actual historical wars in the table, listing the total linear megatonnage, the equivalent nuclear megatonnage (based on damage area scaling, as we showed earlier in this post), as well as the casualties and economic recovery times, labelling the table: "Few survivors envy the dead."  In particular, some examples of counterforce wars that did not involve city bombing should have been included (like World War I), to make the wide range of possibilities clearer, and to prove that conventional war is not preferable to credible tactical nuclear deterrence.


    Kahn argues on pages 491-2 of On Thermonuclear War that credible nuclear weapons in the Middle East to deter conventional wars there, saving lives, will possibly convert routine violence into a more stable peace:

    "We may be too frightened of the possible consequences of the widespread diffusion of weapons.  It is quite possible that if one gave the Egyptians and Israelis atomic weapons, one is likely to find both nations acting much more cautiously than they do today, simply because the consequences of 'irresponsibility' are so much more disastrous. ... In addition, a war between Israel and Egypt would not be a world disaster but a local disaster ... Almost any sober analysis indicates that it is somewhat harder for Nth countries to cause a cataclysm than is often believed. ... It is even difficult to imagine one of these nations being able to start an accidental war ... in some kind of a crisis that could be helped by such an action ... the Soviets and the United States would be likely to be on their guard."

    On page 525, Kahn explains accidental wars are only found to escalate uncontrollably when defensive preparations against such contingencies are absent or highly defective, when both sides are trigger-happy, paranoid, and are on the threshold of mutual annihilation (instead of deterring escalation):

    "... the Camlan problem - the possibility that a war will be touched off by an accident or misunderstanding. ... Camlan refers, of course, to the last battle of King Arthur. ... Both sides were fully armed and desperately suspicious that the other side was going to try some ruse ... one of the knights was stung by an asp and drew his sword to kill the reptile.  The others saw the sword being drawn ... A tremendous slaughter ensued."

    This failure of trigger-happy first strike capability is precisely why we have a protected second-strike capability, so we wait for the enemy to actually blow us up, before Trident "retaliates".  We don't launch on warning, in case the warning system makes a mistake (a flock of birds on a radar screen, a missile test, etc.).

    Kahn adds: "The chronicle Morte d' Arthur is quite specific about the point that the slaughter was excessive chiefly because the battle took place without preparations or premeditation."


    Since we have a protected second-strike nuclear deterrent, with ICBMs in nuclear weapon effects-resistant trench type silos, or SLBMs and cruise missiles hidden at sea in nuclear submarines, we don't to be trigger-happy and rush into a full scale retaliation as soon as an enemy accidentally launches a single missile.  We can await the outcome, and proceed cautiously.  The usual picture of rapid escalation in nuclear war is debunked by the existence of protected retaliation capabilities, that make sure we don't have to rush into escalating a accident into a full scale thermonuclear war.

    Kahn finds that most cases in history where escalation did occur are therefore irrelevant to the situation existing now, where the nuclear deterrent we have developed is specifically designed to not be trigger-sensitive.  All of the other "accidental wars" actually fall into the category of "contrived accidents", where relatively minor incidents or accidents are seized on and deliberately exploited as an ad hoc excuse to "justify" a pre-planned agenda, which would otherwise be very hard to defend at that time.  For example, Hitler used the Reichstag Fire incident in 1934 as an excuse to declare a state of emergency and turn the democracy into a dictatorship.  In another example, the Spanish-American war of 1898 was triggered off by the sinking of the American battleship Maine off Havana, Cuba, by a Spanish mine.  Some critics claim that this was contrived by America as an excuse to have a war with Spain, just as the Reichstag Fire was alleged to have been started off by Nazis.  Regardless of who was responsible in either case, the point is that the accidents or crises were exploited and escalated by a trigger-happy agenda to justify aggression.  Our nuclear deterrence is deliberately designed to avoid rapid escalation to war, triggered by crisis or accident.


    "I do claim that the problems with which the major European powers contended may arise again in some modified form - particularly if we do not make preparations to prevent this from happening." - Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, page 416.

    Before WWI, there was a dangerous trigger-happy deterrence in Europe, based on immense stockpiles of bulky conventional weapons and the conscription of millions into massive armies prior to the declaration of war.  The problem was, as Herman Kahn explains, that this conventional arms involved a heavy militarization of society, right down to the printing of railway timetables to transport troops to borders in the event of a crisis.  All conventional weapons are relatively bulky compared to the equivalent megatonnage in nuclear warheads, so all conventional weapons carry - in some degree or other - the same general problems of highly visible mobilization in an effort to defend frontiers, as those which led to rapid escalation and war in August 1914, since the highly visible deployment of immense, credible conventional arms in a crisis situation itself becomes seen by potential adversaries as tantamount to a provocative act of aggression.  In 1960, Britain ended conscription (National Service), thanks to reliance of credible nuclear deterrence.  Many countries in the world that rely on conscription and conventional arms instead of credible nuclear deterrence have had major wars since then.

    Lecture I of Kahn's On Thermonuclear War is very badly organized with no clear narrative, allowing critics to pick bits out of the weakly-defined context to sneer at, but in a nutshell Kahn argues that most mainstream media dialogue on nuclear war is bogus because it is biased in favour of nuclear disarmament and/or world government, and with that agenda it too readily accepts massive exaggerations of not only the effects of nuclear war, but also the rate of escalation and loss of control that occurs.

    The problem with world government is basically that it is sophistry, just a case of remaking "wars" as "civil wars" or "rebellions", and in history we see the failure of the kind of groupthink that results from the loss of autonomy when diversity and freedom was suppressed using aggressive tactics by the Soviet Union's dictators, the Nazis, Prussian Empire, Roman Empire, European Union, British Empire, (non)United Nations, etc.  Those who hate meaningful democracy and want to give up freedom for the sake of big government bureaucracy always sell it with peace propaganda, and it always creates war.  The push of the European Union towards Ukraine by the European Union's unelected former anti-neutron bomb CND fanatic baroness Cathy Ashton has killed many thousands of innocent civilians, and the annexation of Crimea by Russia.  The (non)United Nations has failed to send peacekeepers into Syria because pro-Assad Russia has vetoed such peacekeeping, resulting in more deaths occurred in Hiroshima.  The 1930s League of Nations failed likewise to resolve the Spanish Civil War, or to prevent Germany rearming prior to WWII.  As Clausewitz stated, war is born of politics.  Put another way, if you want peace, don't try dialogue to resolve a controversy, because actions speak louder than words and wars are therefore the products of intractable arguments.

