Talk:Pre-emptive nuclear strike

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worth a mention? it's what we all think..[edit]

is it worth mentioning that when the US was the only power to poses nuclear weapons it used them. And in the MAD era that followed, nobody used them. Which is probably why the US is finding it difficult to get people to disarm now?

I deleted peacekeeper as a counter first strike weapon, because it is really silly putting it as counter first strike considering it would not have survived first strike by SS-18 if one would be executed by USSR. Trident though is a good example, I don't know about Pershing, it is land based system too, with range of 1800 km, there is great doubt whether it would survive first strike by 5000 km range of SS-20 Pioneer. Some of the numbers are also wrong, CEPS in particular, for soviet system and for american. Also, what does Russel's opinion has to do with all these issues, especially considering his ignorant "west victory anyway" comments, Russell probably never talked to american CIA military analysts, who would disagree with his optimism and had no clue of what Red Army was. 23:17, 9 October 2007 (UTC)Pavel. October 9, 2007.

Poorly written article, presents only western point of view. USSR's SS-18 was a perfect fisrst strike weapon, 8 warheads, each with 1.2 MT was more than capable of destroying Minuteman silos with one or two warheads. USSR's silos, SS-18's silos in particular, were fortified to withstand a direct nuclear strike. 02:32, 3 July 2007 (UTC)Pavel Golikov. July 2, 2007.

It's worth mentioning that the last time nuclear weapons were used was during a world war. Quite likely the soviet union would have found uses for nuclear weapons in a world war as well.Zebulin (talk) 09:56, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

'Wild Speculation"[edit]

"In response, President Bush cited Hersh's reportage as "wild speculation"[4] but did not deny its veracity." - Is labelling something as 'wild speculation' not questioning its veracity?

No, and questioning is not denying. What it means is that he won't deny or confirm it or discuss it at all. If later it came out that it was true, he wouldn't have lied about it.

POV in History section[edit]

A paragraph in the History section reads:

"In the 1940s the US enjoyed a monopoly of nuclear forces, while in the late 1950s and early 1960s Khrushchev incautiously and inaccurately boasted of a Soviet superiority in missile forces. The arrival of Soviet missiles in Cuba was meant to weaken the US as it exposed the homeland to attack almost without warning, but instead exposed Khrushchev to personal humiliation as the "Cuban Missile Crisis" resulted in him backing down rather than risking war. During the crisis, Fidel Castro wrote Nikita Khrushchev a letter about the prospect that the US might follow an invasion of Cuba with a first strike against the USSR. The following quotation from the letter suggests to some writers that Castro was calling for a Soviet first strike against the US."

1. If it's going to say that Khrushchev was "inaccurately" boasting of Soviet missile superiority, then it must be referenced. Anyway, this claim is questionable -- there's considerable debate and until everything is declassified, we won't know for sure.

2. The line "instead exposed Khrushchev to personal humiliation" is at least POV; it's probably also an exaggeration. There was a bigger context to the Soviet placement of weapons in Cuba (not least, the American deployment of short range nuclear missiles in Turkey). This line should be removed or changed. --Rhombus 05:09, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

I've altered that line to a somewhat more balanced view of what happened. I think part of the problem here is that the Soviets gave up their missiles in public, while the American agreement to remove missiles from Turkey was kept somewhat more secret, so it was perceived that the USSR backed down when in reality they were both giving up some of their bargaining chips.

Other comments[edit]

Bertrand Russell said "better red than dead" and it got reversed by some American commentators during the Cold War.

Interestingly, before the Soviets obtained atomic weapons, Bertrand Russell publically advocated a first strike on the USSR during a speech he gave to Westminster School (a famous educational establishment between Parliament and Westminster Abbey). His argument was that if both sides of the cold war had nuclear weapons the apocalypse was certain to come, whereas if one side destroyed the other utterly (which America theoretically had the chance to do, when it was the only nuclear power) then it would be a holocaust but not an apocalypse. This speech was witnessed by many pupils who went on to become prominent figures, including Nigel Lawson, who became the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) under Margaret Thatcher. I can cite sources for these, and in fact I'm going to add this to the article right now. Okay, I've added it, I've tried to keep it as balanced as possible because it's not totally clear whether Russell advocated actual First Strike, or just the public advocacy of First Strike as a diplomatic tool to force the Soviets to back down from Eastern Europe.

Also, first strike and assured destruction and madness of mad are so similar as to be hard topics to distinguish. Madness of mad was not just resource use but also the probability of error, communications or equipment failure, and other things that had nothing to do with intent to destroy each other - film War Games was a nice demonstration of this.

