Eric Schlosser, writing in a rather pleasant and lighthearted piece for the New Yorker about America’s outdated and buggy nuclear control system:
Missiles launched from Russia would give the President about twenty minutes to make a decision, after consultation with the head of the U.S. Strategic Command. The President might have as few as five minutes, if missiles had been launched from Russian submarines in the western Atlantic. A decision to retaliate at once, to launch Minuteman missiles before they could be destroyed, runs the risk of killing millions of people by mistake. A decision to wait — to make sure that the attack is for real, to take no action until Russian warheads began to detonate in the United States — runs the risk losing the ability of the command-and-control system to order a retaliation. In that desperate situation, with the fate of the world in the balance, the temperament of the President would be less important than the quality of the information being offered by the system. Could you trust the sensors?
Happy New Year, everyone.