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The MAD Dilemma

LogicalLunatic
Posts: 1,633
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9/28/2014 2:50:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Let's take a civilized, humane government (for the most part) like the United States Government. It has nuclear weapons. To ensure that nobody launches nukes at them, they hold to the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, often initialized as MAD. That is, any nation that attacks the United States with nuclear missiles or perhaps even without nuclear weapons will be blown to bits with American nukes.
This warning is designed to keep nations from attacking the United States with nuclear weapons.
But, let's say that a regime launches nuclear weapons at the United States anyway. The U.S. Army is not capable of preventing the nuclear weapons from hitting United States soil. However, they do have time to launch a counterstrike with their own nuclear missiles, ensuring that the nation that destroyed the United States will also be destroyed. This holds to the warning of MAD.
But at the same time, it would be immoral to slaughter a whole bunch of people because of what their regime (which they may or may not have a legitimate say in) did. Therefore, so that further meaningless loss of life is prevented, the U.S. Government may decide not to launch a nuclear counterattack.
But, if the nuclear nations of the world know ahead of time that the United States would not actually launch a nuclear counterattack in the event of a nuclear attack on American soil, even though such a strike is what MAD warns, they might be more bold to attack the United States.
So, should the United States be willing to kill millions of innocent civilians if a nuclear war were to take place so that before such a war happens the enemy knows that they and their populace will die if they attack the United States, even though when the moment comes the United States has nothing to gain from carrying out this threat?
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Praesentya
Posts: 195
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9/28/2014 2:58:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/28/2014 2:50:19 PM, LogicalLunatic wrote:
Let's take a civilized, humane government (for the most part) like the United States Government. It has nuclear weapons. To ensure that nobody launches nukes at them, they hold to the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, often initialized as MAD. That is, any nation that attacks the United States with nuclear missiles or perhaps even without nuclear weapons will be blown to bits with American nukes.
This warning is designed to keep nations from attacking the United States with nuclear weapons.
But, let's say that a regime launches nuclear weapons at the United States anyway. The U.S. Army is not capable of preventing the nuclear weapons from hitting United States soil. However, they do have time to launch a counterstrike with their own nuclear missiles, ensuring that the nation that destroyed the United States will also be destroyed. This holds to the warning of MAD.
But at the same time, it would be immoral to slaughter a whole bunch of people because of what their regime (which they may or may not have a legitimate say in) did. Therefore, so that further meaningless loss of life is prevented, the U.S. Government may decide not to launch a nuclear counterattack.
But, if the nuclear nations of the world know ahead of time that the United States would not actually launch a nuclear counterattack in the event of a nuclear attack on American soil, even though such a strike is what MAD warns, they might be more bold to attack the United States.
So, should the United States be willing to kill millions of innocent civilians if a nuclear war were to take place so that before such a war happens the enemy knows that they and their populace will die if they attack the United States, even though when the moment comes the United States has nothing to gain from carrying out this threat?

The United States has the most extensive anti-missile program in the world, the PATRIOT missile program would deter some ICBMs, but not all. If North Korea, Israel, or France launched on us their ICBMs would likely be destroyed before impact; China and Russia are really the only nations that would, without fail, land on our soil.

You touched on this subject, but MAD is also based off of the Democratic Peace Theory, the idea that societies are unwilling to go to war with - much less obliterate - other societies.

If the United States chooses not to follow through with MAD, then they are effectively killing people anyway. By not taking action, other nations will launch, and more Americans will die. By taking action, the United States will ensure that Americans are safe, even at the cost of innocent millions.
LogicalLunatic
Posts: 1,633
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9/28/2014 3:04:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/28/2014 2:58:06 PM, Praesentya wrote:
At 9/28/2014 2:50:19 PM, LogicalLunatic wrote:
Let's take a civilized, humane government (for the most part) like the United States Government. It has nuclear weapons. To ensure that nobody launches nukes at them, they hold to the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, often initialized as MAD. That is, any nation that attacks the United States with nuclear missiles or perhaps even without nuclear weapons will be blown to bits with American nukes.
This warning is designed to keep nations from attacking the United States with nuclear weapons.
But, let's say that a regime launches nuclear weapons at the United States anyway. The U.S. Army is not capable of preventing the nuclear weapons from hitting United States soil. However, they do have time to launch a counterstrike with their own nuclear missiles, ensuring that the nation that destroyed the United States will also be destroyed. This holds to the warning of MAD.
But at the same time, it would be immoral to slaughter a whole bunch of people because of what their regime (which they may or may not have a legitimate say in) did. Therefore, so that further meaningless loss of life is prevented, the U.S. Government may decide not to launch a nuclear counterattack.
But, if the nuclear nations of the world know ahead of time that the United States would not actually launch a nuclear counterattack in the event of a nuclear attack on American soil, even though such a strike is what MAD warns, they might be more bold to attack the United States.
So, should the United States be willing to kill millions of innocent civilians if a nuclear war were to take place so that before such a war happens the enemy knows that they and their populace will die if they attack the United States, even though when the moment comes the United States has nothing to gain from carrying out this threat?

The United States has the most extensive anti-missile program in the world, the PATRIOT missile program would deter some ICBMs, but not all. If North Korea, Israel, or France launched on us their ICBMs would likely be destroyed before impact; China and Russia are really the only nations that would, without fail, land on our soil.

You touched on this subject, but MAD is also based off of the Democratic Peace Theory, the idea that societies are unwilling to go to war with - much less obliterate - other societies.

If the United States chooses not to follow through with MAD, then they are effectively killing people anyway. By not taking action, other nations will launch, and more Americans will die. By taking action, the United States will ensure that Americans are safe, even at the cost of innocent millions.

So you say that America should follow through with Mutually Assured Destruction when the time comes so that in the meantime everyone knows it and doesn't attack the United States?
That's what I think too.
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