Current Nuclear Weapons Development

Bhurki

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Considering a lot of the threads ranging from this one to USMC realignment and surface combatant and several others will turn to a comparison or discussion about China, is it too much to ask to unlock the SCS thread, moderators? So these threads don't go too off topic.
 

sferrin

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Not to mention quite a bit of their existing arsenal was already hidden in plain sight, so to speak.
Nukes for everybody. Don't need ICBMs to reach most of their neighbors. Between the DF-16, 17, 21, and 26 they can hit everybody in the area including Australia without even using ICBMs.
 

Arjen

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Considering a lot of the threads ranging from this one to USMC realignment and surface combatant and several others will turn to a comparison or discussion about China, is it too much to ask to unlock the SCS thread, moderators? So these threads don't go too off topic.
The description of this forum section says:

"Discussion about historic or current tanks, ships, and other non-aerospace military technologies"

Topics are expected to have a focus on technology, not politics. This isn't a geopolitical forum. Overly geopolitical topics may be closed or pruned at the discretion of the admins.
 
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Wyvern

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I think there have been recent reports of Burma trying to develop an atomic weapon recently, citing a defector that names Singapore and Germany as enrichment equipment sources. The interesting point is that the military government is not considering the atomic weapon for traditional defense purposes, but rather as a card against internal underground democracy groups. I guess this is a a manifestation of the inherent "loose football" fears regarding nuclear weapons, but to use that as a means of subduing the populace of your own country is a new twist (Would put a kink into Jefferson's image of the US having a revolution every 50 years or so).
I know I'm ten years late (and I do apologise if someone already mentioned this), but I wouldn't be surprised considering that they Burmese own ballistic missiles such as the SCUD. It wouldn't be hard to do so, they have the necessary funds and manpower to do so. Pulling it off is harder. It also depends how reliable the defector is.
 

Wyvern

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"Just last week, members of Congress’ progressive-leaning Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group urged Biden in a letter to make a number of changes to U.S. nuclear force posture, including reducing the overall number of nuclear weapons by one-third, changing existing U.S. nuclear declaratory posture, and resurrecting arguments that question the need to replace the antiquated Minuteman III intercontinental-range missile."

Sounds imaginary. Nothing to worry about.
That's besides the point, the reason why they need to be replaced are on the grounds of safety, maintainability and viability. The last thing anyone wants is a broken down missiles that's leaking highly explosive fuel in a canister that is under a nuclear bomb that is many times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The costs of maintaining ageing systems would be incredibly expensive, possibly just as much, if not more than replacing them entirely.

It seems like the Arms Control Working Group doesn't understand basic English; they confuse "replace" with "supplement".
 
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luritie

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RyanC

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Serious question. At what point do people stop listening to Arms Controllers and their action-reaction model of arms dynamics?

The US has not undertaken any real major strategic missile programs (other than GBSD) in the last quarter century or so -- and even GBSD is basically a 1:1 drop in for our existing force.

By Arms Controller Action/Reaction logic, that should induce others to keep their arms at an "even" level, not build missile field after missile field.
 
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bobbymike

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Serious question. At what point do people stop listening to Arms Controllers and their action-reaction model of arms dynamics?

The US has not undertaken any real major strategic missile programs (other than GBSD) in the last quarter century or so -- and even GBSD is basically a 1:1 drop in for our existing force.

By Arms Controller Action/Reaction logic, that should induce others to keep their arms at an "even" level, not build missile field after missile field.
From 1991, other than USSR/Russia who were obviously a party of arms control negotiations with the US, has there been any nation that has changed their nuclear weapons plans/ambitions in the face of massive disarmament trends (US/Russia active/deployed nukes reduced ~90%)?

In fact I’ve argued the opposite especially when it comes to China. Disarmament made it much, much easier to match our arsenal.

* I will kind of put Libya here making the calculation they were next to be invaded after Iraq for their WMD program. But IMHO doesn’t really count as the cause was fear of military invasion not the perception of the reduced efficacy of the weapons themselves.
 
