Glasstone's errors in The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, and the strategic implication for deterrence. Realistic effects and credible nuclear weapon capabilities for deterring or stopping aggressive invasions and attacks which could escalate into major conventional or nuclear wars.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Herman Kahn's On Thermonuclear War: why nuclear weapons effects need to deter aggression and provocation that can escalate, not merely to deter direct attacks

Updates (31 December 2015): The U.K. National Archives has finally released, after 30 years, a crucially important telephone conversation (summary written by Charles Powell) between President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher explaining clearly that Reagan fully supported Tom Clancy's very sensible view in his book Red Storm Rising that the real threat to deter was conventional war, not nuclear war. Reagan described the conventional weapons WWIII threat in Red Storm Rising, where Jihadi terrorist attacks set off a WWIII fought with conventional weapons, with no escalation to nuclear bombs on cities, as representing an "excellent picture" of real Russian war intentions: ‘The Russians don’t want war, they want victory by using the threat of nuclear war ... I think we could have a strategy to meet that.’ The real Russian threat was conventional war and strategic nuclear attack was a red herring for propaganda purposes, as in the 1930s where all the hype about escalation of war into all-out gas attacks on civilian cities were debunked in WWII (despite 12,000 tons of stockpiled German tabun nerve gas).  The problems with "disarmament" and international peacekeeping as solutions are clear from history.

Disarmament in the 1930's caused war since it gave an overwhelming advantage to violators (rearmament), and the nuclear "disarmed" state of the world at the start of WWII did not prevent nuclear weapons being made in the war and actually being used to end the war.  The majority of the megatons of conventional weapons used in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and all the nuclear weapons dropped on cities were produced during the wars they were used in, not before the wars.  As the 1980's proved, intense anti-disarmament arms races in peacetime can deter world war while bankrupting the ideologically weaker side into defeat. The costs of those peacetime arms races and the stockpiles of weapons they produce before war have proved insignificant on a percentage basis, compared to the arms production in the war.  Thus, the thing to be concerned with is not pre-war stockpiles, but munitions production during the war.  Like the absence of gas attacks on cities in WWII, despite pre-war claims they would be inevitable, escalation and "knockout blow" propaganda proved wrong.  Despite pre-war propaganda to the contrary in each case, neither world war was a "knockout blow" lasting days. Contrary to pre-war disarmament propaganda, London was not wiped out by a surprise poison gas air raid on 3 September 1939.  In both world wars, the triggers were conventional military invasions of distant countries (Belgium 1914 and Poland 1939) and Naval military attacks on ships (Lusitania 1915 and Pearl Harbor 1941).  The first lesson to learn is the need to deter such military attacks, not to be distracted by scare-mongering "knockout blow" propaganda of the 1930's gas-bombing-on-cities sort.  Ronald Reagan, born 1911, was aware of these facts and didn't accept scare mongering propaganda.

I have to blog this Cold War propaganda style video from "Russian Insider", titled "Putin Crushes BBC Smartass" (the "Smartass" being the esteemed BBC's John Simpson, CBE).  Putin argues that his military budget is only $50 billion and that America's is 10 times bigger: "And you're telling me I'm the aggressor here?  Have you no common sense at all? ... I won't get into the Ukrainian question today. ... Sanctions have been placed on the Russian economy.  That is illegal."

There is a case to be made that Russia gave up communism and the USSR when the Cold War ended in 1991, and that, by making a mountain out of a molehill over its invasion of Crimea last year (although that is similar to the way the Sudetenland was written off in 1938), the West is treating Russia the way that Germany was treated after WWI (leading to resentfulness and another war). Sanctions on Russia may be a long-term error. America put sanctions on Japan after it invaded China in 1937, eventually leading to the desperate attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. If the West wants to control Russian expansionism and influence in Syria after the Crimean invasion last year, we should get ready for another Cold War. Otherwise, if we give up, Russia may take over the job of policing the world, building up allies and possibly a replacement for the USSR in the process.  Perhaps with a lucrative capitalist empire, they might end corrupt tactics (such as poisoning dissidents in London with polonium-210 in their tea), just as they eventually ended communism.  

Showing strength may give Russia the excuse to respond likewise, but showing weakness may encourage them to take over the world.  It's worth using this blog post to review the problems since we have now received over a million views (1,118,930 to be exact), which not bad for a highly technical honest blog on an important, unpleasant subject which doesn't cater to populist fear mongering propaganda, which includes visits from Russia and China:

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 and prevent casualties

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.  The anti-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.

The larger the explosion, the fewer casualties per unit energy release for similar conditions, because (1) the area of destruction scales up far less than in direct proportion to the energy released in the explosion, and additionally, (2) the larger areas of destruction for a larger explosion means an increasing average blast wave arrival time over the area of damaged buildings, therefore allowing on average more time for "duck and cover" between the flash and the blast and sound arrival.  Most blast casualties are caused by flying glass and other debris impacting on standing people who take no evasive action.  For 1 psi peak overpressure (flying glass from window breakage), at 1 ton of TNT yield (a V1 or V2 in WWII) you have only 0.4 seconds to respond to the flash before the blast arrives.  But for a tactical nuclear weapon such as neutron bomb of 1 kiloton yield you have 4 seconds to "duck and cover" which reduces collateral damage possibilities, and for a strategic nuclear weapon of 1 megaton on a silo or military command post, the public has 40 seconds to "duck and cover" before 1 psi blast arrives.  These laws of physics mean that smaller explosions cause many more casualties per unit energy than larger explosions do.  As the data table and graph above proves, there is experimental evidence to substantiate these laws of physics.  It is also easier to spend a few seconds lying flat to avoid blast winds and horizontally blasted glass fragments in a nuclear explosions, than to spend months doing so during the repeated conventional air raids, which are required to deliver the same amount of energy!  The longer duration of the blast for larger explosions blows debris further downrange, reducing the weight of material falling on simple improvised protection, such as table shelters.  Although a longer blast duration blast causes more damage to wind sensitive targets by bending tree stems and lightweight metal panels for a longer period of time, it has little effect on modern reinforced concrete buildings which require a minimum force for damage, irrespective of the duration of that force.  Likewise, a chair or rigid wall does not suddenly collapse after you apply a force to it for a certain period of time: there is no failure impulse criterion for such targets!  You must supply a force above a certain threshold for destruction to occur.  If the force (pressure multiplied by area) is below the threshold needed for destruction, no destruction will occur, regardless of the duration of the force. Propagandarists of fashionable groupthink always dismiss this evidence, and instead do a direct comparison of conventional and nuclear energy yields, as if it were valid: that is a massive exaggeration.  In addition, anti-civil defense propagandarists also deny that duck and cover becomes more credible as yield increases.  (Source: H. M. Government, Health and Safety Executive (Commission), Advisory Committee on Major Hazards, Second Report, 1979, Figure 3.)

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. In the Battle of Amiens, August 1918, the firing of 4,000,000 allied shells broke down German positions.  In a final push, devastation at a rate similar to nuclear war bombardment occurred when 943,947 shells were fired in a 24-hour period by the British Army on 28-29 September 1918, resulting in the Armistice ending the war (source: Malcolm Pearce and Geoffrey Stewart, British political history, 1867-2001, page 296).  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.

(We can neglect the 50% blast partition of total yield in nuclear weapons, because that's also true for conventional explosive shells that are 50% explosive, 50% steel case by mass.)

Dr Ralph E. Lapp's 1965 book The New Priesthood (Harper, New York) on pages 113-114 gives an honest "equivalent megatonnage" comparison between conventional weapons and old high-yield megaton single warhead nuclear missiles (which have now been replaced with lower yield MIRV warheads) instead of following CND by claiming falsely that the energy equivalent of 1,000,000 tons of TNT kills the same number as a million separate tons of TNT in explosions of conventional weapons:

"A warhead for a Minuteman or Polaris missile costs about $1 million each. ... To produce damage comparable to that from a one-megaton bomb, some 8,000 'old-fashioned' bombs each containing one ton of TNT would have to be dropped uniformly over the same target area."

In other words, according to Lapp: 8 kt of conventional weapons = 1 megaton.  Using the two-thirds power of yield scaling, the equivalence is: 10 kt of small 1 ton TNT bombs = same area of damage as 1 megaton in a single bomb.  The American B-52 bomber has a payload of 32 tons, so it takes 313 sorties to drop 10 kt of TNT which (if the bombs are 1 ton each) is equivalent in damage area to a 1 megaton nuclear weapon.  For solid direct evidence for the validity of this scaling law, whereby bigger bombs cause fewer fatalities per TNT ton of energy equivalent than smaller bombs, see the graphs linked in the earlier post here and the ease of protection against the increasingly delayed heat, fallout and blast arrival time over larger areas for bigger explosions, as proved here.  At the 1 psi peak overpressure range for shattered windows in a conventional 1 ton TNT air burst explosion, there is only 0.4 second available between the flash and the blast arrival, little longer than the blink reaction time for human beings.  Hence, for small bombs, you can do little.  But, contrary to BBC TV fiddled sound tracks on films of nuclear explosions, for a 1 kt bomb you have a full 4 seconds before 1 psi arrives, while for 1 megaton you have 40 seconds.  This effect reduces casualties.

In Vietnam, 7,662,000 tons of conventional bombs were dropped (according to Micheal Clodfelter's Vietnam in Military Statistics, 1995, page 225), which by this reckoning (10 kt of conventional bombs = 1 megaton of nuclear) is equivalent in terms of damage to a nuclear war of 766 separate 1 megaton explosions.

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.

In total, 74.2 kilotons of conventional bombs were dropped on the UK in WWII causing 60,000 casualties, equivalent to 16 separate 1 megaton nuclear weapons, confirming the British Home Office analysis that - given cheap-type civil defence - you get about 3,750 casualties for a one megaton nuclear weapon.  Naturally, without civil defence, as in early air bombing surprise attacks or the first use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, casualty rates can be over 100 times higher than this.  (For example, Glasstone and Dolan, in The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 1977 point out that in Hiroshima the 50% lethal radius was only 0.12 mile for people under cover in concrete buildings, compared to 1.3 miles for those caught totally unprotected outdoors.  The difference in areas is over a factor of 100, indicating that the casualties in Hiroshima could have been reduced enormously if the people had taken cover in concrete buildings, or simple earth covered WWII shelters which offered similar protection to concrete buildings.)

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.  In neither Britain nor Germany did the bombing of civilians lead to a clear defeat: the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey found that generally the outrage about being bombed offset the depression of morale from the devastation.  Strategic bombing of military manufacturing targets like ball bearing factories failed because the steel machine tools could easily withstand the blast and shrapnel.  Only the bombing of fuel and munition supplies (both of which will destroy themselves easily, once ignited) crucially helped to end the war: German production of aviation fuel fell from 156,000 tons in May 1944 to just 11,000 tons in January 1945, thus defeat. 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.  As for Trident, where we use penetration aids like cheap decoy warheads to help the real ones get through the saturated ABM systems, we can send the neutron warhead-armed cruise missiles disguised by a salvo of non-nuclear cruise missiles (the non-nuclear warheads could contain electronic countermeasures to blind enemy radars with false signals or noise, and to target enemy missile launchers that can shoot down cruise missiles).  Some warheads will get through to do the job.

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 can be biased in favour of some kind of legalistic or police solution to war.  James R. Newman drafted the disastrous 1946 Atomic Energy Act for Senator McMahon, which made nuclear energy an American state secret and thus broke the wartime Roosevelt-Churchill agreement for postwar collaboration on nuclear science.  Newman's Atomic Energy Act held up progress because, as a mere piece of paper didn't stop Russian spies, but it did stop allies, so Russia ended up with more nuclear secrets than Britain.

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/disarmament/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.

In addition, Kahn points out in On Thermonuclear War, direct nuclear war threats from an enemy is not the primary threat, as proved by events in 1914 and 1939.  It was not the Germans in either year who directly threatened Britain.  The enemy argued instead: "do you want peace, or not?"  In other words, it was indirect provocations not direct threats, that provoked all the world wars in human history from Britain's standpoint!  From the American standpoint, the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 or the bombing of a naval base at Pearl Harbor in 1941 (together with the British base at Singapore shortly thereafter in early 1942, see my interview with an eyewitness here) were not a direct attacks on the American homeland.  They were final straws, breaking the camels back. They were thus triggering points, just as the invasion of Belgium in 1914 or the invasion of Poland in 1939 were triggering points for British declarations of war.  In both cases, appeasement and a policy of non-intervention had undermined deterrence with heavy ambiguity, leading to provocative actions by the enemy that finally broke down pacifism and led to war.  So Kahn argues that the deterrence of a direct attack was successful in Britain in 1939.  Britain did deter Hitler from bombing London in 1939.  But that deterrence of a direct attack was no use, because we could not credibly deter Hitler from major provocative actions, such as invading Poland.  CND and people like (un)UN-hyped Ward Wilson today insist on trying to repeat the mistakes of the past, by using Stalin's method of simply airbrushing out the books the actual facts of history.  No, we don't have nuclear weapons to prevent other people from dropping nuclear bombs on London and New York.  Nuclear weapons are not useful for that purpose in modern concrete skylines (unlike civil defense and ABM, which mitigate the consequences), and even if they were useful for that purpose, neither world war broke out because of air raids on civilian cities: they broke out because of military invasions of other countries, or bases far from the main homeland.  What we need to do is deter provocative actions short of nuclear war, which risk escalating.  Only then are we learning the real lessons from the past.

