War Gaming - Part 1: Nukes & Terrorism

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Bill O'Grady via Confluence Investment Management,

One of the key elements of global hegemony is the ability of a nation to project power. Ideally, this means a potential hegemon needs local security. In other words, a nation that faces significant proximate threats will struggle to project power globally. As a general rule, it’s easier to attack via land compared to the sea.

Rome’s power base was the Italian peninsula. It only needed to defend the northern part of the land mass. Spain had a similar situation. The Netherlands was the global hegemon for a while but was always facing a land threat from France. Britain, being an island, was geographically ideal for superpower status; the last successful invasion of the British Isles was in 1066. Finally, the U.S. has managed to create an island effect on a larger land mass giving America more access to natural resources compared to Britain, making the U.S. a nearly ideal hegemon.

In Part I of this report, we will examine American hegemony from a foreign nation’s perspective. In other words, if a nation wanted to attack the U.S. to either replace the U.S. as global superpower or to create conditions that would allow it to act freely to establish regional hegemony, how would this be accomplished? This analysis will begin by examining America’s geopolitical position. As part of this week’s report, we will examine the likelihood of a nuclear attack and a terrorist strike against the U.S. In Part II, we will examine the remaining two methods, cyberwarfare and disinformation, discussing their likelihood along with the costs and benefits of these tactics. We will also conclude in Part II with potential market effects.

America’s Geopolitics

The Americans are truly a lucky people. They are bordered to the north and south by weak neighbors and to the east and west by fish.

-- Otto von Bismarck

(Source: Wikipedia)

Although Bismarck’s quote is accurate in terms of borders, this circumstance was less due to luck than design. Successive presidents took great care to expand U.S. territory in such a manner as to leave Canada and Mexico with less hospitable border environments. This can be observed on a map of North American population density. The map below shows population density in North America. Note the low density along most of the Canadian/U.S. frontier as well as the lack of density along the Mexican border.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The U.S. pushed its northern border into areas that were less conducive to human development. Canada’s population mostly rests along the border with the U.S. and rapidly declines the further north one travels. The U.S. population is over nine times larger than Canada’s; Canada has 9.4 persons per square mile compared to 85.6 persons per square mile in the U.S. The opposite situation occurs with Mexico. Most of Mexico’s population lives in the southern parts of the state, with the northern desert region relatively unpopulated.

Essentially, the U.S. is surrounded by two neighbors that are no military threat and two oceans. Any nation attempting to launch a conventional military attack on the U.S. would not have any element of surprise. Attacking through either Mexico or Canada would be relatively easy to see coming and force the invader to cross difficult territory on the way to the battle theater. Coming by sea requires a long voyage that would likely be detected as well.

Since 1812, the U.S. has been able to engage the world without significant concern about an attack on the mainland. Japan was able to successfully attack Hawaii and also capture islands that were part of Alaska. But, neither event was enough to seriously threaten the mainland. In the two world wars, the U.S. was able to launch sustained military operations against its enemies with little fear that its industrial base would be attacked.

The isolation of the U.S. makes it an ideal superpower. The U.S. can focus on power projection and use fewer resources for homeland defense. This gives America great power to influence the world and reduces potential enemies’ ability to prevent the U.S. from becoming involved in thwarting their goals.

So, if a foreign power wanted to dethrone the U.S., or, probably more likely, establish itself as a regional hegemon without U.S. interference, what attack options are available to such a power and what are the odds of success? We will examine four different options, assuming that a conventional attack isn’t possible, at least for the foreseeable future.

#1: Nuclear Strike

Since the U.S. used atomic weapons on Japan at the close of WWII, no other power has launched a similar attack. The world came close on a few occasions to a nuclear war—the Cuban Missile Crisis was a near miss—but, for the most part, global leaders have refrained from using these weapons.

During the Cold War, nuclear war doctrine evolved into one where the weapon became purely defensive. Essentially, nuclear powers can never be forced into unconditional surrender. If a nuclear power was facing defeat in conventional warfare, it could prevent complete capitulation though a nuclear attack.

The primary concern of nuclear powers was to ensure that they had systems that would allow for a “second strike” capacity. Thus, if a nuclear power found itself facing a first strike, the goal was to have the ability to retaliate in kind. This model, known as “Mutually Assured Destruction,” required that no side could reliably win a nuclear exchange.

