by Ruben Bauer Naveira for the Saker blog
The United States and Russia – the two greatest nuclear powers on the planet – have embarked on a wide-ranging “indirect war”. All that now remains is for them to engage in direct warfare, which will end up happening sooner or later. If later, it will be exactly because both powers are aware that any direct war between them will inevitably escalate into nuclear war, with a good chance of devastating them both.
How we reached this point will not be examined in depth here. Very briefly, both parties regard this as a struggle for existence – Russia, in order to continue to exist as a nation (in Putin’s words, “there is no compromise, a country is either sovereign or a colony”), and the United States, to continue to exist as the nation with hegemony over the rest (the US economy has become so reliant on that hegemony that its end would entail the country’s collapse).
Accordingly, both are willing to take the conflict to its ultimate consequences in order to prevail, and thus nuclear war becomes more inevitable with every passing day.
Among those responsible for a nuclear war that will be the downfall of all Humankind, there can be no “good guy”. However, when one side is fighting to subsist with autonomy, while the other is fighting in order to dominate the rest, it is not difficult to discern which is most the “bad guy”. Also, if it is still possible, after the hecatomb, to bring the culprits to some kind of justice, it will make all the difference to distinguish who “pressed the button” first (that is, who deliberately chose for millions of people to die) from whoever operated their buttons in retaliation to the incoming attack.
What developments will take place until we finally arrive at nuclear war is also not the purpose of this piece. Once again, to summarise, both are trying to “gain time”, hoping for their adversary to fall over their own feet before direct war ensues: the Russians are counting on an economic and social collapse in the West, while the US counts on a military defeat of the Russians by the Ukrainians, resulting in the fall of the Putin government. It has to be said, however, that thus far the Russians are getting the better of this “war of attrition”.
The US also seeks to draw Russia into war against some other, NATO-member country, prodding Lithuania to blockade land access to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, Romania to provide Moldavia with the means to reincorporate the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria, and Poland to occupy the westernmost portion of the Ukraine, so as to force Russia to respond militarily. Under the fifth article of the treaty that set up NATO, an attack on any member state is to be taken as an attack on them all; in that way, the United States would drag all of Europe into a war against Russia. The Russians (as well as these European cannon-fodder candidates) have thus far managed to sidestep this trap.
What is certain is that, militarily, both the United States and Russia are preparing for the eventuality of a nuclear war. The Russians have been doing so for longer. So much so that they have resumed the Soviet-era endeavour to build nuclear shelters on a major scale for their whole urban population: by 2016, new shelters were ready to house a further 12 million people. Conversely, the United States relies on the “first strike” doctrine of a devastating, surprise attack to decapitate the Russian leadership before they have time to react. For that reason, the possibility of their installing nuclear missiles on Ukrainian territory was, given its geographical proximity, a “red line” for the Russians and a fond aspiration for the United States (missile flight time to Moscow would be cut to about four minutes).
In order to be in a position to unleash a first strike, the United States have taken the following measures: they have introduced what they call “super-fuze” technology to their warheads. This causes detonation to occur on arrival at an optimal altitude over the target, with deviation (trajectory imprecision) factored in, thus enabling less powerful warheads to guarantee destruction of strongly protected target (such as Russia’s missile launch silos). They have also converted some of their Ohio class, ballistic missile launching submarines (each carried 24 Trident missiles) to cruise missiles (each now carries 154 Tomahawk missiles, which are harder to detect and home in on their targets more accurately). Lastly, they are “miniaturising” the warheads (which can now be less powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima), on the (theoretical) basis that missiles that are more accurate, harder to detect and that detonate closer to their targets can be relied on to annihilate Russia’s retaliatory capability – even using less powerful warheads and thus minimising the resulting “nuclear winter” effects. The Russians, meanwhile, as deterrents to a US nuclear attack, have developed innovative weapons whose performance is a closely-guarded secret of State (the US will have to find out the hard way). These include the S-400, S-500, S-550 and A-235 Nudol anti-missile systems and the Peresvet space satellite “blinding” weapons.