In reality, the "myths of nuclear deterrence" are debunked by Herman Kahn in his book On Thermonuclear War; the "myths of nuclear weapons" Ward Wilson claims to debunk are specious arguments, based on taking populist myths and proving them wrong, rather than taking the reality.  For example, Herman Kahn's On Thermonuclear War debunks the myth of deterrence through overkill by showing that such a "doomsday machine" (Kahn's term) has no deterrent capability because it's incredible as a deterrent.  In a sense, Wilson's argument at best is just a repeat of this fact, with the true evidence and implications edited out.  Kahn argues that, sure, if we drop thousands of megatons on cities without any civil defense, as Hiroshima, we will get large casualties.  However, that is not a credible deterrent; that's why we need tactical nuclear weapons to deter the kind of provocations - invasions of small countries or bombing of naval bases or torpedoes on ships - which set of both world wars.  It's no use trying to deter Russia from invading Poland again (with Germany, it jointly invaded Poland in 1939) by threatening innocent people in cities.  That is not a credible deterrent.  The result is that to prevent another world war, we need the neutron bomb.

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.

Kahn's criticisms of disarmament begin with E. J. Gumbel's study of how 1920s disarmament effectively encouraged German violations and then coercion, sparking off world war two, Disarmament and Clandestine Rearmament under the Weimar Republic (published in the book Inspection for Disarmament, edited by Seymour Melman, Columbia University press, New York, 1958, pages 203-219).  Disarmament helps law breakers; it doesn't protect you from a world war.

The point Kahn then 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 attack by an enemy, so if you disarm or reduce the stockpile "to make the world safer", you actually make the outcome of any attack less certain, and thus you increase the risk that a dictator will take a Russian roulette gamble that may cause a war.  That war may then escalate into a world war, as occurred twice in the twentieth century.  We could do deter with the same threat of devastation using immense conscription and a vast, more expensive stockpile of conventional weapons, but that increases the risk of accidental gunshots triggering war (prevented in nuclear weapons by technological 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

"The mobilization is the declaration of war."

- General Boisdeffre, assistant chief, French General Staff, to Tsar Nicholas (quoted by Sidney B. Fay, The Origins of the World War, Macmillan, 1931, v2, p480).

This is often quoted as if to prove that war through accidental mobilizations was easy.  But the opposite inference is that, as Tsar Nicholas was told by General Boisdeffre, everyone knew that mobilization was likely to lead to war, so countries only mobilized when they were prepared to go to war: war is no accident.

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 pacifists 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.  (In WWII, Hitler had 1,162 submarines, which sunk 4 million tons of British ships a year in 1941-2, but Britain simply rationed food and turned gardens into farmland, enabling it to survive with fewer imports.)  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.
"July, 1914, has produced more books than any other month in modern history. ... Most of the nonsense has sprung from the very human conviction that great events have great causes."

- A. J. P. Taylor, The Observer (Sunday edition of the Guardian newspaper), 23 November 1958.

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 or the great German Schlieffen Plan for the invasion of France.  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 instead tried to portray all of these big causes as "nonsense" and to emphasise the role of trivia.

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 (his colleagues in a Cabinet meeting on 24 July, blocked Grey from making a statement to Germany supporting France).  Grey could and should have made clear to Kaiser than an invasion of Belgium would lead to the declaration of war on Germany, because without such a declaration Britain's arms would not play any role in deterring Germany from starting WWI.  To have a deterrent and then not to use it to try to deter war is the worst of all worlds.  "Speaking softly while carrying a big stick" was proved in both 1914 and 1938 to undermine the credibility of the big stick.  This policy was loved by the pseudo-pacifists like Norman Angell who wanted to make deterrence fail to "prove" pacifist rants right, winning Nobel Peace prizes and rewards like Knighthoods.

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.  A. J. P. argument is that only the Serbs and Austrians really wanted war in August 1914, and that the relative slowness of the Russian mobilization plan as compared to Germany (Russia had fewer railways) caused it to mobilize on 30 July 1914 on the basis of the crisis, which automatically set off a German ultimatum to Russia on 31 July and to France on 1 August.  The reason for Germany's ultimatum to Russia was its mobilization, while the German Kaiser's War Minister von Moltke refused to mobilize against Russia without also mobilizing against France, on the basis that the Schlieffen Plan did not allow for mobilization purely against Russia.  Germany was tied to a railroad timetabled mobilization plan which ensured that France would be invaded in the next war.

This is the failure in A. J. P. Taylor's argument, for it proves that Germany was from 1905 when Schlieffen first developed his plan, tied to a plan which would trigger a world war in an event of a crisis.  Furthermore, Germany could even have invaded France without invading Belgium (which under the 1839 Treaty of London would trigger war with Britain).  It did invade Belgium on 4 August, triggering the pacifist Liberal government of the UK into having to declare war on Germany.  There was no accident here, any more than the Prussian invasion of France in 1870 was an accident.  It was a deliberate plan to occupy Europe, kept in a draw ready for use whenever the opportunity arose (as occurred after a gunshot Sarajevo on 28 June).  A. J. P. Taylor's revisionist history that it was all an accident was not the view taken by the UK government's afternoon Cabinet meeting on 4 August 1914, which would not have chosen war if it believed the crisis was purely an accident.  Instead, it was clear that even if the 28 June assassination was an "accident", Germany was exploiting that "accident" for its own ends - the conquest of Europe by force.  Taylor ignores this factor.

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 [August 1914 Liberal Party UK Government]Cabinet was overwhelmingly pacific.  At least three-quarters of its members were determined not to be drawn into a European quarrel, unless Britain were herself attacked, which was not likely. ... They did not believe that if Germany attacked France, she would attack her through Belgium ..."

- Winston Churchill, The World Crisis, Charles Scribner's, New York, 1923, page 211.

(To emphasise the point being made, a deterrent and even an arms race may be no use, if the government is not clear about using that deterrent in a crisis.  In any crisis, the liberal or conservative government is going to want to do the exact opposite of being firm, as proved by Edward Grey in 1914 and Neville Chamberlain before September 1939.  The liberal or conservative government in a crisis is going to prefer appeasing diplomacy, for fear starting a war by being firm, because it is afraid that the other side will deliberately misinterpret the firmness as a threat, for propaganda purposes to justify some kind of first strike.  In short, in order to be able to credibly use the deterrent to prevent an extremely provocative action in a crisis situation, such as the invasion of Crimea by Russia, you need civil defence to mitigate retaliation.  If you don't have the stomach to have civil defence for fear of CND Vice Chair Jeremy Corbyn, deterrence fails.  Eventually, the other side goes too far in exploiting your weakness, starting off an unnecessary war.)

The liberal-pacifist dogma that international economics, banking and trade, prevents international war was dismissed by future British Prime Minister, Robert Cecil in 1862, during the American Civil War:

"A few years ago a delusive optimism was creeping over the minds of men. ... It was deemed heresy to distrust anybody, or to act as if any evil still remained in human nature. ... we were invited to believe that ... exports and imports had banished war from the earth. ... that we were permanently lifted from the mire of passion and prejudice ... The last fifteen years has been one of long disenchantment; and the American Civil War is the culmination of the process." (Quotation: R. Taylor, Lord Salisbury, Allen Lane, 1975, p. 21.)

Kahn makes the additional argument on page 350 that the "knockout blow" Schlieffen Plan (which called for Germany to invade and defeat France in six weeks and then do the same to Russia), in ignoring the lessons of trenches cheaply and quickly stopping the over-hyped new offensive technology (machine guns and mortars) during the American Civil War of the 1860s, was partly justified by the populist theories about the economic independence of free trade preventing long wars of attrition (for instance Norman Angell's 1908 pacifist book, The Great Illusion): "most people ... argued that the economic independence of nations was so great that the sheer interruption of normal commerce would cause a collapse after a few weeks or months ...".  Thus, the Great Illusion-type deceptive pacifist anti-war propaganda reduces deterrence, causing war.  Those few people like I. S. Bloch who did predict on the basis of sound reasoning that trenches of the American Civil War type would prevent a knock out blow in 6 weeks were ignored by war planners:

I. S. Bloch in 1899 predicted in his book Is War Now Impossible (a summary of his The War of the Future) that trenches ("everybody will be entrenched in the next war") would negate machine guns and mortars, making it: "impossible for the battle of the future to be fought out rapidly."  Unfortunately, he buried that fact-based prediction within a lot of speculative, grandiose pacifist-biased propaganda which naively and false claimed that such problems made war an actual impossibility.   
"The most spectacular military event of World War I, the development of two parallel lines of trenches from the Swiss frontier to the English Channel, while predicted by Bloch, came as a complete surprise. ... given the examples of such warfare in the American Civil War ... it is hard to see how military experts could have overlooked the possibility that the widespread availability of machine guns and barbed wire might result in static trench warfare, but the military planners on both sides completely overlooked the possibility."

- Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, 1960, page 354.


Pacifist Professor Cyril Joad's sneering attack on Winston Churchill's call for deterrence, on page 71 of the September 1939 reprint of his book Why War?  Professor-pacifists who dominated the anti-war scene hated the idea of ending war by the use of overwhelming deterrent force, which means they downplayed Nazi genocide dangers and launched paranoid and silly attacks on Winston Churchill.  Churchill was an egotist, a capitalist, and made many military errors that cost lives, such as his failed assault on Turkish forces at Dardanelles in March 1915, and then the similarly disastrous Gallipoli tragedy the same year, led to Churchill's forced resignation from the Cabinet in November 1915.

"The British people were still generally ignorant of, and apathetic to, the dangers of the situation in central Europe, despite the eloquent efforts of Mr Churchill [who was easily dismissed as a stupid warmonger by powerful, media-dominating, populist anti-deterrence "pacifists" such as professor Cyril Joad] to enlighten them.  Mr Chamberlain alternatively lulled them into a sense of false security by statements in the House of Commons as to the satisfactory progress of British rearmament, or endeavoured to infuse them with his own sincere belief that in war there are no winners. ... The fundamental and salient weakness of the Opposition was that, in the majority of cases, they evaded the issue ... because no Member of the house was sufficiently assured that the people of Britain [misled by one-sided pacifist media hyped weapons-effects-exaggerating propaganda directed against civil defence and thus against credible, strong deterrence, which was not opposed in a full blown democratic debate with government experts due to official secrecy] would have endorsed such a rejection [of Hitler's demands, thus making deterrence credible at the risk of having a war with Germany while the chances of success were still reasonably good].  They said, which was not true, that there would have been no war, because Hitler was bluffing ... they would not say that, at Munich or at Godesberg, Mr Chamberlain, in the face of what certainly was not bluff, should have taken a determined stand, saying 'Very well, we shall fight'."

- John Wheeler-Bennett, Munich: Prologue to Tragedy, pages 62-4 and 184-5.

This situation of heavily rearmed but nearly bankrupt dictator invading nearby countries on the pretext, at first, that his own nationals in those countries want succession or are under threat from the states involved, is analogous in some respects to Russia's annexation of Crimea in January 2014, while Russia's decision to start bombing anti-Assad forces in the Syrian Civil War is analogous to the Germany's air support for the forces of the dictator Franco in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939.  The existence of nuclear weapons and chemical weapons on Russia's side may seem to knock this analogy sideways, but it is in fact makes the analogy stronger, when the exaggerated air bombing fears of the 1930s are examined realistically.

Kahn makes the point in the Preface of On Thermonuclear War that the "bad choices" of history arise not necessarily through ignorance or stupidity, but due to the paucity of alternatives, for example Hitler offered his opponents a clever version of "Hobson's choice": you can have peace, or you can reject peace.  The first defence of anyone making a "bad decision" is always the claim: "there was no alternative."  It is therefore a big business enterprise for politicians to try to find excuses to ignore or dismiss sensible solutions to crisis situations, in order to justify following their dogmatic agenda, whether that is pacifism at any price, or war.  Kahn writes on page xv:

"The final outcome of benevolent, informed, and intelligent decisions may turn out to be disastrous.  But choices must be made ... the current and future reality of vast military power concentrated in the hands of several unpredictable countries, accompanied by the past reality of expansionist doctrine ... had brought Americans and Europeans face to face with the sobering thought that this triumph of material progress and human security may be reversed. ... we have to be prepared for the possibility that we have chosen wrongly or that events may nevertheless continue to unfold in a thoroughly relentless way in spite of our choices."

