“We will carpet-bomb them into oblivion,” he says. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.” —Ted Cruz, December 2015
There’s been some loose talk about using nukes by Republicans this campaign season. In the above quote, Senator Ted Cruz is talking about bombing ISIS but it’s a confusing statement. Carpet bombing involves traditional, non-nuclear arms but these bombs don’t have the power to melt sand into glass and they don’t carry with them the insinuation that everything bombed to smithereens will then glow. Only nukes carry that mythology and only nukes produce enough heat to melt sand and fuse it into glass. Maybe he wants to carpet bomb with nukes. It’s hard to tell.
When asked if he would rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS, Donald Trump directly declined to answer the question, meaning that he neither ruled it out nor ruled it in.
But this is all nothing new really. Back in 2007, nearly every Republican candidate was unwilling to take nuking Iran off the table. This was in regards to Iran possibly gaining a nuclear weapon of their own. So, 5 out of 7 GOP candidates at the time weren’t willing to take the nuclear option off the table and that’s just in regards to Iran continuing to develop a nuke of their own.
And you’ve likely seen that 30% of Republicans are all for the notion of bombing countries that don’t exist as long as they sound like they’re in the Middle East.
There’s also state level elected officials who believe in nuking like this Arkansas State Senator who argues about it on Facebook.
Talk about nuking places may as well be a national pastime on Facebook where angry and ignorant people gather to vent their spleens. I think it’s fair to assume that most of these people have no idea what “nuking” a country actually means but for the sake of illustration let’s conduct a thought experiment where a President willing to nuke people willy nilly becomes President of these united states and starts nuking.
We’ll call him President Nukem and I’ll pick the targets.
1. First Up Is Homs, Syria
There’s been lots of ISIS in Homs (though they were driven out) and we have to get rid of them (or make sure they can never return). We’re going to deploy an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) instead of a tactical nuke because in order to use tactical nukes you have to get them near the target and we’re more into push-button, Facebook style click nuking. Here’s what a medium yield (300 kiloton) ICBM would do to Homs.
Homs is gone now, along with 340,000 of its nearly 1 million residents (according to old census numbers). Most of them were civilians but now they’re all dead and the 4000-year-old city will be uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. On top of that, most of those remaining alive will probably die in the coming weeks as well.
But our nuke happy President wouldn’t stop there. Once you’ve popped the cork there’s no reason to stop. Let’s get rid of other “problem areas.”
2. Ramadi, Iraq
Home to half a million Iraqis and recently recovered from ISIS using traditional war-fighting methods (whodathunk?!) our President wants to make sure no ISIS fighters are left in the area. Therefore, nuked.
There you go, a 160,000 dead and the nuclear fallout will soon spread east into Fallujah and Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. So, in addition to the half million dead from the nuking you can expect who knows how many more deaths from radioactive fallout, nearly 100% of which will be innocent civilians.
There’s lots of ISIS fighters in Raqqah so let’s get to nuking. Zoom, bang, 120,000 dead. Man, we’re really showing ISIS what’s up, eh?
4. Palmyra, Syria
You’ve never heard of this place but it’s lousy with ISIS fighters. Time to change all that. Zap, with his Facebook nuke button, President Nukem has claimed another 55,000 lives.
What’s more, there’s lots more nuking to be done if we’re going to get every single ISIS fighter.
5. We’ve Come This Far, Let’s Nuke Iran
Our insane President has killed circa a half million people in just under a couple of hours but it’s time to do more. We need to make sure Iran can never have a nuclear weapon but nuking their military sites won’t do anything to deter them cause they can just build new ones, we need to nuke their leaders who might develop these weapons therefore our target is Tehran.
Bang, problem solved and all at the tiny cost of 777,000 deaths, overwhelmingly civilian and over a million horrible nuclear injuries. The nation of Iran is in shambles, their economy is destroyed and Tehran is uninhabitable.
6. Maybe This Wasn’t Such A Good Idea
So, President Nukem has spread hot, impatient freedom all over the Middle East and killed, lets’ be frank, likely several million people over the coming weeks and months. He’s wiped out some ISIS fighters (there’s only 30,000) but mostly he’s killed regular people. But still, that was cathartic and that’s go to be worth something, right? Surely the rest of the world will understand why the U.S. did this?
Surprisingly, they wouldn’t. The results of nuking any place at all in the Middle East would likely be broad Muslim outrage and horror that would make ISIS the most popular Muslim organization in the world. Every U.S. embassy in the Middle East would likely be destroyed and all our diplomats killed. American citizens would be murdered in the streets and all across Europe you’d have formerly peaceful Muslims becoming radicalized.
But what about our allies? Oh, we wouldn’t have any allies anymore. It’s a funny thing, murdering millions of people because you’re impatient with the degradation of a terrorist organization isn’t generally viewed as a valid reason to deploy nuclear weapons on civilians. You can pretty much bet the farm that every nation in the world would deploy sanctions agains the U.S. and we would be 100% diplomatically and economically isolated by the end of the week. We’d be booted from the U.N., from NATO, and we’d have every other nation’s nukes suddenly pointing us right in the face ready to kill us.
The stock market would crash and by crash I mean fall through the ground into the center of the Earth. Inflation would skyrocket and your money would soon have almost no value at all. What’s more, you’d have fighting in the streets as outraged U.S. citizens (including this writer) declared war against their own insane and genocidal government.
7. The Lesson
Only the supremely ignorant talk about using nuclear weapons against small groups of terrorists or non-aggressive nations who haven’t started a war for well over 100 years (Iran).
This isn’t serious talk but it is dangerous talk. Nuke talk makes angry people feel powerful and it gets people pumped up about just how awesome they think they are but an actual nuclear engagement like this would completely destroy the country in every way and would risk setting off an exchange with the U.S. as a target.
So, the next time you hear of someone entertaining the idea of nuking some place just remember that they’re actually talking about destroying your way of life, possibly your family, and definitely any prospect of there being peace anywhere again for a very long time.