Paradoxically, these strategies both feed back into each other, driving a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. To date, the more the United States has relied on a first-strike capability, the more Russia has striven to prepare itself to deter one. From now on, the more the Russians develop the ability to seal off their airspace to enemy missiles, the smaller will be the chances of an effective first strike by the United States – “effective” in the sense of liquidating, in full or at least in large part, Russia’s ability to retaliate; even if only a few missiles do penetrate Russia’s defences, millions will die, making retaliation a certainty (see this article). Accordingly, the window of opportunity for a successful first strike by the US is gradually closing. Given the prospect of Russia’s becoming militarily hegemonic in the future, the United States finds itself racing against time and, with an ever-mounting sense of urgency, feeling compelled to take action before Russia’s shield is complete.
Unhappily for Humankind, there does now exist the absurd prospect of a nuclear war actually happening and, accordingly, this article seeks an answer – any answer – to the fateful question, which should never ever have to be put into words: “If nuclear war does ultimately break out, how will it leave the world afterwards? How will it be possible for us to live our lives?”.
Any answer to those questions requires first considering at least three boundary conditions:
The first is technical: are there any objective grounds for such an answer? No, there are not. No-one in their right mind can foresee what the world will be like after a nuclear war – nor even know for sure whether there will be any life left on the planet. This will depend on the magnitude of the “nuclear winter” phenomenon, which is the abrupt drop in temperatures caused by dust rising from nuclear explosions, then remaining suspended in the atmosphere and blocking out the Sun’s rays. It has to be admitted, from the outset, that any answer to our question will be no more than pure speculation coloured by varying doses of wishful thinking.
“Nuclear winter” is the phenomenon in which the Earth’s surface cools abruptly as millions of tons of carbon particles are borne skyward in smoke from the explosions and resulting fires and suspended in the upper atmosphere. In a matter of weeks, as that layer of soot covers the globe and blocks out sunlight, temperatures will fall and rain volumes decline as evaporation diminishes. This will cause animal and plant life to die out all around the world.
Scientists have been unable to establish a threshold for the exact number of nuclear explosions it would take to extinguish life on the planet. So, speculating, if the total detonations number in the tens, the effects are unforeseeable, because there is no way of knowing to what extent the environment will be able to compensate. If they total hundreds, it is to be supposed that both sunlight and rainfall will be reduced by about a half – which will subject the surviving portion of Humankind to unimaginable suffering. If they come in their thousands, life on Earth will almost certainly become extinct (see this explanatory video).
In that light, the prospects are gloomy: the United States and Russia each hold around 1,600 nuclear bombs ready for use, plus more than three time that number currently inactivated. Worse still, Earth’s environmental balance is already considerably shaky, undermining our planet’s ability to offset the effects of a nuclear winter.
The second boundary condition is ethical: if there is one thing that can be said with any certainty about a post-nuclear-war world, it is that it will involve unspeakable human pain and suffering (see this article). The subject cannot be addressed without taking this into careful and sensitive consideration.
The third boundary condition – the most important of the three – is practical: who would be interested in an answer (any answer) to the question: “If nuclear war does ultimately break out, how will it leave the world afterwards? How will it be possible for us to live our lives?”? It would probably not interest the vast majority – and there, we come up against the previous boundary condition, of the obligation to seek to respect others’ sensitivities.
By and large, here we consider three groups:
A first group of people, in the eventuality of a post-nuclear-war era, may simply not want to go on living. Who can judge them? Who can measure the pain of suddenly and unexpectedly losing all frames of reference built up over an entire lifetime? The only prospect of any interest to these people is one where nuclear war never ever occurs.
A second group of people will want to live, but from survival instinct only. These people will act in highly individualistic manners. Once again: who can blame them for wanting to survive? For them to manage to shed their excessive individualism, they will have to be “won over” by some new “civilising process” (an allusion to the civilising process of the past three hundred years, which produced the Modern Age and has been described by thinkers from Descartes to Max Weber, by way of Kant, Voltaire, Hegel, Marx and many others. It is the process by which the mystical, superstitious Middle Ages gave way to a world of modern “subjects”, masters of their own rationality). The people of this group will not even want to hear mention of nuclear war, until such time as it happens.