It is a fault of unfortunate editing of On Thermonuclear War that this comment on the nature of choice in the Preface is so separated from Kahn's discussion of the irrationality of human choices chapter IV, Conflicting Objectives, particularly pages 119-125.  In brief, Kahn there proves that traditional approaches to trying to find the "best choice" have been completely illogical.  Committees of experts are always apt to make unpredictable groupthink decisions for options that nobody on the committee really wants (this occurs because of tactical voting by all "sides" in an almost-balanced controversy to save face by ensuring that no side really "wins").  Additionally, Kahn explains that even the rules of mathematical logic had been misapplied in computer based systems analysis by the RAND Corporation, by seeking an optimal result for the most probable set of circumstances, instead analysing the system's response for under unlikely circumstances which of course are often the circumstances where poor performance has spectacular results:

"In the early days at RAND, most studies involved an attempt to find the 'optimum' ... The emphasis was on comparing thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of different systems under idealized conditions; then the 'best' one would be picked. ... The new viewpoint is different.  We now tend to compare a rather small number of different systems under widely varying circumstances and objectives. ... A system is preferred when it performs reasonably well under probable circumstances ... and yet hedges against less probable or even improbable situations ..."

The reason is simple: disasters and world wars rarely occur under the most probable set of conditions that everyone expects.  Enemies exploit the factor of surprise, engineer secret weapons, and so on.

Kahn then debunks the idea that by a committee of experts can vote for a simple consensus or circumstance risk template that adequately predicts revolutionary new threats or unexpected disaster mechanisms.  Committees of course easily reach good decisions where the choices are uncontroversial, where you don't really need experts, but bad decisions result from the very controversial situations which the committee is supposed to act rationally.  First, Kahn discusses the groupthink "paradox of voting" which was first pointed out by E. J. Nanson and elucidated by Kenneth J. Arrow in his 1951 book Social Choice and Individual Values (Wiley, New York, page 3).  This paradox of voting is due to the fact that given a set of multiple options to choose from, each individual may have a different set of prejudices so that if there is a deadlock over the primary choices, the committee will likely to end up only being able to agree for choices nobody wants, and even then the end result is unpredictable from the laws of logic even if you know the preferences of each individual, as Kahn explains on page 121:

"It turns out that it is perfectly proper to be disturbed because, even after analysis, there seems to be no way in principle (and very often in practice) to make this committee act reasonably - unless we accept a rule of autocracy and delegate the decision making to one of them, a dictator."

Secondly, Kahn on page 122 examines a situation (from Leonard J. Savage's 1954 book The foundations of statistics, Wiley, New York, page 207) which explains precisely how a committee (in a deadlock over a controversy) can end up taking a "tactical voting" decision for something that is nobody's preferred option:

"They want some meat for a picnic so they ask the butcher what he has available.  He tells them he has turkey and ham.  They ... decide on turkey.  The butcher then notices that he also has chicken ... The committee decides that if he has chicken available, they no longer want turkey, they want ham.  That is the way committees often act ... The reason the committee changed its mind was that one member ... really liked chicken and 'sort of' preferred ham to turkey.  Once chicken was available and he could not have it, he forced his colleagues to concede to him on the ham."

This committee based tactical-voting explains how sudden reverses of policy can occur in Cabinets under pressure.  Minority-viewpoint members who cannot get the preferable option they want, end up coercing through a "compromise" that is nobody's preferred option; a poorly-researched policy that can trigger war.

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 being used to deter the German invasion of Belgium on 4 August 1914.  The situation in 1939 differed only in that, as a result of Grey's false vague blame on the arms race for WWI, Britain's deterrent in 1939 was undermined militarily in addition to politically (appeasement).  Britain's late 1930s "rearmament" wasn't gaining any time (as Chamberlain and his apologists still dogmatically claim in non-quantitative historical analyses of the Zeno Paradox sort today; as soon as you look at the actual numbers you can see why Chamberlain was wrong).  By spending less each year than Germany, Britain was losing advantage and losing relative strength.  In any race you lose advantage with each second that passes while you run slower than an opponent, because the gap is widening, not decreasing:

Sir John Slessor, Marshall of the RAF, proves we were losing the arms race, not "buying time" by appeasement, on page 161 of in his 1957 autobiography, The Central Blue (Praeger, New York):

"Every undergraduate knows that a sound economic situation is an essential basis of military strength; but ... 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 [Neville Chamberlain], as Chancellor of the Exchequer, had confirmed that he knew the Germans were spending £1000 millions a year on warlike preparations, a figure which by now, of course, was being greatly exceeded." 

Note also that the widely-believed propaganda that the Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft then being built were a wonderful contribution thanks to Chamberlain, is actually a lie.  Both aircraft were already obsolete compared to the German Me-109 when used in the Battle of Britain in 1940.  Thus the growing stockpile of Spitfiles in 1938 were not only outnumbered in quantity by Germany, but were also soon obsolete in quality.  Battle of Britain Tom Neil, author of Scramble, aged 95, shot down 14 German aircraft and won two DFCs in the Battle of Britain.  He has now debunked populist myths.  He joined the RAF in 1938 and was taught to fly using a 20 year old obsolete Tiger Moth so that when in 1940 when finally given charge of 249 squadron he failed in practice to hit any target flags with his first 30,000 rounds of ammunition, and then he found that German Me-109s had a larger engine than his Spitfires and could climb faster as well as higher, and also had better guns and more ammunition than Spitfires and Hurricanes. Britain won the Battle of Britain not because it had superior aircraft as hyped up wartime propaganda for the Spitfire claimed, but rather, it survived the German onslaught despite the fact that it had poorer aircraft: "We didn't win.  But we didn't lose."

Not only were Britain's Hurricane and Spitfire actually inferior to German Me-109, but they were outnumbered.  Germany had over 700 superior Me-109s and 227 Me-110s, compared to Britain's inferior 650 Hurricanes and Spitfires.  This disproves Chamberlain's claim.  It was civil defence evacuation and shelters that won the Battle of Britain when German bombers on 7 September 1940 stopped bombing RAF air fields and instead bombed cities.  By reducing casualty rates and panic, civil defence then gave the RAF the time for fighter attrition to cut the Luftwaffe down to size.  On 15 September, 60 German bombers were shot down and on 17 September Hitler postponed the invasion of England, Operation Sea Lion, and turned his attention to planning the June 1941 invasion of Russia instead.  (His invasion of Russia failed because it turned into another WWI type dispersed front, 1,720 miles long in June 1941, increasing to 1,900 miles long by 1942, a logistics nightmare that sucked in massive resources.)

Historian Andrew Roberts has actually claimed in his Storm of War that Churchill deliberately coerced Hitler into bombing London in the Blitz, killing 30,000.  Roberts argues that Churchill used the excuse of a lone Heinkel-111, which accidentally got lost and dropped some bombs on London's East End on 25 August 1940, as an excuse to "retaliate" with a full scale bombing of Berlin.  This, Roberts claims, was aimed at provoking Hitler into stopping his bombing of the RAF fighter bases, and instead ordering the bombing of London.  Hitler's plan called for bombing Britain's fighter aircraft bases out of action before invading by sea (Operation Sealion).  Churchill realized that the concrete runways of most RAF fighter bases had been badly cratered by bombs and needed a breathing space - time for repairing, time for concrete to set - or else Germany would invade England and mass slaughter commence.  This was 1940, before any American air bases had been set up in England, and when shipping was being sunk by German submarines, preventing imports of concrete and other essential materials.  If this is true, then the escalation of WWII to city bombing and killing civilians, was done deliberately by Britain, not by the enemy, for tactical military advantage.  America wasn't in the war yet and although Roosevelt's "Lend-Lease" was supplying arms and ammunition to Britain, no actual American air bases were set up here until after Pearl Harbor, so Britain was still was facing an invasion (millions of lost lives plus Third Reich domination).

The point is that pacifist propaganda today falsely claims escalation in war is rapid and automatic, or else that it is an enemy action, and this lying deception obfuscates the city area bombing reasons in WWII.  The reality is that Hitler wanted to invade without war.  It was, as Kahn has the guts to point out, Britain that made the declaration of war on Germany in both 1914 and in 1939, not the other way around as the "disarm or be annihilated" breed of lying "pacifists" claim.  If they can't tell the truth, why listen to them?  Oh, yes, I know.  It's rude to call people who don't tell the truth "liars".  But it was pacifists in the Cabinet in 1914 and 1933-9 who stopped the "rude" or frank use of deterrence from preventing world war.  Tens of millions died!

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.)


We showed in previous posts that political cartoonist David Low almost stood alone in condemning the Nazis as a threat, and in response, Hitler - who read British newspapers to check how well appeasement was going - coerced the British government into putting pressure on Low's newspaper publishers and editors to stop printing cartoons critical of Hitler.  Similar coercion occurred when Captain W. E. Johns criticised the British government's weak rearmament and appeasement tactics while editor of the popular weekly and monthly magazines, Flying and Popular Flying; Johns was fired.  This is vitally important: Hitler was not merely a distant threat, far away in Germany, but was actually able to coerce the British government into trying to suppress criticisms of the Nazis by threatening the jobs of critics!  This is never admitted in mainstream pacifist histories, which portray critics of Nazis as cowardly warmongers.  The mainstream of the the British media was still trying to ridicule the threat of Nazi rearmament long after Hitler's election as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933.  For instance, see the following Punch cartoon by Bernard Partridge, published 27 September 1933 (Punch was a popular anti-establishment political satire cartoon magazine, similar in some ways to Private Eye today; our point is that they took the wrong side):

Bernard Partridge's 27 Sept 1933 Punch Cartoon ridiculing German threat to peace after Hitler election as Chancellor in January 1933.  Note the Nazi Swastika on the angry-looking German civilian's haversack!
Partridge shows French gendarme and a British policeman ("P.C. John Bull") having a disagreement over whether to search a suspicious German, suspected by the French gendarme of carrying hidden weapons.  The British policeman replies to a gendarme that it is "very likely" the German has some concealed weapons, but then negates that threat with a high-handed sneer that the French are provoking trouble by being heavily armed.  In other words, Partridge - and most people in Britain - did not see the problem with Germany having a few secret weapons in 1933.  The problem Partridge saw was that the heavy deterrent arms of France were likely to provoke conflict, and the most sensibly way forward was to set a good example by being unarmed.  It is vital to make this fact clear, because pacifists are forever trying to reinvent the wheel by misunderstanding the past.  Churchill's early warnings of German rearmament were seen as silly provocation by a warmonger.  That was their context.  Bernard Partridge's later Punch cartoons even during the Munich crisis of September 1938, continued to play down the danger, firstly on 7 September 1938 by making Hitler look like a crazy busker who attracts both the wild dogs of war and the doves of peace, and then on 22 September 1938 by presenting Hitler as statesman who achieved victory using diplomatic "bluff" as opposed to the blood used by his predecessor:

Bernard Partridge's 7 September 1938 Punch cartoon ridiculing Hitler as a singer who attracts wild dogs of war and doves of peace.  He completely misunderstood the danger of the man, like most pacifists who saw rearmament and war as the lethal danger, not appeasement of a coercive thug who was apparently desperate to conquer Europe.

Bernard Partridge's 21 September 1938 Punch "Bluff and Iron" cartoon, contrasting Hitler's bloodless "bluff" method (threatening war to achieve "peaceful" coercion and invasions without bloodshed, until 1939 anyway) to the force used by his predecessor.  The message seems to be that Hitler is a successful statesman who doesn't actually start wars, although Herman Kahn and John Wheeler-Bennett argue that in September 1938 Hitler was not bluffing but was really prepared to go to war if a peaceful Nazi invasion of the Sudetenland was prevented.  British Prime Minister Chamberlain and French President Daladier were not simply "outbluffed" at the Munich conference by Hitler.  They could see he was willing to go to war, and they were not prepared to go to war over Czechoslovakia.  There was no "bluff" involved.  However, as both Kahn and Wheeler-Bennett point out, the few members of the House of Commons who were critical of the appeasement of Hitler in September 1938 all argued falsely that he was bluffing (the rest accepted he wasn't bluffing and were grateful to Chamberlain for helping to "avert" - or rather delay until the arms race gap was even worse - war).  Nobody dared to earn the "Churchill warmonger" badge from the "pacifists" by arguing for using force to stop German rearmament, thus preventing a world war.  By closing down sensible options, the "pacifists" contributed to the war.

World War II was really due to the "false alternative" or "no alternative" dilemma, that we also see in modern physics today.  The official opposition in the House of Commons to the Chamberlain's Conservative Party appeasement was the even more pacifist Labour Party, led from 1935 by the disarmer and lawyer Clement Attlee, who had first-hand seen the horrors of Winston Churchill's war policies: Attlee was personally in the firing-line of Winston Churchill's disastrous Gallapoli Campaign back in August 1915.  Churchill's warnings of German rearmament could easily be dismissed by the men he had sent to hell in WWI.  Clement Attlee as Labour Party Leader stated in the House of Commons "Defence Policy" debate on 22 May 1935:

"We reject the use of force as an instrument of policy.  We stand for the reduction of armaments and pooled security ... Our policy is not one of seeking security through rearmament, but through disarmament. ... the creation of an International Police Force under the League."

