On The Beach

John McCain, his handpicked successor Sarah Palin and their neo-crazy coconspirators are hell-bent upon incorporating Georgia and Ukraine, both former Soviet republics, into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Since they all realize that could well require us to go to war with Russia, sooner or later, perhaps it’s time to revisit On Thermonuclear War, by Herman Kahn.

Especially if a President Palin subscribes to the views of her former Assembly of God pastor about The Last Days.

"I believe Alaska is one of the refuge states in the last days, and hundreds of thousands of people are going to come to the state to seek refuge and the church has to be ready to minister to them."

You see, far too many people’s conception of the aftermath of an all-out war with Russia, which would involve the delivery of thousands of megatons of nuclear-fission weapons on America, have been falsely shaped by Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach (or the movie based upon it) in which all life on earth is eventually killed by radioactive fallout.

In fact, virtually all of the energy of a nuke explosion in the atmosphere goes into blast and thermal radiation.

How much radioactive fallout is there, and what are its effects?

Well, the International Atomic Energy Agency reports that the nuclear-power plant accident at Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986 released into the atmosphere, downwind, about 400 times the radioactive debris of the 20 kiloton nuke we dropped on Hiroshima. That is, the Chernobyl accident – in terms of fallout – was the equivalent of eight one-megaton nukes.


Nine children – who were untreated – died of thyroid cancer. Thousands of children who were treated, did not. In fact, except for those nine children and about 50 firefighters, who received massive doses of radiation, more than ten years after the accident, essentially no one else has been determined to have died as a result of exposure to radioactive fallout.

Now, the IAEA estimates that – based upon the highly-suspect "zero-threshold" model – 4000 extra cancers might eventually develop among the 600,000 downwind population that were most highly exposed to radioactive fallout.


So, what does that mean?

It means that if you’re within 10 miles or so of a megaton nuke blast, according to studies based upon the authoritative The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, by Samuel Glasstone, your whole day will probably be ruined. However, if you’re substantially farther away, and especially if you’re not downwind, you may eventually develop a cancer you might not otherwise have had.

So if the neo-crazies, the End-of-Timers or the Cheney Cabal get us into a war with Russia, there are about 6500 places in the United States you don’t want to be within 10 miles of, or so.

How about being in Alaska?

Well, there are at least 10 units of the Clinton-Bush bullet-hits-a-bullet antiballistic missile system being sited in Alaska. So if you’re planning to be one of the hundreds of thousands of the "chosen," seeking refuge in Alaska in anticipation of the Last Days, don’t seek refuge near those ABM sites.

How about if you’re in Mexico, South America or Australia?

Lucky you; Nevil Shute, notwithstanding.

Of course, many of you – conceivably even Governor Palin – may think that a war with Russia wouldn’t necessarily involve nuclear weapons.

Perhaps you didn’t learn the lesson Russia just tried to teach Mikhail Saakashvilli, the protégé of the neo-crazies and the Cheney Cabal, in Ossetia, which has essentially been a recognized semi-independent enclave since Tzarist times.

You – if not Saakashvilli – surely learned one lesson: that even an American/Israeli supplied and trained "commando"-type invasion force is no match for Russian armored battalions, fighting on their own turf. Saakashvilli now vows – after getting assurances from Cheney, McCain and Palin of their support – to gain "control" of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, once Georgia becomes a member of NATO.

But if McCain-Palin come to power, will they withdraw the NATO forces now fighting in Aghanistan-Pakistan, transport them to Georgia to support a second Saakashvilli attempt to gain "control" over those enclaves? That would amount to a war of aggression under the UN Charter, now that Russia has officially recognized their being "independent," although most of the inhabitants now have Russian citizenship and passports.

Of course, what’s one more Bush Doctrine war of aggression?

But, what if that little NATO war of aggression against Russia spreads to Ukraine or Belarus or Poland? What if we again have the "Red Army" – this time armed with nukes – pouring into the countries the Soviet Union defeated and occupied during their Great Patriotic War?

Well, scroll back to 1945.

On July 16th the first nuclear-fission device was successfully tested at Trinity Site in New Mexico and President Truman – who was at the Potsdam Conference in a prostate Germany with Soviet Premier Stalin and Brit Prime Minister Churchill – was informed about it early the next morning.

On July 18th, Stalin – who was not at the time at war with Japan – shared with Truman and Churchill a telegram he had got from the Japanese Emperor asking for peace.

On July 26th, the U.S., Great Britain, and China issued the Potsdam Proclamation, which called for Japan’s "unconditional" surrender. It made no reference to Japan’s central surrender qualification, namely, the retention of its Emperor. Nor did it even mention Russia’s secret agreement to also declare war on Japan.

On August 6th, with President Truman’s approval, the Enola Gay dropped the first "atomic bomb," a Uranium-235 gun-type fission weapon, on Hiroshima.

On August 8th, the Soviet Union – a week before previously scheduled – declared war on Japan.

On August 9th, the Soviet Union entered and began "liberating" neighboring Manchuria, which had been occupied by Japan since 1931.

On August 9th, with President Truman’s approval, a Plutonium-239 implosion-type fission weapon was dropped on Nagasaki.

On August 10th the Red Army entered and began "liberating" neighboring Korea, which had been "annexed" by the Japanese in 1910.

On August 10th the Japanese made a conditional surrender offer to the Allies.

On August 14th the Japanese accepted the "unconditional" surrender counteroffer.

The frantic timeline of device-test to actual weapon-use – all of which occurred after Stalin had agreed to declare war on Japan – has suggested to some historians that the real reason for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to serve as a warning to Stalin, whose Red Army already occupied all of Eastern and most of Central Europe, and would soon occupy Korea, Manchuria and the Kurile islands if nothing was done to stop them.

Well, the Russian army of today is not the Red Army of The Great Patriotic War, but Vladimir Putin has just demonstrated to Saakhasvili and his potential NATO partners that it is not to be messed with.

As for dropping a few nukes – Israeli or American – on Iran or Pakistan or wherever, to serve as a warning to Putin, please wait until some of us can get to Mexico, South America or Australia.

How about Canada?

Well, no: Canada is a NATO member.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.