If you live in the US, you should not be freaking out about nuclear war with North Korea in a “we’re all going to die” way. DPRK has one rocket that can reach the continental US, it’s barely gotten functional, and they have no warheads small enough to be carried by that rocket. They can theoretically hit Hawaii and Alaska, but Hawaii is a small, long-range target and Alaska has very low population density, so attacks there would likely be ineffective.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be freaking out about nuclear war with North Korea. It’s to say that you should stop being so fucking self-centered about it.

We’re not going to die. If we nuke North Korea, we’ll wipe out thousands of noncombatants, just like we did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even in an “ideal” outcome for that first strike, where Kim goes down immediately, his military apparatus will retaliate — against South Korea and probably Japan. This hypothetical nuclear exchange will kill millions of civilians who, surprise surprise, live far away and look sort of not-European. Then we’ll spend the rest of our long, non-incinerated lives bickering with each other over whether it was cool of us to start that fight.

If you want to speak out against Trump’s nuclear bullshittery, don’t bleat “we’re all going to die.” Yell “no atrocities in our name.”

2

In The Event Of Attack, Here’s How The Government Plans ‘To Save Itself’

In Raven Rock, Garrett Graff describes the bunkers designed to protect U.S. leaders in the event of a catastrophe. One Cold War-era plan put the post office in charge of cataloging the dead. 

From Graff’s interview with Terry Gross:

“The post office was the agency that would’ve been in charge of registering the dead and figuring out who was still alive. In part, because the post office knows where people live, they understand who was left. So you would arrive in the refugee camps, after your cities had been destroyed, and you would’ve been handed Form 801 from the post office, which were pre-printed in millions and millions of quantities and located in post offices around the country through the Cold War in the event of an emergency. And you would’ve filled it out with your name and family members that survived with you at the camp, and then the post office would’ve sorted through these cards and figured out who was still alive and where everyone was to begin the process of reuniting families.

The Parks Service, for instance, would’ve been the agency that would’ve actually been running, in many cases, the refugee camps, because the thinking was that park service land would be largely untouched by nuclear war.

[The Dept. of Agriculture] worked for years with Nabisco to come up with this special survival biscuit. … They pre-made about 160 million tons of this Nabisco survival wafer that were manufactured and boxed up in tins and then hidden away in government fallout shelters around the country. This was a whole strange, shadow post-apocalypse government that existed just out of sight through the Cold War.”

That missile didn't come out of nowhere

Some facts about recent USA-N Korea tensions:

- Prior to the North Korean missile, Japan had just tested its M142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

- this test was related to operation Northern Viper (NV17), a US-Japan military drill exercise which took place on Hokkaido from 10-28 of August. US Marines and Japanese ground troops were involved, as well as F-16 fighters, MV-22 Osprey aircraft and military helicopters.

- Every year the USA also conducts something called the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian war games. Lasting 10 days, it involves many thousands of troops from South Korean and the USA, as well as some from Australia, and serves as a show of force and rehearsal for war with North Korea. North Korean leadership has repeatedly objected to these drills. (Australia hosts US military bases, as well as US troops, aircraft and warships).

- yesterday, Ja Song Nam, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN asked the UN Security Council for urgent talks on these military exercises. He said they were like “fuel to [an] open fire” and he pointed out that the exercises were “a provocative and aggressive joint military exercise at this critical moment of the Korean Peninsula, where the situation is just like a time bomb.”

- US trade sanctions have hit North Korea at a time when their harvest has been poor and food supplies are low. The population is suffering.

usatoday.com
Stanislav Petrov, Soviet soldier credited with saving world from nuclear war, dies at 77
Stanislav Petrov was monitoring an early warning system from a bunker outside Moscow when the radar screen appeared to depict an inbound US missile.

Petrov, thinking that any U.S. attack should have involved even more missiles to limit the chance of Soviet retaliation, told his Kremlin bosses the alert must have been caused by a malfunction. He persuaded Moscow not to shoot back.

It was later determined that Russian satellites must have mistaken sunlight reflecting off clouds for nuclear missiles.

Petrov’s reward? He was chastised for failing to provide proper paperwork, he said.

3

That Close Call Back in 1995 — The Norwegian Black Brant Incident,

In the past 60 years there have actually been several incidents where the world was almost plunged into a nuclear holocaust.  Many of these incidents were purely accidental, caused by things like radar blips resulting from flocks of geese or faulty early warning detection satellites. One of the most interesting close calls occurred in Norway, and is unique in that the incident happened in 1995, after the end of the Cold War.

On January 25th, 1995 a team of Norwegian and American scientists launched the Black Brant VII rocket from the Andøya Space Center in Norway. The purpose of the rocket was to collect scientific data on the aurora borealis over the Arctic Ocean. The rocket reached an altitude of 903 miles and eventually splashed down in the ocean off the coast of Svalbard. At the time most of the world believed the rocket launch was a routine test that occurred without incident. However, little did anyone know, the Russians nearly shit their pants over it.

The rocket traveled over an air corridor that stretches from minuteman III rocket sites in North Dakota. The scientists notified 30 countries, including Russia, of the launch, however the Russian government failed to pass on news of the launch to the Russian President and to the military. Russian early warning radar systems in Murmansk detected the object, which had a similar speed and flight pattern to that of a US Navy Trident missile. Immediately Russian High Command went on full alert, fearing the United States was launching a nuclear missile. While a single missile launch may not seem much of a threat compared to thousands of missiles in an all out nuclear strike, one possible scenario that the Russians feared was that of a high altitude nuclear detonation used as a prelude to all out nuclear war. A nuclear warhead would be detonated high in the atmosphere over Russia, and the resulting electromagnetic pulse would knock out the electrical grid, communications grid, and radar over a large portion of the country, leaving Russia completely vulnerable to an all out attack.

The full alert initiated by the rocket launch went all the way up to Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The Russian nuclear briefcase containing command codes was opened, the only time in history a nation’s nuclear briefcase was ever opened. This was especially scary because Boris Yeltsin had a reputation for being a hard drinker. Yeltsin’s alcohol problems were so bad that he was often drunk in public, at one point allegedly being found wandering the streets of Washington D.C. half naked after a particularly hard bender during a diplomatic visit.

As luck would have it, Boris Yeltsin was perfectly sober on January 25th, 1995, and thus he made a very wise decision to not retaliate but take a wait and see approach. Soon, it was realized that the rocket was traveling away from, not towards Russia, and thus was not a ballistic missile being fired at Russia. 24 minutes after launch, the rocket returned to Earth harmlessly. Disaster had been averted once again.

What is especially disturbing about the Norwegian rocket incident was that it occurred in the 1990′s at a time when Russian - American relations were at a peak. This wasn’t the middle of the Cold War, this wasn’t the Cuban Missile Crises with Nikita Khrushchev shouting “we will bury you!” while slamming his shoe on a podium. This was at at time when there was absolutely no reason to go to nuclear war. It just goes to show that in the modern nuclear age, even at the best of times civilization hangs on a very fine thread.