We’ve all heard the nuclear news: After decades of proliferation, an escalating atomic firefight could incinerate us within seconds.
The atomic era’s brief but impactful history has drawn humanity into an existential freak out. In response, we’ve constructed all manner of defenses to insulate ourselves against the terror of The Bomb.
We’ve been told that those who control nuclear weapons systems have developed elaborate fail-safe mechanisms to prevent a nuclear “mistake.” We’ve woven our own byzantine web of bomb-bred gallows humor. We’ve laughed at our plight, shrugged our shoulders, and mumbled “to hell with it.” A lucky few resolve to live for today and forget about tomorrow. Over time, many of us, aided by the end of the Cold War and media denial, have allowed nuclear fears to fade… until now.
Today, the specter of thermonuclear devastation has raised its ugly heads. No, that’s not a typo. The doomsday scenario has doubled down. Two nuke-wielding leaders currently prance across the world stage, lending a macabre significance to the phrase “two heads are better than one.”
The two heads are screwed into the necks of two bumptious males licensed to commit bilateral nuclear annihilation. Both Leaders have terrible haircuts, odd sartorial preferences, and an inclination toward cruelty. Both are impulsive, reactive, unpredictable, and — despite the power they wield — tightly wrapped in dangerously thin skins. Together, they have resurrected our terror of nuclear holocaust.
Consider our plight. Thugs have already kidnapped our government, creating all manner of waste, destruction, sadness and disgust. Now the public is expected to accommodate two nuke-wielding lunatics. To alleviate this near-intolerable anxiety, I propose that we encourage Our Leader be the first to drop The Big One.
Therefore, I’d like to add another element to my proposal. Rather than risk retaliation and planet-wide extinction, I propose that Our Leader should ignore the threats of his counterpart and bomb one of his own cities...now.
A preemptive, self-inflicted nuclear attack would remove any element of surprise from Our Leader’s Asian counterpart. Such an attack would eliminate all possible hit-and-miss missile mishaps and ensure that we didn’t give the other guy a chance to sucker punch Our Leader and his citizenry.
On a more sophisticated level, a national genocide by Our Leader might partially alleviate the hostility he bears toward the American people, whom he profoundly mistrusts and hates. Accordingly, he might experience a newfound sense of benevolence.
A 20-megaton weapon would ignite a fireball with a radius of just 260 meters, only the size of a few football fields. Yes, it would create a deep crater, fatal nuclear radiation would embrace a 12-mile radius, and the resulting fireball would inflict third-degree burns to creatures in a larger area.
However, if detonated over lower Manhattan, a 20-megaton device would kill only about 600,000 people and the fallout would barely reach central Connecticut.
Perhaps a less populous area of our nation might provide a wiser target for our Leader’s domestic outburst. Instead of targeting Manhattan, why not nuke Kansas City or any other mid-sized American metropolis? Better yet, why not drop The Big One on a rural area, for example the state of Nebraska. Yes, the loss would be difficult to absorb in the short run, but after only a few decades, life could resume in all but the most devastated areas.
Imagine the relief: It’s often more practical to confront a reality than to wallow in theoretical fears. The survivors of a self-inflicted nuclear attack would adjust and find resourceful ways to go on living, knowing first-hand that the scope and scale of a nuclear blast was limited, in contrast to the relentless and continuing contemplation of such madness before the fact.
Finally, even if Our Leader failed to find his lust satiated by attacking his own nation he could be impeached for treason and executed for war crimes and that, dear reader, would put an end to this misery.
In closing, I wish to underscore the sincerity of my intent. I am not involved financially in any aspect of nuclear technology for war or for peace. I have no affiliations with contractors, large or small, that might profit from sealing off the irradiated areas of a nuclear blast. And, to the best of my knowledge, I have no enemies residing in Kansas City or Nebraska. I make this modest proposal only in the interests of the greater good.
*Based on Jonathan Swift's satirical essay (1729).