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shin_getter

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Hmm, asking the long time nuclear watchers in this thread:

Is any kind of novel nuclear strategy being pursued by Pakistan given their complete lack of strategic depth relative to all the other competing nuclear powers in relation to its biggest threat. The 1000km depth can be traversed in like 3 minutes and launch on warning is plainly impossible. Submarines suffer from sharing the ocean with the opponent and lack of budget to build a naval bastion and there is probable inability to secure SSBNs even if they were built. The limited(?) warhead available makes this problem worst.

On the inverse, the short distance to the opponent means alternative delivery methods are possible.
-----
One wonders about a Poseidon type system but fired from concealed fixed locations, and the distance involved means AIP propulsion is sufficient.

Then there is warhead miniaturization that greatly expands available vectors of attack.

Command and control problems seems difficult still.
 

Bhurki

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^^^^^^
They have a smerch based tactical nuke design good for about 100 km, which shouldn't be too hard to conceal among other 300 mm tube artillery.

Also, one can never rule out a covert 'backpack' brigade. (SADM)
 

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sferrin

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"For example, Biden’s Pentagon budget supports all the new and unnecessary nuclear weapons proposed by the Trump administration."

Tells you everything you need to know. Both Russia and China modernizing and expanded their nuclear forces and you see crap like this. Makes you wonder who signs their check.
 
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bobbymike

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"For example, Biden’s Pentagon budget supports all the new and unnecessary nuclear weapons proposed by the Trump administration."

Tells you everything you need to know. Both Russia and China modernizing and expanded their nuclear forces and you see crap like this. Makes you wonder who signs their check.
What’s the current Yuan Dollar conversion :D
 

In_A_Dream

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"For example, Biden’s Pentagon budget supports all the new and unnecessary nuclear weapons proposed by the Trump administration."

Tells you everything you need to know. Both Russia and China modernizing and expanded their nuclear forces and you see crap like this. Makes you wonder who signs their check.
LOL.PNG
 

sferrin

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"For example, Biden’s Pentagon budget supports all the new and unnecessary nuclear weapons proposed by the Trump administration."

Tells you everything you need to know. Both Russia and China modernizing and expanded their nuclear forces and you see crap like this. Makes you wonder who signs their check.
View attachment 662811
Depressing that there are people that stupid out there.
 

In_A_Dream

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It's hard to decipher, at this point, who is genuinely in favor of disarming, and who's paid by the CCP to promote a certain viewpoint. I still feel like this is a more broader, and extensive problem in our intelligence and think tank communities than anyone cares to admit. The threat is here, but people are still relatively quiet, with few trying to be Paul Revere. Is the lack of Cold War rhetoric what our politicians in Washington want because of their Corporate donors who are still invested in China? Are we still coming to terms with what China has predictably turned into? You'd think GBSD criticism would be shut down immediately given what we're up against, and there'd be a higher priority on updating our nuclear forces.

Granted, there is still the classified curtain where much of this is getting shrouded behind. Who knows.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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It's perfectly possible to have dissenting opinions that aren't caused by foreign agents paying bribes. If you are so narrowminded as to suspect everyone with a different opinion is behaving in bad faith, then that is indeed sad for you.

I don't suspect bobbymike or sferrin of being in the pay of the nuclear industry, for example. That would be paranoid conspiracy thinking on my part. See how that works?
 

sferrin

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It's perfectly possible to have dissenting opinions that aren't caused by foreign agents paying bribes. If you are so narrowminded as to suspect everyone with a different opinion is behaving in bad faith, then that is indeed sad for you.

I don't suspect bobbymike or sferrin of being in the pay of the nuclear industry, for example. That would be paranoid conspiracy thinking on my part. See how that works?
Given what Russia and China are currently doing with their nuclear forces, when a person says it's a waste of money to upgrade our decrepit nuclear forces, it makes it difficult to take them seriously. If their loyalities, wisdom, or intelligence are not to be questioned then what? Do we seriously believe these people have a grasp of the facts, history, and only have our best interests at heart?
 
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quellish

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While stripped of its nuclear payload for the launch, the ICBM contained conventional explosives aboard a Hi-Fidelity Joint Test Assembly re-entry vehicle, which successfully detonated above the water’s surface near Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, some 4,200 miles from the launch site.
————
Interesting I’ve never read a test warhead having explosives? Anyone else? A stealth CPGS test?
“Hi-Fidelity Joint Test Assembly” typically has everything but the SNM (and sometimes even has that). So yes, it’s normal for it to have explosives
 

In_A_Dream

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It's perfectly possible to have dissenting opinions that aren't caused by foreign agents paying bribes. If you are so narrowminded as to suspect everyone with a different opinion is behaving in bad faith, then that is indeed sad for you.

