Doctor Strangelove – Doomsday Machine

Stirring the possum on a nuclear free world


Peace activists didn’t use the knockdown argument against 2nd Iraq war

This idea of suing ministers for abuse of public office has appeal given the gap between many left-wing policies and sound economics.

Anti-war MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn should be sued for abuse of public office and crimes against peace for not making the knockdown argument against the 2nd war against Iraq.

Instead, Corbyn said he did not like war without explaining how this was different from appeasement and surrender. The easiest way to stop a war is to surrender. The easiest way to start a war is to look weak to an aggressor.

That knockdown argument against the 2nd Iraq war argument was right under the noses of the peace movement. It was yes, Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.


Source: The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons – The New York Times

It is madness to invade a country that has weapons of mass destruction because they might use them especially if the objective is regime change. Iraq may not have had nuclear weapons, but the potential for Iraq to have biological and chemical weapons secreted away was real.

No one is mad enough to invade North Korea. They will use chemical and biological weapons on Seoul and Tokyo. Syria has chemical and biological weapons to make sure no one invades it.

From what I read, in the current Civil War, Syria uses chemical and biological weapons when it is on the retreat but does not use them to advance and claim new territory.

The reason why the renegade left could not possibly make this obvious argument against the war in Iraq, which was it could be a massive disaster if these chemical and biological weapons were used in desperation, was these peace activists would have to admit nuclear deterrence works. To stop a war by having to admit that weapons of mass destruction deter war was too much for the peace movement to swallow.

An admission that nuclear deterrence works would invalidate the entire political activism of the peace movements in the Cold War. The practical effect of those peace movements was, of course, to undermine the one factor preventing a nuclear war, which was nuclear deterrence.

Since 1945, at least seven or eight wars have occurred where one side had nuclear weapons. In 1973, Israel had nuclear weapons it could have used.

The reason for the non-use of nuclear weapons in those seven or eight wars including the 1973 Yom Kippur War was none were wars of annihilation. Nuclear weapons were more likely to be used if the suspected intention is to invade or occupy a country.

The Yom Kippur war was launched with a plan by President Sadat to reclaim the Sinai then after a few days agreed to an internationally brokered ceasefire. He was intending on reclaiming lost territory, not invading Israel proper continue and risk nuclear retaliation.

Saddam destroyed his nuclear, biological, and weapons but not his weapons development capability soon after he lost the first Iraq war. Saddam played a double strategy: make sure he was not caught with contraband but play a fine game of bluff making everybody think Iraq still has them so he remains a regional strongman.

Saddam could have produced biological and chemical weapons within weeks if he chose to do so but was probably 5 years away from a nuclear weapon. Chilcot’s recent report concluded:

The ingrained belief that Saddam Hussein’s regime retained chemical and biological warfare capabilities, was determined to preserve and if possible enhance its capabilities, including at some point in the future a nuclear capability, and was pursuing an active policy of deception and concealment, had underpinned UK policy towards Iraq since the Gulf Conflict ended in 1991.

The 2nd Iraq war started because Saddam fooled his enemies into thinking he had chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. He certainly had the Japan option. This is having in place the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons quickly if he wanted.

Reagan began seeking a rapprochement with the Kremlin 15 months before Gorbachev took office, this Day 1984

Reagan spoke of common concerns, the mutual desire for peace and the urgent need to address “dangerous misunderstandings” between Moscow and Washington.

Gentlemen Reading Each Others’ Mail: A Brief History of Diplomatic Spying as a force for peace and nuclear stability

At the 2009 G20 meetings in London, GCHQ set up fake internet cafes for delegates to use to log their keystrokes. If you are dumb enough to use an Internet cafe for official business, you deserve to be spied on.

Barack Obama, even with special encryption software, is now allowed to email only some 20 aides, family members and friends whose devices have similar protections.

All this spy v. spy stuff is a force for peace. At the 1921 Naval conference aimed to limit naval capability among the world’s powers as a way of curbing the war-ship arms race at the time, the U.S. wanted Japan to concede to having fewer ships, but Japan wanted slightly more. With code-cracking, the U.S. discovered that it was more important to the Japanese to preserve their relationship with the U.S. than to be able to spend more on their navy.

