General Question

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

Can you assume that you are one of two airmen in a nuclear silo?

Asked by 12_func_multi_tool (803 points ) March 23rd, 2010

I don’t know how informed they are of current situations, but if it came time to enter the codes and turn the keys would you take any actions to stop it, or if the other airman was reluctant, would you take actions to make it happen?

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167 Answers

phillis's avatar

I am spiritually directed not to take someone’s life. It is arrogance in it’s purest form. There are stiff consequences awaiting me if I do that, so no. I could not do it.

TexasDude's avatar

I wouldn’t turn the key, and I’d hope that someone over in a silo in North Korea, the former USSR, or wherever would oblige and do the same.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I can almost assure you, Airmen wouldn’t be the ones to turn the key, it’d be an officer.

ragingloli's avatar

My nation does not have nuclear weapons, but if it had, I would voluntarily take the job specifically so that I could prevent the missile from launching. And I would prevent the other bloke in the bunker from turning the switch as well.

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

I meant it in general, I thought of the officer/enlisted thing.

JeffVader's avatar

Yes, there is no way I would ever be prepared to launch a nuke…. & I’d do everything in my power to persuade, & if that failed, prevent the other person from going through with it.

RandomMrdan's avatar

But would all of you still not launch nukes, after knowing the enemy has launched their missiles?

ragingloli's avatar

Yes. I would still stop it.
If you die, die with honour.

jrpowell's avatar

@RandomMrdan :: I wouldn’t. I will die anyways. Killing millions of innocent people isn’t going to bring me back to life.

RandomMrdan's avatar

You all realize that you have taken oaths at this point to protect our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and were given a job in that silo? You’d just re-nig on your oaths?

RandomMrdan's avatar

I would almost see that as betraying one’s country.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
I would almost see that as betraying one’s country.
So be it.
Not that launching nukes in a scorched earth approach would protect anything anyway.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@ragingloli what country are you from?

ragingloli's avatar

Germany.

Cruiser's avatar

No, yes. I signed on to do a very special job, I do what is expected. Millions of lives could depend on turning that key.

My sister was a silo sitter for 2 years had hated it. Said it drove her crazy especially when she got stuck down there with this one airman who was a bit off in the skull.

JeffVader's avatar

@RandomMrdan Yep, I can see no way in which a retaliatory strike would benefit the world. Oaths towards a country mean absolutely nothing to me whatsoever. It’s people that matter, not mud, & they’re all about to be nuked anyway.

davidbetterman's avatar

If you aren’t going to turn the key, then get out of the silo and make room for someone who has the cahonies to do his/her job.

RandomMrdan's avatar

Maybe hypothetical oaths mean nothing to many of you, but my real ones do to me.

If someone has sealed the fate of every person I’ve ever known or loved, and I have in my power to avenge them, and on top of that am ordered to do it, I definitely would.

Now, a pre-emptive strike I would hesitate a bit though.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I love fluther, but sometimes I think everyone tries to be a little too self righteous.

davidbetterman's avatar

@RandomMrdan As a silo turnkey you will never know if your strike is preemptive or retaliatory.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@davidbetterman I suppose I’d have to trust my leaders at that point and turn the key.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I think it is impossible to tell what I would do until placed in that situation. Although I am completely opposed to capital punishment, and think that war is often an exercise in futility, I still cannot say with absolute certainty that I would not launch the nuke. I would need all the facts of the situation before I made an ethical judgement on the issue, and even then I would probably be considering the issue until it was too late to launch.

Draconess25's avatar

I would probably try & stop it, but I’m of two minds here:

Humans have corrupted the world. Besides, the innocent will suffer because of those people, so it might as well be a quick death.

On the other hand, I still don’t believe in killing the innocent, even though I’m not against killing in general. And it would pollute the environment.

josie's avatar

It is a volunteer service. This is something we think about BEFORE we sign up. When I was in the service, I would have been totally pissed off if one of my guys started to have doubts about shooting at the enemy. Once you are engaged, it is way too late to indulge in introspection.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RandomMrdan Vengeance is pointless and stupid. The ill is done, and the only sensible course of action is to rehabilitate those at fault so it never happens again.

jerv's avatar

I had a nice discussion with my recruiter about this very thing since I would not turn the key. However, it wasn’t really considered an issue since :
A) I wouldn’t stop someone else from doing so, and
B) If that sort of decision was left to a low-ranking enlisted man in a non-combat rating then chances are that I wouldn’t be alive to hit the button anyways.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@firemadeflesh you say that now as you look in on this hypothetical question, but do you truly feel you would t want to avenge the death of your family friends, and people you know?

You’ll just say, oh well that sucks, but life goes on, I’ll not seek vengeance?

