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The US vs China (war game debate)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/21/2013 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,839 times Debate No: 36898
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This debate is an attempt at arm-chair general skills. In this contest, we will war-game a hypothetical scenario in which the United States fights a "Total War" with the republic of China. Both sides are confident of an eventual US Victory, so the object is not to argue from the standpoint of battlefield victory.

The Scenario

The war game will include the following assumptions. In all cases, the fewest number of unsupported assumptions is considered the "best case."

-All military equipment, troops levels, readiness levels, positioning, and training are exactly as they are today, with no modifications.

-The war is caused by the discovery of a secret US military plan to launch a nuclear first strike against China, that was made public by a fantasy equivalent to Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning. In the scenario, the US had real intentions of launching a nuclear first strike against China, but did not.
***This is not to be confused with the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, which states clearly, and not secretly, that any nuclear strike against the US would immediately and automatically result in the total annihilation of the nation that conducted the nuclear strike against the US. This debate is using the fictional "secret plan" for explanatory purposes, since some cause for the war is needed in order to activate the war game.

-There are no diplomatic, economic or cultural opportunities to avoid full scale war.

-The conflict is entirely isolated to the US and China (unless the players agree to a spillover, such as troop movements in Mexico, Canada, North Korea, or etc.) The UK and Russia are sidelined. This is explained by the secret US plan to order a first strike on China: the American allies are shocked, and the Chinese allies are afraid.

-Since actual Chinese troop levels are unknown, the Wiki should be considered as official numbers. [1] Likewise, since there is an understandable propensity to identify with the "good guys," I propose that we also use the Wiki for the United States Armed Forces as well. [2][3][4][5] This also applies to the competing nuclear weapons programs. [6]

The Debate

Each round, will represent a "move" in the game. I, as the Chinese side, will present the Chinese moves, and PRO will move the United States Armed Forces throughout the war game. It is likely that the entire war will not be resolved in only 5 rounds, to allow time for each move to be properly described and countered. (Both sides in this debate agree that an eventual American military agreement is inevitable.)

Rather, this war game is intended only to play out a reasonable sequence of events that might accompany the beginnings of a fictional US war with China. Because realism is important, each side will be required to adhere as closely as possible to realistic "moves."


We have mutually agreed that this contest should not be scored.



I accept this rather novel challenge from DeFool.


I am taking the US side.

First and foremost, we are ALREADY AT WAR. Total war is already ongoing. Regardless of the cause of this war, the solution to this problem is to end the war as quickly as possible, at terms that are most advantageous to the US.

Second, my opponent continually raises a point about some sort of Snowden leak of some sort of "controversial" plan to use nuclear weapons. This is a non-starter for several reasons:

1) You don't build nuclear weapons with global reach unless you intend to use them.
2) Plans for nuclear warfare are not exactly state secrets - the locations of silos and the executable elements of the plan are extremely closely guarded secrets, but the overall strategic elements of nuclear warfare are well known and not closely guarded state secrets.

On Realism

My opponent wants to make this scenario as realistic as possible, but I must caveat that this scenario is EXTREMELY UNREALISTIC for several reasons:

1) Warfare between nuclear powers is unprecedented - it has never occurred before. Therefore, to assume a raging war between two nuclear powers is already the very height of fantasy.
2) We are not considering allied interaction. In reality, China would very heavily lean on its regional trade relationships, and its strategic relationship with Russia. The US would very heavily lean on its strategic relationships with regional players like Japan and Korea. We are not considering such relationships in this scenario, which adds a further element of fantasy to this scenario.


Given the above summary, the action the US would take is exceptionally clear and unequivocal.

We are talking about nuclear war here. There is no escaping this reality - this is TOTAL WAR between two nuclear powers, both with arsenals that can cause existential harm to the other party if launched in a first-strike capacity.

Out of these two players, only one of them has an actual deterrent that would survive a first strike. This player is the US.

GIVEN NO ALLIES, this game is over before it starts. The US would launch a MASSIVE PRE-EMPTIVE NUCLEAR STRIKE with the intention of destroying China's capacity to wage war. The US remains largely intact. Game over. Challenge met.

This is no contest. I don't understand why this is difficult for DeFool to accept. What prevents nuclear warfare is a nuclear deterrent, and China's known nuclear capacity of 200-500 warheads is simply not enough to match the US arsenal in any capacity. In a pre-emptive nuclear strike, the US could not only obliterate every living person in the country, they could also destroy nuclear silos pre-launch, thus neutralizing the Chinese deterrent.

This course of action does not require some sort of moral justification or Congressional approval - DeFool's scenario already assumes TOTAL WAR, and this is how TOTAL WAR is fought. If the US does not strike first, China would strike first, and that would be unacceptable to US strategic interests. China's first strike capability is enough to depopulate most of the continental United States, although it is not enough to disable a retaliatory nuclear strike from the US against China. As DeFool has made it clear, "there are no diplomatic, economic or cultural opportunities to avoid full scale war." This is the only way given the constraints inherent in this scenario.