Linking the death penalty debate, terrorism debate, nuclear arms debate, as I did in assured destruction, is difficult, so the illustration of all three in advance of my next edit would probably improve "assured destruction" a lot - I would be summarizing rather than introducing the topic, with three examples...

Okay, but bear in mind that we are trying to create an encyclopedia here -- not just giving our own opinions about things.

Except for uncontroversial and generally accepted information, it's better to provide a source. Such as

  • the Green Party believes that global warming is one of the biggest problems facing the world today.


  • the WWF supports the Kyoto Treaty because a scientist reported a rising temperature trend in a recent scientific paper (please specify).

The goal is that a reader who disagrees with the position advocated will nevertheless agree that the article is correct because it accurately reports that X believes Y about Z. A reader might disagree about whether Y is true, so the article shouldn't say "Y is true" but rather "X believs Y is true".

User:Ed Poor

"NATO later explicitly ruled out a first-strike posture - a pledge not matched by the Soviets."

Completely untrue. The "no first strike" posture was first ever taken by the USSR in 1982 at special session of General Assembly of UN. This has not been matched by NATO throughout the Cold War (not sure about later, though.)


Castro letter[edit]

  • I said that if the second variant took place and the imperialists -- this was a very common word at that time -- invaded Cuba with the aim of occupying it, the Soviet Union must never allow a situation to develop in which the imperialists would launch the first nuclear strike. This was literally what I said, because I was absolutely convinced that if they invaded our country, this would create the grave risk for the Soviet Union of the U.S. taking the second step of carrying out a nuclear air strike against the Soviet Union. That's why I raised this question with Khrushchev as delicately as I could, saying that the Soviet Union must never allow a situation to develop in which the imperialists could launch the first nuclear strike -- because I was sure that after [an invasion], the second step would be for the Americans to launch a first nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. -- March 1998 interview with Castro [1]

There is clearly nothing in there to suggest that Castro was promoting a first strike by the Soviet Union. Any mention of a nuclear first strike in that paragraph is linked with his justifiable fear that the Americans would be insane enough to do such a thing. In the same interview he goes on to say

"I dictated this letter to the [Soviet] ambassador. I wrote the letter on the basis of the notes that I had, and the ambassador did not even speak good Spanish, and we had no interpreters. Who knows what the ambassador actually sent over there, but apparently he did convey something of this idea, perhaps not very clearly."

It is impossible to be sure of what Castro was saying without seeing the original Spanish version, as well as the Russian translation that was presented to Khrushchev. To impute these intentions to Castro is a grossly speculative distortion of historical facts. Eclecticology 21:27, 2004 Apr 23 (UTC)

Yes Ed, your changes are a definite improvement. I'll be wanting to look at the earlier paragraphs. This is a situation where, perhaps because of multiple edits, I had to read it several times to make sense of it, and it even seems that some of it ends up with the opposite sides mixed up. Eclecticology 22:57, 2004 Apr 23 (UTC)

I don't at all understand how that quote from Castro could be construed to say he is recommending first strike against the USA. He's saying that the USA must never be able to get first strike cability on the Communist bloc -- which is no more damning that Robert McNamara saying that the USA would take first strike capability if it had the chance, or that it would be unacceptable for the USA to let the USSR have first strike capability against it. There are many ways to prevent another country from getting first strike capability without advocating nuclear war (for example, the arms race). --Fastfission 22:40, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)

merge in "First-strike attack"[edit]

I don't have the time to research the history of nuclear war strategy, so I haven't completed the merge. In general, my thoughts are:

  • the introduction, headings, links, and categorization of this article is better than that of the "First-strike attack" article.
  • the history from the "First-strike attack" article is interesting, and should be folded into this article - it'd be nice if the editor had a solid knowledge of the history or time to research it, and I don't have either.

Asmendel 23:10, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Move Bertrand Russell & Hersch/Iran to Different Articles.[edit]

Moving Bertrand Russell and Hersch/Iran out of this article and into more appropriate locations would be a good idea. Russell only gave his opinions on a first strike, while quite provocative, it never led to one, while the Hersch/Iran item might be better in an article about Iran, the current situation there, or Hersch. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Katana0182 (talkcontribs) 06:28, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

If nobody has any objections, I am going to be WP:BOLD and move the Hersch/Iran to something about Iranian nuclear weapons programs, and the Bertrand Russell section to an article about Bertrand Russell. I think that these would be more appropriate places for the content of the two sections. Any objections, please discuss; otherwise, will move them in 24-48 hours from of 04:00Z 15-7-08.Katana0182 (talk) 03:44, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

It is done.Katana0182 (talk) 06:31, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

Historical Analysis Reads Like a Cheap Novel[edit]

Sorry, but it does. In particular the phrase

"Luckily for the world, when the superpowers drew close to the edge of the nuclear abyss during both the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Able Archer/VRYAN Crisis, they took the time to stare intently into its depths, and came away knowing that the abyss stared back into them."