I don't suspect bobbymike or sferrin of being in the pay of the nuclear industry, for example. That would be paranoid conspiracy thinking on my part. See how that works?

Understood, but it's not like this is something China doesn't engage in, and they have extensive resources to push their influence. We see it in Academia, Hollywood, Corporate America, Media, Politics. It's out there and people need to be aware of it. The United States, who is supposed to be protecting the world from existential authoritarian threats, has suffered at the hands of Chinese influence and the downplaying of their development.

Beijing has been intensifying efforts to shape the political environment in the United States to promote its policy preferences, mold public discourse, pressure political figures whom Beijing believes oppose its interests, and muffle criticism of China on such issues as religious freedom and the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong

I mean, what rational person would downplay the nuclear modernization of a rapidly growing superpower? Especially today? Fear Mongering?

Some articles from Tom's past:
2012 - Downplaying China's Nuclear Threat - https://foreignpolicy.com/2012/11/13/red-balloon/
2013 - Downplaying China's Nuclear Threat - https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/09/19/keep-cutting-nukes/
 

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shin_getter

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The vast majority of people on this planet live within a country without firepower to end civilization. As individuals, even authoritarian governments do not necessarily translate to bad places to live as many still allow wealth and reasonable level of personal freedom. (and is vastly superior to living a post nuclear exchange environment)

Nuclear weapons is also very non-linear with regard to political effect and there is no good theory to evaluate cost benefit ratio of marginal change in capability. I expect just about all civilian and most government agents as incapable of making the calculation within three orders of magnitude, and noise to swamp sound strategic planning.

Some may throw faith in experts, but they've been disappointing:

From: Fred Kaplan's 2020 book The Bomb
[By 1988] The SIOP was a broken machine, the discombobulated aggregate of compartmentalized calculations. One analyst was instructed to aim a missile at a ball-bearing factory; another plotted the flight path for a bomber to destroy the Ministry of Defense headquarters; still another programmed a cruise missile to ravage a major railroad yard. Nobody took the broader look; nobody saw that the three targets were within a short hike of one another—and that, therefore, just one of those weapons would be enough to demolish them all. And, because the Blue Book specified that those targets had to be destroyed with high confidence, more than one weapon had to be aimed at each, meaning that all these structures would get clobbered by a half-dozen weapons, in some cases more. ... Few officers, even inside JSTPS [Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff, who produced the SIOP], had known the full scope of their war plan’s bloat. The colonels and generals in the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, who had so fiercely resisted [deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear forces and arms control policy Franklin] Miller’s intrusions, were stunned; they hadn’t realized how much they didn’t know—how much their brother officers at SAC, whose shroud they’d been protecting, had misled them.
During one of his early trips to Omaha [in 1989], [director of strategic forces policy Gil] Klinger asked one of the officers at JSTPS to analyze whether the [START] treaty’s prospective cuts would affect their ability to fulfill their mission—whether they could continue to deter nuclear war and limit damage if deterrence failed.

The officer replied that he didn’t do that sort of analysis.

Klinger, thinking he wasn’t making himself clear, rephrased the question.

The officer said that he understood the question perfectly well. He explained that JSTPS was prohibited from setting requirements or analyzing whether a certain kind of attack, with a certain number of weapons, would be militarily effective. This prohibition had been laid down in 1960, with the first SIOP, when Navy admirals feared that Air Force generals would use the war plan as a tool for controlling the Navy’s arsenal and budget.

Klinger was astonished. The officers who drew up the war plan didn’t know—weren’t allowed to figure out—how many weapons they needed to protect the nation? What did they do then?

The officer replied that they take all the weapons that are assigned to SAC and aim them at all the targets on their list.

Finally, after all these months of trying to unscramble the oddities of the SIOP, Klinger decoded the mystery: the United States’ nuclear war plan was based on supply, not demand—on how many weapons the warriors happened to have, not on how many they needed.