Lastly, there is a third group of people who see meaning in Humanity’s course through History – the “human adventure on Earth”. It is this group alone (certainly a minority, at least at first) that will be interested in answering the question “How will it be possible for us to live our lives?”.
Given all these reservations, one (obviously not the only) answer to that question can be summarised in a single word: reconnect.
– Reconnect with Nature: here, it means literally reconnecting with “Mother Earth”, that is, with the earth, the soil that ultimately provides our subsistence. If a nuclear war does break out, the worst situation to be in will be crammed together with thousands or millions of other people, all spiralling out of control at the same time. City life is proper to the Modern Age (capitalism, industrial revolution, Nation-State, secularisation, the primacy of the individual, urban life), while a nuclear war will cause us to revert to pre-modern conditions. So, try to sketch out an “escape” route to somewhere, preferably sparsely populated, away from the city (clearly, if your country is directly involved in a nuclear war, that escape route will have to take you abroad);
– Reconnect with your own: it is easier to cope with the hardships of life in critical condition if you have solid emotional ties with those who are dearest to you. If, for whatever of life’s reasons, you have drifted out of touch with those you love, open up to them honestly and wholeheartedly and try to set things straight between you. The less you are alone, the better: reconcile yourself with them, because the time is now (among other things, because, if you or they pass away, you will not carry the burden of having torn yourself from them in life).
– Reconnect with yourself: for each one of us, the meaning of life comes from what we do with the life we have – which obscures the fact that, ultimately and for everyone, the meaning of life is given simply by being alive. If a nuclear war does ensue, things like accumulation, ostentation, consumption or pleasure-seeking will suddenly become impracticable. Be open to the fact that you, due to your continuing alive, will be in a position to find new meanings for your life – for what you will come to do with the life that will continue to be yours. These new meanings may be more collective than individual (with the collective directed to the wellbeing of each constituent individual) – and why not? Of course, that kind of thing has yet to be developed, so then why should the meaning of each person’s life not be to contribute to building up the common good? Openness is the first and most important step.
World peace (and averting a nuclear war) are certainly beyond your means, but you can make peace with Nature, with others and with yourself.
Finally, I would like to apologise to readers for the discomfort that may have been caused by my broaching such an anguished subject.
(Translated into English by Peter Lenny MCIL)
To Ruben Bauer Naveria
Excellent article and very important for all to thing about and discuss and prepare.
Thank You very much
Thank you Tom123
I believe that their will be a Nuclear War with the mercenary land mass called USA INC. The goal of the controllers is to reduce the world population by about 95 % ,they have succeeded some what already, using there bi-weapons, injecting about four billion humans which will die and or be in compacted, from now to about seven years out. They have been trying to destroy Russian since the 9Th century, they wanted to destroy Russia Europe and America just like ww 1 and ww 2, ww 2 did not work out as planned both Germany and Russia was to be destroyed, Now America takes the place of Germany this time..
Next the Nuclear War part , who ever does the first strike has the AdvantEdge , Hopefully I’am wrong
I hope they never get to nuclear war, I have seen reports of chemical attacks on Russian soldiers in the Ukraine. I think Mr. Putin needs to take the kiddy gloves off and finish this war now before it is allowed to escalate further. I know the military sensors can detect trenches and military equipment even in forested areas and a heavy bomber can take them out without reducing the Russian army. Save lives and destroy the enemy. Destroy the military equipment coming into Ukraine in the west, even at the Polish borders, before it ever gets to the Donbas.
Bakhmut remains one of the bloodiest battlefields in the Donbass.
On the northwestern outskirts, Wagner units continue their assault in the villages of Paraskovievka and Krasnaya Gora. According to preliminary reports, Krasnaya Gora has almost completely come under Russian control.
To the southwest of Bakhmut, Wagner fighters continue their assault in Ivanovskoye. Russian forces are reportedly just one kilometer away from the Bakhmut-Konstantinovka highway.
In Bakhmut itself, fighting continues in the northern, eastern and southern districts.
On February 4, Wagner fighters launched an assault in the area of the Stupka station in the northern district of the city. Fierce fighting continues.