Nuclear powers usually have at least two of three delivery systems: missiles, submarines or bombers. A nation relying solely on land-based missiles could be vulnerable to a first strike. Usually, if a nation only has land-based missiles, they develop mobile launch systems that make conventional attacks on nuclear facilities more difficult.

The key deterrent to a first strike nuclear attack is the second strike response. At the same time, a full-scale nuclear exchange could have catastrophic effects on human life. The spread of radiation could poison the atmosphere. Some scientists theorize that even a modest exchange could trigger a nuclear winter that could have serious effects on the climate; recent studies have suggested it might even trigger a “little ice age.”

The decision process for an American president is fairly straightforward if facing an attack from a major nuclear power such as China or Russia. One would expect a first strike of such magnitude that the ill effects would be global; thus, the damage to the global ecology would probably already be done, prompting an American president to retaliate in kind. In addition, the desire for revenge would be very strong and likely bring a retaliatory second strike. Where the decision becomes difficult is if a minor nuclear power launches a limited nuclear strike on the U.S. The most likely candidate for such an attack would be North Korea. If the Kim regime launched a limited strike on the Western U.S., would an American president risk ending human life on the planet to retaliate, especially if he feared that China or Russia would defend North Korea? On the other hand, allowing the U.S. to be attacked without retaliation seems unlikely due to the loss of American lives and the precedent it would set that may encourage other smaller nuclear powers (e.g., Iran) to engage in their own limited strikes.

Overall, any foreign power attacking the U.S. with nuclear weapons is probably ensuring they will face retaliation that ends the existence of the attacking nation. Thus, this isn’t a likely option.

#2: Terrorism

Terrorism, a form of asymmetric warfare, is a constant threat. However, it has serious limitations as a strategy if used by a foreign nation state. Although terrorism can take many forms, the goal is to “terrorize” a population. If successful, the fear paralyzes a power and renders it incapable to respond to a foreign threat. In other words, a terrorist act can force a nation to focus inward, spend resources on security and perhaps change its foreign policy.

However, this tactic for a foreign government is risky. It can be a bit like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Terrorism generally won’t lead to a regime change. It harms the target and often can force the target nation to retaliate strongly. In other words, a nation can launch a terrorist strike against the U.S. only to then find itself facing a significant conventional attack.

This is why terrorism tends to be the preferred tactic of non-state actors. Al Qaeda’s attacks on the U.S. were a clear tactical victory. In fact, they probably succeeded far beyond expectations. However, the Bush administration reacted strongly with both conventional warfare and Special Forces, severely restricting the group. President Obama eventually attacked Osama bin Laden’s compound, killing al Qaeda’s leader.

There is a temptation for nation states to support non-state actors in attacking a superpower. However, even this cover has hazards. First, the state supporter of terrorism has to take great care to ensure that it has no obvious ties to the terrorist group. Otherwise, it invites retaliation by the superpower. Second, terrorist groups can be difficult to control. They usually have their own agendas which may not coincide with the state sponsor’s objectives. Even Iran, who sponsors Hezbollah, has tried to guide the group into fewer terrorist acts and toward a focus on political control in Lebanon and more conventional fighters in the Syrian conflict. This adjustment has not always been smooth.

Attacking the U.S. using terrorist tactics is a viable option. However, it has two serious drawbacks. First, it could invite a disproportionately harsh response. For example, we doubt the Taliban anticipated that the U.S. would oust its government because it didn’t turn over Osama bin Laden. Second, it is highly unlikely that terrorism would either lead to a regime change in the U.S. or deter America from a key foreign policy goal.

In Part II, we will examine the two remaining tactics for attacking a superpower, namely, cyberwarfare and propaganda.

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stant's picture

6th generation warfare on a map you are here

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

These guys are either a lot dumber than they pretend, or shrewd than we realize (to be milking it the way they are).

Rx = Vaporize Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem and Rome, and 90% of your problems are gone.

When they are gone, it kills the sick, wet dreams of the religious extremists of Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- when (a) no Savior / Messiah shows up, and (b) there's nothing left of their "holy" places, but a radioactive sea of glass.  You go near it, you die.

Scotty, how are those damn photon torpedoes coming along?.