Therefore, there was no really democratic debate about how to deal with Hitler: both sides of the House of Commons wanted appeasement.  The "International Police Force" was just as farcical an idea under the League of Nations as today under the United Nations, where vetoes from Russia and fears of escalation or another Vietnam prevent international peace keeper from being send into Syria and Ukraine.  The whole idea of an "International Police Force" is debunked by the fact that the police even under the best circumstances only succeed in catching a small percentage of offenders, and in any case they have to wait until a crime has been committed before acting.  By the time an invasion has occurred in the international arena, it is too late to stop bloodshed, and as Vietnam proved, attempts to police large areas of the real world against determined ideological fanatics causes an escalation of violence, at enormous cost in human lives and money.  This is why "International Police Forces" are worse than useless. What is needed instead of policemen trying to catch culprits after invasions, is credible deterrence and the ability to use force to prevent the attacks and invasions from occurring in the first place (e.g. neutrons bombs to deter, stop or disperse the massed tank barrage columns as they try to pass the frontier, plus non-nuclear anti-tank rockets which can to stop individual tanks if they are dispersed in response to the neutron bomb deterrent).

Japan distracted international attention away from Germany, just as Attlee averted an arms race:

"In 1933 it was not Germany but Japan that seemed to pose the greatest threat ... In September of 1931 the Japanese army in Korea had invaded the north Chinese province of Manchuria ... a flagrant affront to the League of Nations and the principle of collective security. ... the League merely dispatched a commission of inquiry under Lord Lytton.  The end result was the most ineffective sanctions possible ... The menace in the Far East was to play a vital part in encouraging appeasement of Germany. ... Britain could do nothing [when Japan launched a full invasion of China in 1937] without the USA, who would not budge from her self-imposed isolation. ... fear of upsetting the USA was paramount. ... The conduct of the Labour opposition was marked by a head-burying exercise that outdid the average ostrich in skill.  Attlee wanted the weight of 'the whole world's opinion' to restrain potential aggressors and condemned rearmament. ... There was ... desperate anxiety to avoid an arms race."

- Malcolm Pearce and Geoffrey Stewart, British Political History 1867-1995, Democracy and Decline, Routledge, London, 2nd ed., 1996, pages 313-314.

The disastrous financial and human costs of WWI started under the pacifist government of Britain's Liberal Party, killed the Liberal Party after the war:

"The Liberal party ... was involved in an encounter with a rampant omnibus (the First World War), which mounted the pavement and ran him over.  After lingering painfully, he expired.  A [contrived, specious, spurious, propaganda-based] controversy has persisted ever since as to what killed him."

- Professor Trevor Wilson, The Downfall of the Liberal Party, Collins, London, 1966, page 20.

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 disarmament, 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 have been hardened to withstand higher pressures, which largely offsets the improvements in missile accuracy.

For hard targets that withstand peak overpressures over about 100 psi - note that 1 psi = 6.9 kPa in metric units - peak overpressure is directly proportional to yield.  Therefore, reducing a weapon yield from 5 Mt to 500 kt is equivalent to reducing the peak overpressure at the CEP radius by a similar factor of 10.  For very high peak overpressures, the most probable overpressure on the target is inversely proportional to the cube of the CEP radius.  Therefore, doubling the missile accuracy, i.e., halving the CEP radius, causes the target to be most likely subjected to an 8-fold increase in peak overpressure.  This is simply due to the fact that such high peak overpressures are inversely proportional to the cube of distance from ground zero: the peak overpressure at 10 feet from a nuclear explosion is 1,000 times higher than at 100 feet radius (ignoring minor effects from the loss of energy by thermal radiation from the shock front, and the changing relative contributions from the bomb case debris shock and pure air blast shock) .  The actual survival probability is:

where S is survival probability, n is number of warheads actually detonating on the target, R is the radius of the peak overpressure that is sufficient to destroy the target, and C is the CEP (Circular Error Probability) radius for the warhead's delivery system.

Nuclear disarmament, such as the decrease from 1,000 to 450 ICBMs, 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.


It's a poorly edited book, nearly 700 pages of hard to read, disorganized or badly fragmented nuggets, which could be cut down to less than 70 pages of well-organized, readable analysis to defend the validity of the cost-effective, nuclear deterrent against provocations that escalate into conventional war (not just a deterrent against other nuclear weapons), and more especially, a defence for making the nuclear deterrent credible for military rather than civilian purposes, by using effective, low-cost civil defense.

Unfortunately, Kahn's muddled presentation allowed lawyer James Newman of Scientific American to take bits of the book out of context and then falsely condemn it as warmongering evil.  For example, Kahn's defense for his controversial and poorly designed Table 3, Tragic but distinguishable postwar states, which correlates casualties to recovery times, and includes the question "Will the survivors envy the dead?" was attacked by Newman's March 1961 review of the book.

Kahn defends that chapter 1 table effectively only in an appendix near the end of the book (on page 626) of On Thermonuclear War, not on the page that carries the table, and Newman later confessed to only reading the first 200 pages of the book when writing his review, so he ignored the defense Kahn gives!  

U.S. Congressional Hearings, Civil Defense - 1961, page 184:

Mr Roback: "Mr Kahn, you made a reference to Mr Newman's comment. ... I recall ... he referred to your voluminous opus as a tract for mass murder.  What do you suppose that meant?" ...

Mr Kahn: "Well, the review, I felt was a rather extreme review. ... My first reaction was to put on 10 pounds [laughter].  Newman's reaction to my book ... was remarkable only in that it got published in a respectable magazine. ... Mr Newman did not read the book.  It has been reported to me that he has said that he read less than 200 pages."

Kahn's effective and damning defense of the inclusion of Table 3 which Newman so hated, only occurs much later ,on page 626 of On Thermonuclear War, within Appendix IV, A proposed civil defense program:

"There should be the creation of feasible evacuation measures, improvisation of fallout protection ... Are these things worth the effort?  Anybody who can make the distinctions in Table 3, Tragic but Distinguishable Postwar States, will think they are."  (This should have been printed directly under Table 3 to avoid confusion.  But then, I guess Newman would have ignored the truth, as he did with the rest of his reckless and civil defense damaging tantrum.)

This Appendix IV also recommended $100 million expenditure on radiation meters for fallout shelters in the basement of public buildings made of concrete or masonry, $150 for identifying and ultilizing such existing structures for fallout protection in nuclear war, and research on decontamination, etc., and was based on Kahn's 1957 RAND Corporation report RM-2206-RC, Some Specific Suggestions for Obtaining Early Non-Military Defense Capabilities ....  The problem was that although President Kennedy's administration implemented Kahn's proposals for fallout shelters with radiation meters in public buildings in 1961, he did not implement the first demand of Kahn, which was for sensible plans for the pre-war evacuation of cities.  This error of judgement soon contributed to a crisis in October 1962, because it limited Kennedy's options and forced him to concede that there was no evacuation plan available on 22 October 1962 for cities within reach of the Russian IRBMs shipped to Cuba.  Thus, Kennedy was forced - by the paucity of options at his disposal - into his TV speech that day which threatened an all-out nuclear war if just a single IRBM was fired from Cuba by accident.  By preventing passive defense, Kennedy was forced into committing to a more risky offensive threat to bolster deterrence, in the hope it would coerce the Russians into reducing the risk of an accidental or unauthorized IRBM launch from Cuba.

See, for example, Dr William Chipman's Defense Civil Preparedness Agency report, Civil Defense for the 1980s - current issues, page 47, Civil defense and the cuban missiles crisis, where Kennedy's concern during the Cuban Missiles Crisis that there was no effective Kahn type evacuation plan, limited his options to offensive threats:

The point Kennedy made was that, with a temporary civil defense evacuation of Miami and other cities within range of the SS-4 (or R-12 in Russian nomenclature) missiles, he could have ordered an invasion of Cuba without risking civilians in the event that some nuclear missiles were launched during the invasion.  By ruling out this civil defense possibility, Kennedy felt forced into threatening an all-out retaliation against Russia if a missile was launched.  Thus, in part because James Newman and his Scientific American publishers, and their anti-debate, anti-liberal friends (cloaked in the false, lying colours of liberalism!), had falsely dismissed or ignored the Kahn's argument as taboo warmongering, the Cuban missiles crisis risked escalating into WWIII rather than just a limited invasion of Cuba.  Kahn explains on page 369 of On Thermonuclear War that the use of dogmas to close down discussions of taboo alternatives like civil defense leads to rigid war plans of the sort in place in Germany in 1914 when WWI broke out:

"The rigidity of the war plans.  In 1914 this occurred because they were so complicated that the general staffs felt that they could not draw up more than one.  This single war plan was then made even more rigid because it depended on such detailed railroad schedules. ... They [groupthink planners] want to examine and plan for only the most obvious one, and ignore the others. ... Even more than in 1914, governments of our day are likely to be ignorant of the technical details of war ... it is almost impossible to get people interested in the tactics and strategy of thermonuclear war."

Furthermore, even when there is an interest in nuclear war effects, it is constrained to follow set paths like either a Church service or quantum field theory seminar, in which objective injections and even mere questions from free thinking individuals of the congregation are automatically censored or ignored on some false grounds such as alleged rudeness (often just a lack of respectful worship or of diplomacy) or heresy:

"There is another way in which we can have too narrow a focus.  We can refuse to entertain or consider seriously ideas which seem to be 'crack-pot' or unrealistic, but which are really just unfamiliar.  In more casual days one could dismiss a bizarre-sounding notion with a snort or comment about being impractical or implausible.  Things moved slowly, and no real harm was done if a new idea took several years to prove itself.  Indeed, allowing a notion to stay around for several years ... meant that most of the 'half-baked' ones got scuttled and never had to be considered seriously at all.  The consequent saving on the use of both time and 'gray matter' must have been enormous."  (The bigoted, abusive and LAZY folk are recklessly incompetent and must be fired if we are to make progress, rather than simplistically killing off ideas that need work.)

- Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War, page 125.

Kahn also makes the point on page 414 that even if you have adequate warning and sensible plans, they can backfire under realistic conditions.  His example is the Japanese attack on the Philippines, 9 hours after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 7 December 1941.  General MacArthur was warned immediately after Pearl Harbor was attacked, and responded by getting the entire fleet of B-17 bombers airborne to resist bombing on their air bases.  Unfortunately, the Japanese attack on the Philippines, which was scheduled for dawn (which occurs 3.5 hours after dawn in Hawaii) was unexpectedly delayed for 6 hours due to fog at the Japanese home base.  By the time the Japanese bombed the American air bases in the Philippines, the American B-17s had returned for refuelling, and were caught on the ground.  This demonstrates that straightforward countermeasures can sometimes fail, due to bad luck (fog in this case).  A similar situation occurred in Hiroshima, where the air raid warning was not sounded before the bomb went off, because the commander was away at breakfast.  There were plenty of air raid shelters in Hiroshima which survived the effects of nuclear weapons, deflecting the blast and absorbing most of the radiation.

Kahn also points out how secrecy can backfire, as in the case where poorly designed American torpedoes were protected from demands for rapid improvement by official U.S. Navy secrecy during WWII:

"Secrecy, a necessary concern of the armed forces, became such a fetish that measures designed to protect a device from enemy eyes actually hid its defects from those who made the regulations.  Ironically, some of those defects were already known to the foreign powers ..."

- Buford Rowland and William B. Boyd, U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance in World War II, U.S. Department of the Navy, 1953.

Similar questions were raised against the secrecy of the design and capabilities of "clean" nuclear weapons, undermining their usefulness when the facts about the reduction of fallout dose rates were secret in nuclear weapon test report WT-1317, Characterization of Fallout, Operation Redwing:

"As the nation's most famed weapons expert, Teller had access to secret atomic data which greatly enhanced his ability to be persuasive in public, while not disclosing the data pertinent to his argument.  He could always, if challenged, retreat to a sanctuary of nondiscussable information."

- Dr Ralph E. Lapp, The New Priesthood: The Scientific Elite and the Uses of Power, Harper, New York, 1965, page 138.

Lapp's 1965 book The New Priesthood begins (page 1) with the following quotation from President Woodrow Wilson, on the dangers of dictatorship by secretive expert advisers, like a Manhattan project:

"What I fear is a government of experts.  God forbid that in a democratic society we should resign the task and give the government over to experts.  What are we for if we are to be scientifically taken care of by a small number of gentlemen who are the only men who understand the job?  because if we don't understand the job, then we are not a free people."

Lapp then points out how he saw science change during WWII from a poorly funded, low-prestige business of struggling individuals pursuing unpopular technical questions to find the truth, into today's "big science" of groupthink-dominated government (taxpayer)-funded teams of aim-biased technicians, seeking wealth and prestige, paying only lip-service to freedom and objectivity:

"Today ... the lone researcher is a rara avis (rare bird); most scientists team up to work together toward agreed upon objectives [not an unbiased agenda]. ... A single experiment may involve a hundred scientists ... the research is no longer unspecified as to objective ... democracy faces its most severe test in preserving its traditions in an age of scientific revolution. ... scientists in key advisory positions wield enormous power.  The ordinary checks and balances in a democracy fail when the Congress, for example, is incapable of intelligent discourse on vital issues.  The danger to our democracy is that national policy will be decided by the few acting without even attempting to enter a public discourse ... our democracy will become a timocracy. ... Even if no formal secrecy is invoked by the government, an issue might as well be classified 'secret' if the people in a democracy are incapable of carrying on an intelligent discussion of it. ... The danger is that a new priesthood of scientists may usurp the traditional roles of democratic decision-making"

- Dr Ralph E. Lapp, The New Priesthood: The Scientific Elite and the Uses of Power, Harper, New York, 1965, pages 2-3.