Wagner fighters continue to mop up the area of the Meat Processing Plant. Fighting is ongoing in the area of the Alabaster Lanes, as well as Glinyanaya Street.
In the Zabakhmutovka district, street fighting continues along Nekrasov Street and Vatunin Lane.
Russian assault units attack Ukrainian positions in the Sobachevka region in the south of Bakhmut
While the Ukrainian garrison of Bakhmut is close to being surrounded and collapsing, Ukrainian Nazis began to use chemical weapons, which they had openly boasted about on social networks.
The infamous Ukrainian blogger and commander of a separate tactical air reconnaissance group Madyar has published a new video showing FPV drones and chemical munitions, hinting that the Ukrainian military are preparing to use prohibited weapons in Bakhmut.
On the evening of February 5, the first use of this chemical weapon was reported in the village of Novobakhmutovka on the outskirts of Donetsk. Russian servicemen suffered vomiting and convulsions. The claims were supported by photos of crashed drones identical to those that Magyar boasted about.
On January 6, the acting head of the DPR confirmed the facts of the use of chemical weapons by the Ukrainian military in the areas of Bakhmut and Ugledar.
Thus, the Kiev regime is using chemical weapons, proudly declaring it out loud, but the so-called international community traditionally ignores its war crimes
If the nuclear winter becomes a reality those still alive will wish that some means had been developed for rapidly fixing it. For example by launching stratospheric baloons designed to somehow make the aerosole particles bind with each other, becoming big enough to fall down much faster. The dilemma is that if this remedy is available it may encourage the nuclear war to happen.
There is apparently a view among nuclear winter experts that for this reason one must not develop such remedies.
The critical region in the athmosphere is just above cloud level. That is where the aerosoles will accumulate since their fall speed is at its lowest while there is still no rain to help cleansing the athmosphere. Baloons like the one from China recently making headlines might have suitable size.
There will be less time to experiment after the catastrophy has taken place.
So it has to be worked out in advance.
We can ask the people in Hiroshima or Nagasaki who got a nuclear bomb dropped on them on how they dealt with it. Oh what!…there are not any of them around to ask…..
We already know who deliberately chooses for millions of people to die: the US.
Russia doesn’t do that. It enters wars reluctantly. Who poisoned Iraq with DU(h)? Who didn’t flatten Georgia? Who crowed about “shock and awe” and “the war of infinite justice”? Who hasn’t flattened Kiev (yet)? We’ve seen this movie: Russia is John Wain and the US is the black-hat psychopath. And Ukraine? Just a bunch of slow-poke farmers with hothead younger brothers joining the local “nazis”. I hope it ends well.
What are you apologizing for? Your article was very good, it is relevant and main points are well past time for public discussion. Those for who your article would discomfort are not likely to survive anyway unless it’s by the dumb luck of being at the right place at the right time, close enough to the right resources and the right people. And then not for much longer after Day 0, because of bad luck or stupid mistakes in an unforgiving environment that will get themselves killed. Likely, the same people who brought us to point of a nuclear war by being inattentive and failing to reign in their governments (the nations that are aggressors).
Also forget about climate – survivors will cope or die. We (people) made it through the last ice-age albeit by a hair if some studies are to be believed ( dubiously, a few dozen breeding pairs). There’s a bigger immediate issue. Let’s say 100 million or less survive Day 0 in the US and let us say that one million make it past the 1st year plus one full winter after that. If so and with a bit of luck, then I think it’ll go a lot like in the novel, The Old Man and the Wasteland Saga by Nick Cole. I don’t know outside the US, but everyone should know where they live better than an outsider.
In the event of a full exchange, there is no chance at all that most the world comes back to what it was in in the middle ages in less than 3000 years unless human-species receive a major help from outside sources. In every complete destruction of a major civilization, there was always at least one other to carry the torch onward toward progress and re-light the flame to the others, either by trade or conquest. Sometimes the flame was used to destroy empires such as in the Americas, but that’s not the point. As far as I know and I could be wrong, there hasn’t been a simultaneous destruction of all civilization everywhere in recent human history. Not even if one subscribes to the Bible story of Great Flood because even if everyone not on the ark drowned and the library of scrolls were lost to the waters, there was Noah and whatever items he took onboard as ’embers’. We know for sure Noah must have had some knowledge of carpentry, shipbuilding, rigging to lift heavy objects, aspects of mechanical engineering (loads and structures), etc. I’m being facetious to make a point.
