My brother, Lou, used to tell me that the only way to beat a bully is to not fight fair. Jump the guy when he’s not looking, and fight like there are no rules. That’ll teach him that you’re nuts and not worth messing with.
He learned this lesson honestly. When Lou was in the navy, he immediately got flak for being Jewish. Someone tried to steal his bunk; Lou rammed the guy’s head into the wall. After that, whenever someone tried to take advantage of Lou, by cutting in the chow line, for instance, another sailor would restrain the miscreant. “Don’t do it! That’s Marcus. He’s crazy. He’ll kill you!”
The problem is that these days, there are just two kids on the block: The USA and the USSR. Each one’s the bully in the other’s eyes. If the Russians decide they can get in a sucker punch, they just might do it to get us out of the way, once and for all.
We have the same option, of course, but it is the avowed intention of our leaders that America will never start a nuclear war. The Soviets have not made such a pledge.
That’s why we have invested so much time and money in developing a strategic nuclear force. We want the Russians to know that we can strike back if they launch an attack, so that any attempt at a preemptive blow would be an act of suicide.
But we can’t retaliate if the first indication we have a Soviet attack is the sprouting of atomic mushrooms over our cities and missile fields.
To that end, we recently finished the construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line, a string of radar installations along the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada. These can detect a missile some ten minutes from target. Still not a very good window of time in which to order a counter-strike.
(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)