Lapp on page 8 quotes President Thomas Jefferson:

"To furnish the citizens with full and correct information is a matter of the highest importance.  If we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education."

Education in fact, not groupthink indoctrination nor the propaganda substitutes for fact used by dictatorships.

Lapp on page 14 quotes President Dwight Eisenhower's 17 January 1961 farewell address:

"Today the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists ... In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution ... Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. ... The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present - and is gravely to be regarded."

Lapp on page 16 quotes Dr Alvin Weinberg (director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1955-1973):

"I do believe that big science can ruin our universities, by diverting the universities from their primary purpose and by converting our university professors into administrators, housekeepers and publicists."

Alvin Weinberg expanded on his critique of "big science" in his 1967 book, Reflections on Big Science.

We quoted Alvin Weinberg's analogy of populist anti-nuclear pseudoscientific rants to witch hunts, in a previous post (linked here). Weinberg wrote Appendix B: Civil Defense and Nuclear Energy, pages 275-7 of The Control of Exposure of the Public to Ionizing Radiation in the Event of Accident or Attack, Proceedings of a Symposium Sponsored by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), April 27-29, 1981, Held at the International Conference Center, Reston, Virginia. (The proceedings were published on May 15, 1982, by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, Bethesda, Md.):

"That people will eventually acquire more sensible attitudes towards low level radiation is suggested by an analogy, pointed out by William Clark, between our fear of very low levels of radiation insult and of witches. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, people knew that their children were dying and their cattle were getting sick because witches were casting spells on them. During these centuries no fewer than 500,000 witches were burned at the stake. Since the witches were causing the trouble, if you burn the witches, then the trouble will disappear. Of course, one could never be really sure that the witches were causing the trouble. Indeed, though many witches were killed, the troubles remained. The answer was not to stop killing the witches - the answer was: kill more witches. ... I want to end on a happy note. The Inquisitor of the south of Spain, Alonzo Frias, in 1610 decided that he ought to appoint a committee to examine the connection between witches and all these bad things that were happening. The committee could find no real correlation ... So the Inquisitor decided to make illegal the use of torture to extract a confession from a witch. ... it took 200 years for the Inquisition to run its course on witches."
Above: Herman Kahn's graph of the massive rise in U.S. government taxpayer funded research and development from 1940-1960, about 20% of which is military and 80% is civilian.  (Lapp states on page 45 of The New Priesthood that in 1939 the entire U.S. Federal research and development budget was just $50 million, mostly for agricultural science, with a small portion for ship studies at the Naval Research Laboratory, and just $2 million for physics research, by the National Bureau of Standards.)  The Manhattan project which resulted in the first nuclear weapons used in 1945, was reported to have cost $2 billion from 1942-1945.  Thus began "big science".  By 1960s, six times as much as that was being spent per year.  Essentially all of this expenditure is decided in advance by timetable and grant-proposal dominated groupthink bureaucracy and officialdom, not by a completely unbiased search for the truth by individuals who are free to follow the evidence.  You cannot find the unknown by a search governed by planned timetables.

Lapp quotes an editorial by Science editor Dr Philip Abelson on page 30 of The New Priesthood:

"The witness in questioning the wisdom of the establishment pays a price and incurs hazards.  He is diverted from his professional activities.  He stirs the enmity of powerful foes.  He fears that reprisals may extend beyond him to his institution.  Perhaps he fears shadows, but ... prudence seems to dictate silence."

The remainder of Lapp's 1965 The New Priesthood (which is not cited in Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb bibliography) is a review of the Manhattan Project and why the nuclear weapons were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, from Lapp's perspective of the Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago (Lapp worked there, having a PhD on cosmic rays), where the anti-nuclear bombing Franck Committee was founded on 2 June 1945, whose final report on 11 June 1945 recommended that nuclear weapons should not be dropped on civilian targets to cause mass destruction since the military advantage would be:

"outweighed by the ensuing loss of confidence and by a wave of horror and repulsion sweeping over the rest of the world and perhaps even dividing public opinion at home. ... a demonstration of the new weapon might best be made, before the eyes of representatives of all the United Nations, on the desert or a barren island. ... After such a demonstration the weapon might perhaps be used against Japan if the sanction of the United Nations (and of public opinion at home) were obtained, perhaps, after a preliminary ultimatum to Japan to surrender or at least to evacuate certain regions as an alternative to total destruction."

Lapp adds on page 80 that, while he was assistant to the director of the Manhattan Project's Metallurgical Laboratory, based at Chicago University, on 12 July 1945 he made a poll of 150 Manhattan project scientists there about how the bomb should be dropped.  This poll by was done by Ralph Lapp on behalf of Arthur Compton, because the Manhattan Project military commander, General Groves, had been confronted by Leo Szilard (based at the Metallurgical Laboratory) on the use of nuclear weapons to end the war with Japan, and had asked Compton for a poll be done to find the consensus in Chicago after Szilard's agitation for an anti-nuclear bombing petition.

Only 15% of Lapp's poll votes went for the maximum destruction option actually used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 46% for a demonstration explosion in Japan before "full use" of the weapon (basically the Franck report recommendation, but without United Nations procrastination), 26% wanted Japan to attend a nuclear test within the United States (such as the Trinity test, held four days later on 16 July), 11% wanted no military use at all, just a public demonstration for political deterrence of war, and 2% wanted it to be kept completely secret and never used for any purpose.

Ironically, that would option would have spelled disaster, since spies like Drs. Fuchs ensured that Stalin already knew far more than the American pseudo-democracy of Joe Public about nuclear weapons!  (The great tragedy of nuclear weapons secrecy is that, as always, only the “free public” are kept in the dark, not the dictators with their big spy networks!)

Leo Szilard was a chemist who had in 1933 applied the chemical concept of an explosive chain reaction to the discovery of the neutron the previous year, coming up with the idea of finding a neutron chain reaction which would explosively release nuclear energy (he had no idea until 1939 that uranium-235 was the key). Szilard in August 1939 convinced Einstein to write to President Roosevelt to request government research on nuclear weapons.  During the Manhattan Project, as Richard Rhodes explains (Rhodes makes Szilard the hero of his book The making of the atomic bomb, just as Lapp does in The New Priesthood), Szilard used his knowledge of chemical engineering to overcome the boron-contaminated graphite moderator problem in the first nuclear reactors.  (Electrodes containing boron, which is a strong absorber of neutrons, were used to produce the graphite moderators for early nuclear reactor research.  The boron contamination spoiled the carbon moderator, by absorbing the neutrons.  The same problem occurred to Heisenberg's nuclear bomb research in Germany, but Heisenberg failed to find that boron contamination was causing the problem, and so he discarded the cheap carbon moderator in preference for expensive heavy water containing deuterium, which was distilled from ordinary water very slowly and at great expense using hydroelectric electricity in occupied Norway.  Commando raids were made to destroy some of the heavy water, so Germany was unable to make nuclear weapons in World War II.)

After that $2 billion American investment, Szilard had doubts about whether it was such a good idea to leave the use of nuclear weapons to politicians.  This infuriated those who just wanted to every means available to end the war as soon as possible.  U.S. War Secretary Henry Stimson was planning for an invasion of Kyushu on 1 November 1945 and an invasion of Honshu in 1946, using 5,000,000 American servicemen, at least a million of whom were not expected to return.  Although many revisionist critics have claimed that Japan would have surrendered regardless of nuclear weapons use, before such an invasion occurred, this is just speculative conjecture and there is no proof of it.  Similarly, throughout the Vietnam war, predictions were made that the Vietcong were perpetually on the point of defeat, even just before the Tet Offensive in 1968.  Japan had invested everything in the war and politically needed a strong excuse to justify surrender.  WWII and Vietnam proved that the way you end a fanaticism-based war is not merely to prove the other side is unlikely to win: you must prove to the enemy that their choice is surrender or annihilation.  Thomas Schelling and President Johnson were unwilling to be that tough, so they went bankrupt and lost.

Lapp on page 82 quotes Admiral Ernest J. King, who was against dropping nuclear weapons, preferring a naval blockade to starve Japan into surrender:

"The President ... appeared to believe that many thousands of American troops would be killed in invading Japan ... the [nuclear weapons] dilemma was an unnecessary one, for had we been willing to wait, the effective naval blockade would, in the course of time, have starved the Japanese into submission through lack of oil, rice, medicine, and other essential materials."

So there were military commanders who believed in alternatives to bombing cities with nuclear weapons.  Admiral King's alternative of starving the whole of Japan into submission was a tough one, however, which probably explains why is has not been hyped by the anti-nuclear people, since although the idea might perhaps appease the conscience of some elite scientist, the amount of suffering might conceivably have been greater.  Nobody really knows for sure when surrender would have occurred if nuclear weapons had not been used.  Dr Lapp points out on page 83 that 2 million buildings had already been destroyed in 66 Japanese cities by conventional bombing without surrender.  Groves discusses Leo Szilard and Joseph Rotblat (who left the project as soon as Germany was defeated) in his 1962 book Now It Can Be Told:

"To achieve surprise was one of the reasons we tried so hard to maintain our security. ... A little later some of the scientists began to express doubts about the desirability of using the bomb against Japan.  A number of these men had come to the United States to escape racial persecution under the Hitler regime.  To them, Hitler was the supreme enemy and, once he had been destroyed, they apparently found themselves unable to generate the same degree of enthusiasm for destroying Japan's military power."

Above: Herman Kahn was not wiped out of existence by James Newman's 1961 Scientific American ill-informed hate attack on his unread book On Thermonuclear War.  Instead, Kahn set up the nonprofit Hudson Institute which undertook research on ABM, civil defense, and futurology, leading to a further clash with groupthink pessimist ideology when Kahn, with co-authors William Brown and Leon Martel (photo below; Kahn is on far right) wrote The Next 200 Years.

Kahn's The Next 200 years confounded the pessimists and communists who predicted that capitalism would destroy humanity, if not by war then by a "population bomb" that would pollute the world and destroy its resources, leading to famine and starvation.  Kahn argued that instead of capitalism making everyone poorer and more hungry, the opposite was occurring and would continue to occur until the population stabilized at 15 billion around the year 2176:

(1) In 1776, when the United States was founded and Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was published, the world had 750 million people, a gross world product of $150 billion (all values are in 1975 dollars, to avoid corrections for inflation), thus $200 per person.

(2) In 1976, the Bicentennial of the United States (which was founded upon gaining Independence in 1776), there were 4.1 billion people generating a gross world product of $5.5 trillion, thus $1,300 per person on earth, an increase by a factor of 6.5 from the state of the world 200 years earlier.  Furthermore, democracy was evening out the wealth by the spread of affordable innovations and food nearly everyone could afford, reducing extreme poverty.

(3) Extrapolating 200 years to 2176, Kahn and co-authors predicted on page 6 that the world's population would peak at 15 billion people, with a gross world product of $300 trillion, and thus an average of $20,000 per person on earth (far more uniformly distributed than in the pre-democratic world of kings and slaves).  This is an increase in the wealth per person by a factor of 15 from the 1976 value, and a factor of 100 larger than the situation in 1776 when the United States was founded!

Industrialization and capitalism, Kahn points out on page 48, are even applauded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the following quotation from The Communist Manifesto (Penguin, 1967, pages 84-85):

"The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most backward, nations into civilization.  The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the underdeveloped nations' intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. ... The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarcely one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal production forces than have all preceding generations together.  Subjection of nature's forces to man, machinery, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground - what earlier century has even a presentiment that such production forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?"

Kahn and his Hudson Institute co-authors justified Marx and Engel's praise of capitalism by pointing out, on pages 130-131 of The Next 200 years that since in 1976 three grain crops annually each yielded 12 metric tons per hectare, it followed that in 2176 crops over 2 million square miles would be needed, but: "Six relatively unused areas - the Sahara desert, the Amazon basin, the Gobi desert, Saudi Arabia, Australia and the sea coasts of Chile and Peru - offer some 7.5 million square miles of excellent opportunities ... where large-scale sunshine is available.  These lands alone [using hydroponic techniques of growing plants in simple plastic water irrigation tubes supplied by desalination plants, see diagram below] could produce more than three times the food requirements estimated ... for the world in 2176. ... hydroponic techniques have been shown capable of growing crops with less water, fertilizer and other inputs than needed in conventional agriculture, and of growing them unblemished and free of disease or insect attacks."

Above: a computer-optimised hydroponics farm by Fujitsu, completely safe from radioactive contamination, located just 60 miles from the Fukushima nuclear disaster waste storage pools which cracked and leaked radioactive strontium-90 into the ground water, which can potentially yield: "450 and 550 tons of vegetables per acre, compared to the average yield of 15 tons per acre from traditional farming".

Regarding the material damage due to a future thermonuclear war, Kahn and co-authors state on pages 219-220 of The Next 200 Years:

"It is true - though not often acknowledged - that even two enormously destructive wars did not appreciably slow the accelerating pace of industrial growth in this century.  Nevertheless, one can hardly be so confident that the world could similarly overcome the effects of a war involving the widespread use of nuclear weapons, particularly if they were used in their most destructive modes (that is, more against civilian than military targets."

