"Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

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"Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Hooch » Mon May 02, 2011 5:50 pm UTC

As most of y'all should be aware by now, Osama Bin Laden, the notorious leader of a terrorist organization, has been assassinated (according to US Intel). As my fellow dorm-mates and I discussed what the future would bring in terms of potential retaliation, and interesting question for the pure fun of debating came up, which brings me to the point of this thread:

If the current anti-ICBM measures failed and an ICBM (or multiple ICBMs) was to strike on US soil, where would the opposition force strike?

Factors:
- Who would the opposition force be? Where would they strike from?
- What is the prime objective of this attack? To terrorize, or to bring an end to our nation? How would this affect their strategy?

Of course, don't limit yourself to my input entirely. Feel free to speculate. Just know that, for the purpose of our discussion, the hypothetical missile(s) will strike somewhere, and this is only one attack, not multiple waves of attacks.

Talk away, gentlemen, and I'll try to keep up.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Dark567 » Mon May 02, 2011 6:12 pm UTC

Depends on why they are striking? To incite terror?

New York. It would be devastating to both the economy of the country and the death of millions would be absolutely terrorizing. LA might have a similar effect, and DC could destabilize the government, so those are possibilities too.

If it were a military goal, I suspect DC or a base somewhere, but I don't know what someone would be thinking trying to attempt any military goal with a single missile. It would be futile.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Game_boy » Mon May 02, 2011 6:21 pm UTC

The US has successfully managed to produce a diplomatic arrangement such that the rest of the world's governments would not launch a missile given the consequences.

Thus the only group who could launch a missile would be empowered angry people. As the barrier to entry of technology continually falls, one day soon a group of private individuals would probably be able to get a missile and launching mechanism constructed.

So, I do think they'd want to hit New York or LA, to cause maximum human and symbolic damage, instead of actually taking out military or government targets. It would probably be a large conventional warhead with radioactive material ('dirty bomb') to keep it in the headlines for a long time with people dying all at once initially and then slowly after that.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby jules.LT » Mon May 02, 2011 8:09 pm UTC

Aren't there conservative cities we could tell them to strike instead? :(
Those are their real enemies, after all.[/ :evil: ]
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby CorruptUser » Mon May 02, 2011 8:38 pm UTC

Their "enemies" are not other right-wing extremists. Christian Theocrats have a lot in common with Islamofascists. They would attack the decadent and amoral parts of the US first, that obviously have satanic influences such as Gender Equailty, Gay Rights, Logic/Science, and Family Planning.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Dark567 » Mon May 02, 2011 8:42 pm UTC

jules.lt wrote:Aren't there conservative cities we could tell them to strike instead? :(
Those are their real enemies, after all.[/ :evil: ]

In general, cities tend to be more liberal than rural areas. So that itself might lead someone to believe the answer is no.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Hooch » Mon May 02, 2011 9:41 pm UTC

Right-wing extremists aren't necessarily "the" enemy.

I guess what I'm saying is to point out enemies when suggesting targets.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby A_pathetic_lizardmnan » Mon May 02, 2011 9:42 pm UTC

Depends on who is doing the attacking.
An external enemy who wants to cause maximum symbolic damage to Americans would probably attack Washington DC, thus taking out the center of government. This is, in my estimation, not a terribly likely event, but it is possible.
A more likely case, an enemy who wanted to cause maximum devastation and chaos, would probably be an attack on New York that is carried out in such a way as to isolate whichever island was attacked from the mainland. Even a small nuclear device would be devastating if used in this manner, especially with New York's population density. San Francisco is a similarly vulnerable city, though an attack would not entirely block off evacuation routes.
Several people have mentioned Los Angeles as a potential target, but an attack on what is effectively a huge suburb with a few industrial buildings here and there would not really accomplish much if our attacker was using an improvised fission bomb. On the other hand, if an enemy got their hands on something like the Tsar Bomba, Los Angeles would be one of the best targets.
A nuclear attack in today's world probably would occur outside the United States. Israel has targets that are more symbolically important than anything in America, so that would be a likely candidate.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby LaBaguette » Mon May 02, 2011 11:14 pm UTC

Random thought : if my goal was to terrorize, I might strike, say, in the middle of Kentucky or Idaho rather than in LA or NY.

