We Asked a Military Expert if All the World’s Armies Could Shut Down the US
The thing about the Republicans is that when they have a tantrum, they really have a tantrum. Right now, somewhere in Washington, DC, there are a bunch of rich men with white hair, white skin, and black hearts screaming and stomping around in their suits because they don’t want poor people to have affordable healthcare. Fortunately for powerful people, just as you can boycott your country club if it decides to admit a foreign person, so you can shut the government down if it decides not to listen to you. Who cares if doing this might throw the world into a “deep, dark recession”? You can just move to your ranch in Texas and ride out the storm. The upside will be that your servants will probably work for even less because, guess what, there aren’t any jobs and they really need the money for healthcare.
God. Deep, dark recession. Didn’t the planet just come out of one of those? Maybe it’s time the rest of the world said enough is enough. The rest of the world let these stars-and-stripes bastards walk over us for too long. Let them goose-step around the world, killing millions and stealing resources. Let them go on and on about the land of the free and the home of the brave while they systematically take away the freedom and the bravery of others. Fuck these flag-waving, God-loving psychopaths. It’s time for the rest of the world to get a great, big army together and attack the US. We need boots on the ground on the White House lawns. If they can’t look after their own economy, we need to invade and look after it for them. So let’s fucking get them!
But can we get them? Is that even an option, or are they really harder than China, Russia, Iran, the UK, France, Germany, Iceland, Belarus, and every other country put together? In order to find out just how possible a Rest of the World versus America revenge fantasy invasion would be, I got in touch with Dylan Lehrke, Americas Armed Forces Analyst at IHS Jane’s.
VICE: First thing’s first. How could the rest of the world disable the US nuclear capacity?
Dylan Lehrke: It is virtually impossible to eliminate the US nuclear arsenal since it is based on a triad of land, air, and sea delivery systems designed to provide a counterstrike capability. The submarine-launched ballistic missiles in particular are widely accepted as the most survivable element of the US nuclear deterrent as a portion of it is always at sea. The land-based missiles too are difficult to eliminate, as they are in hardened silos in the middle of the country. Any adversary facing the United States would need to either be willing to absorb a nuclear attack or develop a ballistic-missile defense system currently beyond the scope of anything technologically feasible.
Berlin’s Suicide-Proof Nuclear Fallout Shelter
Anyone who grew up during the Cold War can recall the strangely placid, everyday terror that came along with the constant threat of global nuclear annihilation. Today, we fear that terrorists or a rogue state will get their hands on a nuclear device. This would not be the end of the world—humanity could survive a nuclear terror attack or two, devastating as these might be. Mutually assured destruction was a different kind of thing all together, and in some ways a more palatable fear. You didn’t have to be born-again to believe in Armageddon; everyone could see that it was right around the corner.
Berlin was a particularly surreal place to experience the Cold War. With Western and Soviet bloc forces literally staring each other in the face, the city was a tinderbox waiting to explode into World War III. The citizens of West Berlin understood that they were expendable: if the Soviets were to invade, the NATO plan was a strategic withdrawal, followed by the deployment of 23 tactical nuclear warheads. West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt signed on to this plan, green-lighting the total obliteration of the German people in the name of containing Communism.
The city of West Berlin eventually built 23 nuclear bunkers, employing hundreds of scientists and researchers to design and construct these facilities. Paradoxically, these shelters only provided enough space to house less than one percent of the population. It was a placebo contingency plan, so the government could claim that they were doing something.
Today, at the Pankstrasse stop on the U-8 subway line in Berlin, you can venture into a fallout shelter that was built for about 3,000 people. Though technically still functional, it is doubtful that the facility would actually be usable in an emergency—the plumbing, for instance, has not been overhauled in 40 years. The practical function of the shelter is as a destination for tourists and history buffs.
I don’t see much difference in the ideological function of [North Korea’s nuclear threats] and Katy Perry launching fireworks out of her breasts—they’re just two vague myths of empowerment that offer little more than passive visual titillation, framed differently for two very different world views.