Q: ...We shouldn't have pulled any punches, they've got tactical nuclear weapons, the Republican Guard are parked in the desert, why not use them to take them out?That link was sent to me by a friend in Indiana. When I emailed back a question, he sent this interesting reply:
Horner: American people, in particular, like simple answers to complex problems and one of the answers might be why don't you just nuke 'em? Well the answer to that is you've got to study weapons effects and what can happen, it would take a lot of nuclear weapons to get one tank division and I don't think the American people are going to stand for two/three hundred nuclear weapons going off in the desert, plus the fact you get 'em more efficiently by using laser guided bombs, so nuclear weapons are only good against cities and they're only good against civilian populations.
They impressed upon us in ROTC that nukes are neither 'magic wands" that make all your problems go away, nor are a bunch going off necessarily 'world-killing", short of a full scale exchange. Consider that tactical nukes are, I forget, but maybe 5-10 kilotons, whereas strategic nukes get up into the megatons; missile silos and C3 sites are so hardened that we (and the Soviets) had to task multiple megatons per target to ensure a high PK (Probability of Kill). (Scale tests of the silo for the MX missile indicated that it could survive all but a direct hit from a strategic nuke.)
Most people do not know that before Desert Storm, and after the wall came down, that in the first Bush Administration that Cheney (then SecDef) was drawing up plans to start scrapping our nukes. Nukes are financially expensive to build, store, and maintain, and expensive politically. Cheney, et al., knew what "smart" conventional weapons were capable of and had the goal to retire all but a few strategic nukes, replacing the rest with precision-guided weapons. That is because massively increasing gigajoules only slightly increases PK, whereas small increases in accuracy yields disproportional greater PK. The only thing was that fielding the new precision-guided weapons would initially be as expensive as maintaining nukes, though the cost would plummet after they were produced and the nukes were gone.