The logic goes as follows : Joe, American citizen living in the middle of Idaho, hears that Osama is dead and that there may be retalliation. He speculates that, in the mind of Abdul the evil terrorist who wants to kill thousands of innocent people, the best target would be a (very) large city. Therefore, Joe is a bit weary for his cousin Bob living in LA, but feels rather safe in his farmyard.

Then, a nuclear missile strikes his village, killing a grand total of 25 people. However, this sends the clear message that absolutely nobody is safe; paranoia spreads, and chaos looms at large.

This is based on comments I heard in my home country, just after 9/11, when irrational fear of terrorist attacks was common. Most people in my remote village followed that logic, and assumed that terrorists would be wasting their time (and missiles) trying to nuke down our small place.

On the other hand, if I (the evil terrosist) were to hit a strategic target, then I'd go for Washington, the HQs of IT companies (somewhere in California, I guess) or a major network structure, if there is any of significant size.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon May 02, 2011 11:16 pm UTC

LaBaguette wrote:Random thought : if my goal was to terrorize, I might strike, say, in the middle of Kentucky or Idaho rather than in LA or NY.

The logic goes as follows : Joe, American citizen living in the middle of Idaho, hears that Osama is dead and that there may be retalliation. He speculates that, in the mind of Abdul the evil terrorist who wants to kill thousands of innocent people, the best target would be a (very) large city. Therefore, Joe is a bit weary for his cousin Bob living in LA, but feels rather safe in his farmyard.

Then, a nuclear missile strikes his village, killing a grand total of 25 people. However, this sends the clear message that absolutely nobody is safe; paranoia spreads, and chaos looms at large.

This is based on comments I heard in my home country, just after 9/11, when irrational fear of terrorist attacks was common. Most people in my remote village followed that logic, and assumed that terrorists would be wasting their time (and missiles) trying to nuke down our small place.

On the other hand, if I (the evil terrosist) were to hit a strategic target, then I'd go for Washington, the HQs of IT companies (somewhere in California, I guess) or a major network structure, if there is any of significant size.


I don't think that will hold for a nuclear missile. If we're talking setting off some dynamite it might work(causes people to htink small towns are under attack), but the nuclear damage is the sort of thing where you want to maximize the visual destruction.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Brickmack » Tue May 03, 2011 12:21 am UTC

If the goal is to destabilize the government, then DC. Lots of dead government people that way...
If the goal is simply to kill people/incite terror, a highly populated city like NYC would probably be best, but several other densely populated spots could work just as well.
If the goal is to destabilize the economy, probably NY also, since they have the stock exchange and all that stuff.
LaBaguette wrote:Random thought : if my goal was to terrorize, I might strike, say, in the middle of Kentucky or Idaho rather than in LA or NY.

The logic goes as follows : Joe, American citizen living in the middle of Idaho, hears that Osama is dead and that there may be retalliation. He speculates that, in the mind of Abdul the evil terrorist who wants to kill thousands of innocent people, the best target would be a (very) large city. Therefore, Joe is a bit weary for his cousin Bob living in LA, but feels rather safe in his farmyard.

Then, a nuclear missile strikes his village, killing a grand total of 25 people. However, this sends the clear message that absolutely nobody is safe; paranoia spreads, and chaos looms at large.

Makes a bit of sense, but even the "nobody is safe" idea with a few dead probably doesn't scare people as much as the idea of 5 or 6 thousand killed in a massive bombing.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Abgrund » Tue May 03, 2011 2:29 am UTC

With a missile: Cushing, Oklahoma, the largest pipeline nexus in the country.

With a giant thermonuclear cobalt-salted bomb in the hold of a ship: New York City.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby omgryebread » Tue May 03, 2011 4:00 am UTC

If they can't choose time, then DC. Taking out NY's financial centers would be bad, but a lot of that info is stored in many places on servers. You're still taking out a lot of high profile people who run large sectors of the economy, but they are mostly private firms. The structure itself would remain.

DC houses the Fed, which is more important than any one firm in DC, and probably more so than the stock exchange. A nuclear attack on DC would see the stock market drop thousands of points anyway, even if it's not more than an attack on NY. Money aside, you take out plenty of government officials. Some congressmen are surely in town, and probably some secretaries, and of course the president. But even elected and appointed positions aside, the amount of staff from the legislative and executive branches that would die is tremendous. The government would be reeling trying to replace all the people in the Office of the President and the various cabinet agencies, and legislators who survived would have their hands full trying to replace their staff. Not to mention you'd lose the place where they did all this. If you're aiming for terror, nothing beats images of a ruined White House and Capitol. Even NY wouldn't be as recognizable and as horrifying.

