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Let’s use nuclear weapons!

Look, I want you to know that if I thought there was the slightest chance that it was really going to happen my first reaction to this story would probably not have been to say “Cool”.

Lord Gilbert Suggests Dropping A Neutron Bomb On Pakistan-Afghanistan Border

Even cooler: he is a former Labour defence minister.

Responding for the government Lord Wallace said the coalition did not share the “rumbustious views” of Gilbert.


20 comments to Let’s use nuclear weapons!

  • Laird

    I was not aware that we had neutron bombs; I thought the public outcry when they were first being discussed had resulted in their abandonment. Maybe that was only in the US.

    Good to know.

  • Why not drop it on one of the Labout strongholds up north, for the stimulus value in the reconstruction? They could rebuild the city as a Green city, dramatically cutting carbon emissions in the process.


  • David Gillies

    Yeah, Laird, we don’t have Enhanced Radiation Weapons (which is the technical term for neutron bombs). They were originally designed as anti-armour devices to break up mass tank concentrations if the Warsaw Pact broke through in Western Europe. Tanks are very resistant to the normal blast and thermal effects of nuclear warheads. The idea was that neutron radiation would penetrate tank armour and deliver such a dose as to promptly incapacitate the crews (i.e. 80-100 Gy) and neutron activation would make the hulls unusable for a day or two afterwards. They quite likely wouldn’t be very effective against modern armour compared to the the direct blast/thermal effects from a standard weapon. The enhanced radiation was created by replacing the standard high-Z radiation reflectors with lighter materials like nickel, to allow very energetic ‘fast’ neutrons to escape the detonation instead of contributing to lighting the fusion fuel core and causing secondary fission in the tamper. They would still be kiloton-sized devices i.e. Hiroshima scale. No-one has them at the moment as far as is known.

    If you wanted to pacify the border area of Pakistan/Afghanistan, and I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, a saturation strike with ordinary thermonukes would be the way to go. If I had my copy of The Effects of Nuclear Weapons handy, I could work out how far you’d need to space them to get the 5 PSI overpressure and 1 MJ/m² thermal flux contours to overlap.

  • RRS

    A variant on this may be the solution to the drive of the Jurists in Iran for nuclear warfare power.

    Not a destructive bombardment, but a multi-site contaminations shower.

    Can be done with what is available and with advance warnings

  • Mike James

    A former Labour defence minister has suggested threatening to drop a neutron bomb on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in order to crack down on terrorism by creating a impassible barrier between the two countries.

    Well, you don’t want an enhanced radiation warhead form that–those were meant to allow territory to be passable for armored formations if the Soviets acted up. What you want is a dirty bomb–pick the right tool for the job, I say.

  • Dave Walker

    I echo Laird’s comment about neutron bombs; although as we definitely have Hydrogen bombs, there’s enough common elements of technology that one can be derived from the other.

    I also admit it’s crossed my mind that there are places in the world currently, where the use of nuclear weapons as a means of area denial looks almost tempting. Further, there’s the matter that if we have these things and aren’t prepared to use them when circumstances genuinely warrant, then they aren’t actually “nuclear weapons” so much as “nuclear ornaments”…

  • Dave Walker

    …The idea’s not new, of course; in a rather different theatre, at a rather different time (Vietnam), I seem to recall hearing that it was his suggestion that a line of nuclear bombs be dropped to sever Vietcong supply lines from the North, that finally and hurriedly got Gen. Douglas MacArthur retired…

  • Regional

    Why only one?

  • Dave Walker:

    I don’t think the idea of nuking the Viet Cong supply lines got MacArthur retired, since he was already dead at the time. :-p

    MacArthur was retired over a difference of opinion with President Truman over how to handle the Chinese in North Korea (more or less; I’m too lazy to look up the exact cause).

  • The giant radioactive mutant locusts should keep the Pakis and Afghans busy.

  • Stephen Willmer

    While we’re on the subject, what about one of those electro-magnetic pulse devices (not sure of the exact name), designed permanently to scramble electronics kit, detonated above Nigeria?

    A modest (-ish) proposal in the struggle against cyber scammers, and one which might enable the repeal of all sorts of nasty legislation in the UK (and, I suspect, other countries) intended to fight the menace of cyber scammers but which has ended up placing on us the burden of the scammers’ behaviour?

  • Snag

    Gilbert is, um, something of an iconoclast.