@Josie has it right. You know what you have to do before you get in that silo. I’d be pissed if my troops suddenly didn’t want to return fire to the enemy.

ragingloli's avatar

I’d be pissed if my troops suddenly didn’t want to return fire to the enemy.
I would rather compare it to exterminating a village full of civilians.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RandomMrdan I think the wisest judgements on these matters are made when there is not yet any emotional investment. If someone were to harm or kill any of my family, my girlfriend or any of my close friends, I would likely succumb and tear them limb from limb. If I were sitting on a jury where someone had initiated a revenge attack though, I would not be much (if any) more lenient than if the attack was motivated by any other factor.

In the case of the nuclear silo though, the revenge attack is on a foreign country’s civilians who had no say in the launch. I would certainly hire an assassin to remove the scum that would launch a nuclear weapon, but nuking innocent civilians would only make me as bad as them.

Gandhi once said “There are many causes for which I would die, but none for which I would kill.” While I am not as much of a pacifist as Gandhi, I agree with the sentiment.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@ragingloli but you signed up for the job…

@firemadeflesh but the people accountible isn’t just a person, it’s probably a government/military.

We dropped bombs on japan to spare American lives, who is to say we wouldn’t be targetting military structures, government structures in an attemtp to prevent this military/government from doing
more harm after the dust settles?

PS I’m not able to change my answers using my phone, so please bare with any grammatical errors.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
So did the German soldiers before they were transferred to be stationed at the extermination camps.
Blindly following orders is a recipe for desaster.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@ragingloli sometimes to stop the enemy, collateral damage plays a role, in this case it sounds like it catastrophic. Because once the missiles go, they all go. But why would you leave an enemy unharmed to do whatever they want with no one to stop them?

RandomMrdan's avatar

@ragingloli they were killing innocent Jews once detained, it’s not quite comparable. It’s why they faced war crimes, and I wouldn’t for turning my key to launch missiles.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
And I would be killing millions of innocent men, women and children. That is absolutely comparable.

jfos's avatar

@RandomMrdan You should. Launching nuclear bombs is, by my standards, a war crime. Armies are “supposed” to fight armies. Governments aren’t supposed to fight foreign citizens, and certainly not innocent ones.

RandomMrdan's avatar

Should be, but wouldn’t be. Just like in WWII, we dropped bombs to prevent further harm.

And seeking out innocent people and killing them, and killing them through collateral damage is not the same thing. It has similar results, but they are not the same.

jfos's avatar

@RandomMrdan I don’t think dropping nukes on Japan is justifiable. You don’t level two cities full of innocent citizens to “prevent further harm”. That is not collateral damage. That is seeking out and killing innocent people.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@jfos it ended the war didn’t it?

Edit: for japan at least.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
You were deliberately targeting civilians when you firebombed Tokio. The reason why no one was even tried for war crimes is that you were the victors.
And the difference between targeting civilians directly and collateral damage is only minor.
By doing it, you made yourself just as guilty as the Nazis.

RandomMrdan's avatar

It’s viewed by saving American lives by preventing further war, where as killing Jews saves no one. A nazi would be no way comparable.

And it was Hiroshima and Nagasaki

jfos's avatar

@RandomMrdan It doesn’t matter if it ended the war. A war-ending act can still be inhumane.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I’d rather enemy civilians die than American civilians.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
The firebombing refers to the massive dropping of bombs on Tokio, which almost exclusively was made up of wooden houses back then. The result was a fiery inferno. Millions of innocent men, women, and children were roasted alive in this act of genocide.

jfos's avatar

@RandomMrdan They weren’t ENEMY civilians. They were civilians living in a country whose government was at odds with the American government. Why would you wish any civilians to die? If the American government tells you who to hate, you hate them, huh?

RandomMrdan's avatar

I’m not saying we should fire bomb wooden houses in a village. I’m simply saying one has to turn the key… What would the enemy do once you’re gone? Where would they stop after that, if at all?

I don’t hate civilians in an enemy country, but if I had to choose, would choose my own countries civilians.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
“I’d rather enemy civilians die than American civilians.”
There would have been no American civilian casualties. Japan’s Navy was already reduced to debris when the nukes were dropped. There was no way in hell that Japan could have mounted an invasion of the American mainland. There could have been no aerial assault either because no faction at that time had any planes with a large enough range to even come close to crossing the ocean.
And civilians are not my enemy.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I was referring to the hypothetical question about the civilians.

Once the enemy drops bombs on us, what do you think they would do next? You think they would just carry on as normal business? No plans of world domination? Nothing? They would just stop on their own? Someone has to stop them.

RandomMrdan's avatar

If you don’t stop them, they will keep going with no one to stand in their way.

JeffVader's avatar

@RandomMrdan Of course the one fundamental flaw I can see in your argument is this. If you are launching your nukes in retaliation, then you aren’t actually acting to save anyone. All your people are going to die, no way to stop that, all you’re doing by launching your own nukes is to kill more people…. whats the point?

RandomMrdan's avatar

@jeffvader not true, not all will die. Most will, but not all.

I keep thinking about cold war days. If the USA fell, Russia would have nothing in their way to sweep over Europe and people will continue to die.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
Target military forces. Only.
Today’s technology is sophisticated enough to steer a cruise missile up a camel’s arse at the other side of the world. (Even back then strikes with relative precision were possible.)
Collateral damage in this day and age is completely unnecessary and merely an act of pure barbarism. The enemy can be stopped without resorting to mass murder.