If they could choose the time, it depends. If the attackers are kind of "us against the world," then a UN meeting would be a really good target. For attacking the US, (and even still attacking the whole world in one missile) SOTU night, DC. While absolutely every high profile national figure is in the Capitol for the speech, and it's being played on live TV. America is terrified in real time, you've taken out their largest symbols in terms of buildings and people, and you've left a terrified nation in the hands of the secretary of the interior who no one could name before that night. It wouldn't even matter if the guy was brilliant, it's terrifying.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Randomizer » Tue May 03, 2011 1:02 pm UTC

I would strike airports. Why go to a bunch of trouble to take out one plane when you can take out the entire infrastructure for air travel?

How many ICBMs do I have at my disposal here? And would one per airport be enough? If I don't have enough to take out all airports, well... just take out the biggest/most important ones. Each plane on the ground that gets blown up is probably worth a few hundred million dollars, plus airports themselves aren't cheap. And if you're looking for body count there's always loads of passengers going in and out of these things. The attack'll disrupt mail and cargo delivery and will definitely make people afraid of flying (from the airports that are left). It seems like it would be pretty good bang for the buck (pardon my pun).
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby higgs629 » Tue May 03, 2011 4:46 pm UTC

I'm shocked that no one has suggested the obvious. If you want to maximize terror, economic damage, civilian death and general US destabilization one target would be by far the best. The target is of course detonating the bomb 20 to 200 miles above the US. If detonated above Chicago the resulting EMP takes out the electronics of the Eastern half of the US. Its Katrina everywhere. People on life support die. Lack of fresh drinking water kills more people. There's plenty of food but how do you get it anywhere? How do you refrigerate it? Imagine for a moment that all electrical systems that touched your life were to fail? Anyone need insulin to survive? That has to be refrigerated doesn't it? I'm not sure what happens to people with pacemakers, but I don't think it could be good. The type of population density in cities is made possible by our electronic systems. Sending the US back into the 19th century with 10 times as many people as the 19th century could support, is far more disasterous that losing any single city. We aren't centralized, we are dependent on our technology.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Sero » Tue May 03, 2011 5:37 pm UTC

Well, I'm not sure it's the 'obvious', but agreed, it would be a highly effective strike against a nation's economy (any nation, really, not just the US), that could do debilitating damage in all areas, for any industrialized nation. It all depends on your goals, though. A terrorist group might do that, but the technological barrier for a successful high altitude detonation is rather high. You not only need the bomb, but the rocket, one that can reach dozens to hundreds of miles up, and travel whatever distance from your launch point to the target in the first place, meaning a long range missile or one fired from within the US. It's not impossible and it's a scary idea, but it's a pretty significant list of things in the 'must go right' category for it to happen. Governments are much more likely to have the resources to pull it off, but much stronger disincentives to do so. Firstly, they would have to at least consider the economic consequences of the act, which might or might not be beneficial to them. Secondly, though this is true of all nuclear strikes by a government, they would have to consider retaliation. An EMP strike against the US would do massive damage to civilian infrastructure, but military infrastructure, especially those facilities relating to nuclear retaliation, are much more protected against EMP.

Airports are an interesting potential target, actually. They are in many ways one of the few areas you could target in a major city with a nuclear device, and do relatively minimal damage. Of course, it would have to be quite a low yield detonation, and you'd still do a good bit of minor damage to the city, but I could see it being effective for an enemy that wishes for maximum visibility while still minimizing damage to the extent reasonably possible.