    Herman Kahn's Table 1, page 4 of On Thermonuclear War, lists the usual array of failed utopian "Alternative National Postures" ranging from "International Police Force plus World Government" to "Dreams".  It's probably what gave Kahn such a bad press, because lawyers like Kahn's reviewer James R Newman (who drafted the 1946 Atomic Energy Act) are biased in favour of some kind of legalistic or police solution to war.  Kahn argues on page 6 that the 1958 book, World Peace Through World Law, by Grenville Clark and Louis B. Sohn, leads to regional autonomy problems: "the underdeveloped nations are going to resent any real or fancied hindrances".  The conditions throughout the world are naturally unequal to begin with, due to climatic variations (needs for air conditioning or heating fuel), varying local resources (energy fuels, mineral resources, agriculture, recreation, ethnic traditions, ease and cost of transportation) so some regions need different rules to compensate for differences, and this then causes complaints from others about "inequality", or it creates excessive migration and overpopulation in some areas, until either the central government eventually collapses like the Soviet Union or Roman Empire, or else is overthrown by coup d'etat or civil war, which in a world government is equivalent to world war.

    (We already see some of these problems on a smaller scale in say the European Union, which is being forced to give repeated bail outs to extravagant, debt ridden states like Greece, in order to maintain political "unity". UK, where Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have regional parliaments, creating differences in health care policy in different regions, and endless complaints some medicines being unavailable in certain areas where the authority has decided on a different spending priority to elsewhere, creating "postcode lottery" unequal, luck-based social system.  This complaint is the exact opposite of the original motivation for autonomy, decentralizing power to lower levels, to give them the freedom to form their own policies.)


    One of the worst errors Kahn makes in On Thermonuclear War is to fragment his arguments on the dangers from the exaggeration of nuclear war, preventing a compelling narrative discussion of the evidence that nuclear war exaggerations are analogous to the 1930s gas, high explosive, and incendiary firestorm, and "knockout blow" exaggerations by the massive media hyped united peace/disarmanent/appeasement/pro-Nazi/anti-Jew propaganda lobby, led by popular figureheads such as Professor Cyril Joad, author of the 1939 Why War, which tried to ridicule Winston Churchill by pointing out that, prior to WWI, he watched Churchill's lecture call for an intense arms race to deter the German Kaiser being ridiculed by anti-war The Great Illusion author Sir Norman Angell.  Angell simply asked Churchill, rhetorically, if he would also give his advice to Germany?  Angell's argument was that modern civilization cannot afford war because war involves only financial losses, and even a country invades and annexes another, the costs of providing for that additional country will cancel out any gains.  Angell's simplistic argument ignored exploitation and slavery.

    It turned out that all of the situations where Angell's anti-war economics argument holds are where both sides are well-established democracies, which never have wars anyway, as proved by the statistics in Dr Spencer R. Weart's Never at War: Why Democracies will NOT fight one another.

    So Angell's argument fails to apply to the entire class of situations where wars can occur, where one side is not a well established democracy.  Furthermore, not only does Angell's argument absurdly fail to apply to the very situation (war) that is supposed to be about, his basic thesis is also totally inverted from the real world facts.  Instead of Angell's fears of economic ruin helping to deter WWII, fears of economic ruin motivated the socialist state dictators to launch their invasions, Italy in Ethiopia and Germany in Europe.  They invaded to seize resources.  Angell's simplistic economic ideas at best only applied to democratic states behaving fairly, and were totally misleading for the case of dictatorial states with large budget deficits.  Such dictators did not worry about recompensing annexed countries according to Angell's formula.  It was taboo for "warmongers" like Churchill to argue with Angell, just as it is taboo to argue with a religious leader over the evidence for the dogma, and this situation catered to the popular appetite for peace following WWI.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and a knighthood for a contrived dismissal of Churchill's argument.

    Kahn on page 9 states that in the era of secrecy over widespread H bomb effects following the 1 March 1954 fallout accident in the Pacific (where fallout from the 15 megaton Castle-Bravo bomb contaminated the skin and water of outdoor Marshallese islanders and Japanese tuna trawler personnel), the Mainau Declaration was issued by a lot more Nobel Laureates:

    "In 1955, fifty-two Nobel Laureates signed a statement (the Mainau Declaration) which included the following: 'All nations must come to the decision to renounce force as a final resort to policy.  If they are not prepared to do this they will cease to exist'."

    Kahn adds, on the same page, that this simplistic stance was echoed by: "Neville Shute's interesting but badly researched book On the Beach, which presumes and describes the total extinction of humanity as a result of ... radioactivity coming from a thermonuclear war."

    Where I disagree is that he then fails to address - on page 9 at that point in the opening of his book - the 1930s exaggerations of a similar sort which led to repeated peace handshakes between Hitler and British Prime Minister Chamberlain, and the world war.  Instead, Kahn defers that until page 375 and thereafter, and gives a more fragmentary discussion in his 1960 book than his more impressive, harder hitting testimony on peace propaganda weapons effects exaggerations in his 26 June 1959 testimony to the Congressional Hearings on the Biological and Environmental Effects of Nuclear War.  Instead of displaying the awful consequences of war exaggerations in the 1930s, Kahn chooses to launch into an interesting but lengthy discussion of some simple countermeasures against strontium-90 fallout in food after a nuclear war.  This has doesn't address Shute's cobalt-60 fallout poisoning scares in On the Beach, and we see the same kind of bad response to cobalt-60 fallout fears in Cresson Kearny's Nuclear War Survival Skills, where Kearny raises the question of Shute's cobalt-60 fallout scare mongering, but tries to answer it by discussion the decay of fission product fallout (not the specific cobalt-60 issue that often arises from people who read the Shute book or the film of the novel).

    The simple answer is that even with 100% capture efficiency, it takes at least one neutron to convert an atom of cobalt-59 into cobalt-60 and its emission of two gamma rays totalling 2.5 MeV (mean energy 1.25 MeV) is spread out at a low dose rate due to with its half life of over 5 years (allowing time for decontamination before receiving a large dose), but if you use a U-238 jacket on the bomb, you get about 200 MeV of energy for each high energy neutron fission, including more residual radioactivity than cobalt-60 gives, and at a higher initial dose rate that creates more casualties.  In other words, a thermonuclear weapon with a natural uranium jacket creates the largest fallout hazard, and a cobalt jacket actually reduces the hazard.  In addition, cobalt is refractory (cobalt melts at 1,495 C), so much of it ends up concentrated on large fallout particles, or small pellets, mostly deposited near ground zero, as proved at a British nuclear test of Operation Antler, in Maralinga, 1957.  By contrast, many important fission products, including iodine, strontium and cesium, end up dispersed over much larger areas since they are either volatile themselves (like iodine) or else have gaseous precursors that don't allow them to condense on to large particles in the fireball, before those particles are quickly removed by gravity.  Thus, due to chemical fractionation, a much larger fraction of the fission product activity ends up in global fallout, being deposited with rain in distant thunderstorms, than is the case for cobalt-60.  Thus, you can't enhance the fallout hazard simply in the way Shute imagined in his novel.

