A Nuclear War

Part 3



The Physical Dimension


Sadly, the time has come once again that we are forced to think the unthinkable, because of the folly of insane people. When the Cold War ended we thought that we could close the book on this chapter of history in which our existence hang by a thread, where a precarious peace was maintained by our mutual promise to one another of an assured total destruction in a retaliatory response. This kept the door closed to any first use ambition of nuclear weaponry. Now, this geometry has been altered. 

Israel has become the world's third-largest nuclear weapons power with a demonstrated record in disregard for human life that would make Adolf Hitler smile if he saw the atrocities being committed. Whether Israel is still the third-largest nuclear power in terms of stockpile size and global reach is debatable, since Israel is the only major nuclear weapons power that doesn't report the size and configuration of its arsenal. China may have captured the position of being the third largest nuclear weapons power, though Israel, by its own rhetoric appears to be committed to keep the first-use option on the table for times of 'rage.'

We also see NATO, the USA, and other great powers advertising their readiness to be the first to use these weapons under a variety of circumstances, even against nations that don't have them, which increases the weapons proliferation in leaps and bounds, and as of late, to use them for preemptive purposes. After more than a decade of abstention, the USA appears committed to resume the nuclear weapons production with the planned 'pit' production facility at a capacity of 600 to 900 new nuclear devices a year. That's a ominous development for a country with a dedicated commitment to increased levels of fascism such as military torture and the use of "overwhelming force," and increasingly threatening postures against much of the world, including the unprovoked invasion of nations. It is also ominous to note that the USA is the only country in the world with a demonstrated history of the use of nuclear weapons against living cities, which has also put the world on notice not to forget this demonstrated 'resolve' by recently putting the Enola Gay airplane on public display that dropped the world's first atomic bomb killing 65,000 people instantly, with upwards of 200,000 slow deaths following, many in untold agony.

It is interesting, perhaps even shocking, to know that we live in a society in which this meticulously prepared inhumanity is actively pursued on a large scale. Perhaps the reason is, that too few people are aware of the real physical dimension that is involved in nuclear war. I have explored this paradox in the context of the Hiroshima bombing in the preface to a series of eight novel, The Lodging for the Rose. I have also explored the human dimension of it in relationship to the USA and Canada, in my earlier novel, Brighter than the Sun. In real terms, however, our language is too shallow to explore this dimension. A researcher from India presented recently an attempt to look at what would unfold in the event of a 20 megaton nuclear explosion (the size of 2000 Hiroshima bombs combined) over a large city like New York, Los Angeles, Delhi, London, Rome, Tokyo, Shanghai, Berlin, Mexico City... (reported on Rense.com "A Single Nuclear Bomb On A City In India Or Pakistan" by Ashok Sharma agrostar@sify.com) It should be noted that most deployed weapons are significantly smaller, ranging from 400kt for the American weapons, to 800kt for Russian weapons (40 to 80 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb).

In the researched, big 20mt blast, a hundred lightening flashes would be blazing in the sky, surrounding a fireball as hot, and many times brighter, than the brightest sun, expanding outward for several miles, in the space of seconds. Half of the heat of the nuclear blast would become released within this fireball, possibly within the first ten seconds, scorching and vaporizing the entire area over which it would expand like a primordial exploding fire.

It this is happening in real live over a city, a huge column of fire will begin to rise of intensely heated air, saturated with burned and vaporized earth and buildings, creating a near total vacuum up-draft that sucks up everything in its vicinity and hurls it several miles up into the sky where the fire and ash will eventually expand in the thin air into the infamous mushroom shape that spreads across the upper, low pressure regions of the atmosphere. All of this will happen within 4 seconds of detonation.  As the fireball itself begins to rise, somewhat more slowly, expanding upwards and outwards, the closing of anyone standing as far as 30 km away from it will burst into flames. This unfolding secondary heat wave will then spread to an extend of 70 km within 10 seconds.

Any person who survives the initial inferno in the outlying areas, will be subjected to the onrush of a pressure-wave that travels many times faster than sound, followed by winds gushing at speeds of upwards to a thousand miles per hour. As the 'winds' move outward, then inward into the vacuum funnel, drawing the surrounding air into its fire column, they'll fanning a sea of fires along the way that engulf everything combustible up to 70 km distant, unleashing massive firestorms by which the sky becomes blacked as the darkest night and pressure waves and super sonic gusts of wind shatter window panes up to 200 km away.

What does this mean for the human dimension. We are now thirty minutes into the blast. The physical consequence of various types will become superimposed upon each other, and will be of such an enormous magnitude that there will be no survivors within a 35 km radius. Farther outwards, up to 70 Km away, most people will find themselves severely burnt and seriously injured; running in panic if they can; or crawling with agony; or writhing silently; or if they can, cry in unbearable pain.

