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Mass Destruction

The correct response to a threat of mass destruction is to destroy the source of the threat, not to become a threat also. 

The use and misuse of mass destruction

Objectives - The objective of any military spending must be to achieve some advantage in securing ones position at home or abroad against the threat of opposition. This principle applies equally well whether one is pursuing a defensive or offensive strategy.

Power and Precision - Security advantage is rarely obtained through mass destruction, but is more likely to be obtained through careful and precise destruction. "The destruction of German infrastructure became apparent, but the Allied campaign against Germany only really succeeded when the Allies began targeting oil refineries towards the end of the war." [Curtis LeMay, Missions with LeMay, Doubleday & Co., New York, 1965; p. 373.]

Precise construction may also serve to obtain advantage however this is less likely to be carried out by the military. [Google "The Marshal Plane"]

Security Risk - The threat posed by having the capability of extensive mass destruction, may serve to provide an apparent  security advantage to ones self, however in holding such capability one becomes a security risk to the rest of the world and so my be the subject of covert attacks of one form or another (sttacks that cannot be countered by mass destruction) by rational respondents or of nuclear counter threat by irrational respondents. Nations holding WMDs present a permanent threat to the rest of the world with no possibility of resolution.

It has been argued that during the cold war the extensive capability for mass destruction possessed by both the USA and the USSR provided security but this is not correct, the security was sufficiently unstable that we came to the brink of nuclear war on three separate occasions according to Robert S McNamara former secretary of defence. [See the documentary film "The Fog of War" in which he states this.] Clearly than Mutually Assured Destruction does not offer us a road towards a lasting security. Mass destruction based deterrence is not effective in improving security. One must seek more rational deterrents and mechanisms to counter the WMD threat.

With the proliferation of WMDs to smaller nations the risk of beginning a second multi-lateral cold war are significant and the risk of actual war has to be greater than in the bi-lateral cold war essentially between the USA and USSR. Any limited launches, accidental launches, rogue launches, or launches by non-state entities or covert proxies can lead to nuclear war.

It is WMDs that lead to increasing levels of international instability and significant risk of catastrophic conflict. Conflicts will always exist and it is important that if force is involved that destruction is minimised and victory is decisive. i.e. The war annihilates the conflict while minimising damage to the resources infrastructure and people.

Even a nuclear exchange between foreign powers could lead to a level of destruction that may severely effect our national interests!

Historical Origins - WMDs became the main weapon of the cold war as they were a natural continuation from the state of total war existing at the end of WWII where they arguably had a role in destroying cities heavily engaged in war production. [See Total War] Since in the post WWII world there have been very few such cities and with the advent of genuine precision weapons it is now possible to destroy targets with precision. The only remaining use of nuclear weapons is to threaten others with massive collateral damage. WMDs rational strategic role died at the end of WWII.

They do not provide the capability to win any conflict and their capability to prevent one is doubtful given that it entirely rests on Mutually Assured Destruction. Weapons of mass destruction represent an extreme threat to world security, that spans all species all classes all nations.

The Future - To render weapons of mass destruction obsolete.

Military Strategy

All over the world some people believe that weapons of mass destruction are the only viable deterrent despite well founded military advice to the contrary and these people continue to present a security threat to all of us.

"Deterring the complex and diverse threats of the post cold war era requires a new policy and strategy to replace the old 'nuclear theology'. These approaches would confront better the myriad state and non-state, nuclear and non-nuclear, conventional and unconventional, military and non-military, and asymmetric threats that have heretofore been ignored or wished away." [From Editor's Preface in "Deterrence in the 21st Century" (2001) Edited by Max G Manwaring Professor of Military Strategy at the US Army War Collage.]


States fight to control populations, infrastructure and resources. Both to defend and conquer. Each weapon must be considered in terms of the desired aim of neutralising opposition and its suitability for the dispute in question.Developing weapons that can deliver appropriate force at the decisive point towards the purposes above is of far greater importance then simply increasing destructive power. Wasting technical capability on inappropriate weapons development endangers security. The use of excessive force in an imprecise manner costs a considerable amount in terms of lost population, infrastructure and resources but also it strengthens the will of the opposition even if it lowers their capability.

The objective must be developing a weapons portfolio to provide an effective defence in relation to the threat portfolio and suitable for the kind of conquests that might realistically be undertaken.
What are the threats and opportunities in the current global arena, and what kind of portfolio of approaches from co-operation to destruction does an organisation need to reach successful resolutions of its conflicts with other organisations that will lead to global security?