RandomMrdan's avatar

So why do I have to turn a key? We’re talking about
the brink of nuclear war here right?

If they launch nukes at us first, we won’t have the time to coordinate tactical strikes on vital military structures.

I’m not at all saying I want to drop nukes on other countries, BUT if I had to turn a key, I would.

RandomMrdan's avatar

For anyone who doesn’t turn the key, I’d assume at that point, you’ve sealed not only your fate, but you’ve left others who are left at the will of a possible evil tyrany.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
Tyrannies are temporary. Death is permanent.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@ragingloli that may be, but many people die under tyrannies.

Edit: Jews for example.

JeffVader's avatar

@RandomMrdan Thats rather splitting hairs… fine so there would be a few highly ill & dying people left afterwards…. for a few months until they succumbed to one of the most horrific deaths humans are aware of, woohoo! That sounds like a good reason to inflict that on another innocent civilian population.
Better they are left to struggle against the will of evil tyranny (funny how the immediate assumption is that America isn’t the evil tyranny) & to possible free themselves one day than to kill everyone on both sides.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@jeffvader you think every part of a country would be destroyed? The targets will be highly populated areas, there will be survivors, and now other countries left to the mercy of a possible tyranny

JeffVader's avatar

@RandomMrdan As good as, yes. There is certainly nowhere on either the continental United States or Europe that would support healthy human life. As I said above, if people are alive at least they have a chance of overcoming…

RandomMrdan's avatar

@jeffvader I’m sure there would be many survivors. We would have aid from NATO and other countries. And not all survivors are going to be sick and dying either. I’m sure anyone living outside say 50 miles from a major city, military structure, or nuclear power plants would be fine. As long as they weren’t too close downwind too. I don’t know the exact distance you need to be downwind from a nuclear explosion.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
You are underestimating the effects of radiation and nuclear fallout. Lethal radiation poisoning, cancer, lethal deformations of newborns, poisoned food and water supplies, irradiated soil. And then the weather spreads the poison all over the world. And then there is the nuclear winter, which will kill the majority of the survivors.
An all out retaliatory attack will leave millions upon millions dead, especially considering the population density of current cities, possibly billions by the inevitable effects of a nuclear holocaust, which I am sure would be a far greater number than those possibly killed in an ensuing tyranny if we did not lauch the nukes.

JeffVader's avatar

@RandomMrdan As @ragingloli said, ur either grossly underestimating the effects of modern nuclear weaponry, or ur assuming it was a very limited strike. If either Russia, or the United States launched a full strike, even if the opposition didn’t retaliate, every mammal, fish, reptile, & about 98% of all insect life on the planet would be dead within 24mnths.

jfos's avatar

@JeffVader I’m sincerely curious why you used 24 months rather than 2 years. Is there a reason?

RandomMrdan's avatar

Are you sure a full on nuclear attack on two continents would ruin the ENTIRE planet?

And for a moment to look past all the morale implications of turning the key. You have to realize you are in this silo for one task. Suddenly it comes down from the top, from Obama himself to launch. And suddenly you say no way? Even if you say no, a person like me will step in to turn it for you.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
As I said earlier before, I would be in this silo to prevent the missile from launching (which I of course would lie about before that, otherwise I would not be there).
And I would do my best to prevent anyone else in the bunker from launching it.
And yes, We are absolutely sure it would be a nuclear armaggeddon.

RandomMrdan's avatar

And assuming the nukes will kill everything on the planet in 2 years, why not make the ones responsible pay? At least now those millions will die fast as opposed to a slow death from nuclear fall out everywhere.

RandomMrdan's avatar

You guys would all just rather roll over and die if someone launches at you?

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
Because I am not a person of needless revenge.
Why sully my existence with mass murder?

You guys would all just rather roll over and die if someone launches at you?
No. But that is not the issue here. The issue is committing mass murder of innocent civilians. Which I will not do. Not for any cause, person, group or agency in the world.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Cruiser I read your response too quickly, and thought you said your sister was down there with someone who bit off his skull.

Agree with @ragingloli that it’s easy to underestimate the effects of nukes. Don’t forget some of the indirect effects like infrastructure destruction. Medical supplies won’t be able to be transported, food distribution systems will break down, etc.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

I have read through this and am rather surprised. If your duty is to launch a nuke if/when needed, and you took an oath to do the job then it is your obligation to make sure that any command given to you is pursued. Obviously higher ranking commands have already had these endless Moral and Ethical debates before giving the order, and I would hope they made this decision based on the overall protection of your country. Our government wouldn’t give an order to launch a nuke unless it was for a better outcome than if you didn’t launch it. It is, at that point, not your say or right to debate things that they probably already debated. I also feel this question is flawed because most people that say “No” also wouldn’t ever take this job up, but if you really think about it, if you don’t do it, they will find someone else that will.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
Our government wouldn’t give an order to launch a nuke unless it was for a better outcome than if you didn’t launch it.
What makes you so sure? Certainly was not true for the Nazis when they ordered the genocide against the Jews.