    Some anti-nuclear scaremongering in the 70s and 80s recognised this and attempted to use another argument, exaggerating long-lived fallout dangers in computer models assuming that a deliberately ground burst nuclear weapon on a nuclear reactor or nuclear waste plant would convert 100% of the radioactivity encountered into fallout.  This is extremely naive, because we know from determinations of the specific activity of surface burst nuclear test fallout that only about 1% of the mass of the crater actually becomes fallout.  Moreover, although you get large craters in dry sand, the nuclear reactor core and fuel elements are encased in tough concrete, similar to hard rock, which shield neutrons (which might naively be expected to overheat a nuclear reactor) and are resistant to the high overpressures and fireball heat.  It would be more predictable for an enemy to try a nerve gas attack or even a conventional bombing of a city.

    On pages 23-72 of On Thermonuclear War, Kahn debunks a claim made the March 1959 Congressional Hearings on military preparedness in the Berlin crisis, that long-term fallout hazards from food contaminated by strontium-90 and carbon-14 would "ruin" farmland for "40 years".  Kahn remarks sensibly on page 24 that "those waging a modern war are going to be as much concerned with bone cancer, leukemia and genetic malformations as they are with the range of a B-52 ..." before giving a long-winded debunking of those risks.

    On page 46 Kahn argues by neglecting apoptisis and DNA repair due to P53 and other natural anti-radiation mechanisms that operated in Hiroshima, that even in the worst assumption a mean 250 R fallout dose to each survivor will increase the risk of a major genetic defect from the natural 4% by just 1% to a nuclear war result of 5%, debunking also on page 48 that J. B. S. Haldane's 1931 theory that minor defects to "future generations" are a real risk.  Firstly, if someone is killed by a bullet, mathematically you can also argue that an infinite number of possible future descendants have been wiped out of existence, but that's just sophistry.
     Secondly, small genetic defects at least allow a possibility of a descendent: if all the future deaths occur in the first generation, the total number of descendants are minimised, so you gain from spreading out genetic damage in time, because it becomes more tolerable and survivable (the opposite of Haldane's flawed idea).

    On page 65, Kahn notes that although the peacetime ICRP strontium-90 bone dose limit was then 67 strontium units (SUs), bone cancers have only been observed to occur (e.g. in the radium dial painters) above a threshold "equivalent of 20,000 to 30,000 strontium units".   One million square miles was then used for growing crops in America, and Kahn estimated that just 13 megatons of fission fallout spread uniformly over it would result in the peacetime limit of 67 SUs.  However, in reality the fallout is deposited in a non-uniform pattern with little upwind, so by increasing peacetime standards and by grading the food by strontium content, the contaminated food crisis can be averted without any significant bone cancer risks (in table 13, Kahn recommends that food with under 200 SUs is fed to kids, while that with over 25,000 is fed to adult animals which are soon to be consumed, where the strontium-90 will enter the inedible bone, not the meat).  In table 15, Kahn finds that even a large nuclear war will not produce a carbon-14 dose of over 5 R/year.

    Of more importance are the gamma radiation fallout doses.  In table 8, Kahn defines a smaller (1,500 fission megatons) and a larger nuclear attack (20,000 fission megatons), giving the computed fallout distributions over North America in tables 23 and 24, respectively.  For the smaller nuclear attack of 1,500 megatons, Kahn shows in table 23 that the outdoor gamma dose in the first 48 hours (during which the majority of the dose is received) is less than 6,000 R over 99% of the area of North America, requiring easily improvised shelter (basements, concrete/brick building ground floors with windows blocked, or simple tornado shelters) with a protective factor of no more than 40.  For the 20,000 fission megaton attack, table 24 shows that 50% of North America gets that dose, requiring better shelters to avoid radiation sickness.  However, as Kahn argues, there is no strategic threat of such a large attack of local-fallout creating ground bursts.  For the smaller attack, evacuation of the most heavily contaminated hotspots is feasible.  "Z Zone" downwind heavy fallout areas, with outdoor dose rates in excess of 1,000 R/hour at 1 hour after burst, were simply scheduled for evacuation at 48 hours after burst by the British Civil Defence Corp in the 1960s.

    The absurdity of fallout scaremongering calculations by idealists, neo-Marxists, and also openly pro-Soviet Union politically biased fanatics also lies in the strategic assumptions, in which not only is the "knockout blow" delusion (which preceded both WWI and WWII) maintained, but civil defence evacuation, sheltering, and decontamination are neglected or downplayed, because of a bias about any nuclear explosion escalating uncontrollably and irrationally to complete stockpile use against civilian targets, in fear of surprise first-strike:

    "The Nobel Laureates who authored the 'cease to exist' statement probably ... would be willing to go before a technical audience with a defense of the 'end of history' position as a sober estimate ... there are 'experts' who believe in world annihilation ... vehemently [Linus Pauling and fellow folk] ... sober study shows that the limits on the magnitude ... seem to be closely dependent on what kinds of preparations have been made, and on how the war is started and fought.  While the notions ... may strike some readers as being obvious, I must repeat that they are by no means so.  The very existence of the irreconcilable group predicting total catastrophe is proof."

    - Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, pages 10-11.

    Kahn comments naively on page 286: "It is particularly hard to understand why this is so when almost all who write on this subject were adults during the later part of the Hitler era ... with the record of the 1930's plainly before us, we should all be able to realize ... the capabilities for such blackmail ..."

    The exaggeration of gas/aerial explosive bombing/incendiary war effects was rife in the media in the 1930's for the same reason as the nuclear threat, and the real capabilities of conventional and nuclear are similar, since as we have shown above, Hitler's 188,000 bombs which were dropped on London in 1940 caused damage equivalent (using valid scaling laws) to four 1-megaton nuclear air bursts.  The evacuation of children from London in Operation Pied Piper before war was declared in September 1939, as well as shelter provisions, made that nuclear-war-magnitude Blitz survivable and indeed preferable to surrender or collaboration, which Hitler called for "in the name of sanity".  At that time, in 1940, there were pacifists calling for surrender, but after the war began, the more belligerent pacifists lost popular appeal because they were increasing perceived as enemy sympathisers, fellow travellers, and defeatists.  In effect, the mainstream media quickly switched into an anti-appeasement mode once the war started, far too late to deter the war.

    Kahn on page 286 argues that any political declaration that a real threat is "unthinkable" acts as a magnet for coercive thugs to do precisely that "unthinkable" act in an effort to call the bluff of the democracy:
    "It would be disastrous to have a conspicuous gap in the spectrum of deterrents and capabilities.  For example, when President Eisenhower remarked at a press conference that it was unthinkable that he would call out federal troops to enforce federal law in the Southern states, some Southerners immediately did something to make it thinkable.  Something similar may happen if he convinces the Soviets that he means what he says when he says that 'war is preposterous'."
    Kahn is often attacked for correctly having drawn attention to failures in the spectrum of deterrents.  E.g., Fred Kaplan's book Wizards of Armageddon attacks warnings of a "missile gap" after the first satellite, Sputnik, was launched by Russia in October 1957, which seemed to prove their earlier August 1957 claim to have developed ICBMs.  However, Kahn demonstrates on that the risk of a missile gap was a real possibility in his figure 3, "Could the missile gap have been dangerous?", which shows that if Russia had 150 ICBMs each with 50% reliability in 1957, it would have had better than 50% probability of destroying the entire 25 Strategic Air Command nuclear bomber bases in America, preventing American retaliation. This risk could therefore tempt enemy into launching a Pearl Harbor type surprise attack in a crisis situation.