As food for thought, the store of civilization knowledge has mostly been stored in physical books (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine / Mathematics) until the 2000’s. That is thanks solely to the invention of the printing press centuries ago and literacy is thanks to compulsory education public, private, or homeschooling. The generation that knows how to make or operate things that will matter the most in a post nuclear society are well on their way to passing on. A fraction of that know-how is being captured but in what medium ? People, notes, books, memory devices, online content. Most of the number of mediums will either be dead, incinerated, fried, radioactive, or otherwise inaccessible. Living memory is a perishable thing as the years go on, that’s why we keep notes. I suspect many good books – the critical ones – are going to be burnt for warmth during the winter (easier and more accessible than gathering firewood) because STEM textbooks, research and technical manuals tend to be heavy, unused, take up a lot of space, and are just handy to keep a fire going. I think a major problem will illiteracy – who will have the time for an education in the 1st year? The level of education going into Day 0 (toddler thru adult) is what they will have, and it will degrade from there without reinforcement and use. If the means to retrieve and store knowledge is severed from the medium that it’s stored on, then it’s the dark ages. The time of oral passing on of knowledge, guilds, fiefdoms and warlords. And as time goes on, the illiteracy will increase with every generation born after Day 0 as the pre-Day 0 generation dies out. Now replicate that worldwide
When pivotal technologies are lost to the world, it can take thousands of years to re-acquire them. The hiatus in the development of the aeolipile steam engine leading to the steam turbine and jet propulsion is one example. It took almost 1900 years to reacquire tech that is stupidly obvious today. How long would it take to rediscover the transistor and integrated circuit (chip) after Day 0 plus 200 years of decomposition of cities and infrastructure? From a myriad of ores buried underground to a finished IC chip off the line. Note the condition of Pripyat at only 36 years since Chernobyl. Lets say that 100 years after Day 0, someone while working the fields happens upon a flash drive holding the store of all accumulated STEM to date. Perhaps a gritty weathered set scratched DVD optical disks laying in the dirt. Would anyone know what they’re looking at and even if they did, could they access the info on it? Today there are preteens who have never seen a DVD disk and graduating Ph.D’s who wouldn’t know a music-cassette tape if they tripped on one. It’s only been 25 years since music tape-cassettes were phased out and maybe 8 years since the optical disk phase-out in new products. Lets say our explorer-foragers (as in the book, see above) happens upon an abandoned library from a technical school complete with a machine shop (rusted out and without electricity). Would they be literate enough to read and even if they were, would they understand the language after a century of balkanized education – if any. How are their maths? Was it maintained through the years of toil and through generations?
To recap: no internet, no computers or cell phones, no way to access the e-books off the storage devices. No ChatGPT AI to the rescue. No cloud services (surely no one is storing textbooks, tech publications, maintenance and operator manuals without at least one hard-copy version, right? Right?). Everyone should do what they can to save the basic building blocks of knowledge.
I think it very reasonable to assume internet services end (rampant and obvious cyber-attacks) a few hours/days before the mushroom clouds, so save now while it’s possible. Widespread national and global outages would be to my mind THE signal that things are bad and it time to get the hell out of there with whatever a person could carry. Everything might be something of a Squid Game but I’d try anyway.
Thank you for your intriguing and necessary points — which are also well past time.
Would you mind writing an article about this (knowledge recovery/usage in a post-nuclear world)? I am sure it would be posted here (until Feb 28th of course). Just please let me know
“Would you mind writing an article about this (knowledge recovery/usage in a post-nuclear world)?”
Just read Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz, it covers this quite well.
“the same people who brought us to point of a nuclear war by being inattentive and failing to reign in their governments ”
Yep, because that’s how the modren world works, we just got pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and rein them gosh-durned governments IN! It’s Ok Boomer on an international scale.