In the real world, what prevents this state of affairs is alliances that would result in sizable retaliation, i.e. a Russia/China alliance that would result in MAD (mutually assured destruction) in the event of a pre-emptive US nuclear strike. This has ALWAYS been the PRIME CONSIDERATION throughout the Cold War, which is why the US has always been reticent about escalating conflicts like Korea and Vietnam.

DeFool is proposing that such 3rd party international considerations NOT APPLY to this war-game scenario, and without such considerations, the US would nuke first and nuke hard. This was MacArthur's strategy in the Korean war, and the only thing that prevented Truman from acceding to it was the reality of a nuclear-armed USSR backing China and North Korea (, ( Such limitations do not apply to this war-game scenario.

Bottom line, given the limits of this scenario, the US has every reason to launch a MASSIVE, PRE-EMPTIVE NUCLEAR STRIKE against any opponent unable to respond in kind, and this includes China. It maximizes opposing casualties, while minimizing US casualties. It is the optimal solution to TOTAL WAR.
Debate Round No. 1


Character space limitations cannot accommodate all of the good reasons for the US to avoid launching a nuclear first strike against China. Obvious reasons, such as Congressional obstruction, public outrage, international interference and public appeals for mercy from the Chinese people directly will play an important role. It is tempting to suspect that our massive nuclear arsenal allows the US the ability to simply press a button, and flush an enemy away into a nuclear holocaust. However, it must be remembered that China shares this ability, even if it exists on a smaller scale than the US might possess. This is because there are “diminishing returns” on nuclear weaponry; there are no good reasons to re-bomb a sterilized wasteland.

It is unlikely that an American first strike would eliminate completely and simultaneously the Chinese capacity to launch a retaliatory strike. Nuclear submarines, unknown missile silos, and mobile launch platforms that are not destroyed can cause apocalyptic destruction in the US. Moreover, even the silos that are destroyed by an American attack may be able to launch any number of missiles towards the US before they are destroyed, thanks to Chinese early warning systems.

Even a small number of Chinese nuclear missiles in the US would become render the US a toxic wasteland. The American population has become increasingly urban since the 1950’s. [1] Over 82% of Americans live in or near large cities. If only these areas are destroyed with nuclear missiles, then the United States would be effectively wiped out, while China with its massive population, would continue to exist.

America has severe limits on the number of nuclear weapons that it can use against China, without also killing millions of residents outside of China’s borders, or triggering a retaliatory strike from Russia. China has no such limits. Although America has more nuclear weapons than the PRC, most of these weapons cannot be used in a hypothetical Total War scenario with China.

The US cannot launch nuclear strikes against all parts of China due to over-border spillover of the nuclear destruction. Essentially, only the regions in the Western center of the Chinese map are available for nuclear targeting; even an accurate strike near the Russian Federation border, will be seen as a nuclear attack on Russia itself, since it would inevitably cause mass casualties within that nation as well as China. Attacking these border regions would require a de-facto declaration of war against Russia, Tibet, Mongolia, Thailand and/or India. These border areas are where I am positioning all of my mobile launch nuclear missile equipment.

This leaves America with 2 delivery options. First, long range bombers that can use only international airspace to fly into Chinese territory. However, these bombers cannot realistically travel across the Pacific Ocean, into Chinese airspace, and accurately deliver nuclear weapons onto hardened Chinese DF-5A missile silos in large enough quantities to destroy them. Although stealth bombers may be able to carry a sizable nuclear payload into China, they cannot launch the weapons simultaneously, and wipe out all Chinese DF-5A silos. Such an attempt would leave America vulnerable to a ruinous Chinese Counter attack.

The second and best option that the US has to disable these DF-5A silos is with the American Trident submarines. A small number of fewer than a dozen of these submarines could simultaneously launch several hundred nuclear weapons that could reach into the Hunan region of China where most of the DF-5A silos are thought to be located

It is likely that America would need to maintain conventional military options in the event of a Sino-US war. Most of these options will no longer be available after a nuclear strike, and Troop elements may be needed for domestic recovery following the Chinese counterstrike, and cannot enter battlefields within China that may be contaminated by nuclear radiation. American troops will be needed in the US, and will have limited offensive capabilities, due to the mass casualties in the US.

Considering these challenges to America’s launching a nuclear first strike, the Chinese destruction of the entire American population is assured. Even if the Chinese are killed in far greater numbers, and even if China is also destroyed.
There is no scenario that can reasonably assure the American decision makers that America will not be annihilated by the Chinese counterstrike. There are no good reasons to think that the counter strike will not occur. These facts remove completely any possibility that America would win a nuclear war with a near-equal such as China.