you took an oath to do the job then it is your obligation to make sure that any command given to you is pursued.
Again, blindly following orders. Not good.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@randommradam good point, the powers at be have already debated the issues, have called the enemy to make sure it isn’t a glitch in a system and so on.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
the powers at be have already debated the issues, have called the enemy to make sure it isn’t a glitch in a system and so on.
How would you know? They could just as well have given the order in pure panic without any thought.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingoli
Sometimes you have to blindly take orders. It is what you signed up for and you know beforehand that you are doing that. So why the sudden change of heart once you have to do something you don’t agree to? That is a bit hypocritical. They might have already thought of the point you were making and made a good counterpoint to make the decision to launch a nuke. Military is all about following orders, and very intelligent people come up with orders, and unless they are followed “blindly” then all strategic value to that specific nuke that they want you to launch goes out the window and you may possibly be the cause for even more victimless deaths.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@ragingloli not sure why you keep going back to Nazis killing Jews as a comparison, because it’s not. Killing Jews served as no strategic value whatsoever.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
As I already said twice in this thread, my sole purpose and conviction, from the beginning, in that bunker would be to prevent a launch.

@RandomMrdan
Both are mass murder of innocent people. Both by people blindly following orders.

Cruiser's avatar

@josie I agree with you here. They don’t give a 45 and a key to just any airman. The screening process and psych exam is lengthy and thorough. Those airmen are there for one reason and one reason only and that is to turn their keys if and when and hence 2 at a time to avoid any treasonous plots or change of heart. They also regularly and randomly rotate the pairings so no two airmen know who they will be with and when.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@ragingloli but one of those orders was out of hatred for Jews and another set of orders to defend oneself against another.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloli
But the question isnt whether you would kill millions of innocent Jews. It is ‘would you launch a nuke’ which could save innocent lives. No logic goes into genocide of killing Jews, but nukes serve strategic logic to take out enemies. Jew’s were the enemy of no one, not even the Nazi regime. So that is apples and oranges. The end result is even apples and oranges since we would only launch a nuke to prevent further war or to eliminate threats, not Jews.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
To me it makes absolutely no difference whether there is a strategic purpose to mass murder or not.
Btw, Nazi Propaganda at that time depicted Jews as instigators of wars, so the ‘strategic purpose’ of murdering Jews, to the soldier that bought the propaganda, would be to prevent future wars.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
A nuke which would almost certainly destroy innocent life.

RandomMrdan's avatar

To think Jews instigate wars is insane. And mass killing is different between the holocaust and a nuclear bomb. Like i said, one was spawned from hatred, the other in defense.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloli
Well obviously if you care nothing about strategy, then you are not one to be giving war advice now are you? You seem to think that any decision that results in death is not the answer. I am all about diplomacy, but lets consider that not all countries are for diplomacy, and war is a result. Are you also against war if the outcome could be peace? Innocent people will die in war, but for a greater good.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

Even soldiers were innocent civilians at one point before joining or getting drafted to the military, so even deaths on the battlefield are still deaths of once-civilian people. The decision to launch a nuke is no different than millions of people dying in battle. This is just another way to fight in war, just a different technology. Though this could even result in less deaths than years of war.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
I am against decisions that deliberately target civilians and decisions that accept the death of large numbers of civilians in collateral damage.
If that means it makes the war harder, so be it.
If that means you lose the war, so be it.
If you are willing to deliberately destroy countless civilian lives in order to win a war, then you do not deserve to win.

Even soldiers were innocent civilians at one point before joining or getting drafted to the military, so even deaths on the battlefield are still deaths of once-civilian people. The decision to launch a nuke is no different than millions of people dying in battle. This is just another way to fight in war, just a different technology. Though this could even result in less deaths than years of war.

Now you start twisting things.
Soldiers decided to be soldiers and willingly accept the risk of death (they can always desert). Civilians do not. They have no choice.
To equate the two is simply ridiculous.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloi
Where in the question did it say “would you nuke a civilian village/city”? Odds are, you don’t know where the nuke is going. So don’t make assumptions. It could be a military base.

It looks like you twisted it first by saying innocent people will die. You are making assumptions at that point.

RandomMrdan's avatar

Collateral damage will always be apart of any war. Sometimes large, sometimes small. But as Adam said, we don’t know where the missiles are going.

The_Idler's avatar

Noone needs nukes to take out a base. The collatoral damage, radiation, etc. is too harmful for nukes to be used in any situation but a last resort. Else, the order would be 100% pure evil.

Even then, nuclear retaliation is not defence, it is vengeance. In the few minutes after a full-scale nuclear attack, there are two possible outcomes: a world dominated by the attacking nation OR no world at all.

US bombs on Japan were the largest most horrific acts of terrorism ever perpetrated in the history of mankind. They saved many US soldiers’ lives, but don’t pretend it wasn’t mass murder on an unprecedented scale: terrorism.

I think some of us here are giving a strange quality of nobility and morality to the US Government. I don’t know what previous wartime behaviour such an idea could be based upon, but know this: the idea of MAD is that one side does not launch an attack, because the other side guarantees that they will exterminate as much of the attacker’s civilian population as possible, so ruining the nation.
This means that, in all likelihood, your command to launch the missile will be one of purest, bitterest revenge, and not one of strategy at all. This is not something that will be debated away by the government, this is official policy.

There is no strategy, but that of deterrence. Think game theory; there has to be this threat, but once it comes to the actual situation, everybody loses.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
Odds are, military bases are in or right next to, cities. As was the case in Japan.
Odds are, the government pursues a “shock and awe” strategy, which invariably will involve killing murdering civilians. As was the case in Japan.
The assumption that the nuke would kill countless civilians is valid and a near certainty.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@The_idler
Launching a nuke is bad news. I agree. You may think it’s evil, bitter, or what not, but I can only imagine that when decisions like this are made, emotions are omitted. War strategies do not include emotion, but rather strategy. I do not support war, I do not support war crimes, or nuking anyone. But if any of these are necessary, then it is for a greater good. No one just launches nukes out of hatred. Again, there is strategic value. The decision to launch a nuke would no doubt be last resort, but the decision would be made to prevent an even worse outcome. Would you rather have a worse outcome if you could help it? I would. It’s not a question of how you feel about launching the nuke, its more of a question of ‘do I trust my superiors that they made this decision for a greater cause’?

RandomMrdan's avatar

The person turning the key doesn’t even have the intel of who is launching, or where it’s going most likely. Just speculation. It’s launch or not. Maybe we’re launching one missile? And it isn’t full on nuke war.

ragingloli's avatar

@The_Idler
Excellent points.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@RandomMrDan
I agree that it doesn’t always mean all out nuclear war. In fact the only times that nukes were launched, that wasn’t the case. If the US even thought that the result could result in nuclear holocaust, then I am sure that the decision to launch the nuke would not be made. Again, people come up with the strategies, it is your obligation and oath when joining the military to follow orders. Obviously the people turning the keys are not the most strategic or intelligent people out there, which is why their job is to turn the key, not create the strategy.

The_Idler's avatar

Like I said, the official policy is that anyone who nukes the USA is destroyed via nuclear bombardment.

That isn’t “strategy”, once you pass the actual point of deterrence, and nuclear war happens.

There is no “greater cause” in nuclear retaliation; it is merely “tit-for-tat” , which is animalistic.

The military genius strategists have come up with this incredible system: the USA promises to murder as many civilians and destroy as much infrastructure as they possibly can, via nuclear bombardment, of any nation which makes a nuclear attack against them. This IS your “greater cause” from “the most strategic [&] intelligent people out there”.

Like I said, it is a deterrent;
but what use is a deterrent, once the act it is designed to deter has already been committed?
It has already failed as a strategy, the moment it necessarily comes into action!

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
Imagine you are part of an invasion force and you are conquering a city in which a resistence group is active. Let us also say that the country you are fighting against, started the war.
Your superior lines up a collection of civilians against a wall, men, women, children, and orders you to kill them.
The ’purpose’ of this is to send a message to the rebels so that they surrender, or more civilians will be executed. (which was exactly the purpose of the two nukes in Japan)
Would you still say that it is your duty to follow orders blindly, or will you refuse to murder them?

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@The_Idler
Why do you say nukes are tit for tat? Can you only imagine the use of a nuke for a bad cause? The word “strategic” is put in front of nuke for a reason. Nukes are not used modern day because the strategy doesn’t call for them. We would only use one if the situation called for it and it was better than any other outcome. Thankfully I cannot think of any other outcome, so I don’t think we have to worry about launching nukes any time soon. But again, it is your oath to follow orders, otherwise I do believe you can be arrested for not following orders. Then they will get someone else to do what you didnt, good job.

@ragingloli
The question isn’t would you line people against the wall and shoot them. I can assure you that the US would not give that order. We don’t even condone torturing terrorists (omitting the waterboarding that happened at Guantanomo) so why would we line up civilians and shoot them? That again, is not the question, and no strategy is involved in ONLY killing civilians.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I would not partake in a firing squad to set an example. There are laws of armed conflict, and that would be in direct violation of those.

ragingloli's avatar

I can assure you that the US would not give that order.
No you can not assure that.

The_Idler's avatar

“Why do you say nukes are tit for tat?”
“We would only use one if the situation called for it and it was better than any other outcome.”
Do I have to explain MAD again?

RandomMrdan's avatar

This argument is futile anyways, anyone who won’t turn the key will never find themselves in a silo in that situation.

RandomMrdan's avatar

LOAC ensures civilians won’t be put in a line by death of firing squad, that’s just insane.