Responding to the abuse of educational resources for the dissemination of communist agenda drive propaganda, Kahn correctly predicted on page 182: "increasing problems of ritualistic or pseudo-rationality and educated incapacity, as well as various reactions against rationality."  He cynically defines "educated incapacity" in a footnote on page 22:

"By 'educated incapacity' we mean an acquired or learned inability to understand or see a problem, much less a solution."

A typical example of this that he gives is the tragic human cost of Rachel Carson's pseudo-scientific environmentalist scare mongering, documented on page 194 of Cy Adler's 1973 book Ecological Fantasies:

"Ceylon was one of the first Asiatic countries to ban DDT ... more than 2 million Ceylonese had malaria in the early 1950's when DDT was first introduced to control malarial mosquitoes.  After 10 years of control, malaria had all but been eliminated in Ceylon.  The country banned the pesticide in 1964.  By 1968 over a million cases of malaria had appeared.  Ceylon rescinded its ban on DDT in 1969."

Kahn then reviews the myths circulated over the genetic effects of radiation, and concludes that scare-mongering environmentalism about pollution causes more harm than good since it consistently ignores obvious feedback which reduces side effects, commenting on page 173: "most predictions of damage hundreds of years from now tend to be incorrect because they ignore the curative possibilities inherent in technological and economic progress."

When the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945essentially all the air raid shelters, excect a few substandard homemade ones near ground zero, survived and offered protection, but nobody was in them because the warning system failed.  In that case, if you are sensible, you don't give up, you improve the warning system.

Also, the conversion of many older city centres after WWII from wooden to concrete construction with fire sprinklers and prevents fire risks, not just because concrete won't burn, but because concrete buildings are taller and have good shadowing effects, since, as soon as you are a distance from ground zero that's a few times the fireball radius plus the burst height, the heat flash and most gamma rays (even after Compton scattering) are coming horizontally if the yield is low (as for terrorist threats and most MIRV warheads), so that the heat flash is emitted before significant fireball rise occurs: the radiations are mostly blocked by the intervening concrete buildings (like sunlight immediately after dawn or sunset).  (Neutrons scatter over a much wider range of angles than Compton gamma ray scattering, but the lower floors in concrete buildings in densely built up cities offer substantial shielding from the scattered neutrons, not just the unscattered radiation.)

This fact kills "nuclear winter" firestorm soot and also mass burns lies that rely on Glasstone and Dolan's misleading unobstructed desert analysis method, that completely ignores the modern concrete building skyline shielding of radiations, and the blast upward diffraction energy loss and damage attenuation.  (For more on the modern city blast wave energy-absorption cover-up by Glasstone's analysis, please click here.)

Bombing Syria will not necessarily be more successful than Vietnam, and it will drive out more war refugees, some of whom will be disguised terrorist insurgents, and it will increase the "home-bred" radical-terrorism risk, such as that in multicultural Belgium that provided a safe haven for the Paris terrorist atrocities. What we need to avoid costly failed wars is public education in self-defense and civil defense. If we don't do that, we will have to leave 100% of security to the nanny state spies and the politically correct military, a kind of USSR.

Update (6 December 2015):

"Islamic State" terrorists have recently massacred 130 civilians in Paris and 14 in California, and Britain has finally committed to bombing Syrian opponents of dictator Assad (effectively helping Assad, who has killed far more people in Syria than "Islamic State" terrorists), France has published a very sensiblsurvival guide for civilians caught in terrorism attacks, called How to respond to a terror attack:  (contrast that well-illustrated guide to the totally non-illustrated list in the official British government guide on terrorism, "Recognising the terrorist threat", located at ). 

STAGE 1. Get out while keeping your head down below wall height, to reduce your target area and to make the most of any cover to remain out of sight of gunmen.  Many survivors of the Bataclan theatre (where 80 were killed) played dead:

STAGE 2. Hide behind cover, turning off sound on phones, TV and computers to make the place seem unoccupied:

STAGE 3. Call emergency services when out of earshot of terrorists. Do not run towards police in case you are mistaken for terrorists, but instead raise your hands up to prove you are unarmed, to avoid accidents:


"... I am puzzled and the query refuses to go away. It is about attitude to threat and the way different people react. ... Some weeks ago on a train speeding from Brussels to Paris an IS inspired thug emerged from the lavatory with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, virtually a light machine-gun. He entered the first compartment he came to and intended to conduct a massacre. In a carriage full of French and Belgians only four men rose from their seats without thinking things over, and charged him. ... Those who charged him down were lucky but fortune sometimes favours the brave or we would not have a regiment with the motto: Who Dares Wins. But even if he had got off one slug into a man’s chest the other three would have flattened him. Here is part of my puzzle. ... Two weeks ago three IS thugs strolled through the Bataclan rock club in Paris among a thousand Frenchmen. Eight hundred must have been muscular young men. The gunmen fired. Paused, turned their backs, reloaded, fired again. It took 30 minutes and they killed more than 80 victims. ... The gunmen have been portrayed as some kind of elite soldiers. They are not. They are ill-trained thugs seeking death after inflicting it. When their miserable corpses are identified it emerges they, like 90 per cent of IS fanatics, were complete failures: in school, college, the job market and life itself. ... if it happened here in our country, now raised to capitulate, burst into tears and demand compensation, would we risk death and fight back?"

There is something absurd here: if there is a terrorist threat to the civilian population, we need to address that head on.

Gun ownership and terrorist threats

Social media propaganda against self defence spins false claims that the biggest problem facing humanity is the ability to defend against terrorists. This myth was also circulated in the 1930s, when it was claimed that Britain and France disarmed in the face of the Nazis, war would be impossible, thus utopia. The sad reality was this actually encouraged aggression by those who exploited terrorism for profit. Simplistic idealism and wishful thinking are the largest sources of horror. Nobody wants to spend money on sensible, credible deterrence of terrorism. Instead, terrorism is allowed to happen, then we end up in an intractable, "politically correct" war against hardened fanatics who burn pilots in cages and behead journalists in propaganda films. Peace is the easy option: just surrender to thugs and accept their agenda. The harder option is to fight back credibly, in a way that really demoralises them and undermines their agenda.

Cars kill more people than guns do, and cars haven't been destroyed. Gun owner insurance is a good idea. Gun owner insurers will ensure the premiums are adequate to cover losses and make a profit, so they'll be pro-guns, although they might force gun owners to undergo regular training and tests. If just 5% of the civilians in the Bataclan theatre had carried pistols, they'd have outnumbered the terrorists by over 10 to 1, and could have prevented most of the tragic deaths. This is worth thinking about.

There are about a million unregistered firearms in America and many more across the Asian-European-African continents, and even if future registered gun sales could be "banned" by disarmament idealists, there's nothing to stop fertiliser (ammonium nitrate) based improvised explosives being made and used by terrorists.  Anyone looking at the history of the IRA will know the difficulties involved in trying to use spies or disarmament ideals to prevent terrorism.

It is a dangerous myth based on wishful thinking, just as the disarmament of Germany following WWI failed to stop WWII, since it diverts attention from the kind of civil defense that is needed to win wars.  Without Russian civilian defense evacuation of factories to the Urals in 1941, Russia would have lost its manufacturing base and thus WWII.  Without British civilian defense shelters in 1940, it would have been unable to divert enemy bombing from airfields to cities, and could therefore have lost the Battle of Britain, and been invaded.  Without simple underground bomb shelters, the Vietcong would have been defeated by American air power.  Despite the consensus of openly biased and ill-informed historical quackery, self defense and civilian defense remains important today. It is a vitally necessary supplement to both deterrence and military actions, making them more credible and making them more likely to succeed by discouraging terrorism, which can be seriously degraded or even decouraged by effective civil resistance to the threat from terror attacks.

"The question which confronts us in a very, very complex conflict is at its heart very simple. What should we do with others to confront this threat to our citizens, our nation, other nations and the people who suffer under the yoke, the cruel yoke, of Daesh? The carnage in Paris brought home to us the clear and present danger we face from them. It could have just as easily been London, or Glasgow, or Leeds or Birmingham and it could still be. And I believe that we have a moral and a practical duty to extend the action we are already taking in Iraq to Syria. ... We now have a clear and unambiguous UN Security Council Resolution 2249, paragraph 5 of which specifically calls on member states to take all necessary measures to redouble and co-ordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Isil, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria. ...
"And we are here faced by fascists. [Emphasis added.]  Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in this chamber tonight, and all of the people that we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt. And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated. And it is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists and trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It’s why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice. And my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. And that is why I ask my colleagues to vote for the motion tonight. [CHEERS]"
It is interesting that when such celebrity politicians call bigoted thugs "fascists" nobody censors them out using the so-called "Godwin law".  If someone without a celebrity cult does the same thing with the same justification, they receive hate attacks in reply!  This is an example of hypocrisy, the cynical hypocrisy of celebrity politics that successfully masquerades as genius, totally unopposed by the full facts (truth is all facts, without censorship) in a "democracy".  Benn could have delivered such a speech 50 years ago in support of "politically correct" bombing the Vietcong in Vietnam in collaboration with Democrat Johnson.  What matters is not whether bombing is politically fashionable, but whether it will prevent terrorism or not.  What we need is proper self-defense of civilians against terrorism, not merely political rabble rousing.  He makes no mention of that at all.

If politicians really want to address terrorism rather than just pander to ignorance and encourage terrorism thereby, they need to face the facts, not make them taboo!

Update (10 Januiary 2016):

See also the UK Government's terrorism public advice film, released 18 December 2016, linked here.  It does not suggest Sharia law dress code (burka and veil) to reduce the risk of terrorism by refugee gangs.  "If women had just the simple sense and decency to wear a full burka and veil, they wouldn't have invited these acts. The EU must issue & enforce Sharia law dress code to the UK to help refugees to keep their eyes off women. Such refugees must be accepted here, because they're in danger where their terrorist behaviour is punishable." - summary of the specious "prevention is better than cure" propaganda of the anti-liberal, mainstream egotistic media. There is also specious political propaganda, which relies for its "authority" on banning objective discussion using censorship, from Britain's CND vice chair and Labour Leader Corbyn, who has now sacked his moderate shadow defence secretary allegedly for not being a biased and ill-informed anti-nuclear CND supporter:

"You may perhaps recall Ms Thornberry from 2014, the only previous time when she has entered public consciousness. During the Rochester and Strood by-election she tweeted a picture of a house with a white van in the drive and a flag of St George flying. The tweet was taken by almost everyone who saw it as being contemptuous of the van driver and the patriotism. Look at these uncouth types, it was clearly intended to sneer. When it was brought to his attention Ed Miliband was said to have gone berserk and demanded Ms Thornberry’s resignation, which she provided. ... It is a contempt for the broad mass of the population, the very people Labour claims to represent. ... On his election, however, Jeremy Corbyn put her back on the front bench. ... Her interest in actual defence has until now amounted to nothing more than membership of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  In other words it appears that she doesn’t even believe in serious defence as a concept because CND effectively proposes that we simply hold up our hands and beg to be left alone. But here’s where it gets worse.  Throughout her time as an MP there is one consistent issue which she has pursued in written questions to the Ministry of Defence. Not the welfare of our brave soldiers, not the equipment shortages, not any strategic issues. ...  Indeed the only oral defence-related question she has ever asked in the Commons has been about alleged violent crimes by servicemen. ... After her appointment this week it emerged that she has even taken money from Leigh Day, the law firm that is under investigation over false claims it has pursued that British soldiers were involved in torture and murder in Iraq. One MP speaking in the House of Commons even described the firm as “immoral, thieving and ambulance chasing”. The Al-Sweady inquiry into the alleged crimes found that they were “wholly and entirely without merit” and a key document was shredded by the firm. As a result Leigh Day is the subject of an investigation, having been accused of “deliberate and calculated lies”. But Ms Thornberry has been happy to take £48,125 in donations from the firm between 2012-2014 to fund her parliamentary activities."


At 5:02 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn, MP, Labour Party Leader and potential next prime minister, is to become Vice President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament: 17 October 2015

Labour's [Leader and potential next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom] Jeremy Corbyn to become CND vice-president ... Mr Corbyn joined CND as a teenager in 1966 and has long campaigned against the replacement of Trident. ... Currently, the government is spending [only]about 6% of its annual defence budget on Trident, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed ... Trident is reported to have a potential destructive power eight times that of the first atomic bomb, which is estimated to have killed 140,000 people, and to have maimed many more, when it was dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in Japan on 6 August, 1945."