    After Kahn's book was published, U2 spy plane data was disclosed by President Kennedy, finally indicating that at no time did Russia have sufficient ICBMs to do that.  But until then, it was a risk that American planners needed to take seriously, because having a nuclear "deterrent" that is vulnerable to being wiped out in a surprise attack is not a deterrent, but a magnet for crisis instability.  Similarly, there was a risk that if we rely for deterrence on the threat to destroy Moscow, in a crisis the city simply could be evacuated.  The existence of civil defence therefore has an effect on the credibly of nuclear deterrence in extreme crisis situations, precisely the situations where the war risks are greatest and deterrence is most important.  This is the fact that Fred Kaplan (and others) tried to ignore in their specious, simplistic Cold War attacks on civil defence plans by stating that in peacetime such plans exist "largely on paper" (like the plans for the British 1939 Operation Pied Piper prior to the declaration of war on Germany - the evacuation of kids from London to deter a knockout blow and to mitigate the effects if it did occur).  (See also more specious anti-civil defense propaganda from Kaplan in part 2 of his 1978 Bulletin rant that simply ignores all the detailed nuclear test data proving civil defense.)

    What the anti-nuclear, anti-civil defense propaganda of (non)United Nations people like Ward tries to do is firstly to restrict the scope of nuclear deterrence to only extreme all-out nuclear attacks, rather than the deterrence of conventional tank invasions by tactical Mk 54 and W79 warheads as in the 1960's under Kennedy and the 1980's under Reagan, and then to claim that because they have restricted nuclear deterrence to World Wars that have not occurred since 1945 for some (conveniently unspecified) reason, nuclear weapons are obsolete and are only needed to deter other nuclear weapons.

    That's a false argument because the reason nuclear weapons have not "been needed" to deter World War since 1945 is that they have been used successfully for precisely that purpose!  You don't need to actually explode your entire stockpile to "use" nuclear weapons to deter world war, any more than you have to burn your house down to get "peace of mind" from paying for home fire insurance that includes smoke detectors to reduce fire risks.  The specious argument that people lose out on a a disaster insurance policy if it helps to avert a disaster is silly.  This is why nuclear war scale-of-attack and destructive exaggerations are used: they are designed to paralyse the faculties, preventing objective discussions and making the relevant facts taboo.

    Nuclear deterrence needs low yield tactical warheads to deter major provocations such as conventional invasions and wars by the enemy, which otherwise end up causing more casualties than a nuclear war would:

    "In spite of (or possibly because of) the many words that are lavished ... most discussions of the conditions needed for such [all out war] deterrence tend to be unrealistic.  They rely more on assumption and wishful thinking than analysis.  Typically, discussions of the capability of the United States to deter a direct attack compare the preattack inventory of our forces with the preattack inventory of the Soviet forces ... This is a World War I and World War II approach.  It can look very impressive in the columns of the Sunday newspaper or speeches ..."

    - Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, pages 127-8.

    In fact, the total size of nuclear stockpiles are irrelevant to most war scenarios, the exception being the all-out surprise attack with with all-out instant full retaliation, where both sides completely disarm themselves in a single afternoon by fully expending all their weapons, as in President Carter's much quoted January 1981 farewell address which seemed to predict that President Reagan would destroy the world by accident.

    Take an error made by Professor Hans A. Bethe in his April 1982 presentation to the Americal Physical Society, We are not inferior to the Soviets (publishedin Bethe's 1991 book, The Road from Los Alamos, pages 90-98).  Bethe claims falsely that although in 1982 the Soviets had twice the equivalent megatonnage of the United States: "The Soviets have put larger-yield weapons on their missiles, an advantages that is cancelled out by the lower accuracy of their missiles."

    This is false because you don't need high missile accuracy if you are using high yield warheads on cities.  Even an error of a mile or two for a city the size of London has relatively little effect on the damage.  Where missile accuracy is crucial is for hitting missile silos where very high overpressure or cratering action is needed.  A dictatorship can credibly deter a democracy with less accurate missiles than a democracy needs, since the democracy is more concerned about protecting the people from retaliation than the dictatorship.  (The Hitler "bunker mentality".)

    Bethe's error is in assuming a moral equivalence in the strategy of each side, exactly the same error that Great Illusion author Normal Angell made when he ridiculed Winston Churchill's lecture on peacekeeping by deterrence prior to WWI (as quoted by Cyril Joad who attended and was won over by Angell, in Joad's pre-WWII appeasement book Why War?).

    Bethe also falsely claims in his ignorant article that the neutron bomb to deter masses tank invasions is unnecessary if you have over 10 hand held anti-tank rockets per Russian tank.  The problem is that Russia knows all about your anti-tank rockets which are most effective used against isolated tanks: because a barrage of fire from a mass of enemy tanks very soon knocks out the brave guys with the anti-tank rockets on their shoulders.  This is precisely why you also need to neutron bomb, in order to deter attacks by forcing the enemy to disperse tanks, thereby making handheld anti-tank rockets effective.  Additionally, Bethe quotes Brezhnev propaganda speech which claims that there are no winners in nuclear war: "I am quoting Brezhnev to counter the claim by some influential people in the U.S. Government that the Russians consider nuclear war winnable."

    Bethe forgets that Hitler made repeated "peace plan" speeches for propaganda, but that didn't prove that Hitler was a man of peace.  On 17 May 1933, Hitler declared:

    "Germany will be perfectly ready to disband her entire military establishment and destroy the small amount of arms remaining to her, if the neighboring countries will do the same thing with equal thoroughness. ... Germany is entirely ready to renounce aggressive weapons of every sort if the armed nations, on their part, will destroy their aggressive weapons within a specified period, and if their use is forbidden by an international convention.... Germany is at all times prepared to renounce offensive weapons if the rest of the world does the same. Germany is prepared to agree to any solemn pact of non-aggression because she does not think of attacking anybody but only of acquiring security."

    The problem was, Germany was already secretly rearming.  Hitler persisted with peace propaganda, declaring on 21 May 1935:

    "The German Government is ready to take an active part in all efforts which may lead to a practical limitation of armaments. ... Just as the use of dumdum bullets was once forbidden and, on the whole, thereby prevented in practice, so the use of other definite arms should be forbidden and prevented. Here the German Government has in mind all those arms which bring death and destruction not so much to the fighting soldiers as to non-combatant women and children. ... it will agree to any international limitation or abolition of arms ..."