Much further away, possible up to 200 km away, utter chaos will spread. The hospitals that are normally located in the city, will exist no more, likewise the nurses and the doctors. Those of the medical professional who may have survived in the fringe areas may be injured themselves. Even at the 200 km distance, there will be massive injuries everywhere. Broken window panes, shattered into flying glass projectiles, some being carried at supersonic speeds, will likely rain upon many people, while burning trees and branches are carried in the winds in a world of unbearably hot temperatures.

No words can truly describe the terror and the agony of those who survive. As the heat wave unfolds into typhoons that rapidly move in the direction of the fire, possibly several hundred of them, a new danger will erupt of a magnitude that people may not find  any shelter from in whatever houses may still remain.

When the dust settles, days later, the rescuers, if there are any, will find a sea of bodies and injured and debris, that may be hard to tell apart. The searching for survivors, even if it takes place, will most likely be futile since a functional transportation infrastructure doesn't exist to move the wounded to the distant facilities were medical services may still be available. Most people would out of necessity be left to die where they are, with their skins badly burnt or peeled off, waiting for a death that will not come easily. 

That is what we, mankind, have prepared for each other. That is not a science fiction projection of a possible future. The preparations are in place for this scenario to begin at any time, with no warning, within the space of a coffee break, anywhere and in any country, and for any reason.

In the further outlying areas the exposure to the catastrophe will result in hunger, malnutrition, and radiation poisoning. Water supplies will also likely become polluted by the countless dead that will rot in the open as the  physical resources to transport and bury the sea of the dead will likely not exist. The 'survivors' will likely have to face epidemics with no disinfectants available, no vaccines and no physicians, superimposed by a growing scarcity of food in an area where lawlessness and violence in the search for food will add still another ugly dimension.

If a country still functions after a nuclear blast and is able to amass significant rescue resources, a few of the last scourges listed above may possibly be avoided, or be partly avoided, but no one really knows to what extent. Unlike a hurricane disaster that leaves the affected area immediately accessible for rescue operations, a large nuclear blast renders even the fringe areas inaccessible for long periods, because of fall-out conditions, incalculable winds, and radically reduced visibility.

Most likely, if the blast occurs in a situation of war, multiple blasts will occur simultaneously, since many types of modern missiles carry multiple, independently targetable warheads. In this manner, America's entire northeastern seaboard from Boston all the way to Washington DC, could be turned into an overlapping sea of destruction that may not become accessible for many days if not weeks, because of the amplifying interaction of multiple large scale environmental catastrophes in close approximation to one another. 

But even as these areas do become accessible and the survivors are aided, the wave of death won't have subsided, by any means. The vast amounts of materials that are carried into the upper atmosphere by the updrafts from the blast, in the order of many billions of tones, will gradually come down as radioactive fallout. What this means depends on the geographic location and the prevailing winds. The fallout from the blasts caused by a single missile, if it occurred in the Pacific Northwest, could possible blanket the entire East Coast with deadly radioactive fallout that may be largely invisible. Such a situation would require the mass evacuation of half of the population of the United States, for which the transportation infrastructures may no longer exist at this time, and may not even exist today. This possible long distance exposure to fallout has been well demonstrated by the Mt. St. Helens volcanic eruption that once dusted the East Coast with a blanket of volcanic ash.

Nor will the nuclear scenario likely end with this larger effect. The feeling of terror, hopelessness, confusion, despair, intermixed with rage, revenge, hatred, and a large dose of situation-induced insanity, will not likely 'inspire' the numerous military commanders in high places, in the various countries around the world, to save their nuclear arsenals for future opportunities to use them. In fact much lesser incidents would likely cause hysteria and alarm after such an incidence and a vast ejaculation of death. And even that danger has been dramatically increased in recent years.

In the past the planning and organization of nuclear attacks had been largely in the hands of strategic experts, who, as one might expect, have a full and clear understanding of the dimension of these weapons. But this has all changed under the new doctrines that have changed the geometry of the world. With the operation of secret planning centers in secret locations, operating under possibly under civilian control by political 'experts,' such as the planning center at Vice President Dick Cheney's "undisclosed location" in Pennsylvania, the warning flags should be hoisted high. By taking the nuclear weapon out of the strategic 'cave' and placing them onto the stock-shelf together with all the other weapons, the unseen danger that had existed for the last fifty years, that we barely survived, has become multiplied by unimaginable measures.

Since there exists no physical defense against these weapons, even with the ABM system that may at best be 5% effective, the only possible deterrent that we have, is our humanity, our unfolding humanist energy to rouse ourselves as human beings to step away from this insanity in progress. This means that society should rouse itself sufficiently as human beings to create a world environment in which we can exist as human beings in spite the nuclear knowledge that will never go away.  We can do this if we agree on universal principles of humanity to draw the line on insane adventures, and not just a line in the sand, and do away with these weapons. 