“We pressed hard, and Japan abandoned its position that it wanted to build more,” Kahn said. “We won a great victory for not just the U.S., but for the whole world because we built fewer war ships and we had more money to build roads and for other infrastructure.”

Richard Posner in a lecture some years ago talked about how useful spying was during the cold war. Each side develop a far more accurate appreciation of the other’s strengths. As a result, it did not overreact nor under react to threats. For example, it was through  U-2 spying that the USA learned that there was no missile gap with Russia. In fact, Russia is very weak and much less of a threat.

In 1983, Ronald Reagan learned through secret intelligence that through a series of misinterpretations of routine military manoeuvres in Western Europe, and some bureaucrats at Russian embassies trying to inflate their own importance and knowledge of the workings of their host governments, the Soviet leadership came to the impression that they were a ruse for war and they were under the threat of imminent attack. The Russians started to prepare to counter attack.

At the same time, a Korean airline was shot down by the Russian air force. Privately, Reagan and his advisers are horrified that such a thing could happen through a comedy of errors and that could lead to something far worse through mutual alarm and tests of will.

Historians now regard 1983 as the closest time there was a possibility of a nuclear war since the Cuban missile crisis. It all arose through a series of misunderstandings of a series of routine military manoeuvres against a background of worsening relations with the Soviet union. Robert Gates, Deputy Director for Intelligence in 1983, has published thoughts on the exercise that dispute this conclusion:

Information about the peculiar and remarkably skewed frame of mind of the Soviet leaders during those times that has emerged since the collapse of the Soviet Union makes me think there is a good chance—with all of the other events in 1983—that they really felt a NATO attack was at least possible and that they took a number of measures to enhance their military readiness short of mobilization.

After going through the experience at the time, then through the post-mortems, and now through the documents, I don’t think the Soviets were crying wolf. They may not have believed a NATO attack was imminent in November 1983, but they did seem to believe that the situation was very dangerous. And US intelligence [SNIE 11–9-84 and SNIE 11–10–84] had failed to grasp the true extent of their anxiety.

This secret intelligence led Reagan to both reappraise his attitude to the Russians and put out some peace feelers and take other stabilising measures. The period is known as the Reagan reversal. In his memoirs, Reagan wrote of a 1983 realization:

Three years had taught me something surprising about the Russians: Many people at the top of the Soviet hierarchy were genuinely afraid of America and Americans. Perhaps this shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did…

During my first years in Washington, I think many of us in the administration took it for granted that the Russians, like ourselves, considered it unthinkable that the United States would launch a first strike against them.

But the more experience I had with Soviet leaders and other heads of state who knew them, the more I began to realize that many Soviet officials feared us not only as adversaries but as potential aggressors who might hurl nuclear weapons at them in a first strike…

Well, if that was the case, I was even more anxious to get a top Soviet leader in a room alone and try to convince him we had no designs on the Soviet Union and Russians had nothing to fear from us.

Reagan began seeking a rapprochement with the Kremlin fifteen months before Gorbachev took office. Reagan spoke of common concerns, the mutual desire for peace and the urgent need to address “dangerous misunderstandings” between Moscow and Washington.

via Gentlemen Reading Each Others’ Mail: A Brief History of Diplomatic Spying — The Atlantic, L. Gordon Crovitz: Gentlemen Read Each Other’s Mail – WSJ and Able Archer 83 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The relative contributions of Thomas Schelling and the peace movement to the risks of war

Thomas Schelling (and Robert Aumann) did terrible things such as work out how not to blunder into wars and how to deter wars rather than have to actually fight them.

Schelling’s unique contribution at the Rand Corporation involved viewing strategic situations as bargaining processes.

Focusing on the stand-off between the United States and the Soviet Union, Schelling observed that the two superpowers had both shared and opposing interests.

Their shared interests involved avoiding a nuclear war, while their opposing interests concerned dominating the other. Conflict and cooperation became inseparable.

Iran and Israel are moving down that same path if both have nuclear weapons.

Schelling focused in particular on how the United States and Soviet Union could arrive at and stick to bargains by means of deterrence and compellence.

Deterrence involves dissuading the other from doing something, while compellence referred to persuading the other to do something.

  • Deterrence and compellence are supported by threats and promises.
  • Threats are costly when they fail and successful when they are not carried out.
  • Promises are costly when they succeed and successful when they are carried out. A threat is cheaper than a promise because you do not have to carry it out if your threats work in intimidating others to do what you want.

