Thursday, September 29, 2022

Five Modest Proposals: Nuclear Blatancy Day

          Nuclear Blatancy Day


          There are political dangers in a standing army; yet SAC’s power to destroy civilization should not be in the hands of recruits. How, then, do we reconcile citizen armies with nuclear technology?

          Jonathan Schell offers a partial solution in his book, “The Abolition”, which proposes that the USA become a “latent” nuclear power; that is, that it dismantle all actual nuclear bombs, but retain (and indeed strengthen) its ability to swiftly build those bombs.

We keep the know-how and the infrastructure and the fissile materials, but hold off on building the accursed things unless we need them right away. You could call it just-in-time civicide; like taking the bullet out of the rifle over the fireplace. I also call it the “virtual” bomb. Nuclear latency is purified deterrence; a way for America to say to the world that we don’t feel like killing a million people today, so don’t make us want to.

          I like Schell’s idea, but I think it’s incomplete. It’s too rational, it lacks the aura of apocalyptic histrionics so natural to all things nuclear. Also, those virtual bombs need occasional testing, to be credible.

Therefore I offer the following modest proposal: Nuclear Blatancy Day. It’s a nuclear war game, and it works like this:

Participating contestant countries send the following to the U.S.A.:

A “shell”; that is, a nuclear bomb, minus trigger-explosives and fissiles; and sent separate from that, trigger explosives and fissiles;

Blueprints for those nukes;

A modest entrance fee;

And a sizable entrance loan.

The shell, the explosives and the fissiles are given with careful ceremony by participant countries to the U.S.A. via their elite military forces. The entrance fee defrays America’s game-hosting expenses; and return of the loan depends upon the kilotonnage of the nukes.

Some American citizens will compete for prizes by submitting their own shells and blueprints. The Defense Department will provide explosives and fissiles.

Shell, explosives and fissiles then go to the test site, where there are glove boxes, deep shafts, and reporters with video cameras. On Trinity Day, high-ranking representatives from the participating countries arrive at the test site, to witness the results personally.

Also on hand are American contestants, reporters, politicians, marching bands (pro-bomb) and satirical giant-puppet troupes (anti-bomb). Both groups are welcomed as essential components of the inherently mixed message being sent that day.  Politicians speak smoothly in praise of the People’s Bomb; a grandmother from Hiroshima pleads passionately for peace.

One of the speakers is a “holy fool”, who wears motley, and whose job is to question, warn, bewail, criticize, satirize, mock, castigate, and curse the assembled heads of state for their nuclear ambitions.

Each country’s team assembles their nukes in the glove boxes, under close surveillance by Americans. These nukes then go to the bottom of the mine shafts. The mine shafts are sealed off.

The countdown starts. Five, four, three, two, one, zero! Suddenly the earth quakes, and new craters collapse in the desert. The marching bands cheer, the puppeteers boo, and the foreign dignitaries look at each other nervously. Technicians announce yields; the winning contestants get scholarships and job offers; and the dignitary from Japan politely tells the other dignitaries that these Americans are indeed as crazy as they look, so don’t mess with them!

The heads of state attend a banquet, then go home.

All countries whose nukes do not achieve the kilotonnage goal forfeit their loans. The winning countries get back their loans, and the forfeited loans are distributed evenly among the winning countries and the U.S.A.

Entrance loans are also forfeit if the nukes cause damage to the test site by exceeding the kilotonnage limit.

The blueprints, and the glove-box footage, is distributed, unedited, to the winning countries and the U.S.A.

In addition to the loans, there may also be prior treaties whose terms depend upon the kilotonnage of the nukes. These “side bets” may cover exchanges of money, territory, alliances, trading arrangements, and other considerations that would otherwise require a war to settle.

          The point of the exercise is to impose order upon chaos via games and ritual. Nuclear war games are “virtual” nuclear wars; they have all the physical ferocity of nuclear war, but with zero casualties. This maximizes witnesses, and consequent political point. It is given full global media scrutiny, with blueprints shared by the winners, in order to reduce uncertainty to a minimum; for the greatest terror is the unknown.

          Unassembled nukes, with shell, trigger and fissiles stored separately, are “virtual” nukes, which all participating countries have by definition. Virtual nukes are reliable once they are tested in a virtual nuclear war. Unlike assembled nukes, virtual nukes do not threaten a first-strike attack; yet they resist first strike. It’s hard to nuke a nuke that isn’t there yet. So it’s best to not wake the dragon!


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