HedgeJunkie's picture

"President Obama eventually attacked Osama bin Laden’s compound, killing al Qaeda’s leader."

Prove it.  I don't buy, for a second, any of the propaganda for the last sixteen years.

LetThemEatRand's picture

This is an interesting article, but it fails to explain how Isreal conquered the US.

balolalo's picture

mythology stupid

stupid fucking mythology

Ignatius's picture

Or when terrorism is directed against our own populace by our ostensible protectors.

That's one reality people really avoid looking at, much less contemplating.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Why did the Jews conquer the US? 

Because they...

   - stick together with extreme prejudice 

    - their God wants them to be rich and to rule

By contrast, Goyim 

   - cheat and betray each other, do not "stick together with extreme prejudice"

    - your hippie, zombie God wants you to remain meek, poor and forgiving 

It's not complicated, FFS.

koan's picture

You're mostly wrong, the Jewish folks (primarily Ashkenazim it seems)that drive the problems have a very, very good grasp of history, because of that they know what to do when with very little effort to get results they desire.
They are not troubled by ethics or morality in regards to what they do, any more than a fur trapper is setting the bait in a trap, and they are very intelligent.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Why did the Jews conquer the US? 

Because they...

   - stick together with extreme prejudice 

    - their God wants them to be rich and to rule

By contrast, Goyim 

   - cheat and betray each other, do not "stick together with extreme prejudice"

    - your hippie, zombie God wants you to remain meek, poor and forgiving 

It's not complicated, FFS.

War Machine's picture

This majority of this article is nonsense, to include

'Al Qaeda’s attacks on the U.S. were a clear tactical victory'

Where's Dominic Suter?

sinbad2's picture

I don't think al Qaeda attacked the US, 911 was a fundraiser for the US military.

me or you's picture

It failed to mention that the country with most nuclear shelters built has the upper hand either on the first strike or in the retaliation attack.

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) me or you Jan 26, 2017 10:41 PM

Maybe. Not all nuclear strikes need to be direct. Or meant to cause physical harm. The EMP effect would cripple any major city.

koan's picture

One modern bomb detonated high altitude above the US at a certain point int he magnetic field effects the entire country, just one bomb produces an EMP sufficient to eliminate the electrical grid and any unprotected devices.

Verniercaliper's picture

Semiconductors, yes, but power plants are primarily electromechanical devices. Control systems would be affected, but a high altitude pulse wont affect wires, transformers, turbines, etc. Might cripple wireless and satellite systems, but the power grid should be up and running relatively quickly. 

koan's picture

You ever wonder how many of the nukes are real, how many of the launch vehicles still work, and then how many of the "fake" nukes were added to the books to skim the money.

Rich Monk's picture

Just level Israel and the World becomes a better place to live.

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) Jan 26, 2017 10:39 PM

This isn't Ancient Rome. This isn't the Cold War (where I served at a remote site). This isn't a time like any other.

The easiest way to attack the US would be from the water. Not with a navy fleet. With a junk cargo ship. Who? Money passed from one hand to another to another. It isn't going to matter once the nukes go off. This won't be like any other nuclear device. Or war.

Eight boats, Eight bombs. Three on the west coast, two in the Gulf of Mexico, and three on the east coast. Launchers that boost small tactical nukes above large cities. The ships are scuttled and the crew gets away or is sacrificed. The goal isn't to actually hit or make a direct strike on the cities. The goal is to shut down the electrical grid in those cities. Once the grid is down everyone in the city goes batshit fucking cray cray once they realize the lights will not be coming back on.

Who does the US nuke in revenge? How do we prove who launched these EMP weapons? How does the US MIC justify nuking another city or country based on the actions of a few terrorists? The US can't simply nuke a country because 80 people got together and made the electricity go out in the US.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The preceding is a philosophical thought experiment. The only purpose of the thought experiment is to war game a scenario.

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) Andre Jan 27, 2017 12:57 AM

Exactly. At least someone understood my little thought experiment!

koan's picture

Nuclear weapons have signatures, they can determine the most likely culprit, and if Israel is still "our friend" they seem to have eyes and ears everywhere.
So it would be extremely difficult to co-ordinate all that without the US leadership becoming aware.

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) koan Jan 27, 2017 12:52 AM

Really? So after the fact the crippled US is going to determine where the nuclear material came from?