    For pacifists desperately concerned with "educating the ignorant" that any war will end up with the complete annihilation of humanity amid clouds of poison gas, incendiary bomb firestorms and high explosives, such "peace propaganda" speeches by enemies are very soothing and appear to offer hope of a "peaceful resolution of differences".  Continued diplomatic appeasement by morally weak, deluded democracies, meant a considerable saving ammunition by dictators for use against tough opponents.  Similarly, efforts by the Russians to stir up anti-neutron bomb protests and "nuclear freeze" campaigns in the West suited their own agenda of coercing morally weak opponents into concessions and defeatist policies.  So if you exaggerate nuclear war so much that it appears the biggest threat in the world, you have destroyed the credible nuclear deterrent completely.  The same result occurs if you permit the free media to be saturated for decades with (to be frank) lying hogwash from incompetent, deluded, elitist egotists who nobody wants to debunk for fear the revenge retaliation attack!


    "Disarmament can also create pressures towards preventative war. ... Most writers ... focus all their attention on conditions at the moment the agreement was openly abrogated [in 1935 Hitlers' air force was suddenly admitted by the British Government, which had previously denied and ridiculed Churchill's warnings: however the British Government only admitted the threat after it appeared big enough to threaten a destructive war if forcibly stopped, so there was never any period of an admitted "emerging threat" which could be stopped safely].  The arms controller should not advocate anything to decrease the possibility of the accidental and miscalculation wars, that so weakens us militarily that he had, inadvertently, excessively increased the possibility of war by calculation."

    - Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, 1960, page 230.

    The point Kahn makes is that larger stockpiles help to decrease the probability of war by enemy calculation, since they make it less certain the enemy could "win".  If you have general disarmament to reduce risks of a large nuclear war occurring through an escalation after an accident or miscalculation (very unlikely if both sides have a protected second-strike nuclear deterrent), a dictator is more likely to believe he could "win" because the potential devastation is reduced, and therefore, you increase the risk of having a calculated nuclear war.  The whole reason for having a large nuclear stockpile is deter a calculated nuclear war by an enemy, so if you disarm to make the world safer, you increase the risk that a dictator will resort to nuclear war.  We could do the same with an immense conscription and stockpile of more expensive conventional weapons, but that increases the risk of accidental gunshots triggering off conflict (prevented in nuclear weapons by mechanical and electronic safeguards).


    Cheap trenches used in the American Civil War to counter machine guns and mortars, preventing a knockout blow and forcing a protracted war of attrition, are ignored by Germany in 1914

    Both World War I and World War II arose in large part because of simplistic historical analyses that drew misleading "lessons" from the previous wars.  In starting World War I by invading Belgium (which drew Britain to declare war due to the 1839 Treaty of London), Germany was applying the "lesson" it learned from its experiences of success when it quickly and efficiently ceased Alsace-Lorraine from the French in 1871.  The problem was that between 1871 and 1914 the machine gun and high explosive shells had been developed and hyped (by both weapons manufacturers and peaceniks like Norman Angell) as being spectacular, unanswerable, offensive "knockout blow" technology (akin to nuclear weapons today), which would overcome any opposition, annihilating any enemy forces instantly.

    Such "knockout blow" technology had however been disproved in the trench warfare during the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia, which lasted from 9 June 1864 to 25 March 1865, near the end of the American Civil War.  Machine guns and heavy mortars were easily held up by simple earth trenches, as predicted by Bloch (who was ignored by Germany).  Germany in 1914 ignored lessons of the trenches in preventing a "knockout blow" and forcing a war to dragged out in attrition.  The same error was again made in the 1930s, when the simple trench type shelters and gas masks of WWI were ignored by writers of next war fiction who assumed that obvious countermeasures would be neglected in the next war.  Again, the same error was made during the Cold War, when America published pictures of houses blown up by 5 psi peak overpressure, but kept secret in Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons the fact that simple WWI or American Civil War type trenches exposed at early Nevada nuclear tests withstood 20 psi and shielded out most of the thermal and nuclear radiation, too.  Instead, there is a repeated historical obsession with expensive, immobile concrete fortifications, the Maginot Line delusion:

    "'Fine concrete', he kept on muttering ... they'll never get through this! ... We left the hot sun and went down into the Maginot Line ... we walked for a mile along a tunnel, meeting occasional soldiers on bicycles or an electric train bringing up ammunition ... The troops ate, slept and worked underground ... As I drank Pernod in the officers' mess, also underground, I said: 'It certainly seems impregnable'.  'It's impregnable all right,' they said.  All the same there was one form of attack they were nervous about, and that was an attack by parachutists ... if anyone had suggested to the French military staff ... resolute Germans, dropped from the sky or infiltrating through under cover of the night, could put the guns of the Maginot Line out of action, he would have been ridiculed or arrested as a defeatist."

    - Gordon Waterfield, What Happened to France, John Murray, London, 1940, pages 14-19.  (Quoted by Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, pages 333-4.)

    Hitler found a way around the Maginot Line.  The lesson drawn by historians and military strategists from WWI had been that some way had to be made to stop Germany invading France via Belgium in the precise way used in August 1914.  France found a way to stop that threat.  But by 1940, German tanks were capable of going through the rough terrain of the Ardennes Forest, and additionally German troop carriers were capable of flying over the Maginot Line to drop parachutists, despite the special anti-aircraft guns they had.  In other words, it's very easy to draw misleading "lessons" from military history.  Just as the German "lessons" of success from a fast surprise attack in 1871 were misleading in 1914, so the French "lessons" of invasion in 1914 were misleading by 1940.  Historical analysis has itself caused complacency and tragedy, because learning from experience is fraught with problems when circumstances like technology change:

    "Most of the [1914] experts argued that the Austro-Prussian war (seven weeks) or the first phase (five weeks) of the Franco-Prussian war would be the model of the future. ... that as soon as one side had been beaten in a significant battle, it would admit defeat. ... In particular, both military and political lessons of the American Civil War were ignored ... the Civil War, being a civil war, did not seem to be a good analogy to an international conflict between civilized nations. ... Both sides enormously underestimated the impact of the machine gun [for keeping troops heads down in trenches], barbed wire and trenches, and most important of all, the resilience and staying power of their soldiers and civilians ... to paint the enemy as inhuman and of making a total commitment to defeating him ... to justify past casualties and sacrifices and to preserve morale ..."

    - Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, pages 350-1.

    Thus, the Germans put the Schlieffen Plan with its objective of knocking France out in six weeks (based on the war of 1870), into action in 1914, with tragic results for everyone once it degenerated into trench war.  The main difficulty in learning the "lessons of history" is that history is like science, a poorly defined academic discipline with many definitions and arguments over its role.  Some purist historians eschew the notion of trying to deduct any lessons from past events for current use, because even if past successes can be fully correlated with the circumstances that are associated with them (i.e. a perfectly complete historical record), that doesn't prove that circumstances actually caused the events (random chances are involved, too).  Like an electron in the ground state of hydrogen, it may be impossible even in principle to make deterministic predictions.  In addition, as Kahn remarks on page 354, "there are so many more ways to making mistakes than of being right."  In other words, learning from experience is analytically a lot easier if that experience is a success, rather than a failure.