Such a conflict would be a “tie,” in which both sides are erased as important nations. No matter how much damage is done by one side against the other, a full scale nuclear war would eliminate any abilities by both nations to conduct any meaningful actions outside of domestic recovery and rebuilding. The images below are illustrative of the deterrent effects of nuclear arsenals.

This image demonstrates how the Chinese mainland "hides" behind the Russian Federation for all but the longest range American ICBM arsenal. Forward projection of nuclear weaponry is mid-to-short range missiles, and cannot penetrate into Hunan Province. These mountains are thought to be home to the many hardened Chinese launch silos. The US cannot launch the midwest silos at any target without triggering an automatic Russian detection and response.

This is an image of an actual American nuclear missile silo. It can be fond on Google Earth or Google Maps at: 47.853731,-102.126966 . This photo shows the small size of the silo area, and provides a better understanding of how difficult they are to identify and destroy.

This image details the expected fallout of an American massive assault on Hunan province. The mountains in this region will "pool" much of the nuclear damage, but winds and altitude of the airbursts will change the impact somewhat. Most of my mobile nuclear arsenal is positioned near the border with the Russian Federation. If the US targets civilian areas instead of degrading the PRCs nuclear launch facilities, then more of the nuclear arsenal will be available for counterstrike.

China cannot destroy the hardened US Silos. Instead strategy will focus on removing the American ability to continue to wage war by erasing the US population. The image above illustrates the expected effects of a nuclear strike of a single Chinese DF-5A missile in New York and Los Angeles. Fires, starvation, radioactive contamination, etc will increse the lethality of all nuclear strikes. However, these effects will be less harmful to the more dispersed Chinese population than the American urban centers.

The images above and below describe the fallout patterns following a nuclear counterstrike on the US from China.


Conclusion: If the US decides to resort to nuclear war instead of conventional Total War against China, victory is impossible due to the inability of the US to prevent a catastrophic Chinese counterstrike. The best that can be hoped for is mutual extinction. Added to this are the extreme challenges that would accompany the successful implementation of such a decision.





First, since this scenario has solidified around nuclear warfare, some definitions (all from wikipedia to remain consistent with my opponent):

First strike: In nuclear strategy, a first strike is a preemptive surprise attack employing overwhelming force. First strike capability is a country's ability to defeat another nuclear power by destroying its arsenal to the point where the attacking country can survive the weakened retaliation while the opposing side is left unable to continue war.

Second strike: In nuclear strategy, a second-strike capability is a country's assured ability to respond to a nuclear attack with powerful nuclear retaliation against the attacker. To have such an ability (and to convince an opponent of its viability) is considered vital in nuclear deterrence, as otherwise the other side might be tempted to try to win a nuclear war in one massive first strike against its opponent's own nuclear forces.

MAD: The doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) assumes that each side has enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the other side; and that either side, if attacked for any reason by the other, would retaliate without fail with equal or greater force. The expected result is an immediate irreversible escalation of hostilities resulting in both combatants' mutual, total andassured destruction.

The doctrine further assumes that neither side will dare to launch a first strike because the other side will launch on warning (also called fail-deadly) or with secondary forces (a second strike), resulting in unacceptable losses for both parties.


As expected, CON has argued against the validity of nuclear warfare as a means of achieving strategic goals in TOTAL WAR, and has argued that non-military considerations would make prosecution of the war extremely difficult for the US. Both of these points are not applicable to this scenario for several reasons:

1) Nuclear warfare is a valid strategic concern for all nations.
2) Non-military considerations are irrelevant to this scenario. TOTAL WAR demands a MILITARY solution, especially since the parameters of this scenario preclude "diplomatic, economic or cultural opportunities to avoid full scale war".

CON has also brought in possible retaliation from other nations. Again, this is irrelevant. Even if parts of Russia and east Asia are subject to fallout from nuclear warfare, their subsequent actions are irrelevant to this debate, as CON has clearly stated that "The conflict is entirely isolated to the US and China (unless the players agree to a spillover, such as troop movements in Mexico, Canada, North Korea, or etc.) The UK and Russia are sidelined. "

PRO does NOT agree to spill-over, as anything and everything can be attributed to "spill over", to include stationing of troops in Japan by the US, or China positioning nuclear silos along the Sino-Russian border to provoke a Russian nuclear counter-strike if the US attempts to neutralize the Chinese deterrent in a first strike.


China does NOT possess a credible second strike capacity

CON's case rests upon a credible Chinese second strike capacity, but according to West Point, this capacity DOES NOT EXIST:

The small ICBM force (roughly two dozen missiles) is structurally 
and doctrinally configured for MAD, though its second strike has
historically lacked credibility. The deployed continental United
States (CONUS)-capable ICBM force is based exclusively in silos.
It has no strategic early warning infrastructure to permit launch
under-attack (LUA)/launch-on-warning (LOW). As a result, the
operational survivability of China’s nuclear retaliatory capability
vis-à-vis major nuclear powers was and probably still is open
to question, particularly in the context of an all-out preemptive
decapitation strike. [1]

As of 2004, China possessed only two dozen CONUS-capable ICBMs, no early warning structure, all housed in silos (i.e. no mobility), easily destroyed by a US first-strike. This is not a credible retaliatory capability.