That worked out really well when the US had commissions on 9/11 and Benghazi. Does anyone really believe that a plane brought down Building 7?

I wouldn't be surprised if the US govt. loosed an EMP attack as a false flag. Like the Gulf of Tonkin. Like the Lusitania. Like Building 7.

sinbad2's picture

"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting."Sun Tzu

That's what China has been doing, they are breaking the US financially, eventually the US will start reducing the size of its military, or the American people will starve.

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) sinbad2 Jan 27, 2017 12:56 AM


I love eastern Philosophy. But give me a fucking break. China has inflated their economy into an even bigger bubble than the US. That bubble is huuuuuuuuge. When is it going to pop? Not sure. Will the bubble in the US pop first or the bubble in China pop first?

As far as Sun Tzu? Fuck that bullshit. I would rather just kick my enemy in the nuts. Or, if they are farther away, a body shot with my Mossberg is a no brainer. Just point and shoot. Easy.

koan's picture

Don't you mean Yuge? Really really yuge.

koan's picture

Initiate a civil war within the US, and then move your army in and take it over in its weakened, fractured state.
Currently we have a standing army of illegals gangs, in LA one particular gang has a member count higher than the LA police force.
Nation of Islam, Black Panthers, and various other black terrorist/militants and of course all of the "militias" (not the legit ones, the Christ with a sword types.)

Stir that shit pot (which has been happening) and you got yourself a nice civil war.

I didn't read the article, I'm just replying to the title.

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) koan Jan 27, 2017 1:01 AM

Okay so the cities go up in flames. In most rural parts of the US the locals are fully armed. And ready. A gun behind every blade of grass.

Gang bangers would not last long in rural areas. Those rednecks will be waiting for them. And they won't go down easy.

koan's picture

With infrastructure down and cities under attack where do you get your food and meds?
In addition militias in rural areas will attempt to take control, and will intercept supplies sent to said cities.
Don't forget that communications will be down and information on the status of things will also be limited.
Do you trust people in your remote town to run things and not go nuts?

There's a lot to a modern civil war, and most people (even preppers) are not really ready for what will come.

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) koan Jan 27, 2017 8:37 PM

If you need meds that is a problem. Those people will not last long.

If you don't have food on hand, don't know how to hunt, grow or obtain food in your area, yes, that will be a problem.

Plenty of comm systems in rural areas. From the grapevine to CB to shortwave. Lots of ways to talk to other people.

I don't trust anyone. Ever.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Soros, you're monologueing again.   And stop petting your damn cat.  

El Vaquero's picture

I would look at financial market manipulation in China and KSA with the intent to get them both to dump their USD denominated assets at about the same time, just trying to stay afloat.  Then sit back and watch the fireworks.  Not a shot fired, and you don't have to do anything directly to the US.  

koan's picture

Excellent point when you consider that the US (CIA etc) does exactly that to some countries.

sinbad2's picture

I think China is doing exactly that, by simply dumping it's huge stockpile of US dollars.

I think a Chinese general said that within 5 years the US would no longer be a threat to China, because its financial ability to wage war would be destroyed, that was a couple of years ago.

sinbad2's picture

Chemical and biological weapons have a lot of advantages, killing the opposing population, whilst leaving the infrastructure intact.

Also a biological attack could appear as a natural event. WWI ended because of a killer flu, not because of military superiority.

The US has been trying to get that flu virus, by digging up bodies of victims buried in permafrost, in an attempt to breed the virus up as a weapon. I have no idea if they have been successful in the venture, I hope not.

The US used anthrax and bubonic plague in Korea, with little success, but bit was early days and the US was using methods developed by Japan in WWII.

I am sure things have improved since that time.

If a killer flu pandemic broke out in Canada or Mexico, how would the US know if it was an attack, or a natural event?

El Vaquero's picture

Developing a deadly flu virus does not take a lot of sophisticated equipment.  It takes a live sample of a flu virus that can infect both humans and pigs, and a hog farm.  You have isolated pig populations on the farm (or farms) and you infect the pigs.  You then take the population that had the most severe symptoms, and take live samples of that virus, and infect the next batches of pigs.  Eventually, the most severe symptoms will be replaced with the greatest kill rate.  