    This is why exam successes are rewarded more than exam failures, and generally why success is held in greater esteem than failure, although it is popular to pass off failure as "experience".  If you fail, you do not definitely know exactly how some of the many factors involved (from random bad luck to preparation and planning) should be changed in order to produce success.  It is not even as simple as using a "fault finding tree", because often failure results from a combination of factors.  If a car won't start and you find the battery is flat, that doesn't prove that charging the battery will cure the problem.  The battery may be flat because of repeated efforts to start the car when the spark plugs are dirty; the gasoline tank is empty, the tyres are flat.  In electronics, a typical fault like an failed capacitor dielectric or an overheated resistor may quickly cause a chain of other component failures, before the system shuts itself down.  Merely finding a defecting component and replacing it is therefore not a cure: the fault almost immediately recurs.  Failure is therefore very hard to rectify because there are a very large number of combinations of circumstances that cause it.

    Success on the other hand is easier to learn from, because at least it proves that one combination of circumstances at a particular time can (with a probability which depend on the size of the role played by random chance, luck) lead to success.  Nevertheless, military success can lead to the other side "learning its lesson" and taking defensive countermeasures to try to prevent a recurrence of that success by the enemy.


    Kahn explains on page 352 that after trench warfare had led to stalemate in North East France during 1915, Churchill's tanks were developed to try to make a breakthrough.  The designers wanted a kind of Manhattan project to secretly manufacture thousands of tanks, and suddenly use them in a tremendous surprise attack to break through the German lines and to end the war pronto.  Bureaucracy instead insisted that they were trialled in September 1916 in small numbers, thereby gaining little and losing the advantage of surprise.  (This was due to the fact that Churchill lost his Cabinet position  in November 1915, losing control of tanks.)  The American Air Force's Colonel Billy Mitchell similarly wanted to use the aircraft to carry paratroopers to overcome trench defences like barbed wire and machine gun posts, but this was never utilized in WWI.  The first use of chlorine gas by Germany on 22 April 1915 at Ypres had terrible effects and opened a five-mile long gap in the front, but this was just an experiment and was not exploited, so they lost the factor of surprise (a million simple hyposulphite of soda gas masks were issued by Britain to every soldier at the front within 14 days, thereby largely negating future German gas attacks).

    German submarines nearly won the war for Germany because they were good at sinking merchant ships, cutting off logistics (supplies of food and munitions to the front and also to mainland Britain).  But because Germany had predicted and planned for a six-week knockout blow of the 1870 variety, ignoring the effects of trenches in protracting the war and turning it into a long war of attrition, they had too few submarines for a quick success and a complete blockade of all ports.  As a result, the original 110 German submarines were only able to sink 25% of the ships that left British ports, and so Britain had time to able to develop and deploy anti-submarine convoys of ships, protected by hydrophone submarine detectors and depth charges.  If Germany had taken the American Civil War lesson of trench defences seriously, it would have built more submarines and could have sunk or penned into port all allied shipping, thus winning the war.  Instead, the allies were given the time to develop anti-submarine defences.  Likewise, German General Ludendorff deployed the SAS/marine type infiltration tactics against British lines in March 1918 and again at Chemin des Dames in May 1918, where small groups of specially trained, heavily armed fanatically motivated troops would force through the lines in surprise raids.  Kahn points out on page 356 that this infiltration tactic was borrowed from the experiences of the French Captain Laffargue, whose handbook was ignored by Britain and France, but upon falling into German hands it "was at once translated into German and issued as an official German training manual, eventually becoming the basis for General Ludendorff's textbook ..."


    17 February 1958 CND meeting poster displaying names of founders, including the WWI historian A. J. .P Taylor.  Taylor possibly exaggerated the risk of an all out nuclear war by his manipulative interpretation of the history of the outbreak of WWI, which in fact was due to the Kaiser's obsession with defeating France again as per the 1870-1 war, using the Schlieffen Plan.

    Kahn relies on historian A. J. P. Taylor's claim in the Observer (later expanded into his anti-arms race book, War by Timetable) that WWI had small causes in accidents which escalated arms race into world war, not a large cause in the form of the Kaiser.  The large cause, Kaiser's obsession with achieving a repeat of the short victorious war of 1870-1871, using the 1912 Schlieffen plan, had been planned for many years by Germany (much of their state funded railway system had been built for mobilization for the war of 1914).

    A. J. P. Taylor belittled this "great cause" and tried repeats Sir Edward Grey's false old claim that WWI was caused essentially by an accident during an arms race (the assassination of the Austrian-Hungarian Archduke on 28 June 1914). However, the resulting crisis was exploited by Germany as an excuse for war.  On 3 August 1914, Germany declared war on France.  Then on 4 August, Germany invaded Belgium, which was under British protection due to the 1839 Treaty of London.  This forced Britain to declare war on Germany.  However, some share for responsibility rests on the shoulders of British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, for failing to make it crystal clear to Germany in advance of its invasion of Belgium, that this would trigger World War.  Grey was in a very difficult position politically, since the British Liberal Government was overwhelmingly pacifist and weak (apart from Churchill, in Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty), and feared making threats to Germany in case the strong language were used as an excuse for war.  In this sense, the Liberal Party in 1914 appeased the Kaiser and thus encouraged enemy risk-taking and aggression, just as the Conservatives did twenty five years later in the prelude to WWII.  Sir Edward Grey later excused himself for failing to stop WWI, tragically, by blaming the arms race made war inevitable in 1914.  As John F. Kennedy points out in his 1940 book Why England Slept, Grey's blame on the arms race was then quoted throughout the 1930's by pacifists and appeasers to try to prevent an arms race with Germany.

    In fact, the arms race prior to WWI was what delayed the outbreak of war until 1914, and it was the weakness of the arms in Grey's hands, due to his Liberal Party Cabinet colleagues, which cause the war.  It is dangerous that this solid fact is still obfuscated by mainstream history, much in the way that the role of field quanta in physically causing electron indeterminancy in the atom is still obfuscated by groupthink physics.

    Sir Edward Grey failed to make it clear to the Kaiser what Britain would do if Germany invaded Belgium on 4 August 1914.  Grey was uncertain himself, since it was a Cabinet decision in the afternoon that resulted in the declaration of war, but it was Grey's duty as Foreign Secretary to communicate effectively and avoid a muddle.  While some responsibility is down to the Liberal Cabinet as a whole, Grey not only failed but also - in blaming the arms race - gave the appeases the excuse to avoid an all-out arms race with Germany in the 1930's, which was financially more damaging to Germany than to Britain.  Historians by and large follow A. J. P. Taylor's lead.  He taught many leading historians and imparted his dogmatic viewpoint that the war was an accident in an arms race, rather than dictatorial plan of invasion, instigated in August 1914 by opportunism, with the accident used as camouflage.  Lloyd George's War Memoirs make clear Edward Grey's responsibility and failings, but Lloyd George was partly responsible too, as well as others in the Cabinet, including Winston Churchill, who always wrote lucrative, best-selling, poetically wise books full of "lessons" after a war, despite having personally failed to use his eloquence to overcome popular pacifism and deter the war the way he wanted.  Winston Churchill on Liberal complacency over war during a 1911 crisis:

    "It is too foolish, too fantastic to be thought of in the twentieth century. ... No one would so such things.  Civilization has climbed above such perils.  The interdependence of nations in trade and traffic, the sense of public law, the Hague Convention [the First Hague Peace Conference successfully outlawed gas warfare on paper agreements in 1899, agreements which weren't worth the paper they were written on during WWI], Liberal principles, the Labour Party, high finance, Christian charity, common sense have rendered such nightmares impossible." 