[That's a CND-BBC scare-mongering lie because (1) equivalent megatonnage goes as two-thirds power of yield for blast or less than that for initial radiation, which is the predominant kill mechanism inside modern city buildings, and only scales as a very weak function of weapon yield, certainly not directly with yield, as the liars in the BBC always claim, along with CND liars who seem to want to encourage dictators to start a world war without us having protection through civil defense, and (2) Hiroshima's population were almost entirely in light wooden buildings or outdoors travelling to work or clearing firebreaks in wide streets: according to the table on median or 50% survival radii in Hiroshima in Glasstone and Dolan's 1977 Effects of Nuclear Weapons, in the lower floors of concrete buildings 50% survived at 0.12 mile ground range in Hiroshima, whereas for unwarned kids outdoors it was 1.3 miles. That means that concrete buildings can reduce median lethal areas calculated by Glasstone and Dolan's assumptions for people outdoors in the nude, by a factor of well over 100, reducing 140,000 killed by the 16 kt Hiroshima air burst to 1,400 killed if people are indoors in modern concrete city buildings or equivalent simple WWII type air raid shelters such as the indoor Morrison table or the outdoor buried Anderson which can be used in hilly areas with low water tables]

CND's general secretary Kate Hudson said Mr Corbyn's new role was a "fitting tribute to a very principled man [Marxist civil defense liar]with a lifelong commitment [mad delusional ranting paranoid religious fixation]to CND and the cause of nuclear disarmament". ... The group promises to "organise in every town, city and village to create a mass movement", but Mike Gapes, the Labour MP for Ilford South, has told the BBC he fears some members of the campaign have an agenda. ... However, a spokeswoman for Momentum said such fears were a misunderstanding, and she said it was "a positive, outward looking" organisation [like the deluded "pacifist" Clement Attlee's leadership of the Labour Party from 1935 onwards, when he naively and disastrously argued in the House of Commons that we must avoid an arms race to stop providing excuses for Hitler's Nazi rearmament]."

At 5:03 am, Anonymous Deterrence said...

Based on the history of Labour Party Leader Clement Attlee's attitude to the the Nazi threat in 1935 (he ignored it and argued against keeping ahead of the Nazis), here is a simple forecast of what the "too little, too late" British media will have to report to the public, too late to stop disaster, in the near future:



 Dictators party in the streets, free to enslave the world and force their dogmas and indoctrination on everyone.

 Radical thinkers and social reformers locked up in lunatic asylums, Soviet-style, to prevent violence and terrorism

 Millions of arms workers and defense contractors lose jobs. Spin-off electronics, computing, and space industries close.

 Progress replaced by economic and scientific stagnation. A new dark ages dawning, with plagues and famine due to overpopulation.

 Invasions and ethnic cleansing holocaust activities are no longer stoppable. Thugs take over civilization.

 Carefully developed weapons deterrent technology replaced by old fashioned sticks, stones, drownings, burning at the stake, and starvation in filthy, cold, disease ridden concentration camps and Siberian salt mines.

 Egotistic politicians who instituted this tragedy are awarded Nobel Peace Prizes and saturation media propaganda.

 Thugs shout down reasoning folk, deleting their comments from blogs to pretend they don't even exist!

 War spin-offs like nuclear explosives science, relevant for low cost intergalactic Freeman Dyson's Project Orion (nuclear explosion powered spacecraft) are totally taboo.

 Dictators secretly stockpile arms like Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s, preparing to turn world into their own Evil Empire by the peaceful coercion Hobson choice question: "Do you want WAR or peace? It's your choice. Just remember, if you don't want peaceful invasion, we'll kill you. Speak up now, our invasion is about to begin!"

PHOTO: CND rally. CND's Jeremy Corbyn, MP, now Leader of the British Labour Party and potential next Prime Minister of the United Kingdon, joins the "Wrap up Trident" mass CND protest march in London. Jeremy Corbyn and hundreds of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) protesters joined in encircling The Ministry of Defence building in London with a ‘peace scarf’ knitted by thousands of people against the Trident nuclear weapons system.

At 11:30 pm, Blogger nige said...

Regarding "Sir Joseph Rotblat", there are strong parallels to "Sir Jimmy Saville" and in the way MILLIONS IF NOT BILLIONS of people were duped by his populist lies on nuclear weapons effects and his ignorance of civil defence, war realities, peace propaganda dangers before WWI and WWII, etc. This is why there will be WWIII, for exactly the same weapons effects lying, anti-civil defence propaganda media spin. In the final analysis, it's not the SOLE FAULT of Sir Jimmy Saville who abused kids when presenting BBC TV live that THE BBC, THE PUBLIC, THE PRESS, THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, THE POLICE, and supposedly HUMANE propaganda "child protection lobbies" all FAILED to stop that criminal monster.

They LOVED the criminal, just as most of the British media effectively spun anti-civil defence lies and anti-arms race lies, and thereby very effectively sided with Hitler until war broke out with Britain it a very poor state compared to Germany, in 1939. Whose FAULT is it? It's ultimately the fault of MANY people.

If "socialists" were really HONEST, not religious ranting liars who support, protect and defend monsters, they could point out the facts are not determined by a "bigoted peer-reviewed consensus science" or Soviet style propaganda, but by OBJECTIVE criticism. We live in an era where Joe Public, by being lazy and rewarding celebrities with attention regardless of the lies and bigotry they spin, tries to blame other people. If you vote in a pseudo "democratic" country that gives one vote every five years for a choice between two clones with the same budget and dogma, then you're asking for dictatorship for eternity. Only true democracy, which means OBJECTIVE DEBATES, not pseudo-debated between two parties with the same agenda, are needed before decisions can be made.

At 11:44 pm, Blogger nige said...

The top result on Goggle for "The effects of nuclear weapons" is currently a Jeremy Corbyn CND lies page which falsely states:

"The heart of a nuclear explosion reaches a temperature of several million degrees centigrade. Over a wide area the resulting heat flash literally vaporises all human tissue. At Hiroshima, within a radius of half a mile, the only remains of most of the people caught in the open were their shadows burnt into stone."

- Lie. In fact, even at ground zero the thermal radiation only burned a thin surface layer. That is proved by the USSBS report 92 which I published years ago on Internet Archive, which Dr A. Frankenstein and other abusive lying evil folk simply ignore, deleting the facts from their lying, self-deluded, egotistic, money spinning tantrum blogs. The truth is that even people in modern buildings near ground zero survived without being vaporized: Glasstone shows that there was 50% survival in modern city buildings at just 0.12 mile, regardless of the thermal flash and the "firestorm". This message is taboo because it is a truth that criminals don't want to hear, accept, or think about.

"People inside buildings or otherwise shielded will be indirectly killed by the blast and heat effects as buildings collapse and all inflammable materials burst into flames. The immediate death rate will be over 90%. Various individual fires will combine to produce a fire storm as all the oxygen is consumed. As the heat rises, air is drawn in from the periphery at or near ground level."

- Complete lies, debunked by the declassified data I published years ago on internet archive at

25 years ago, I believed the myth I taught that if you tell the truth, you embarrass the devil into changing its lying propaganda. Well, CND will never stop publishing lies, and Joe Public, too lazy and biased by decades of dangerous delusions and propaganda from the USSR, "World Peace Council", "International Red Cross", CND, Conservative party, Labour Party, Socialist Party, Pseudo-Scientific American, New Yorker, New Scientist, Communist Party, and Halloween party, will continue to attack civil defence, safe and credible nuclear deterrence against military invasions, and all the humane lessons of REAL PEACE learned from the study of wars and genuine peacekeeping that actually deters wars, instead of creating them.

At 11:51 pm, Blogger nige said...

"The International Red Cross has concluded that the use of a single nuclear weapon in or near a populated area is likely to result in a humanitarian disaster that will be "difficult to address". ... In the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear power explosion and fire in the Ukraine in 1986, radioactive rain fell over the next few days in a wide arc across Northern Europe, from Scandinavia to Scotland, Cumbria and Wales, a distance of over 1,700 miles from Chernobyl. [BENEFICIALLY REDUCING CANCER DUE TO RADIATION HORMESIS AT LOW DOSE RATES, AS PROVED BY DR CHARLES SANDERS' 2010 book "RADIATION HORMESIS", Springer] Nuclear weapons cause severe damage to the climate and environment on a scale incomparable to any other weapon. Research by the International Red Cross shows the effect of a ‘limited’ nuclear war involving 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs (i.e. less than half a per cent of the world's stockpile). The five million tonnes of soot produced by the ensuing fires would cause global temperature to fall by an average of 1.3C. The disrupted global climate would have an overwhelming impact on food production. The Red Cross estimates that a billion people around the world could face starvation as a result of nuclear war."


- Organizations that lie about thermal transmission through modern concrete city skylines using Glasstone's open, unobstructed desert transmission curve, are wrong about firestorms. The International Red Cross supported the Nazis in effect, just like everybody else before WWII, so it's clear why their propaganda is cited by CND's rant.

At 11:57 pm, Blogger nige said...

Radiation Hormesis and the Linear-No-Threshold Assumption, by Dr Charles Sanders, Springer, 2010:

The author shows how proponents of the LNT assumption consistently reject, manipulate, and deliberately ignore an overwhelming abundance of published data and falsely claim that no reliable data are available at doses of less than 100 mSv. The consequence of the LNT assumption is a radiophobia that is very costly in terms of lives and money.

Download Preface 1 PDF (263.6 KB)

Download Sample pages 1 PDF (789.3 KB)

Download Table of contents PDF (387 KB)

At 4:59 pm, Blogger nige said...

The UK government option is as always to try to shut down democratic debate by "banning" (driving underground) lying populist I.S. supporting counter-fact extremism of the Sir Jimmy Saville or "Nuke map" untruthful sort, using the military or secret police. However, why can't the government just employ the highly competent experts around in multimedia and factual journalism to combat extremism using the facts? If its advisers are so expert as it claims, why can't it use knowledge rather than the bullet or prison cell, to eradicate extremism?

Or at least, it could simply "name and shame" dangerous anti-fact liars and propaganda spreading BBC "journalists" who are trying to spread hate agenda terrorism to cause needless deaths both in support of anti-deterrence agenda lobbyists, and also in support of jihadists:

Counter extremism

Counter-extremism: May targets 'all those who spread hate'. Well, let's hope she starts at home and shuts down all government funds for hate-spreading, anti-humanity, quack, elitist-eugenics-type "consensus science research" which is one-sided propaganda, and also closes down the "consensus science" propaganda units in BBC news, to start off with. It always helps if demonstrate that the same standards apply to one and all... :

"Counter-extremism: May targets 'all those who spread hate'

"The home secretary has vowed to "systematically confront and challenge extremist ideology" as she detailed new curbs on those who "spread hate". Radical preachers will be banned from posting material online ... Deradicalisation classes will be made mandatory for others deemed a threat. ... Demands that internet service providers do more to remove extremist material and identify those responsible for it. ... Prime Minister David Cameron said the plan would work because it was "comprehensive" .
"It's no good leaving this simply to the police or the intelligence services. It's no good simply talking about violent extremism. We need to confront all extremism," he said.

"He said its effectiveness would be measured by whether people were being turned away from extremism ... plans to create blacklists and exclude and ban people those deemed to be extremists. ... At the heart of this considerable strategy on counter extremism are two significant challenges for the prime minister: the internet and the law. ... "

I'd be willing to help counter extremist of the lying, BBC sort that helps recruit terrorists for I.S.

At 5:15 pm, Blogger nige said...

“Piers Corbyn [Labour Leader and CND Vice Jeremy Corbyn's brother] ... believes humans have no role in climate change and that the Met Office, media and "corrupt scientists" are "brainwashing" the public as part of a Qatar-run conspiracy to keep oil prices high.”


Explanation why the climate change contribution due to CO2 is trivial due negative feedback from cloud cover (which also falsified the Hockey Stick groupthink temperature record, since the way the proxies are converted into temperatures ignores cloud cover changes):

If the British government gave me charge of their "climate change department", I'd save taxpayers billions and wipe out war and terrorism almost instantly, by using FACTS and exposing the lies of the pseudo-science "consensus science" quacks who rant through the media to applause without every telling the whole, relevant truth:

(1) INCOMPETENT LIKE DR FRANKENSTEIN (see previous post), and

(2) EGOTISTIC MONEY SPINNING "PROFESSIONALS" (MONEY MAKERS), people who have no role as scientists, although they often portray groupthink populist celebrity, peer-review status (citation index rank), prizes and wealth as (false) measures of scientific "credibility".

Cameron's wife (Samantha) has a father who lives off taxpayer funded wind-farm subsidies, so yes, they're corrupt. All scare-mongering scams always have a spin-off in giving taxpayer funded "big science" contracts to quacks who milk them for all they are worth, heedless of objective criticism. Thatcher had her faults, but she got it right when she said that once the government sets up a department to solve an imaginary fear-mongering problem, the problem is made "real" by propaganda, and you can then never put the genie back in the bottle:

Why doesn't the Prime Minister simply give his wife Samantha's father rather a peerage in the House of Lords and a Cabinet job on £350,000 a year, instead of wasting BILLIONS on a whole industry, just to provide state handouts to losers? That would save billions. Before anyone claims that taxpayer subsidised "jobs" building windfarms help the unemployment problem, remember that each "windfarm" job costs the taxpayer over £100,000, so that's a con too (75% of the money goes into the pockets of Sam Cam's dad and his tory friends). You would better "employ" FOUR people at £25k a year to fiddle their thumbs, for the cost of each subsidised windfarm job.