SAC’s commander, General Jack Chain, had recently testified before Congress that he needed 10,000 nuclear weapons because he had 10,000 targets. Many people, including Klinger, had thought that Chain was joking or that he was cynical or stupid. But no, this was the mentality of the nuclear targeteers; this was what they did.

The implication was stunning. Back in McNamara’s time, the whiz kids had famously asked, “How much is enough?” The chief whiz kid, Alain Enthoven, later coauthored a book, a combination treatise and memoir, with that question as its title. Now, it turned out that nobody had ever asked the question in a way, or from a position, that mattered. The authors of the Defense Department’s directives on how to use (and not use) nuclear weapons may have thought they were asking the question; but they’d lacked access to the machinery of the SIOP—they hadn’t known how to ask the question in a way that the JSTPS officers could translate into their operational plan. Meanwhile, the JSTPS officers were barred from asking, or trying to answer, the question on their own. Washington and Omaha were running on parallel, sometimes wildly divergent tracks—which had been Curtis LeMay’s intention all along: he didn’t want civilians, or even rival branches of the military, meddling with his war plan, and he designed SAC explicitly to keep them out.
And that is military effects, not political effects which is what matters here!

The good news is that the Soviets are even dumber than this and managed to collapse their own country without a shot being fired! The military industrial complex won so hard that it killed the nation! It is hard to miss the aim of national defense harder than that.

If you suspect the military industrial complex is self serving as opposed to nation and voter serving, one can reflexively reject their claims of needing more stuff. In absence of better means of evaluating the matter, it is not even that bad.

Pay real money for speculative claims of marginal improvement in security by people that is not really trustworthy that also keeps all the information secret~ Pretty bad sell.
 

zen

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Quote function pain!

"[By 1988] The SIOP was a broken machine, the discombobulated aggregate of compartmentalized calculations. One analyst was instructed to aim a missile at a ball-bearing factory; another plotted the flight path for a bomber to destroy the Ministry of Defense headquarters; still another programmed a cruise missile to ravage a major railroad yard. Nobody took the broader look; nobody saw that the three targets were within a short hike of one another—and that, therefore, just one of those weapons would be enough to demolish them all."

This is false.
Only a direct hit on a railway junction at ground level is sufficient to destroy it. Blast overhead has to be so low and close as to be effectively a ground burst.
A nearby burst might demolish a building, but not hardened bunkers underneath. Only ground or ground perpetrating weapons ensure success.
A collapsed building does not guarantee factory equipment inside is rendered beyond repair.

A single device won't achieve the result and neither accuracy nor reliability is guaranteed. Only by multiple launches and multiple weapons can you reduce the likelihood of potential failure of all weapons.

Sounds to me like the author didn't understand that or deliberately is presenting a false report.
 

Josh_TN

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The broad point that targeting was not centralized for effects even under SIOP is probably valid, however as noted in zen's post at least two of those three targets would require direct hits to completely neutralize anyway. Perhaps a factory could be destroyed by the knock on effects of the hits on the other two targets, depending on its structure.

But more broadly the amount of nuclear weapons a country holds is probably far more driven by its competitors than what it 'needs'. The United states was hardly going to settle for 1/2 of the Soviet's arsenal, just because politically it would create the impression of vulnerability even if deploying more weapons was just an exercise in bouncing rubble. So it really only takes one side to bloat both sides.

The much more complex issue being created now is that there will be three dominant nuclear powers instead of two, and this will complicate everyone's deterrence because enough weapons need to be retained to destroy a second major country after an initial exchange with another. Moreover Russia and China seem quite motivated to deploy new weapons and new types of weapons. Again, regardless of what the 'right' number is, the US will have to keep up to avoid the impression of weakness, regardless of the target set (although with two possible vast countries to choose from I can't see how the US would ever run out of targets).
 

sferrin

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Quote function pain!

"[By 1988] The SIOP was a broken machine, the discombobulated aggregate of compartmentalized calculations. One analyst was instructed to aim a missile at a ball-bearing factory; another plotted the flight path for a bomber to destroy the Ministry of Defense headquarters; still another programmed a cruise missile to ravage a major railroad yard. Nobody took the broader look; nobody saw that the three targets were within a short hike of one another—and that, therefore, just one of those weapons would be enough to demolish them all."