Since the exploitation of potential force is better than the application of force, it is key to use threats and promises while avoiding having to act upon these.

The challenge is to communicate threats and promises in a credible manner.

The ability to hurt people is conducive to peace, while the ability to destroy weapons increases the risk of war. This is the paradox of deterrence. A country needs a credible second-strike capacity to deter a pre-emptive first strike. A country needs its missiles to survive such an attack.

Populations are better protected by protecting the missiles. By protecting the missiles rather than their cities, each side was offering their populations as a hostage to the other.

With each side holding the other’s cities as hostage, neither has an incentive to strike first. This is much safer than having each side worried about their weapons been destroyed and they therefore use them before they are destroyed in some minor crisis.

That is one of Schelling’s many contributions to peace.

What were the contributions of the peace movements?

Robert Aumann argued well that the way to peace is like bargaining in a medieval bazaar. Never look too keen, and bargain long and hard. Aumann argues that:

If you are ready for war, you will not need to fight. If you cry ‘peace, peace,’ you will end up fighting…

What brings war is that you signal weakness and concessions.

Countries are more likely to cooperate if they have frequent interactions and have a long time horizon. The chances of cooperation increase when it is backed by the threat of punishment.

Disarmament, Aumann argues, “would do exactly the opposite” and increase the chances of war. He gave the example of the Cold War as an example of how their stockpiles of nuclear weapons and fleets of bombers prevented a hot war from starting:

In the long years of the cold war between the US and the Soviet Union, what prevented “hot” war was that bombers carrying nuclear weapons were in the air 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? Disarming would have led to war.

Aumann has quoted the passage from the biblical Book of Isaiah:

Isaiah is saying that the nations can beat their swords into ploughshares when there is a central government – a Lord, recognized by all.

In the absence of that, one can perhaps have peace – no nation lifting up its sword against another.

But the swords must continue to be there – they cannot be beaten into ploughshares – and the nations must continue to learn war, in order not to fight!

The Inquiring Mind

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” Thomas Paine - "Limitation is essential to authority. A government is legitimate only if it is effectively limited." ~ Lord Acton - Commentary on what interests me, reflecting my personal take on the world


Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Breaking Views

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law


Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Peter Winsley

Economics, and such stuff as dreams are made on

Reading lists

Climate Audit

by Steve McIntyre

Green Jihad

Your source that tells the truth about the environmentalist movement's holy war against mankind

Bowalley Road

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

History of Sorts


Notes On Liberty

Spontaneous thoughts on a humble creed

Tudor Chronicles

News, reviews and talk all about the Tudors

The Logical Place

Tim Harding's writings on rationality, informal logic and skepticism

Karl du Fresne

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Great Books Guy

Reading The Classics

Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

@STILLTish. Gender Abolition

Examining Gender Identity ideology and its impact on Women's Sex based rights and Gay Rights. d protections. Exploring how this has taken such firm root in Western societies (Cognitive & Regulatory Capture).

200-Proof Liberals

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

What Paul Gregory is Writing About

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Kids Prefer Cheese

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Offsetting Behaviour

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law


Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Adventures of a Tudor Nerd

Exploring the 16th Century and Beyond

Weapons and Warfare

History and Hardware of Warfare

Conversable Economist

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Barrie Saunders

Thoughts on public policy and the media

The Victorian Commons

Researching the House of Commons, 1832-1868

Coyote Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The History of Parliament

Blogging on parliament, politics and people, from the History of Parliament

Catallaxy Files

Australia's leading libertarian and centre-right blog

Books & Boots

reflections on books and art

Legal History Miscellany

Posts on the History of Law, Crime, and Justice

Sex, Drugs and Economics

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law


Tracking Anthropogenic Climate Alarmism


Libertarian environmentalism

Doc's Books

A window into Doc Freiberger's library

Newmark's Door

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Media Myth Alert

Calling out media myths

European Royal History

Exploring the History of European Royalty

Tallbloke's Talkshop

Cutting edge science you can dice with


Small Steps Toward A Much Better World

The Risk-Monger

Let's examine hard decisions!


“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. - J Robert Oppenheimer.


The truth about the great wind power fraud

%d bloggers like this: