How did we forget about MAD?
I recently came across an article on BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17026538?ref=nf) about Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD. Back in the Cold War era, MAD was all across the news. There was a time when combined, the US and Russia had almost 70,000 nuclear warheads. School children would learn what to do in case of a nuclear attack and there were survival guides published in case of a nuclear winter. The possibility of an attack was all too real. MAD was a strategic doctrine adopted by the US. It stated that since neither of the attacking countries had adequate defenses against a nuclear attack, and both has means of detecting a warhead before it exploded, neither country would attack. If one were to fire off a warhead, the other would immediately do the same, and both countries would smolder.
Nowadays, however; we have almost completely forgotten about MAD. The thought that there is a chance that the US would succumb to a nuclear attack from another country has been labeled as crazy. We are more concerned with terrorist attacks, pandemic diseases (such as the bird flu), and the state of our economy. There has been some recent talk about Iran developing a nuclear warhead, but such talks have yet to escalate to the level they were 50 years ago.
The reality is this:
The US and Russia, right now, have several hundred devices primed and ready to be launched within minutes. While there are policies in place to prevent a nuclear war, there are certain people who still have the power to, in the time it took you to read this post, decimate a country. But what if the US and Russia don’t fire off any nukes? Why should we be concerned with MAD now?
Two decades after the cold war, and there are still 17,000 nuclear devices scattered around the world. Iran is thought to be close to developing a nuclear bomb, and Saudi Arabia has been thought to be next. Israel has control of over 100 warheads, and North Korea has around 10. The most worrying standoff would be between India and Pakistan. If that were to happen; tens of millions of people would die. And there is always the possibility that the US would somehow get involved.
I think that the chance of a nuclear war happening tomorrow is very slim, but I can’t help but think what might happen in a few years down the line. Nuclear power is coming to countries that haven’t had it before. Iran is a very politically charged country, and if they manage to develop a nuclear device, I’m not sure I would be as comfortable living in the nations capital city.