This is false.
Only a direct hit on a railway junction at ground level is sufficient to destroy it. Blast overhead has to be so low and close as to be effectively a ground burst.
A nearby burst might demolish a building, but not hardened bunkers underneath. Only ground or ground perpetrating weapons ensure success.
A collapsed building does not guarantee factory equipment inside is rendered beyond repair.

A single device won't achieve the result and neither accuracy nor reliability is guaranteed. Only by multiple launches and multiple weapons can you reduce the likelihood of potential failure of all weapons.

Sounds to me like the author didn't understand that or deliberately is presenting a false report.
Yep. They sold the fantasy that any nuke will absolutely evaporate any target it's pointed at. That's not at all the case.
 

shin_getter

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The point is that computation of such numbers is suspect from the perspective of a tax payer: how could a tax payer know whether there should be more or less nuclear warheads? Some 'expert' can tell him a number, and some other people can claim another number and all of it is too secret and complex to be analyzed.

I mean, one can make the claim that all of the surface of the soviets have huge underground hideout type tunnel networks beneath them packed to the brim with warheads and they'd fight to the last men, women and child with the life goal to destroy the west or die trying. How can a normal person resist demands for a 120% tax rate for nuclear weapons without a personally vetted spy network behind the iron curtain?

Most people just make guess using "common sense" they've built with completely unrelated life experiences. People evaluate claims based on the person saying it and different networks of trust result in radically different evaluations of claims.

...the US will have to keep up to avoid the impression of weakness, regardless of the target set (although with two possible vast countries to choose from I can't see how the US would ever run out of targets).
This view depends on many other beliefs. For example, that US needs to maintain "strength" somehow when it does not benefit the tax payer directly in visible ways. I am reminded of the Obama administration under pressure by some thinkers for direct military intervention against the Syrian regime "to maintain credibility."

The ability to maintain "strength" may be seen as "useful" in the diplomatic sense, but the taxpayer may not believe applying force on the world stage benefits himself, or is morally legitimate. Much of interventions pitched by successive governments has been pointless and wasteful, as the most recent events have shown.

Then there is a question of whether "strength" is meaningfully added with more nuclear weapons: as it could not be used in most situations. Again, recent events have hostiles act freely regardless of available weapons because of internal limitations of use.

Ultimately there is a lot of steps of fuzzy reasoning that one has to go through to make claims on the number of needed nuclear weapons.
 

sferrin

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The point is that computation of such numbers is suspect from the perspective of a tax payer: how could a tax payer know whether there should be more or less nuclear warheads? Some 'expert' can tell him a number, and some other people can claim another number and all of it is too secret and complex to be analyzed.

I mean, one can make the claim that all of the surface of the soviets have huge underground hideout type tunnel networks beneath them packed to the brim with warheads and they'd fight to the last men, women and child with the life goal to destroy the west or die trying. How can a normal person resist demands for a 120% tax rate for nuclear weapons without a personally vetted spy network behind the iron curtain?

Most people just make guess using "common sense" they've built with completely unrelated life experiences. People evaluate claims based on the person saying it and different networks of trust result in radically different evaluations of claims.

...the US will have to keep up to avoid the impression of weakness, regardless of the target set (although with two possible vast countries to choose from I can't see how the US would ever run out of targets).
This view depends on many other beliefs. For example, that US needs to maintain "strength" somehow when it does not benefit the tax payer directly in visible ways. I am reminded of the Obama administration under pressure by some thinkers for direct military intervention against the Syrian regime "to maintain credibility."

The ability to maintain "strength" may be seen as "useful" in the diplomatic sense, but the taxpayer may not believe applying force on the world stage benefits himself, or is morally legitimate. Much of interventions pitched by successive governments has been pointless and wasteful, as the most recent events have shown.

Then there is a question of whether "strength" is meaningfully added with more nuclear weapons: as it could not be used in most situations. Again, recent events have hostiles act freely regardless of available weapons because of internal limitations of use.

Ultimately there is a lot of steps of fuzzy reasoning that one has to go through to make claims on the number of needed nuclear weapons.
Not in this instance. No need for "nuance" whatsoever. Like agonizing over what brand of fire extinguisher to buy while your house is burning down. How many do we need? Yes, as many as we can build as fast as we can build them. And do it yesterday.
 