    - Winston Churchill, The World Crisis, Charles Scribner's, New York, 1923, page 33.


    The situation which caused WWI was far more similar to the peace-mongering, war-hatred and general war ignorance that preceded WWII.  Britain in 1914 had a military deterrent, but Liberal politics effectively weakened its credibility and thus prevented it from deterring the German invasion of Belgium on 4 August.  The situation in 1939 differed only in that, as a result of Grey's blame on the arms race for WWI, Britain's deterrent in 1939 was undermined.  Britain wasn't gaining time (as Chamberlain and his apologists still dogmatically claim), but by spending less each year than Germany, was losing time and losing strength:

    Sir John Slessor, Marshall of the RAF, writes on page 161 of in his 1957 autobiography, The Central Blue: "the Government continued to rule early in 1938 that the three fighting Services between them should not be allowed to spend more than about £1600 millions over the five years 1937 to 1941 - an average of little over £300 millions a year for all three Services; and this eighteen months after the Prime Minister, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, had confirmed that he knew the Germans were spending £1000 millions a year on warlike preparations, a figure which we now, of course, was being greatly exceeded." 

    Winston Churchill, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Putnam, New York, 1941, page 60, writes with some bitterness of the Munich crisis of September 1938: "It is the most grievous consequence of what we have done and of what we have left undone in the last five years - five years of futile good intention, five years of eager search for the line of least resistance, five years of uninterrupted retreat of British power, five years of neglect of air defences ... We have been reduced in those five years from a position of security so overwhelming and so unchallengeable that we never cared to think about it.  We have been reduced from a position where the very word 'war' was considered one which would be used only by persons qualifying for a lunatic asylum."

    Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, page 378: "neither the British nor the French had the resolve to use their superior military power or their superior resources to check German aggression until it was too late. ... The longer they put off using their superior power, the less credible it became that it would ever be used.  Finally, their power became inferior, so that even when its use was seriously threatened, the German government was no longer impressed."

    The popular and official exaggerations of aerial warfare effectiveness which led to appeasement were based on unprotected civilians bombed in WWI and in the Spanish Civil War, leading to roughly the same scale of error as Richard Rhodes makes in his discussion of Hiroshima's casualties: British official estimates were 50 casualties per ton of bombs dropped on cities, plus a further 150 additional hysterical psychiatric casualties who would riot against the government to try to make it surrender to the enemy in order to stop further bombing and destruction (Kahn, page 376).  This is a total of 200 casualties per ton of bombs, an exaggeration by a factor of 100 of the 2 casualties per ton which actually resulted even where most people did not use outdoor shelters in winter in Britain.  Similarly, the 1.3 mile radius for 50% mortality outdoors in Hiroshima is preferred to the 0.12 miles radius for people in concrete buildings, again showing that surprise attack on people outdoors in low skyline cities with nuclear weapons produces over one hundred times as many casualties as occur for people in modern concrete buildings.  In the 1930's, the official mixture of facts from surprise air raids against unprotected people, and speculative fantasy from a consensus of psychiatric experts who are influenced by reading "next war fiction" about bombing neuroses and shell shock, was horrific and toxic to anyone trying to have a rational debate on the need for an arms race to deter a war:

    "... it is difficult for those who have survived the blitzes and V-bombings to understand or to recapture the sense of fear and apprehension which oppressed Britain in those days.  Our imagination had been whetted by the works of those uninhibited writers of 'next war' fiction, who had assured us that within a week of the outbreak of hostilities, London would be rendered uninhabitable by bombings and by gas. ... In Paris they were fighting for seats on trains, and the roads out of the city were choked with traffic; in London they were digging trenches."

    - John Wheeler-Bennett on the Munich crisis of 30 September 1938, Munich: prologue to Tragedy, 1948, pages 158 and 167.  (After Chamberlain had appeased Hitler by forcing the Czechs to accept a Nazi occupation of the Sudetenland, outraged historian Wheeler-Bennett flew there to organize the rescue of Jewish refugees from the Nazi annexed territory.  Hitler apparently responded by having an agent place a time-bomb in the luggage of the aircraft, which exploded on the next flight after Wheeler-Bennett's, blowing up that aircraft.  Critics may say that Wheeler-Bennett's history is prejudiced by first-hand involvement, but the same "personal bias" argument applies to the history written by many others involved in wars, e.g. the war histories written by Winston Churchill.  But, in a sense, this makes them primary sources.)

    Germany has been reduced officially to having an army of just 100,000 soldiers with no General Staff, no air force, and just 6 battleships under the Versailles Treaty following WWI.  This disarmanent, together with hyperinflation in 1923 in response to the French demands for massive war reparations, infuriated German military patriots into starting militant underground movements like the National Socialists that Hitler had joined, who claimed that the armistice in 1918 had been a sell out by a small number of Jews, and sought to secretly rearm Germany:

    "... in spite of the tremendous scale of the violations it still took five years, from January 1933 when Hitler came in to around January 1938, before they had an army capable of standing up against the French and the british.  At any time during that five-year period if the British and the French had had the will, they probably could have stopped the German rearmament program. ... it is an important defect of 'arms control' agreements that the punishment or correction ... is not done automatically ... but takes an act of will ... As late as 1934, after Hitler had been in power for almost a year and a half, Ramsey MacDonald still continued to urge the French that they disarm themselves by reducing their army by 50 percent, and their air force by 75 percent. ... probably as much as any other single group I think that these men of good will can be charged with causing World War II. ... Much of the current discussion about arms control strikes me as being very similar ... October 14, 1933, when Germany withdrew from a disarmament conference and the League of Nations ... the British and the French contented themselves with denouncing the action. ... On March 16, 1935, Hitler decreed conscription in Germany."

    - Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, pages 390-392.

    The 19 members of the League of Nations, the precursor to the (un)United Nations, could not agree to stop Hitler by force, just as recently the (un)United Nations failed to agree to stop civil wars in Ukraine and Syria due to Russian veto, so as Kahn explains on page 393, the League of Nation's protest:

    "simply strengthened Hitler by showing both the Germans and their potential victims that he could safely ignore public opinion and moral outcries.  It is simply not true that a potential aggressor is likely to be restrained from preliminary actions by foreign public opinion [especially where in 1930's Germany or today's Russia, the media is effectively under indirect state control and turns foreign hostility into a propaganda tool to bolster support for war] - particularly if he can justify his action by ... reasonable-sounding excuse, or even better, make the charge uncertain by making the action ambiguous."

