Drums of war



Egad, that’s startling. Kinda makes every other war mongering nation on earth look like pikers doesn’t it?


Sounds like the Russians are comfortable in their new digs.



Death and Taxes. Sobering.

Defense budget in 2016 + $585.3 B +4% from previous year.

(2017 not released yet)


Recently, I’ve read this book.

it’s pretty good. The book’s structure is notable, in that half the book is about the incdent in Damascus, in which ICBM exploded in its silo, and the other attempts to explain why Arkansas is not a pool of radioactive slag today. That latter question in an outgrowth of the “one point safety” doctrine, which supposedly guarantees that the nuke only goes off by direct order from the president.

This ideal can be extrapolated still further, from guaranteeing that the nuke doesn’t go off in a plain crash, to guaranteeing that some rogue missileer doesn’t act on his own initiative, to guaranteeing that the president has enough information to tell the difference between a Soviet first strike and a glitch in the early warning system…

It’s an ideal-- it’s not necessarily something that’s fully implemented, and accidents do happen.

One such accident happened in Thule.

It could be much, much worse, One of the ways that the Strategic Air Command planned to detect a Soviet attack in progress was to monitor Thule-- the early warning system would be among the first targets to be nuked. And so…

It was believed that if the Soviet Union was going to attack the first thing it would do would be to destroy the Thule radar installation, because it would essentially blind the American early warning system and we’d have no idea if missiles were on the way. So the Thule monitor was supposed to just look at the base and make sure it hadn’t been destroyed yet – because if it was it meant we were at war. Now the Thule Monitor was an extremely boring and tedious mission to fly. Just flying in a bow tie pattern above a base. These flights lasted 20-24 hours. One day in 1968 the crew flying the Thule monitor decided to bring some foam rubber seat cushions to make the flight more comfortable. They stowed four foam rubber seat cushions beneath one of the seats in the cockpit and forgot about them. About 10 hours later one of the crew members went, “sniff sniff, I think I smell smoke” and another said, “smells like burning rubber”. They had inadvertently put the cushions next to a heat vent and the foam had ignited.

When the B-52 hit the ice it exploded in an enormous fireball from the jet fuel being consumed. Thankfully those hydrogen bombs did not detonate full scale. They were a model of hydrogen bomb that was later found to have significant safety problems. In this case there was not a full-scale nuclear detonation. But they did explode, scattering plutonium across the Arctic ice.

Now the huge significance of this accident is the following. The control tower at Thule, in talking to the bomber, aware that it was coming in for emergency landing, had never let anyone in the US know that a B-52 was coming in for an emergency landing at Thule. At Omaha, the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command they had no idea there was a problem at Thule.

If that bomber had hit that base, either through a conventional explosion or if there had been a full-scale detonation of one of those hydrogen bombs, Thule would have been destroyed. The entire base. And in the US the logical conclusion would have been “We’re at war”. There would have been no way to know that this had been a bomber crash. There would have been the assumption that Thule had been destroyed by a Soviet first strike.

Nuclear war by accident.

A lot of people like to argue that the risks of war between Russia and the United States are very high, and NATO should stop rattling sabres. But Command and Control points out that the real risks lie in the fact that one misinterpreted signal could lead to the end of the world.

It’s not “a series of misinterpreted signals leading to a gradual buildup of forces, leading to a conventional war which will kill millions of people over the course of four years.”

Nope. It’s “you have fifteen minutes to decide whether to end the world, based on a blip on your radar screen.”

From that sort of perspective, NATO’s decision to put a small number of troops in the baltic states doesn’t increase the chance of war. It decreases it.

Think about it. That small contingent of troops can’t invade Russia. However, they will serve as witnesses if the Russians try to conduct an invasion by stealth. It decreases the chances of the world waking up the problem of forcing out detachments of “little green men” without agitating the Russian bear.

The risks of accidental nuclear war cannot be overstated.But that’s different from the risks of deliberate war, And knowing the differences between what is accidental, and what is deliberate is still important.




Still plenty of airtime free for Stormy, too. Priorities.



Was followed by this:

(typo in second tweet, should be @taskandpurpose)




Worth two minutes:











Speaking of Lockheed Martin…