Also, a useful tool for this discussion: A google map overlay showing the effect radius of a nuclear blast at ground level
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby lutzj » Tue May 03, 2011 10:01 pm UTC

A high-altitude EMP generation would also much more trouble bypassing the air defenses of Canada and the U.S., which were designed specifically during the Cold War to prevent bombers and rockets from reaching population centers like Chicago and given more leeway to shoot down suspicious aircraft since 9/11. (The hypothetical in the OP assumes that ICBM countermeasures fail, but a massive high-altitude blast over the middle of the continent would require much greater defense failure than a few tactical nukes hitting coastal cities). You'd be better off directly hitting the relatively frail energy/transportation infrastructure on the ground; airports and oil pipelines have already been mentioned, and simply blowing up a few oil depots or nuclear plants could do that sort of economic damage much more efficiently and reliably than the EMP pulse from a nuclear device.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby jules.LT » Tue May 03, 2011 10:37 pm UTC

A missile is way too obvious. There are much better ways to detonate a bomb at high altitude.
The record altitude for a manned gas balloon is 34.7km, so a commercial balloon designed for groups should be able to lift a decent-sized bomb 20-30km in the air...
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Hemmers » Tue May 03, 2011 10:42 pm UTC

One which note, an EMP strike over the Eastern seaboard - NYC & DC would knock out all the undersea landing cables, cutting all the hardlines to Europe and Africa for the rest of the USA. There'd no doubt be a fair number of satellite base stations on the Western seaboard able to route data, and stuff could go the long way round across Asia, but civilian bandwidth would be crippled. It'd certainly incite panic, as well as the other issues associated with killing every civilian electronic device on the east coast. And you don't need to get the missile as far onland. A detonation over the Atlantic would be sufficient to take NYC, Boston and DC.

If you only had one warhead you'd be looking for something symbolic though. You're most likely going to go for the biggest, densest western city you can sensibly target. London, NYC, DC, Paris.


It was interesting that when WikiLeaks released the document detailing what foreign sites the US deemed "critical US interests", 8 of the UK's 15 sites were undersea cable landing points, and a further 3 were satellite base stations like Goonhilly.

11/15 were comms based.

The other 4 were defence contractors IIRC.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby bobjoesmith » Wed May 04, 2011 12:49 am UTC

Symbolically, they probably would hit Washington DC- we took out their leader, even if he was in exile. The rational- or at least correlated act would be to take out our (American) leadership. New York, New York would probably cause more fear, and data centers may be more damaging, but in the context of a revenge attack, DC would probably be where retaliation would land.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby CorruptUser » Wed May 04, 2011 1:07 am UTC

You mean they weren't trying to cause as much destruction as possible before we killed Osama?

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Sero » Wed May 04, 2011 1:29 am UTC

First off, I don't think this thread was aimed specifically at Al-Qaeda. Actually, since the original question specified intercontinental ballistic missiles as the method of delivery, I don't think Al-Qaeda even made it into the top three.

That said, no, probably not? Sheer destruction, property damage, loss of life, is usually not the terrorist's goal. That's not getting off onto the tangent about how terrorist groups tend more toward feelings of social inclusiveness as their real primary driving force than their stated goals, but a fairly common theory is that their goal is more to cause damage of an economic nature, and in a really broad sense a terrorist's goal is almost always, in one way or another, to try and provoke an overreaction. Broadly, those goals have been achieved, I'd say. With the billions spent on showy security measures and wars overseas, versus the actual damage inflicted by terrorist attacks of the last decade.

That's getting a bit off topic, I suppose. Still, it does suggest that such groups might be interested in an aerial EMP, if they had the technical capability for it.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Wodashin » Wed May 04, 2011 3:01 am UTC

Yeah! They should totally kill people who disagree with my political beliefs, because, like, why not?!

Terrorists have proven to be pretty mediocre at what they're supposed to be doing, and we've proven to be incredibly good at stopping them as well. They've had zero successful attacks since 9/11 (on the US) and only failures. The Times Square bombing, if it had been successful, would have been devastating.

If a terrorist ICBM landed somewhere, and they really wanted to do something, they'd probably just wipe out all of DC. I'd also strike whatever the most important harbors and industrial complexes are. The airports that get the most traffic. Whatever could cripple the government, economy, trade, and welfare of the nation.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Diadem » Wed May 04, 2011 2:09 pm UTC

As a non-American I'd say the logical target was NY. New York really symbolizes America in a lot of ways. It's the economic and cultural capital of the US. It's also its gateway. Apart from the few remaining native Americans, all your ancestors were immigrants, and most of those entered the US in New York. Even today, if you visit the US as a tourist, you start with New York, and proceed from there.

