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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Global Thermal Nuclear War

Global Thermal Nuclear War is a popular search term. Unfortunately, the real phrase is Global Thermo-Nuclear War.

In the 1830s Carl von Clauswitz wrote On War, the most significant attempt in Western history to understand war as the continuation of politics by other means, contending that without political purpose combat would degeneate into puposeless destruction, or total war. In 1960 Herman Kahn wrote On Thermonuclear War , arguing that the destructiveness of nuclear weapons could be harnessed to a wide variety of political purposes. It is rumored that Stanley Kubrick based his Dr. Strangelove character on Herman Kahn.

In the 1983 movie "Wargames", a computer named Joshua is placed in charge of America's nuclear weapons. The protagonist, a boy hacker named David, gains access to Joshua, thinking it is just a computer gaming system. The dilog from the movie runs:

Joshua: Shall we play a game?

David: Yeah. How about Global Thermonuclear War.

Joshua: Wouldn't you perfer a nice game of chess?

David: Later. Right now lets play Global Thermonuclear War.

Joshua: Fine.

The computer starts the wargame, and the commanders in the war room believe that an actual attack is in progress.

The movie eventually contends that Global Thermnuclear War [as well as all the other nuclear wargame scenarios played out on the Big Board] is like tick-tack-toe, a game which cannot be won by the second player. The assertion is that Kahn notwitstanding, Global Thermnuclear War cannot serve a political purpose, hence Ronald Reagan's observation "A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought."

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:45:09 ZULU