As of March 2013, a working group on this specific issue recommended assuming that China had a second-strike capability, but also acknowledged the inherent weaknesses in China's current capacity. China currently has less than 15 mobile ICBM systems that could strike CONUS, leading the working group to readily acknowledged the lack of credibility in a Chinese second strike:

""Trying to retain the credibility of its nuclear deterrent in the face of a [ballistic missile defense] system, China may increase its nuclear arsenal until it is beyond doubt that it is large enough." Chinese writers rarely provide specific numbers, but Chu and Rung suggest that perhaps 200 nuclear warheads would be needed today, with that number increasing to 300-400 in the future." [2]

Basically, a credible second-strike capacity requires 200 warheads, China has at most 15 that would stand any reasonable chance of surviving a pre-emptive US strike. PRO concedes that China is rapidly modernizing, but we are talking about TOTAL WAR NOW, not about strategic future plans.

CON attempts to argue that silos are hard to detect, and oddly enough presents a detected US nuclear silo from Google Earth as evidence of how difficult it is to find one. CON's point is counter-intuitive enough...satellite technology easily detected a US-based silo, they can detect Chinese silos as well. There are not many silos anyway, since China does not have a large ICBM component.

What lends credibility to a second-strike capacity is the mobility of ICBMs, either through mobile launch platforms or through submarine-based systems inherent in American platforms like the UGM-133 Trident II ( China does not have either capacity in an appreciable degree, and so does NOT have a credible second-strike capability.

Bottom line, most of China's nuclear capacity is theater-specific and confined to east Asia. America on the other hand has the world's pre-eminent nuclear capacity, capable of annihilating the entire world several times over. There is no contest here. CON is not presenting a credible argument about the nuclear capacity of both sides.


CON's point about "Congressional obstruction, public outrage, international interference and public appeals for mercy from the Chinese people" are irrelevant. Both sides know about the nuclear capacity of both nations, and will be consumed with warranted fear due to the unprecedented nature of nuclear war between nuclear powers. For China to make "public appeals for mercy" is ridiculous given CON's stipulations of "no diplomatic, economic or cultural opportunities to avoid full scale war." This is TOTAL WAR, not merciful conflict.

There is only one solution to end this conflict: a military solution.


CON assumes that B-2 stealth bombers "cannot realistically travel across the Pacific Ocean, into Chinese airspace, and accurately deliver nuclear weapons onto hardened Chinese DF-5A missile silos in large enough quantities to destroy them." This is simply not accurate for several reasons:

1) B-2 bombers can strike anywhere in China from Hawaii undetected.
2) This point is irrelevant given US ICBM technology and lack of Chinese early detection systems.
3) Conventional precision-guided munitions [PGMs] are capable of disabling nuclear silos. [1]


Nuclear war is all that matters between nuclear powers. The US will outright win any nuclear conflict against any opponent save Russia. This war-game scenario involving China is a non-starter, although PRO will readily acknowledge that as soon as 5 years from now China may indeed possess an independent, credible second-strike capability, and thus a credible deterrent. However, we are not talking about 5 years from now, we are talking about TOTAL WAR NOW. CON thus does not have a credible case.

Debate Round No. 2


I am eager to avoid any appearance that I am attempting to “argue” that China would triumph in a Total War scenario (even one that ignores many American areas of superiority, as in this case.) My goal here is to simply move the Chinese side of the game map as realistically as I can, while the evil tyrant Wrich attempts to lay waste to my game pieces with his own toy-soldiers.

In this contest, we have agreed to be bound by the Wiki descriptions of our competing military capacity. This means that, whatever the disputed reality may be, the Wiki remains the final arbiter. We may use the Wiki data as our toy-boxes, with the assets that can be found therein. In other words, the PRC may possess as few as one workable nuclear weapon, or as many as a thousand that are held in secret… but I am allowed only whatever is in the Wiki.

Point of Interest: It was noted that I used a Google Earth image of an American nuclear silo in order to show that the size of these facilities would make them easy to conceal. The START I treaty required the United States to disclose the coordinates for all such silos by law. The Soviet Union, then the Russian Federation was also bound by this requirement. This is why these locations can be found on Google Earth.

China is not a signatory of START I, and so retains the ability to conceal its nuclear silos, which remain secret. These locations are as well hidden as Osama bin Laden, and so cannot be bulls-eyed by American targeting systems with any degree of perfection.

My Moves:

1. My cabinet and intelligence counsel has strongly advised me that American military elements are in the advanced stages of launching a full-scale nuclear attack on the Chinese mainland. The American military commander, Wrich, has made public statements that support these findings. It is now assumed that the first nuclear strikes could occur as soon as this round.