DC might also be a tempting target. But I wouldn't even consider any other city unless attacking both NY and DC was for some reason unfeasible.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Dark Avorian » Wed May 04, 2011 11:37 pm UTC

although it was stipulated, I'm not sure I'd hit America. Why not hit Beijing? If I could pull off EMP pulses I'd try to hit south canada, the eastern seaboard, and chicago with the first, china and japan if I had a second, Europe if i had a third.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Soralin » Thu May 05, 2011 1:22 am UTC

Well, if you happen to have an ICBM missile around, you could try launching it from some country, at another country that will retaliate. If it succeeds, I can't see anything beating a major nuclear war for damage. :)

And even if it doesn't spark a nuclear war, can you imagine the hostilities, suspicion and distrust that would exist between the countries after that? I mean, sure, that side says they didn't launch the nuke, but can you believe that they didn't do it, or that they weren't complicit, that they possibly could have missed such a thing, that some of them must have been in on it, etc. :)

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Wodashin » Thu May 05, 2011 1:31 am UTC

Lol, if they could launch from anywhere and attack anywhere, to frame a country, I'd to Taiwan -> China.

America has a treaty with Taiwan, and we'd be forced to fight. The ensuing battle would destroy both of the world's money makers, destroying the economy of most nations.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Diadem » Thu May 05, 2011 2:33 am UTC

Wodashin wrote:Lol, if they could launch from anywhere and attack anywhere, to frame a country, I'd to Taiwan -> China.

America has a treaty with Taiwan, and we'd be forced to fight. The ensuing battle would destroy both of the world's money makers, destroying the economy of most nations.

No way the US would stand by Taiwan after they launched a nuclear first strike. The US would drop support for Taiwan, and China would invade and conquer them. No global devastation.

Much better is launching India -> Pakistan, or vice versa. Tensions between those countries are already very, very high, so the odds of escalating that conflict are pretty good. Nuking Israel from Iran would also have interesting results.

For maximum damage though, get a time machine and launch one from Cuba to the US in october 1962.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Wodashin » Thu May 05, 2011 2:41 am UTC

That'd be world ending though. :(

I think it's more of a world domination thing than destruction. Create enough chaos, get people to follow you.

If we can do from anywhere to anywhere: USA -> China

I was thinking of doing it the other way around, but that might not cause us to go to war. Maximum damage. China and the USA are pretty much the most important countries in the world, economically. If either goes down, everything comes crumbling, save for a few countries that are separated economically from Europe, China, and the US.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Dark Avorian » Thu May 05, 2011 11:11 am UTC

Wodashin wrote:If we can do from anywhere to anywhere: USA -> China


Meh, I doubt either way would actually convince the establishment in either country to go to war. If I had an ICBM I could fire from anywhere to anywhere and detonate at any height, I'd do this: Fire from near Pyongyang, making sure it's visible to the North Koreans, then across the Pacific, across the rockies, and over the Mississippi, to trigger an EMP blast that hits DC, New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Ontario, Montreal, Philly, and Pittsburgh (and a myriad of other cities).

Why?

Firing Location: You make it look like the Chinese are complicit in an attack on a huge portion of the populations of both the US and Canada, whilst making it pretty convincing. Best case scenario: you also trigger fear in Pyongyang and they assume it's an enemy and order the levelling of Seoul with artillery.

If all this works, you've destroyed relations between China and basically all of NATO. You've reopened the Korean wounds, and caused a heavy death count in Seoul. You've caused terror across the US and Canada by making sure the effects of your strike are visible in the biggest cities, while simultaneously demonstrating to every inhabitant of every small town within the blast area that they are not safe either.
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Wodashin » Thu May 05, 2011 11:23 am UTC

France -> Britain

For the lulz

Maybe Israel -> Pakistan

Iran would take the chance to wage war, pakistan would nuke back, nukes would be fired all over the middle east. Would probably have a huge death toll, and cripple the world's access to oil.

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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby AvatarIII » Thu May 05, 2011 11:30 am UTC

Dark Avorian wrote:
Wodashin wrote:If we can do from anywhere to anywhere: USA -> China


Meh, I doubt either way would actually convince the establishment in either country to go to war. If I had an ICBM I could fire from anywhere to anywhere and detonate at any height, I'd do this: Fire from near Pyongyang, making sure it's visible to the North Koreans, then across the Pacific, across the rockies, and over the Mississippi, to trigger an EMP blast that hits DC, New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Ontario, Montreal, Philly, and Pittsburgh (and a myriad of other cities).