In spite of the much touted nuclear missile shield that the USA aims to build unilaterally, its situation won't change. It is a precarious physical feat to shoot an incoming canon ball out of the sky that travels at speeds of many thousands of miles per hour, much less to hit a few dozen simultaneously. Sure, we may hit one or two, and even then will we ever know; and we certainly cannot risk a real life test. 

In real terms every country lies wide open. Every fishing trawler off shore could be a potential platform for nuclear armed cruise missiles, and so could be every aircraft and every ship and shipping container. The evasive little cruise missiles can now even be launched from submarines to deliver their deadly load. 

Indeed, if a submarine were one day to launch its load against the East Coast of the USA, would we ever really know whose sub that was? How would we tell? We have spent months with a 100 man team of inspectors searching for a huge pile of the supposedly existing 30,000 bio-capable cannon shells in Iraq, but that no one could find in spite of having been given full access to the whole country. Oh, we say that Saddam has hidden them in trucks that are driving around the countryside, constantly, to evade the inspections. Really? Could Saddam really hide from us 30,000 of them if they did exist? If so, just imagine how much more easily a determined nuclear terrorist would be able to hide a single nuclear device. Isn't the US being flooded right now with a huge flow of drugs that surface unabated every city ghetto and street in spite of the stiffest penalties and the tightest borders? That fat is, that no country can isolate itself from the world so tightly as if it existed on the moon. Nor is this isolation possible from the nuclear threat.

So, we say, we must deny 'them' access to the weapons, whoever would harm us with them. Oh, really? There exist several tens of thousands of these weapons in the world already, and vast stockpiles of raw plutonium that can't be used in nuclear power reactors, and almost as many underground gangsters and corrupt officials and hungry military people with access to them fro a price, who may be able to procure anything if the price is right in a world insanely driven by money. How dare we leave ourselves so exposed to such a huge extent, and more so, how dares the USA set itself up with death threats as the number one enemy of the world, a nation that was once the world's most beloved, on which the world's security had once depended? Indeed, how dare we as human beings feel comfortable in the shadow of this exposure?

Indeed, the global geometry has changed, and possibly on a scale as large as the physical dimension of a nuclear blast.  The people of the USA live once again in the shadow of a nuclear exposure of their own creating. They have embarked on an imperial quest that makes the entire world hate them.  How unwise! They are despised in Europe for their arrogance; in the Middle East for supporting Israel's atrocities; in the Arab world for their war-threats against most of the Arab nations, especially its invasion of Iraq; in South America for the IMF imposed financial and and economic devastation that is causing untold deaths there; and in Africa where policies for population reduction on the basis of NSSM200 has destroyed the human dimension of an entire continent. It is sad to witness America's President to be called a fool, and worse, and to see others gleefully enjoying this in a believe that this will give them political advantage, when the survival of the nation and civilization is at stake. There should be a universal non-partisan effort to rescue the President, and the nation, and humanity, from this already largely prepared fate. But this rescue isn't happening. Thus, the once most beloved nation in the world continues to turn itself into the world's number one foe, and for no good reason.

All of that appears to be somewhat unhealthy in a nuclear armed world. 

The present international geometry has been so radically altered that nothing remains the same as it once was during the Cold War, with far greater uncertainties in the outcome. The only thing that will remain the same in all this, and this with absolute certainty, is the explosive force of the world's tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and their physical impact on humanity.

The bottom line is that we are right now in the end phase of the most dangerous game that has ever been played on this planet, but we also have before us one of the greatest opportunities in human history to turn the tables towards life and good. As the largely deindustrialized American economy disintegrates, which is already in progress; and the debt-choked dollar denominated world-financial system disintegrates, which is also in progress; and the South American nations disintegrate under the weight of world-class looting; and Europe disintegrates in the stranglehold of its Maastricht Treaty that was designed to have this effect; the opportunity ripens for humanity to reverse the failing policies; to put the dying systems into a bankruptcy reorganization and start over again on a sound basis, with a national banking system that is able to provide the needed low cost credits for the needed new infrastructures and industries, both in America and throughout the world. America has a golden opportunity, and perhaps the last chance for it, to turn its imperial ambition into a commitment to the principle of global cooperation for the economic development of the world, uplifting the general welfare of humanity. Instead of bombing Iraq and murdering its people, the USA should have committed itself to be a partner in the Eurasian Land-Bridge development, with a connection to American continent via the long proposed Bering Strait tunnel.

Herein will America find its security and a prosperous and rich future, and with a face that is once again respected in the world. Let us commit ourselves to aid this process, and assure that this humanist kind of 'intelligent blast" of an unfolding sanity and universal respect for one another as human beings, will extend far beyond the 200km limit, beyond everything that now divides us, and quickly encircle the world.

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