RandomMrdan's avatar

And if by chance it did, get ready for those war crime
charges.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
And the USA would never violate that? Really? How can you be sure? Especially after they willingly used torture.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloli
Well you are right, I can not assure you that the order is not given. But I can assure you that I would not follow that order because that is not the same at all. You are not being logical with the argument now because you are defining death or killing into one category and saying it is all wrong. Killing civilians is not the question, in fact, killing civilians was not even in the description at all, please create another question on fluther if you want to continue with that line of questioning.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
Killing civilians is the inevitable outcome of launching the nuke, so it was part of the question.

The_Idler's avatar

Also, why do you guys have so much faith in your government?
They are big players in the club of organisations that comprise the machines of exploitation, which perpetuate the compulsive, never-ending extraction of wealth from the American lands and peoples, for the almost exclusive benefit of the ruling classes.

Not the most noble, humane people I can think of.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloli The nuke would not be meant for the civilians though. It is meant for someone else. The situation is different. That is called collateral damage, where as the situation you mentioned is just war crimes and ridiculous.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I am in the US Air Force, we have annual training on LOAC. I’d say majority of people in the armed forces operate under an ethical and morale code, and we all know killing civilians at gun point won’t happen, and if ordered to, be prepared or many people to not follow the orders.

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah, a lot of people have a problem with killing civilians at gun-point, which is why nukes are so useful.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@The_Idler
Why do you think that nukes are used to just kill civilians? Is that the only use you can think of for it?

RandomMrdan's avatar

@the idler you’re from the UK right? Would you not trust the decisions from a higher authority to launch your country’s nukes?

The_Idler's avatar

Nukes are either used as an offensive or defensive weapon.

As an offensive weapon, they are never necessary and always inhumane, as the collateral damage is, without doubt, the most harmful of any method.

As a defensive weapon, See “MAD”, Above.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
I do not support war, I do not support war crimes, or nuking anyone. But if any of these are necessary, then it is for a greater good.
You said right there that you would condone war crimes if it is necessary/for the greater good. Which is the case in executing civilians to bully the rebels into surrendering.

But fine, replace the scenario with one in where you are ordered to drop a bomb on a school, of which you know it is filled with children, where a munitions factory/weapons or ammo depot is hidden.
There is also no option of a ground assault as the school is deep withing enemy territory.
Not much of a difference.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

Let me edit that now by saying No I do not support War Crimes. That is a typo. I would support other means of war if it was a last restort such as a nuke.

Cruiser's avatar

@Dr_Dredd That would be a bit of a shocker except it would be her doing the biting! She can be mean I have the scars to prove it! lol!

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloi and please, create the question but not in this one. I dont want to hear about your ridiculous scenarios when I do not want to “follow” them. This is not about killing people against a wall, its about nukes. Please create a “different” question if you want to keep on talking about that scenario.

The_Idler's avatar

@RandomMrdan I would only launch nukes if I knew the entire situation, and I still can’t imagine one where it would be necessary or useful from the perspective of the welfare of the human race.

If there were such a situation, I would launch them, but I wouldn’t be the turn-key man, I would only agree to it if I had been involved or fully informed WRT the entire situation and the strategy itself.

RandomMrdan's avatar

@ragingloli any structure
like churches and schools are off limits unless being used for storing weapons hostile and have intentions of attacking from that structure.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@The_Idler
That is respectable. I understand not following orders if the situation was laid out for you, but to just not follow orders because you automatically think that its for the worse is just ignorance and a lack of faith that there isn’t a plan involved.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
These are not ridiculous scenarios.
Terrorists are quite known for hiding themselves and their stuff among civilians and civilians structures of this kind.

@RandomMrdan
You are again assuming that your government adheres by these rules in that conflict. And I did state that there are munitions stored in that school.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloli
Dropping a bomb on a “school” is also another question. This question entails that you do not know where the nuke is going. So please have the question somewhere else if you want to be more specific.

The_Idler's avatar

The Nazis didn’t have much trouble executing their perverse agenda, because part of military training is, and always has been, convincing people to blindly follow orders out of a sense of loyalty, nationalism and an invisible greater-good. The less you know about the minds which made the decision for you, the less you should be inclined to do it. Military training destroys this way of thinking, which is why extreme evil is most often perpetrated via the military.

@RandomMrAdam The problem, in the USA at least, is that I know what the most probable “plan” is, and that is ‘MAD’. The futility and mindless vengeance of the follow-through of MAD is explained above.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloi
It seems like all that you are doing is saying that the nuke will do nothing but bad. That is a bit troubling to think that all you can come up with is scenarios in which you would be killing nothing but civilians. What military strategists would just drop bombs on schools just to kill civilians/

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
As said many times already, military bases and thus targets are located near or in cities, thus dropping a nuke on that target will also mean involving the city and thus the civilians.
You can be sure that the nuke will kill civilians.
Therefore the ‘drop-bomb-on-school’ example is a perfectly applicable analogy.

RandomMrdan's avatar

If the school/church is
being used for military operations, it will be destroyed, end of story.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@RandomMrdan
I would think that a nuke would be last resort. Chances are, we would probably send a ground force in first to prevent civilian casualties. Or maybe just drop a non nuclear bomb from a jet to prevent radiation, etc.