Over reliance on the "nuclear deterrence theology" at the expense of a genuine consideration of today's threats to security could leave our governments vulnerable.


Mass destruction and WWII

Origins of Mass Destruction

Classes of Bombing

Nuclear weapons are primarily intended to provide the capability for the mass destruction of resources, infrastructure and population. Such levels of destruction, during WWII, were intended to demoralise the enemy through fear and also to deprive him of war production capacity. Needless to say demoralisation did not occur except in extreme conditions, rather resolve and determination to fight were strengthened as human conditions worsened. Mass destruction (Dresden etc.) had little effect until effort was focussed on destroying German fuel production. (i.e. Effort was focussed on a decisive point.)

At the end of WWII 1945 until 1949 nuclear weapons were only in the hands of the US yet they did not halt the advance of communism into Europe, it was the martial plan that did that as the US won hearts and minds.

Trident History

TODO Tidy this mess

Polaris to Trident the destruction of cities then accurate enough to destroy silos and the missiles on the ground giving extreme importance to early warning systems and giving a dangerous first strike advantage. 1979 early dangers to land based ICBMs With 30 minute flight times the time for decisions would be even less.

Finally accurate to 10 meters so that no warhead is necessary because the kinetic impact can be sufficient to destroy a silo. However a launch of unarmed warheads cannot be distinguished from a nuclear attack and may prompt a nuclear counter strike.

Strategic Defence Initiative History

The development of information processing power TODO


The rapid and uncontrollable development of militarily-relevant technology by the civil sector will make potential adversaries increasingly capable but nuclear weapons will not provide any sensible protection from this increasing capability just as they did not in relation to 9/11. They were of no use in the invasion of Iraq and have had little bearing in relations with Iran or North Korea.

Nuclear weapons will not protect us from international terrorists, nor help us resolve potential conflicts in relation to shortages of key resources such as energy and water due to population growth or climate change, nor do they serve to reduce interstate tension.

We must rely on the development of an effective defence against all such weapons rather then rely on the psychological concern of a leader for his people as a means to use the threat of a counter attack. This method is deeply flawed in that we ourselves are likely to be more concerned for the people of a tyrannical state than the leadership of that state will be. Also such an attack would only serve as the catalyst for such a leader to win his peoples support and support from other countries.
Trident does not provide any Prime Ministers with any assurance that an aggressor cannot escalate a crisis beyond UK control. Indeed even if a suitable target could be found, its destruction would be unlikely to bring the situation under control but more likely escalate the conflict beyond anyone's control, leading to immediate total war.

WMDs do not provide the capability to win any conflict and there role as a deterrent relies entirely on the integrity of the holder which is politically volatile.

Precision and Power

In today's world of precision weapons it is far more effective to be able to destroy large numbers of small targets, leaving vital infrastructure and populations intact. Precision bombing was attempted but found to be impossible in WWII, this is however no longer the case.


Nuclear weapons are becoming increasingly vulnerable to interception and it is likely that any delivery vehicle in service today may be ineffective by 2020 and certainly will be by 2050. Examination of the descendent projects of Strategic Defence Initiative and the current state of Anti-Submarine Warfare shows that trident is becoming obsolete.

Notably Fuel Air Dispersal weapons are capable of creating as much devastation as a small nuclear weapon and so if one tactically needs mass destruction it is still available.

Other hard target penetrators
Being a threat of such proportions
Interstate conflict will occur again and again


  • In the future any state possessing or developing weapons of mass destruction will become a legitimate target for the limited purpose of destroying the resources, infrastructure and people necessary to render them safe.
  • The focus of the military industrial complex must be re-oriented to the task of defending resources, infrastructure and people of all nations from those that would destroy them, not simply promoting retaliatory destruction.
  • The talents and efforts of those individuals now engaged in WMDs should be properly utilised in the production of an effective international defence/offence that does not depend on total destruction as the outcome of any unresolvable conflict of interests of which there may well be many in the future.
  • WMDs invokes a dangerous illusion set to compromise effort towards a genuine peace and security strategy.
  • I hope that this paper and the thoughts in it will help any state to conquer any other state that continues to threaten the safety of our world through continuing to maintain an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction as opposed to developing and holding the precision weapons so vital to modern warfare.

© Tom de Havas 2011. The information under this section is my own work it may be reproduced without modification but must include this notice.