The Wiki does not allow me any means to unilaterally avoid nuclear war, and so the decision to proceed with a nuclear holocaust rests entirely with the Imperialist Capitalist Tyrant Wrich.

2. We will begin scattering critical personnel and equipment and other resources away from population areas and other likely targets of the impending nuclear strike. The hope is to increase the survivability of these critical assets.

We will also begin bunkering as much of the key population and infrastructure as is possible. The PRC has constructed elaborate nuclear resistant shelters that are thousands of miles long. [1][2] The American media has learned that the 21st Century version of our Great Wall of China, the “Underground Great Wall” has already been constructed, and is 3000 miles long. [3] Food, medicine and other critical needs will be stored here at once.

3. We will press into military service the entirety of the Chinese population, with a special emphasis on preparing to survive the American nuclear assault. Every effort will be made to detect and track the locations of the Trident submarines, as well as Pacific airspace.

4. In order to shorten the detection/response time, we will keep our arsenal constantly ready for immediate launch. This will allow most of The PRC’s nuclear capacity to be expended after an American strike has begun, but before the first nuclear detonations have had time to degrade our facilities.


The Chinese response to a massive American nuclear attack cannot be focused on disabling the American WMDs before they are launched. Prevention is not possible, and if the Americans cannot be deterred, the only way to prevent more attacks is to destroy utterly the entire American population. This can be achieved if a large enough fraction of the PRC’s nuclear arsenal survives the first American launches. Given the fact that the imminent American attack is no longer unexpected, there can be little doubt that at least some deliverable nuclear missiles will survive even the most robust American first strike.

However, it would be a mistake to assume that we will only use nuclear weaponry.

In the early 1980’s, one of our secret labs accidentally released a biological weapon of unimaginable terror. Once contained, we had developed a weaponized strain of Hemorraghic Fever. [4] We have placed warheads tipped with these nightmare weapons onto submarine gunships, and these have been prepositioned in international waters close to American population centers. Any attack on these submarines will trigger an automatic response fromt he PRC.

There exists no method to treat hemorrhagic fever, and vaccines can prevent only a few strains, but not the weaponized strains developed during the 1980’s. [5] These can easily be dispersed by aerosols, and are quickly spread by personal contact. Since we expect large levels of bunkering in American urban centers, we expect the virus to spread uncontrollably once released.

Images of the symptoms of hemorrhagic fever are far too gruesome to be allowed on this site, and include profuse bleeding from the eyes, mouth, ears and nose. Other symptoms include delirium, exhaustion, sub-cutaneous bleeding (bleeding under the skin), confusion, coma and shock. The few Americans who survive our nuclear counter-strike will be turned into horror-move biohazards, drowning in their own blood. [5]

The results of the biological attack are impossible at the moment to calculate with certainty. However, we can be more certain about the effects of our nuclear counter-strike:

(Above) Nuclear weapons are powerful, but they are not supernatural. They cannot kill everyone; this table details expected deaths among "Sheltered" versus "Non-Sheltered" populations. (Below) The expected cost in human lives following an attack from a portion of the Chinese arsenal on the United States. Americans live predominantly in urban areas, in close proximity to one another. This will increase the destruction of each "nuclear footprint." If civilians flee the cities, then the critical city infrastructure will still be lost. (The "Sheltered" figures here represent civilians that have fled urban areas, since America does not possess bunkers that can accommodate several million persons, as China does.)

(Above) Casualty figures for various American attack strategies are detailed. The attacks will cause varying degrees of damage depending on the type of nuclear bomb used, as well as the target.


The PRC is prepared, and is awaiting the American moves.





The Objectives of This Debate

Since this is a bit of a novel concept, I wanted to first clearly state before I continue what I see as PRO/CON objectives for this debate.

PRO/CON have an obligation to describe the MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO given two EXTREMELY UNREALISTIC caveats:

1) TOTAL WAR is a given, and there are "no diplomatic, economic or cultural opportunities to avoid full scale war."
2) "The conflict is entirely isolated to the US and China", i.e. no outside intervention is allowed for this debate.

PRO is articulating US actions while maintaining as much realism as allowed by the two caveats, and CON is articulating Chinese actions. Since US/China actions are heavily predicated upon realistic assumptions involving both parties, the expectation is that PRO/CON will be constantly challenging the circumstances inherent in the calculus that resulted in the action taken.

Both PRO/CON agree that a US win is inevitable, but the degree and nature of the victory is highly contested. Whomever ascertains the more appropriate degree would be deemed the winner of this debate.


CON's moves

1) Totally irrelevant. From CON's source:
None of China’s long-range nuclear forces are believed to be on alert;
most U.S. ballistic missiles are on high alert ready to launch within minutes
after receiving a launch order.