The_Idler's avatar

Last Resort?
How about “Final Solution”...?

Hey, if the top guys say it’s the only option, who’s to argue with them? Certainly not true Americans!

RandomMrAdam's avatar

Does it matter when it comes to the end result?

RandomMrAdam's avatar

I consider a nuke a last resort more than a solution of any sort. Again, I would not want a nuke to happen, but I have faith that there is a reason why the command was given. And if I signed up for the job, I obviously made my choice before the nuclear launch command was given. So given the situation of the question, if I was an officer in the military and was given a command, I would follow it. (Except for any ridiculous command that ragingloi mentioned)

RandomMrdan's avatar

I wasn’t saying nuke it, but blow it up yes. We may not send in a ground force at all, a gunship can take it out with out having any friendly casualties.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
Even if you know, as stated, that the school is filled with children?

RandomMrdan's avatar

If there were such a bizarre scenario that innocent people didn’t know better to leave than to stay in a building being used like that. Yes I still would, haven’t you heard of children holding AK’s and killing people?

RandomMrdan's avatar

And they weren’t able to be removed

RandomMrdan's avatar

Let’s say we had time to go in with ground forces and reduce civilian casualties, so be it. But if time was critical to the attack, then yes.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrdan
It is not bizarre, but quite likely. And they could easily be told “stay in here, or we will kill you if you try to leave”. you know, like hostages.

The_Idler's avatar

@RandomMrdan TBH I can’t blame you for your mindset, because you are a military man, and we need people with such psychological conditioning as you to protect our country and people, but you gotta realise that, in the end, people like you are the primary enablers and instruments of extreme evil throughout history, and in no example is that more striking than in the silo turn-key.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@RandomMrdan
I presume that ragingloi would rather us do nothing so that the terrorist force can go to another school and take up more hostages just for us to do nothing again.
You know, because killing people is wrong.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
You presume wrong.

RandomMrdan's avatar

If time was critical, blow it up, otherwise, go in trying to reduce casualties.

And if a VIP person was in there like say osama bin laden, yes, do it.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloli
Oh, well what would you do given the scenario you laid out?

ragingloli's avatar

Find a solution that does not involve killing all of the innocent kids by collateral damage.
Like flooding the place with a sedative gas. A SWAT team delivered by a helicopter on the roof. Something like that.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

Well it looks like this decision doesn’t call for a nuke. Sweet. And I am sure a decision like that will probably be ordered, just as a decision to launch a nuke would be given if appropriate and no other answer would suffice.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
That is not the point. The decision was already made and you were ordered to drop the bomb, because it was considered the easiest way by your superiors.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloli
And the point is also not to think up in your head about where that nuke is going or what the outcome will be. Because your job is not to create the strategy like you just did. Its to do your job and turn the key and put the launch codes in.

ragingloli's avatar

@RandomMrAdam
Which I would not do.

The_Idler's avatar

Such blind obedience does not a great man make.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@ragingloli
And that’s the choice you would make. Mine is different. So lets not try and make everyone out to be the bad guy for what they would do. Because the question is vague, the answers can be just as vague, but to color me out to be a bad guy because I signed up for a job and am just following orders is not what Fluther is about. Luckily I do not have to be the one to make that decision though.

The_Idler's avatar

That said, I would accept the use of nukes if I were giving the order, and I would expect my men to follow my orders, but I would feel obliged to give them a full explanation if they so desired, which I hope they would, which is why I will never be in such a position.

dalepetrie's avatar

I would not seek or accept such a position, because I know that people in these positions have a sworn duty to do what they are told by their superiors…they are not paid to think or second guess, they are paid to follow the chain of command. Not my scene, because I question everything, I’m a person who needs to know why before I act, period. Having said that, I can perceive of a situation wherein even I as someone who does not believe in violence as anything other than an absolute last resort could theoretically believe a nuke was the right course of action, but the circumstances it would take to get me to believe this was the right thing to do are unlikely ever to occur. Chances are if I were in such a position, I would swallow the other key if I had to.

RandomMrdan's avatar

What say the, author of the question, what would you do?

davidbetterman's avatar

Did you people really waste all that time and effort in arguing with one another over this silliness.
Too funny, really….

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

Cry, kill myself

LKidKyle1985's avatar

All of you people who said you wouldn’t launch the nuke are ridiculous, If there is a nuke being launched, failing to launch that nuclear missile will result in more casualties on your side of the fight. If a nuke hasn’t been launched yet then they are expecting it and shooting first will save more lives. All shit has hit the fan and you probably aren’t the only person launching a nuke that day. Why on earth would you want to be responsible for more casualties on your side because you are too righteous to do that. Id launch that baby

The_Idler's avatar

I’m saying I wouldn’t be Mr Turn-Key, because I couldn’t do it, unless I understood the entire situation.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Well I mean, you could be sitting in a silo in Missouri and while you are asking questions about why the nuke is getting launched the entire east coast could be obliterated. I don’t think the key turner is in any position to ask why

The_Idler's avatar

Which is why I wouldn’t be Mr Turn-key.