Verniercaliper's picture

Disease is a poor weapon because basic sanitation and precautions can easily halt the spread....The genetic imperative of an organism is to survive and if a virus or bacillus kills its host, it dies out. That's why Ebola didn't kill the planet and why the common rhinovirus is so successful...a head cold or flu doesn't kill you, or prevent you from passing it around...and you can be reinfected in the future. Biological agents will only be effective against Third World nations

HRH Feant's picture
HRH Feant (not verified) Verniercaliper Jan 27, 2017 1:17 AM

It depends on the agent. I read Stephen King's, "The Stand," while I was home during Christmas. I read it in 3 days. Next big book was "The Hot Zone."

I consider the Ebola breakout as a beta test to see how people would react.

The biggest fear has been a genetically modified form of smallpox / flu / bubonic plague. Once that is airborne, with modern commercial air travel, it wouldn't take long for the infection to spread.

Oh caught a crawler on CNN yesterday about a Yellow Fever outbreak in Brazil. Out of 70 people infected 40 had died.

YHC-FTSE's picture

The last successful invasion of the British Isles was in 1688. Also known as "The Glorious Revolution", it has almost been erased from history through centuries of propaganda. While touted as a "Bloodless revolution", Dutch Stadtholder William of Orange invaded England with an overwhelming force - the Dutch fleet and army. King James II escaped and William crowned himself as King William III of England. James II made an unsuccessful attempt to recapture the crown in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne and spent the rest of his life at the french court in exile. To make matters worse, the whole thing was an incestuous family spat. William was James' nephew and married to James' daughter, Mary. Nevertheless, Britain was invaded by a foreign military force and it was successful.

From my perspective, there's no point in attacking the US hegemony when the US is clearly attacking itself from within. The debt riddled empire is corrupt to its core, dual-citizen oligarchs run rampant in every major sector of industry, control the flow of money, the flow of information and the political processes. Its giant institutions of government unwilling or unable to enforce the rule of law on the chosen elites, its MIC flailing its spastic arms creating chaos and misery to every corner of the globe to earn another dirty buck selling shit to the terrorists and the terrified. Its citizens gagging on the daily diet of lies, blanket surveillance and tyrrany with a smile, while distracted to insanity by inconsequential issues - race, gender, sex, religion, politics in all its various hues - that divide and incite hatred amongst themselves.

Yet the Empire of Chaos has constantly sought to find new enemies in 3rd world shit holes, inventing ever colourful varieties of bogeymen to benefit the few and justify sending their young to die or come home crippled fighting in wars for the banksters and their zionist kin. Paranoia, exceptionalism, delusions of grandeur and a psychotic need for domination are so acute now that it seeks wars with nations that can retaliate with nuclear weapons of their own.

That's how I see it. Why waste time looking for enemies outside when the real enemies are staring you in the face every day, when they openly steal from your state coffers, when they sell you bullshit all day, tell you how to think and enslave generations yet unborn into debt servitude? Look around you. They own almost all the multi-billion dollar IPOs of the past few decades and we are reduced to being mere byproducts of lifestyle obsessions, consumers to feed their wealth and megalomania. They are too big to fail, too powerful to prosecute, too wealthy to touch. Even to criticize them openly is career suicide. They are the zionists, the neocons, the Israel-first psychopaths - characterized by the network that includes jewish, christian and muslim supporters of Israel.

onmail1's picture

Within 10-20 years
soon almost all nations will have
nuclear capability thinking
'Ooh La La I am secure now'

But only a spark of fake news may trigger
destruction of the whole planet
Then the next intelligent being will evolve
from rats or cockroaches
that will take time though

quasi_verbatim's picture

Regurgitated Official Narrative posing as thought.

pipes's picture

Posing POORLY, at that.


The premise from the outset is so flawed, that I nearly knee-jerked right to the comment section. But I relented and further scanned the argument.




Perhaps this is aimed at the vast majority of folks who long ago were seperated from their capacity to think...but for those not so afflicted, this excercise is laughable propaganda at best.

finametrics's picture

Combo of cyber / financial attack (shut down the stock market as that is the economy), preferably around the time of civil unrest, follow up with cyber / physical electric shutdowns, activate sabateurs, take out all outside forces during all this then come in for the kill.