Thus, there are no "advanced stages" of launching a US nuclear strike. There is only the strike, and China does not have an early warning detection system, meaning that China will not know the US has launched until the warheads have already connected with their targets.

2) It is assumed that both China AND the US have already taken maximum defensive postures as is appropriate given the spectre of nuclear warfare. It is assumed that both populations have already been inundated with propaganda that (justifiably) heralds the end of the world and Armageddon.

3) It is assumed that both countries have already activated maximal, obligated military service. I do not know what the Chinese equivalent would be, but in the US, every single able-bodied male that is still obligated to serve through the Selective Service would ALREADY have been called to duty.

4) The Chinese have only two logical responses given a state of TOTAL WAR with NUCLEAR POWERS:

a) IMMEDIATELY launch all available ICBMs against the US in what will amount to China's "minimal deterrence" strike against major US population centers, or

The reasoning behind this fatalistic scenario is that China is well aware that it does not possess a credible second strike capacity, meaning that its nuclear weapons are "use or lose". If China does not launch first, it will face the scenario where it will essentially be at the mercy of an unexpected decapitation strike from the US at any time, without warning.

More than likely China will choose immediate surrender. If China delays such a scenario even by 5 minutes, it faces the distinct possibility of a US decapitation strike. A Chinese surrender is the most likely scenario because even if China decided to use such a scenario as a false pretense to prepare for a first strike against America, America would certainly utilize its second-strike capability to destroy China. Basically, any other option other than a truthful and forthright surrender will invariably result in the utter destruction of China.

China has NO Counter-Strike Capability

I cannot believe CON is still advocating the validity of a Chinese second-strike capacity. CON's own source is predicated upon the US launching only 60 warheads against all 20 Chinese DF-5A ICBM silos, accounting for multiple strikes and decoy silos. However, there's no reason to limit the US decapitation strike to a mere 60 warheads launched from submarines. There is no reason to fear a Russian counterstrike in this debate, so ALL of the US arsenal can be launched against China. That includes nearly 300 SLBMs (sub-launched ballistic missiles), another 450 ICBMs, all MIRV capable (i.e. multiple warheads per missile), and of course the B-2 stealth bomber fleet. This equates to thousands of nuclear bombs and warheads launched against China in what will essentially be a "nuclear carpet-bombing" of the country.

It is highly likely that such a thorough strike will destroy any and all Chinese DF-5A nuclear silos as well as the DF-31A mobile ICBM systems that I brought up in round #3 and CON did not even mention. Once those systems are eliminated, China will cease to have a viable strike capacity against America in any form. It is also highly likely that such a thorough strike will erase most of the Chinese population, no matter how deep a bunker they have dug for themselves as a grave.

CON's scenario of biological weapons (hemorrhagic fever) requires a viable delivery vehicle, i.e. a DF-5A ICBM. The US decapitation strike would render this scenario irrelevant to this debate.

CON's chart depicting about 25 million Chinese casualties only assume 60 SLBMs launched in a first-strike by the US. As already stated, a US first-strike in this scenario, without fear of international intervention, will probably number in the thousands. The casualties in such a scenario will probably be upwards of over 1 billion.



China's move is thus also simple - IMMEDIATE SURRENDER, or IMMEDIATE LAUNCH OF ALL ICBMs. Given that the latter option would still result in the same outcome of a US decapitation strike, the only real choice the Chinese have to achieve optimal results in this war is to IMMEDIATELY SURRENDER, sometime within the few precious minutes they have in the US launch cycle during which the US is confirming its pre-emptive strike.
Debate Round No. 3


End Game and De-briefing:

It seems that my hopes of war-gaming a scenario version of China vs the US was a non-starter. This may offer us a hopeful sign that nuclear war is less likely than we might have feared; it is difficult to initiate, even in games. Planning for such a conflict is beyond the scope of even the famously arrogant war-planners in Washington.

In this hypothetical face-off between the two nuclear powers, we have reached the very final round and still have yet to begin the launches that were once thought to be key to the scenario. This can help to educate readers (as well as we debaters) on how much uncertainty, propaganda, unverified claims and hesitation can impact an outcome in combat. Here, even if many distractions are removed, it remains a difficult decision.

It has often been pointed out that the development of nuclear weapons have been a great contributor to world peace. The close study of these devices is sobering, and creates a rapid maturation of the childish war-monger into a cautious and respectful diplomat. This debate has given evidence to that. This finding, supported by the results of this debate, is not proven absolutely, unfortunately.

The fact is that nuclear armed governments have been in a state of near constant war since the early 1950's. Thanks to the "Truman Doctrine" of indirect conflict against nuclear regimes, the United States has fought the USSR and China across the globe, in Cambodia, Laos, Iran, Vietnam, and Korea, as well as many other regions. Nuclear weaponry simply outsources these wars from the nation that possesses them to those poor nations that do not. Such is the true face of nuclear war.