It takes a certain type of person, and I don’t think it is a ‘good’ personality trait. Useful, yes, good, no…

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Agreed but the question was IF you were the man who was suppose to turn the key. If you have found yourself in that position then it is your duty to do as ordered when your country needs you the most. Not doing so could result in the deaths of millions of people in your country.
Chances are if you are in that scenario millions of people are going to die regardless of what you do, but if you fail to launch that missle, you may of missed an opportunity to take out some of the enemies nuclear silos and thus an opportunity to weaken their retaliation ability. The enemy nukes that you failed to destroy could kill millions of your countrymen. In this scenario it is better to have more dead enemies than dead friends.

The_Idler's avatar

Like I said above, that would be an offensive nuclear strike, which I could not facilitate.

The other possibility is that it was a retaliatory strike, which would be a vengeful act of mass-murder with no positive outcome, which I could also not facilitate.

The other possibility is that it is not a full nuclear war, but my country is using nukes nonetheless, which would be a gross and unreasonable use of force, which I could also not facilitate.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@LKidKyle1985 Who mentioned “The enemy nukes that you failed to destroy”? We’re not talking about a Star Wars system here, but a nuclear missile aimed at cities in enemy territory. They are designed to kill, not to prevent others’ missiles from killing.

The_Idler's avatar

They are, as I have explained several times already, a deterrent.

But if there are already nukes flying to destroy your nation, the deterrent has already failed, so what is the point of following through?

All you achieve is the deaths of millions more innocent people, before you die anyway. Bitterest revenge.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Actually if you strike first you have a chance to take out a certain percentage of their retaliation ability (without a star wars system), aka hit some of their silos before the missles get out of the ground. Besides, if you do survive do you really feel like spending the next 15 years of your life in a military prison after being court marshalled.

Like I said, one of our nukes could disable a few of theirs, and a few of theirs can kill millions of your people. Sure chances are most of the people are going to die but if all of you people decide not to launch the nukes that chance of coming out on top (if even possible) of a nuclear war goes to the enemy not you.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@LKidKyle1985 I am confident conventional explosive missile warheads are enough to comprehensively destroy a silo. The only reason to launch a nuclear weapon is to cause the maximum death and destruction possible. While you can control the epicentre, the blast radius of a nuclear weapon is huge and indiscriminate. There is far too much collateral damage to justify it.
I could deal with living in a military prison if I knew I had saved thousands of lives. I could not deal with living in a resort if I had thousands of deaths on my hands.

Draconess25's avatar

@LKidKyle1985 And this is why mankind doesn’t deserve survival.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Yes you can hit Silos with conventional missiles, but what about the trains moving around the soviet union that could be anywhere carrying nuclear warheads ready to launch? or the planes that could be anywhere already carrying nuclear warheads. This is why you would use nukes instead of missile because if you hit them first before they see it coming the numbers game becomes something like 90% death on their side, 60% on your side. (if we are talking a nuclear war I am assuming we are talking about the cold war scenario with the USSR.) However the chances of them not seeing a nuclear attack in time is pretty slim. Regardless if you are the key turner this is not your call to make, maybe all hope is gone and everyone will die, maybe only 60% will die.

@Draconess25 Hey don’t be so harsh. Its because of indiscriminate killers like me that peace loving individuals like yourself can enjoy the luxuries that we have today. Without people like me we would of all been nuked back to the stone age or be speaking japanese and german right now.

Besides I find it hard to believe that when everyone and thing that you know and love faces annihilation that you would sit back and let it happen. Or if it did happen you would just roll over and accept it. I mean in a perfect world no man would be willing to turn that key on either side of the fight, But we will never live in that world and as long as we do its the sheer willingness to retaliate without hesitation that keeps us safe. Thats really the bottom line, what makes us the safest, and if there was a war what gives you the best odds at winning it.

If this fluther question was about indiscriminately killing random people then I would say no I would not do that. I would never kill random people for no reason. But in a nuclear war scenario where its your job to turn the key the picture is bigger than you and your moral beliefs, an entire nation is relying on you to do your job hopefully save more of your countrymen by acting without hesitation. and you should of thought of that before accepting the job as a key turner in the military.

Draconess25's avatar

@LKidKyle1985 Actually, I would let them all die. It sounds cruel, but its the truth. It they’re not causing the suffering, then they are suffering themselves. Might as well end it quickly, as long as I go with them. And I am far from peace-loving. Or maybe I would do it; I don’t know. I’ve been known to be rather sadistic. It’s rather sad when you don’t know yourself well enough to decide….

WestRiverrat's avatar

It is a moot point. If you are the one sitting in the sile, you would not know if it was an actual launch or a drill until you had done the deed anyway. Some drills are announced, but when I was on Pershing IIs in Germany, we didn’t always know.

And if you didn’t perform your duty in a drill, you were not there long enough to be a factor.

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