What abyss is this? did the leaders travel to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine to look out the window? and if so, the deep ocean environment has eyes? or is this another abyss that has eyes?

id fix it, but I dont know where to begin. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:43, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

This article reads like somebody just pasted their high school history paper into Wikipedia. It contains countless uncited and possibly biased points, and uses rhetoric for dramatic effect that has no place in an encyclopedia. (talk) 19:30, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Anti-Russian bias?[edit]

This article seems to have many POV issues, for example:

The military invasion of Iraq was seen by Russia as indicating potential U.S. disrespect for what the Russian leadership views as international law, which it allegedly values. (talk) 15:36, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Will rewrite phrasing in attempt to avoid appearance of impropriety. (talk) 00:11, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

Trident II incomplete sentence problem[edit]

In the article section on possible first strike systems, the Trident II is discussed, and ends with this sentence:

However, the fact that SSBNs are usually deep underwater for their mission, and can only receive very low rate data communications via VLF or ELF, causing slow reception and verification of strike orders, and the one-missile at a time fire rate of a nuclear missile submarine.

This is not a complete sentence. I would assume that something needs to be added that either relates to the GPS guidance discussed in the preceding sentence or the countervalue purpose mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph. As it is, I'm not sure where the sentence was headed. --Wesley R. Elsberry (talk) 05:10, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Overall Content of this Article[edit]

There is a problem overall with this article. As mentioned by others, it is written as a personal reflection essay. While reading it I discovered another flaw, one that has not already been posted. This flaw is that, the article itself, focuses too much on the "Cold War", and it's history. This article is only about what a "Nuclear First Strike" is, not any other social, or political issues. (Unless there is a specific sub-category, but presently, there is not). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gold Contaxt (talkcontribs) 18:15, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

This Entire Article Needs to Be Re-Written, In a Neutral, Scholarly Manner[edit]

This article is written like an essay, and is full of personal opinions/interpretations. Additionally, like another user said, this article only covers the U.S & Soviet Russia; this must be widened to include the entire world. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gold Contaxt (talkcontribs) 02:27, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Historical Background Problems[edit]

Maybe the Historical Background section should just be removed entirely. None of it seems directly related to the topic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nivlek273 (talkcontribs) 19:12, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Detailed source and film: SIOP-62[edit]

Launch on Warning[edit]

From the section on Increasing alert state and readiness: "By adopting a launch on warning nuclear posture, the possibility of a first-strike can be significantly mitigate."

This might be a matter of the definition of "first strike", but it seems to me that the launch on warning strategy increases the probability of it happening: an incorrect warning could lead to an inadvertent first strike. I assume that the point being made here is that the term "first strike" is being used to refer to an unprovoked, deliberate nuclear attack rather than what the "attacking" side might see as a counterattack; but the distinction is not particularly clear. (talk) 06:48, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Jargon of "first strike capability"[edit]

The use of the term "first strike capability" appears twice, once in the opening summary and a second time in the body of the article. In both cases it appears to be used as technical jargon of nuclear warfare strategy, but in neither case are there any citations as to this concept. Contrast this with "second-strike capability," which indeed is a major concept, literally the ability (capability) of a country to retaliate on the perpetrator of an initial nuclear attack and thereby guarantee, in most cases, mutually-agreed destruction, another well-established term and concept.

I don't think "first strike capability" is a thing outside of casual use and coincidental formation, eg, discussing that cruise missiles are too slow to have the capability to be used in a first strike (ergo "first strike capability"), and/or misstatements by, at best, the media. After all, ANY nation possessing nuclear weapons thereby has a "first strike capability," - that is, the ability to use their weapons first - but in the context it seems to be used (suppression of enemy weapons to deny them second strike capability) this is more properly a [pre-emptive] disarming nuclear strike - another variety for instance is the decapitation strike. These specific terms are more narrow in their definition and obvious in their meaning, so I think this term either needs some backup in the form of references or should really be extinguished, especially with its spurious treatment as a genuine technical term. AnyyVen (talk) 17:43, 30 November 2017 (UTC)