    The League of Nations was also undermined when it failed to stop Italian fascist Mussolini from invading Abyssinia (located in Eritrea and North Ethopia today) in October 1935, and blistering the local populace with mustard gas.  Hitler's reoccupation of the Rhineland in March 1936 was preceded by, and encouraged by, the experience of the apathy of League of Nations.  Two years later, on 11 March 1938, he annexed Austria.  No international police force was hastily convened to stop him either time, for fear that such a police type action would escalate into world war there and then (this is precisely the whole problem with the simplistic/idealistic idea of somehow "policing" world peace; every "arrest" risks turning into a world war):

    "At several points the democracies seemed willing to fight - when Hitler relaxed the pressure ever so little and dropped some straws which the drowning democracies desperately grasped.  The more often Hitler presented the choice of war or peace as a real choice, the more the democracies were demoralized.  At no time did Hitler threaten to initiate war against France and England.  He simply threatened to 'retaliate' if they attacked him. The Munich crisis had an incredible sequel in March 1939.  In spite of ... the guarantees of Chamberlain and Daladier ... Hitler occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.  The technique he used is such an obvious prototype for a future aggressor armed with H-bombs that it is of extreme value to all who are concerned with the problem of maintaining a peaceful and secure world ..."

    - Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, page 403.

    Kahn then quotes from Daniel "pentagon papers" Ellsberg's March 1959 Lowell Lectures, The Art of Coercion, which describes how WWI Iron Cross recipient Adolf Hitler in Berlin on 14 March 1939 personally coerced Czech President Hacha and his Foreign Minister Chvalkovsky to surrender his own country to the Nazis for the sake of peace.  Ellsberg quotes Hitler's interpreter Paul Schmidt:

    "The invasion would begin at 6 a.m. that morning: in five hours.  There were, said Hitler, 'two possibilities.  The first was that the invasion of the German troops might develop into a battle. ... The other was that the entry ... should take place in a peaceable manner ... The Fuhrer advised him to telephone Prague. ... Hitler signed the [peaceful invasion authority] documents, left the room. ... at that moment the telephone line to Prague was out of order. ... Hacha and Chvalkovsky ... turned from the documents and refused to sign. ... But the Germans [Goering and Ribbentrop] pursued them around the table, thrusting the documents before them and pressing pens into their hands, shouting 'Sign!  If you refuse, half Prague will lie in ruins from aerial bombardment within two hours'. ... Hacha [fainted but] was revived by Morell, with injections.  He continued to resist, fainted again, and was revived again. ... At 3:55 Hacha signed the documents.  He called Prague, Schmidt finally having gotten through, and ordered that there should be no resistance. ... The agreement that the Czechs signed told the world: 'The conviction was expressed on both sides that all endeavours must be directed to securing tranquility, order and peace in that part of Central Europe."

    Notice the "peace" propaganda message of Hitler, forever presenting himself as the pacifist, the moralist, the disarmer, the lover of order, so closely interwoven with gradual erosion of liberty by Hitler's salami tactics, cutting into his enemies slice by slice, then allowing the furore to die away, then taking another slice, until the whole cake is gone.  Kahn makes the point on page 407, that Hitler's original plan for WWII was a simply repeat of the Schlieffen Plan used 25 years earlier in August 1914, but in 1940 he modified it slightly with a detour through the Ardennes Forest, to bypass the Maginot Line, a tactic suggested by the innovator von Mannstein, who had to bypass the General Staff to talk directly to Hitler, who immediately saw the light.  The officialdom of the German General Staff objected to von Mannstein's idea of using the Ardennes Forest, because their data was a few years obsolete, and they thought it was still impassable by tanks.

    Kahn draws an analogy of the French Maginot Line delusion to the American belief in 1941 that Pearl Harbor was safe from Japanese attack.  Japan was in 1941 under strong pressure from American sanctions after Japan invaded China, a situation analogous to the sanctions on Russia after it invaded Crimea last year.  Pearl Habor is only 30-40 feet deep, whereas the admiralty textbooks of 1941 stated that torpedoes need 75-150 feet depth of water to operate reliably.  Therefore, Naval expert William D. Puleston confidently guaranteed in 1941 that Pearl Harbor would never become a byword for vulnerability to surprise attack:

    "The Pacific Fleet is at one of the strongest bases in the world - Pearl Harbor - practically on a war footing and under a war regime.  There will be no American Port Arthur."

    - William D. Puleston, The Armed Forces of the Pacific, Yale University Press, 1941, page 117.

    Puleston's complacency was disproved soon after his textbook's publication by the Japanese Admiral Onishi, who developed special torpedoes that are effective in 30-40 feet of water.

    Kahn in Figure 9 on page 481 analyzes whether the American Minuteman ICBM silo based missile system is vulnerable to a Pearl Harbor style surprise attack.  Defense Secretary Robert McNamara finally authorized that 1,000 Minutemen be built as Kahn in 1960 (prior to the Kennedy administration) assumes, although some in the USAF wanted more Minutemen.  Today, only 450 of those 1,000 are still in operation but Kahn argued that 99% of the original 1,000 Minutemen ICBMs could be wiped out by 6,000 Russian warheads, each having a 50% silo kill probability:

    "Figure 9 shows that having a retaliatory capability distributed over a thousand fixed points, such as some proposals for Minuteman, may not be sufficient to deter a determined enemy."

    In Figure 8 on page 469, Kahn relates missile accuracy (CEP radius) to warhead yield, reliability and target kill overpressure.  Since then, missile accuracy has improved but MIRV technology has reduced yield, while silos have had improved shock absorbers to reduce vulnerability, increasing silo survival the 1960 value of 100 psi, which is near the edge of the crater, to today's many thousands of psi, so that a surviving silo sticks up like a concrete chimney, well inside the excavated bowl of the crater (silo doors and hydraulics are designed to take the impact from the debris crater fall-back, as well as surviving all other nuclear effects).  Kahn's figure 10, based on Dr Harold Brode's RAND Corporation report P-1951, Ground Support Systems Weapons Effects, shows that a silo hardened to withstand 1,000 psi has a 90% chance of surviving a 5 megaton surface burst, if the missile accuracy CEP = 1 nautical mile.  Most MIRV warheads now are less one tenth of that yield (i.e. under 500 kt), and silos haven been hardened to withstand higher pressures, which largely offsets the improvements in missile accuracy.

    However, nuclear disarmament, such as the decrease from 1,000 to 450 warheads, even taking account of similar verified Russian stockpile disarmament, is increasing the statistical uncertainty of a war.  Disarmament to give a smaller nuclear stockpile increases the uncertainty in the number of missiles that survive a first strike (since the standard deviation in percent is 100 divided into the square root of the sample size), so nuclear war increasingly becomes a gamble like Russian Roulette, undermining the credibility of our deterrent policy.