China's final moves
I would very much like to develop the requisite role-playing rules that will allow a more enlightening wargame to happen. This discussion simply illustrated the "Fog of War" where one side makes a claim that is dismissed by the other. Without the actual combat, everything is speculative. This phenomenon closely mirrors reality, as those who watched Saddam Hussein and the Allies bloviate in the lead-up to the Iraq Invasion can attest.

Clearly, my final move is to follow the momentum described above. If no attack occurs, then a Chinese version of the Cuban Missile Crisis has happened here. We go back home. If a strike comes, we counter.

This Contest
Despite the anticlimax, I want to express a high degree of happiness and excitement at the idea of debates such as this one. (Once perfected.) I want to thank again Wrich for agreeing to this experiment, and for so patiently playing along. If Wrich, or anyone else would like a partner for role-playing debates that will analyze this type of subject matter, I hope that my name would come up.

That said, I think a close reading of the results that we were able to produce here would reveal important behaviours that are anything but unimportant to understand.

In a serious confrontation with the US:

-China would bluster, and make great claims of how dangerous an opponent it is (I tried to remain faithful to the Wiki, but I would expect China to ....exaggerate.)
-American military planners (as played here) would deny that China has any counter-strike capabilities at all
-China would mobilize, and begin defensive measures
-America would study the situation, and deliberate until the crisis had spent itself, while continuing to deny any military challenge from China would occur
-Both sides would declare the draw to have been a triumphant victory for their own side

It is interesting to note that this is very close to what actually has happened in the lead up to every American war that I studied as I researched this debate. America steadfastly denied any real martial risk from Korea, Vietnam, The Iraq war and the War in Afghanistan. War planners constantly claimed that these would be quick and painless wars, that would see us hailed as liberators or heroes.

If there is a useful takeaway from this debate, it is that promises of easy victories should be taken as a dangerous warning sign that real war is imminent. This, more than "anger talk," or "saber-rattling" is a far more certain indication that planners are serious about causing a war. Alternatively, bravado could be seen as a sign that a nation is eager to avoid a fight.

Another uselful takeaway might be that the US and China will continue to fight wars in the same manner that we saw in Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam. That is, indirectly, by proxy. Personally, I would expect the coming war with China to be economic, political and diplomatic.



I thank deFool for suggesting this rather novel concept. It has been quite interesting.

As I engaged in a half-round opening in round #1, I will similarly engage in a half-round closing this round.


This TOTAL WAR lasted 5 minutes. During these 5 minutes, the US began the process of launching a decapitating nuclear first-strike against China, one that would have been executed if not for the clear, unequivocal, unconditional surrender issued by China during this time.


Most importantly, CON agrees with PRO's moves for both China AND America. To the extent that CON agrees that the entirety of this war was a quasi-nuclear standoff that did not involve any direct violence, CON concedes the debate to PRO, as PRO has succeeded in mapping out a more accurate portrayal of this TOTAL WAR between America and China, given the caveats outlined in round #3 inherent in this scenario.


PRO/CON disagreements are noteworthy.

D1) CON seems to believes that a war predicates some sort of debilitating armed interaction, that "we have reached the very final round and still have yet to begin the launches that were once thought to be key to the scenario."

This is simply not a condition for a conflict to be defined as warfare. War was declared, hence this was a war, even if no one died, and not a single bullet was fired. War is simply the pursuit of political means via force of arms, and America pursued those means and benefited at the expense of Chinese sovereignty, without a single bullet fired, and without a single life lost.

In real life, this is why no nation in the world would be caught dead advocating for a war with would have to concede far too much to resolve such a conflict.

D2 CON seems to think this was a Cuban missile crisis (CMC) - type scenario, but fails to realize that unlike the CMC, both combatants were ALREADY ENGAGED in TOTAL WAR, and that one side offered an unconditional surrender.

Therefore, the results of this 5 minute war would have long-lasting repercussions, as the US would more than likely occupy China with China's unequivocal permission. This occupation would resemble a Japanese-style occupation - PRO will list some stipulations as examples:

1) Full and total disarmament of China's nuclear arsenal and other WMDs
2) Full and total disarmament of any portion of the PLA that could project power more than 100 miles off China's coast (i.e. dismantling the military and creating a self-defense force)
3) Re-writing of China's governing document, as well as a wholesale reorganization of China's political structure.
4) Mandatory disclosures to the US of any and all of China's military capabilities
5) Heavy restrictions on energy consumption on the country
6) Encouraging humanitarian and quality of life issues, while discouraging any and all heavy industry (which can fuel a rival military-industrial complex)

D3) China would NOT declare a "triumphant victory". The results of surrender will be immediate, and pronounced. The economic freedoms that allowed China to build a force that threatened nuclear war with America would be curtailed.


Some noteworthy observations outside the scope of this debate:

T1) CON: "If there is a useful takeaway from this debate, it is that promises of easy victories should be taken as a dangerous warning sign that real war is imminent. This, more than "anger talk," or "saber-rattling" is a far more certain indication that planners are serious about causing a war. Alternatively, bravado could be seen as a sign that a nation is eager to avoid a fight."