Yes, I’d be glad to. Consider it my honor to Andrei, Amarynth and the Saker community. Being short on time, it’s possible to have an article that talks about some post-WW3 knowledge preservation and recovery schemes within 48 – 72 hours. Like you, I think that nuclear war is a forgone conclusion at this stage unless something very unexpected happens such as the US and allies conceding defeat. I don’t see that happening for reasons that are known. As you said, one side can’t retreat and the other side won’t accept the other’s existence. The forces driving the world toward another world war are absolutely determined to have one, nuclear or not. Everything else is just a pretext to get us there. If a nuclear WW3 doesn’t happen or is deferred, then that’s great and everyone can regroup and catch their breath before the next crisis in the queue.
Please e-mail me at [email protected]
An all out nuclear war between Russia and the US would lead to knock-on effects with devastating environmental consequences far beyond the borders of these two countries.
The nuclear winter phenomenon, however severe, would be only one of them.
Nuclear power plants require constant staff supervision and an extensive support infrastructure to keep them at operating conditions. They are not designed to shut down gracefully and keep themselves in a safe state over weeks and months if suddenly left to their own devices, so to speak. It is doubtful whether either country, devastated and plunged into chaos by a comprehensive nuclear exchange, would be able to maintain a sufficient level of technical support of all of its nuclear installations. Both countries have dozens of nuclear power plants each, Russia even has the world’s only commercial fast-neutron breeding reactor. A nuclear power plant contains many times more of radioactive isotopes than what a nuclear warhead produces when it detonates. If core meltdowns occur, the resulting radioactive contamination would spread downwind, adding to the devastation and chaos that’s already raging, possibly leading to a domino effect of core meltdowns. Fukushima was a toned-down example of what would happen, since the entire country of Japan outside the tsunami region was still functioning and could bring all its resources to bear to mitigate the disaster. Japan also received outside help. Almost none of that would be possible in a comprehensive nuclear exchange’s aftermath.
It would be a similar story with a large number of chemical installations of all kinds. Think of the mass death that occured in the Indian city of Bhopal as a consequence of a chemical spill in 1984.
The third source of potential environmental devastation that comes to mind are oil rigs at sea. The Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico showed how catastrophic the consequences of such an oil spill can be. Unlike nuclear power plants, oil rigs are able to shut down and stay safe in an unsupervised mode thereafter. It would all depend on their crews having the wherewithal to do that in the event of nuclear war at shore. Even a few oil rigs not shutting down, and subsequently spilling oil over long periods of time, would lead to a layer of oil spreading over considerable portions of the world’s oceans. Such a condition would hamper the exchange of gases between the oceans and the atmosphere, with even more environmental knock-on effects.
Thank you for the enriching discussion
The kids are talking nuclear while the adults are trying to balance the books.
“the US economy has become so reliant on that hegemony that its end would entail the country’s collapse”
Too late, that ship has already sailed, hit an iceberg, and sunk. The overseas sequestration of inflation from endless credit expansion is gone and never coming back, and without that, there is no safety valve for the US fake and gay “economy”. Collapse is inevitable and, frankly, necessary.
Except not until after a very destructive war, and even then there won’t be too many places to hide or too many things to buy, so get yours now before the gettin is gone.
And the most basic of all is to rebuild a rough non-partisan anti-war movement that can convince people not to vote and fight short-sightedly based on their pockets but to have a global and class international view of things and events.
Of course, this presupposes critical and not dogmatic thinking, emancipated citizens and not private consumers, (passion for) information from anti-systemic sources and finally understanding that everything is a link in one and only chain of (our) unfreedom.
Russia warns about the dangers of nuclear war. NATO nations explicitly threaten the use of nuclear weapons, in deed and in word.
Western media explicitly denies the science of nuclear war because it would threaten their habitual habit of their wars of regime change, with concomitant dangers of escalation.
Old Cold Warriors like Eric Margolis tell us that. U.S. no fly zone in Syria could lead to nuclear war and that direct conflict between soldiers of the nuclear powers must be avoided as much as possible, not to mention a no fly zone in Ukraine. Newbies like Hillary Clinton just don’t get it, and no one will educate the public to the realities. Even in Russia, any such education might upset their war effort so they don’t. Such education has to start somewhere.