    Here’s a quote from Hansard:

    “I have been told by a former Conservative Defence Secretary that the Americans were going to close down the C130 production line. That is rubbish, and simply not true. If you read the most recent edition of Defense News, you will see that they are going to go on with more and more sophisticated C130s. The C17 has also proved itself capable of undertaking tactical missions. The A400M is a complete, absolute wanking disaster, and we should be ashamed of ourselves. I have never seen such a waste of public funds in the defence field since I have been involved in it these past 40 years.”

  • Paul Marks

    The real problem is not that there are Islamists in Pakistan – of course there are Islamists in Pakistan.

    The real problem is that there are nuclear weapons in Pakistan.

    And those weapons will be used – or sold to those who will use them.

    A sane American government would not concentrate on hunting Islamists in Afghanistan and Pakistan – it would concentrate on destroying those Pakistani nuclear weapons.

    Before they are used.

  • Those Pakistani nukes would be used almost immediately if someone dropped a neutron bomb on the Pakistani border.

    In my much less sensible past, I was in favour of dropping a nuke on Jerusalem in order to solve the middle east problem, the theory being that if they had nothing to argue over they would all pack up and go home.
    I’m no longer convinced that this would be the case …

  • Alisa

    You may have already reached the following conclusion, wh00ps, but just in case: it is not Jerusalem that we are arguing over.

  • Alisa

    …as it is not Afghanistan either, of course.

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so.

    What is at stake is the future of Western civilisation.

    It is Judaism, not Islam (in spite of Muhammed dream of Jerusalem – it was Muhammed who turned the direction of prayer AWAY from Jerusalem, a place he never visited), that places a special value on the Holy Land.

    Of course Islamists would like to rule in Hafia.

    But no more than they would like in London, New York – and everywhere else.

    The turning away of Christians (and “post Christians” in the dying West) from Jews – blaming Jews for the conflict with Islam (which would go on even if every Jew in the world died tomorrow) can be seen in odd places.

    For example, the 1960s translation of the Bible – the Jerusalem Bible of Alexander Jones, has a “Jewish feel” (even down to the use of certain Hebrew words).

    The New Jerusalem Bible (and so on) has no such “Jewish feel”. Indeed the interpretive writing in the New Jerusalem Bible has distinctly antiJewish (even anti Israeli) feel.

    So the Church (and academic scholarship) has, once again, turned its face away from the Jews.

    It is unfortunate.

    The previous attitude (perhaps generated out of horror for the crimes of the Nazis) was one thing of the 1960s I would like to see return.

  • Don’t worry, I have disabused myself of that and several other daft notions since then 😉
    Of course, the advantage still remains that making Jerusalem uninhabitable would prevent the temple being rebuilt, and therefore delay Armageddon for a while, at least …

  • Alisa

    🙂 it’s like I used to tell my son: if you end up dead, I’ll kill you!

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa – the gentle philosopher General Patton springs to mind.

    “I do not want you to die for your country – I want you to make the other …………. die for his country”.

    Turning to Israel specifically…..

    I feel that, somehow, the ancient conflict between “Jew and Greek” has somehow, to some extent, been settled in Israel.

    It is a shock (even for a half Jew like me) to not be in a place where most people do not dislike Jews – indeed can not (without self hatred) as they are Jews themselves.

    All my life (even at primary school) “Jew” has been a term of abuse – I am not sure I could ever get used to it not being a term of abuse.

    However, Israel is very much “Greek” (Western) also.

    Even down to the walls of defence (very Roman) and the two years (or so) of military service (just like Ancient Athens).

    The idea of secular law – whether English Common Law or Roman Law (the wonderful Institutes of Gaius – the first, systematic, writing down of the evolved legal judgements) different from the arbitrary will of the rulers – or from religious law.

    Although the Talmudic scholars did wonders over the centuries to make civil the Torah.

    The cry “raise your hand” (i.e. do not cover, with one’s hand, such things as the punishment of death for adultery) by which Muslims declared their revolt against the Talmudic scholars (in many ways Islam is a revolt against the Talmud – in serarch of a more “pure”, i.e. savage, religion) is the cry of the barbarian.

    Actually both the Roman Jurists and the Jewish Talmundic scholars (enemies though Romans and Jews were) were seeking the same thing.

    The natural law.

    Not the “natural law” in the sense of the “law of the jungle” – the law of claws and teeth (as with Muhammed).

    But the God of reason and justice – whether Athena-Minerva or the Jewish concept of the universal one God.