PRO agrees, with the caveat that despite its length, this war was anything BUT easy. Armageddon had been declared. The entirety of the Chinese military apparatus had to agree within 5 minutes to an unequivocal, unconditional surrender to its enemy lest it face total destruction. The US faced a real risk of a "minimal deterrence" strike launched by China against American population centers that could have wiped out the majority of the US population.

T2) CON: "Another uselful takeaway might be that the US and China will continue to fight wars in the same manner that we saw in Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam. That is, indirectly, by proxy. Personally, I would expect the coming war with China to be economic, political and diplomatic."

PRO agrees as well, fully, with CON's statement, and will add that the "economic, political, and diplomatic" war is currently ongoing.

T3) China is rapidly modernizing. While this scenario may hold true today, in as few as 5 years China may indeed have a viable second-strike capacity against the US, and thus a viable deterrent. A nuclear standoff would then become much messier, and would not involve an immediate surrender on the Chinese side.


Cheers, and thanks for reading this debate.

Debate Round No. 4
40 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ararmer1919 5 years ago
Great game to the both of you. Really great read and great effort from both sides.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
@anon: Thanks for your comments. Let us know when you get around to reading the debate...=)

As it stands:

1) The US didn't "prevail" against China in the Korean war because we never attacked China due to fear of nuclear retaliation from the USSR. Otherwise, we could have (very) easily destroyed China's will to fight in the Korean War. We had air/sea domination along with nukes. That makes a gigantic difference, especially if we were able to actually make strategic strikes against China instead of just tactical hits against front-line soldiers.

Mao's troops were known to arm themselves with the rifles of the dead in the battlefield, because they did not have any of their own.

2) Vietnam was a similar scenario...our "mandate" in that war was containment, which predicated the lack of offensive action.

In both wars, the political calculus predicated defensive action. Had the military not been confined by such, and without USSR nukes in the picture, the US would have easily won both wars. It's no contest.
Posted by anonymouse 5 years ago
let's get real here, if the usa had the ability to invade China, it would have done so already. the fact remains that the u.s regime would not prevail against China in a war, and it didnt in the Korean war. the u.s. regime is deadly, but in many ways it is a paper tiger. theres a video on youtube of u.s marines vs Chinese marines in an obstacle course. guess who won? you are talking about all these capabilities, but the u.s regime with all it's capabilities could not defeat viet nam. also, i believe the difference between the usa, and China is that China will not reveal all of its capabilities, while the u.s regime seems to talk about having weapons that it doesnt even have. also, Russia will definitely join. if you look at the way Russia is behaving today, they are more confrontational to america than China. well, you hardly ever see China openly challenging the west anyway.
Posted by rajun 5 years ago
actually a superb debate...
Posted by rross 5 years ago
Yes, I forgot to mention Con's impressive use of maps.
Posted by DeFool 5 years ago
If I had included any other nations in the scenario, it was accidental. I had tried to eliminate some of this by pointing out that the silos in the midwest could not reach the Chinese mainland without including Russia in the wargame.
Posted by rross 5 years ago
Nah, actually, if I was voting, I'd vote against DeFool for saying the situation was isolated, but then trying to drag in other countries, and for saying full-scale war was unavoidable but then carrying on about public outrage. On the other hand, it's an experimental format so maybe he needs a few goes at setting up the first round. And style points to wrichcirw for his confidence in launching a nuclear war as if he'd done so several times already irl.
Posted by DeFool 5 years ago
That was also my understanding; this cannot be "won," we are making our own rules here. For the record, I have found a lot of pleasure from the effort.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
Yeah, that's how I took it from the beginning. It's certainly interesting, and I don't see any real pressure to "win" considering how hard it is to define "winning".
Posted by DeFool 5 years ago
I would be sincerely bothered at the thought that you had committed time and thought to this project, only to have me completely misunderstand the thing. Say, "do over," and it is done.

Otherwise, I am about to unleash a zombie apocalypse on you. I am a bastard like that.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by rross 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Fascinating and disturbing. Hard to say which one of you comes across as more evil. I like the new (to me) type of role-playing debate. Although, now I'm thinking that it was more of a demonstration style debate, similar to that liar one that wrichcirw thought up a while back. I think DeFool is trying to prove that it's silly for the US to think of China as a serious nuclear threat, and I think that wrichcirw is trying to demonstrate his justification of preemptive aggression from the US being the most effective form of defense. So it's a kind of conceptual fiction. Because the scenario was so artificial (nuclear war between China and US, obviously, would involve other countries) it was hard to be persuaded by either side. I'm glad it's no scoring, because it would have been hard to score. I didn't understand what DeFool meant about the fewest number of assumptions being the "best case". Maybe that was important.