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Not in this instance. No need for "nuance" whatsoever. Like agonizing over what brand of fire extinguisher to buy while your house is burning down. How many do we need? Yes, as many as we can build as fast as we can build them. And do it yesterday.
Even when the house is burning down, some are thinking about insurance policy and lawyers, how to avoid being blamed, how to media whore for sympathy points, how frame it on a particular person, how to speed up firefighter response, how to save a particular person/item inside, plans on future lodgings or something else.

Buying a fire extinguisher when a fire is burning is not even commonly the right strategy.
 

zen

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No this thread is titled Current Nuclear Weapons Development.
It is not titled Conventional Weapons Development.

The taxpayer does not want to be taxed by occupying powers, or by powers extorting the taxpayer's government into "Danegeld".
And the taxpayer would rather have democratic control over taxes.

Such comes only from the capacity to resist occupation, defeat invasion, and counter the threat of others.

As Niccolo Machiaveli noted, successfully organise the state for war, and other organisation flows from this.
He also exhorted Italians to not rely on mercenaries or foreigners for their security as both will prove false.
 

sferrin

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Not in this instance. No need for "nuance" whatsoever. Like agonizing over what brand of fire extinguisher to buy while your house is burning down. How many do we need? Yes, as many as we can build as fast as we can build them. And do it yesterday.
Even when the house is burning down, some are thinking about insurance policy and lawyers, how to avoid being blamed, how to media whore for sympathy points, how frame it on a particular person, how to speed up firefighter response, how to save a particular person/item inside, plans on future lodgings or something else.

Buying a fire extinguisher when a fire is burning is not even commonly the right strategy.
Damn.
 

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ROBERT MALLEY, the man President JOE BIDEN has tasked with putting the United States back into the Iran nuclear deal, isn’t supremely confident he’ll succeed in his mission.

“It’s just one big question mark,” he told NatSec Daily during an exclusive interview in his State Department office. Rejoining the multinational accord “is not something that we can fully control,” he said, citing a lack of engagement from the Iranians.

Negotiations between the United States, Iran and five world powers have proceeded fruitlessly since April. Tehran’s side won’t even speak directly with Washington’s and instead prefers working through intermediaries while in Vienna. That dance was complicated by the arrival of new Iranian President EBRAHIM RAISI, a hardliner who experts suspect is more skeptical of the diplomatic effort than his pact-signing predecessor. No open bargaining has taken place since Raisi came to power in mid-July.

Moments after pointing to a portrait of former Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO unceremoniously stashed at the bottom of his closet (a joke apparently played by staff), Malley repeatedly refused to assign a percentage chance to America’s reentry into the deal. “I wouldn’t be helping you much if I gave you a percentage,” he insisted, saying the unknown variables are about what the Iranians will and won’t do. But, he added, “we are prepared to resume the talks, which we wouldn’t do if we didn’t think [a deal] was possible.”

Should the United States and Iran fail to agree on terms in the coming months, the envoy says his team is preparing some contingencies. One is that Washington and Tehran sign a wholly separate deal, complete with different parameters than the current accord. Another is a suite of punitive responses in coordination with European allies, though Malley didn’t specifically detail what those would be.

Malley does say that, in his mind, it’s only logical that “a return to the deal is in the cards,” since both the United States and Iran — even under Raisi — have said that’s what they want. The delay, he claimed, is due to mistrust sowed during the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign and the political transition in Iran.

“But there is absolute justification to have a question mark, because if you haven’t reached [a deal] yet, the talks drag on. If Iran’s nuclear advances progress, and Iran continues to take provocative nuclear steps, not even mentioning their regional provocations … that pulls in the other direction” — meaning away from an agreement, Malley told NatSec Daily.

“It at least makes us very aware of the fact that it is certainly not a done deal, that it’s a legitimate question whether we will be able to come back, and that we have to be prepared for a world in which Iran’s intentions are not to go back into the [pact], at least not in a realistic way,” he said.
 

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I’d be surprised if the Iran deal was salvaged. I don’t think the US is willing to make any further concessions and I don’t think Iran is willing to go back to the original deal with its current government. I think it would take massive social unrest in Tehran for them to accept any deal the US would accept.
 

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