It's the same for nuclear power, where "big shots" like Lord Penney and Cockcroft smugly ignored anti-nuclear propaganda during the critical years in the 50s and 60s, which then shut the industry down. They behave like Her Majesty the Queen, keeping "above" controversy, which might be find for the Queen, but is a disaster when it allows one-sided propaganda to accumulate for decades, unchallenged by objective facts. Then you get other “big shot” quacks coming in to make money out of trying to challenge the mainstream liars, and getting the technical arguments wrong, so that the mainstream then claims “the big shot egotist critics like James Delingpole are wrong, the science has settled now, we’ll close the argument down and prevent anyone else who has actual facts from getting media BBC publicity to put the matter right.”

At 5:47 pm, Blogger nige said...

"There has never been a war yet which, if the facts had been put calmly before the ordinary folk, could not have been prevented. ... The common man, I think, is the great protection against war."

- British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, House of Commons Debate on Foreign Affairs, Hansard, 23 November 1945, column 786, linked here

(Unfortunately the secret Cabinet committees called "democracy" for propaganda purposes have not been quite so successful in preventing war.)

If one-tenth the energy was devoted into genuine democracy, by educating the public of threats and countermeasures, that is still devoted to secret cover ups of the facts (known by terrorists) from Joe Public, the intelligence service might really do a public service by informing the whole world of the truth that is normally kept secret to dictators and spies, thereby allowing democracy to work and end violence.

At 3:33 am, Anonymous BBC News editor said...


If it is true that neutron bombs in conjunction with civil defence can be used with fewer casualties to deter or stop conventional massed tank invasions and therefore wars, surely millions of lives could have been saved during the cold war.

In that case, would you not agree that Sir Joseph Rotblat's Pugwash anti-nuclear propaganda, in conjunction with CND's anti-civil defence propaganda, has cost considerably more human lives than Sir Jimmy Saville destroyed by raping a few hundred girls under our roof here at the BBC?

Please correct your blog!

At 3:51 am, Blogger nige said...

Thanks for that, "BBC News editor".

Please confirm your name.

I suspect there are many editors working in the BBC news offices.

Please also confirm whether or not you will agree publish the truth on the BBC.

At 10:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done Nige! Tell the truth and shame the devil.

At 10:35 am, Blogger nige said...

Thanks, but I'm just publishing facts, not trying to "shame" people.

As the history in this blog post shows, it is important to clear the air of the existing emotional bias and untruths on the subject, uncovering the facts.

If anyone has anything technical (factual) to say, that's fine, but I'd prefer people to use their real names, despite the fact that this is supposedly a "controversial subject." It's not controversial but a matter of the well established laws of physics and experimental data. The wishy-washy emotional tantrums of mainstream media celebrities on this subject shows that their "judgement" is unreliable. People can throw tantrums to cover up the fact they they telling lies. What we're doing on this blog is keeping to facts, not "controversies". Sure, liars can call facts "controversial" if the facts disagree with false mainstream prejudices, but that's sophistry. Once a fact is proved, only the ignorant and the deluded will continue to preach it. Again, we're not interested in shaming people, just in exposing evil for the specific purpose of enabling civil defense and war avoidance (credible deterrence) to SAVE LIVES. That's the aim. The sooner the ignorant CND folk stop telling lies, the better!

At 4:40 am, Blogger nige said...

To get away from the nuclear effects cover-up for a moment, consider this "green" destruction of British heavy industry:

How the Government has shut down our steel industry by pseudo-green taxation for carbon dioxide (the steel mills and blast furnaces burn huge amounts of coal, producing CO2): : "heavy industry might pay £80 per megawatt hour for electricity. More than £30 of that is attributable to renewable energy costs and the carbon floor tax. ... our electricity bills twice those of France and Germany. What we are now witnessing is the perverse, deliberate creation of market failure for British steel-making. The green zealots knew that this would happen but their attachment to ideology outweighs their concern for British jobs.” A big price in human suffering to pay for leading the world in pseudo-science. My paper on vixra spelled out the crucial IPCC CO2 model flaws two years ago but is ignored: :

“The only reason why significant CO2 related temperature rises are predicted by all 21 IPCC climate models is that they all contain the same error: assuming that water vapour absorbs sunlight to amplify the CO2 injection by positive feedback, ignoring the fact that it would gain buoyancy, rise and condense into cloud cover. It is easy to prove that any net positive feedback by water vapour (which all IPCC positive feedback climate models assume) would have boiled the oceans off long ago and would have prevented human life from evolving. Since H2O vapour is a greenhouse gas 26 times more powerful in the atmosphere than CO2, it follows that the atmosphere did not need to wait for human CO2 emissions before H2O kicked in. Water positive feedback would have kicked in and endlessly accelerated of its own accord millions of years ago, if it were positive. Whenever the rate of increase of a variable is proportional to that variable, you get self-feedback, thus an exponential rise in that variable. Positive feedback on temperature T implies the rate of rise of temperature, dT/dt, is proportional to temperature, T. Hence dT/dt = cT, where c is a constant. Thus: (1/T)dT = c dt. Integrating gives ln T = ct. Making both sides powers of e (base of natural logs) then gets rid of the natural logarithm, yielding T ~ exp(ct). Thus, net positive feedback leads to an exponential temperature rise. This error in all 21 IPCC climate models is not an opinion, or speculation, but a fact of physics, robustly confirmed by evidence. The temperature, if positive feedback were true, would have boiled off the oceans hundreds of millions of years ago in a runaway greenhouse effect like that on Venus.”

The suppression of this proved fact by liars, quacks and charlatans is analogous to the same evil abuse of power by the Nazis and their supporters in the British Government and other places in the 1930s to cause war under the cloak of “peace for our time” peace-propaganda, and thus lying corruption and evil abuses of power fully explains why the science is being censored out by quacks acting as pseudo-“peer reviewers” who are ignorant of negative feedback from cloud cover, and are determined to stay that way at any cost. Furthermore, 100% of the media and public are taken in by the liars, by refusing to acknowledge the existence of the proved facts. Science is still pathetically corrupted by “authority”, an error supposedly killed by Galileo back in 1610 or so, and this corruption is down the “big science” government taxpayer funding, a legacy of the Manhattan project to develop nuclear weapons.

At 1:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, great blog!

Just a quick question you may know the answer to
Let's say you stand 7 miles from ground zero:

Will you, 30 seconds after the eery brilliant flash
hear the pitched bang sound, or feel shock wave first?

Or are the two practically concurrent at that point?

I know the shock wave is supersonic in the beginning
but sound also travels faster in superheated environment...


At 12:37 am, Blogger nige said...

Thanks, anonymous.

The shock wave decays into a bang sound. Basically, when the pressure is many atmospheres, the air molecules in it have a lot of energy so they are moving much faster than the ambient speed of sound, 340 metres/second, so heat is transferred quickly as pressure behind the shock front (the isothermal or uniform temperature early phase).

However, a simple calculation of the arrival time of "sound" corresponds roughly to the arrival time of zero pressure after the shock wave! At very long distances where the shock velocity decays to sound velocity, the blast duration peaks and ceases to increase further. So you can get an idea of the blast wave or sound wave duration by subtracting the calculated sound wave arrival time from the shock wave arrival time!

Some examples. Sound takes 4.7 seconds to travel one mile. So if you are at 10 miles from a 1 megaton low air burst over Trafalgar square, the shock front arrives at 40 seconds after the first flash of the explosion, and zero pressure (sound arrival time) is about 47 seconds, so the total shock duration is around 7 seconds!

There's some interesting physical mechanisms. Because sound is a longitudinal pressure wave, and is not a transverse wave, it is basically an outward force (pressure = force/area). So you get some simple basic concept physically, like Energy = Force x Distance, or more precisely: Energy = Integral of Force over distance. The distance here is the distance of the outward pressure phase of the shock. Then by Newton's 3rd law of motion, you get the prediction of the negative (inward directed) pressure phase, which has lower peak (negative) pressure, and so has a somewhat longer duration. Of course, in the very early phase of the blast wave there is no negative pressure, because when the pressure wave is isothermal, Newton 3rd law reaction force consists entirely of the blast going out in the opposite direction, e.g. before the negative phase sets in, the reaction force of the blast force which is going Southwards is simply the blast force that's going Northwards. After the pressure in the middle drops to ambient due to outward motion of most of the air in the shock front, this reaction force is replaced by the negative phase (reversed blast winds). So it's possible to get a physical, intuitive feel for the physics of all the details of the blast wave. Please see for more mathematical details.

During 40 seconds between flash and first sound/pressure arrival at 10 miles from a megaton air burst, millions of people listening to the BBC and CND's Corbyn's anti-civil defense rants and anti-understanding nuclear effects propaganda, might get needless flash burns if outdoors out of shadows (admittedly that's very unlikely unless they're on high floors of skyscrapers that have a clear radial time of sight to the fireball, with open curtains, and on the side of the building that happens to face the fireball).

The first sound in actual nuclear blast, regardless of the blast duration, is like a pistol shot, according to Jack W. Reed, who saw more atmospheric nuclear tests than anyone else in the West while in the Nevada( and later Pacific) long-range nuclear blast prediction unit (which had to predict blast reflections from atmospheric temperature inversions to prevent broken windows and injuries in Las Vegas, etc.). Humans can only hear sounds with frequencies of 20 Hz - 20 kHz, so a 1 second blast duration is 1 Hz and is too low to hear. So all you hear in a nuclear explosion is:

(1) The crack-like (pistol shot) sound of the abrupt rise in pressure when the shock front arrives (if it takes 1 ms to go from ambient pressure to peak overpressure, that is a frequency of around 1 kHz).

(2) The sound of the wind blowing behind the shock front (which is only 40 miles/hour peak wind speed at 10 miles from 1 megaton, but is much higher closer in).

(3) Sounds from damage caused like breaking windows, impacts of blown debris.

At 10:06 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, thank you Nige, for the blog, and the fast response!

While i'm at it, how long would the negative phase in your 10 miles 1 megaton scenario be, i guess it happens briefly before the shock front?

On the crack: "The sound of a nuclear blast is distinctive as more of a bang than a boom because thermal energy is directly proportional to low frequency absorption. or heat soaks up low frequencies. There is a hell of a lot of heat in a nuclear bomb - hence the higher pitched bang sound than you would expect from such a massive explosion."

The delay also explains this comment from Alex on the dailymail:

"I had a friend who was a POW at Hiroshima in 1945. He was working in a ship that was in a dry-dock and very close to the epicentre of the bomb. The peculiar thing is that he told me that he never heard the bomb go off and can only remember what happened afterwards?" There are many Hiroshima/Nagasaki accounts like this. Obviously the bombs made noise, but why did nobody there hear them? An interesting physical fact is that the blast wave of the bomb moves faster than the speed of sound -- so it would hit you slightly before you'd hear it."

Maybe you could dedicate a whole post to the detailed human "point of view" experience:

Because it's rather interesting, an eye witness from the First British nuclear test:

"And then at zero we felt this almighty heat, it was so unexpected and eery in a way, because there's no sound whatsoever. There's this brilliant flash, although you have sunglasses on and your hands covering your eyes, you could see all the bones in your hand showing through, it was that bright."

Complete silence is the last thing people associate with a nuclear detonation.


"Unfortunately the gurus forgot to tell us about the blast, me and a couple of other chaps, we jumped on the back of a lorry that was close by, to get a better view, then we suddenly saw the trees in front of the thing bend over towards us, and then the next thing we knew we've been blown off the lorry, because we've forgotten about the blast."

They were 20 miles away from ground zero and it took the shock-wave more than a minute to arrive, that's a lot.

You can even do some streching in a minute, before properly ducking! :)


At 1:38 am, Blogger nige said...

The negative pressure, or suction phase, occurs after the pressure of the shock front. Until the shock front arrives, there is no pressure or sound variation at all.

The negative phase is due to the conservation of mass: the shock front is compressed air, so as it moves outwards some distance and cools down, the air density and the pressure in the middle region falls, creating the suction phase.

If the positive and negative phase impulses are equal, then because the peak negative pressure is always smaller in a shock wave than the peak positive (shock front) pressure, the negative phase has a longer duration than the positive phase.

Once the shock wave has degenerated into a sound phase, of course, the positive and negative phase have, ideally, equal peak positive and negative pressure, and similar duration.

By the way, in physics books "impulse" is defined as force integrated over time, whereas in Glasstone and Dolan, impulse is defined as pressure integrated over time.

The best way to understand all this is to look at the graphs and empirical equations in Harold L. Brode's RAND corporation reports, like "Numerical solutions to spherical blast waves".

Because the blast and all sound is delayed for a long time if you're miles away from an explosion, it's often the case that people "don't hear any explosion".

Richard Feynman, the path integrals genius who I feel is underrated but who Alex detests, in one of his anecdotes tells the story of showing NYT Science reporter William L. Laurence the Trinity nuclear test from about 20 miles away on 16 July 1945. The blast arrived a minute and a half later (or whatever; I'm writing quickly, from memory). Feynman says Lawrence asked "What was that?" Feynman was astounded that Lawrence, a science writer, had no idea of the speed of sound, and replied sarcastically: "That was the BOMB!!!"


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