Why?

Firing Location: You make it look like the Chinese are complicit in an attack on a huge portion of the populations of both the US and Canada, whilst making it pretty convincing. Best case scenario: you also trigger fear in Pyongyang and they assume it's an enemy and order the levelling of Seoul with artillery.

If all this works, you've destroyed relations between China and basically all of NATO. You've reopened the Korean wounds, and caused a heavy death count in Seoul. You've caused terror across the US and Canada by making sure the effects of your strike are visible in the biggest cities, while simultaneously demonstrating to every inhabitant of every small town within the blast area that they are not safe either.


this is very much along the lines of my thinking actually, fly it across america, making it clear nowhere is safe, and hit as many places as possible with as little loss of life as possible, but showing the potential for much greater loss of life,

another potential scenario would be to drop a nuke on the farm belt, irradiating massive amounts of farmland, changing the economy overnight, and making both people in rural areas aswell as cities feel totally unsafe and exposed.

achan1058
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby achan1058 » Fri May 06, 2011 1:06 am UTC

Wodashin wrote:Maybe Israel -> Pakistan

Iran would take the chance to wage war, pakistan would nuke back, nukes would be fired all over the middle east. Would probably have a huge death toll, and cripple the world's access to oil.
And wipe out extremists on both ends. We won't ever have any more problems with Palestine, Israel, and the like. All important religious landmarks will be gone. World peace will ensue.

cazadoremi
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby cazadoremi » Fri May 06, 2011 1:34 am UTC

If the end goal is retaliation through striking fear in the US, then bombs aren't the best method. Bombs take tons of personnel and capital to pull off. Training cells of gunmen to randomly attack civilians in multiple towns and cities would be more effective and harder to stop, striking fear everywhere at once.
During the DC shootings people didn't go to school, playgrounds, church, etc etc. for weeks. After 9/11 people went back to work almost immediately.

Abgrund
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Abgrund » Fri May 06, 2011 3:09 am UTC

AvatarIII wrote:...another potential scenario would be to drop a nuke on the farm belt, irradiating massive amounts of farmland, changing the economy overnight, and making both people in rural areas aswell as cities feel totally unsafe and exposed.

Nuking farmland (with just one warhead) would have relatively very little impact. Even the dirtiest of dirty bombs would produce lasting harmful fallout only on a minute fraction of the country. It might produce a great deal of panic, though.

yawningdog
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby yawningdog » Fri May 06, 2011 12:52 pm UTC

When I was in Iraq, it always baffled me how the enemy chose his targets. Given a rocket or a mortar and the unlikely ability to hit the broad side of a barn with a handful of rice, he would almost always target a low-ranking sentry in a guard tower. I never understood why he never tried to hit the millions of dollars worth of radio gear on top of "commo hill" on the northern edge of camp slayer. It would have cost millions of dollars and months of time to rebuild, when a buck sergeant tower sentry can be replaced in about 5 minutes. Not to undervalue his life, but there are MUCH better targets around and I never understood why the enemy thought like this. Snipers were the same way. They always seemed to target the guy who got out of the driver's seat of a humvee, when he is almost never an officer or some such higher ranking official. He was just the easiest guy to hit since he usually stood around the outside of the truck serving as it's guard force.

I eventually induced that he was not really interested in winning the war, he was only interested in body count. I think this plays out pretty well in a 9/11 context as well. I believe the best way to kill as many people as possible with a plane full of fuel is to hit something with an extremely dense population. Given that criteria, the towers made attractive targets indeed.

ICBMs will never reach this country. They are easily detected and slow-moving, and the U.S. has technology to burn when it comes to defending this type of attack. However, if the premise of the question is that one will strike, then the answer depends on the intended purpose of the enemy. If he is anything like what we are used to dealing with in Iraq, he will strike an area of dense population. Probably New York or Los Angeles. If he wants to disrupt government and military operations, D.C. is almost certainly his best target. I personally would want to disrupt commerce, so my target of choice would be the Norfolk International shipping terminals which also carries the added benefit of being about a mile from the world's largest Naval base.
"I fear not the man who has practiced ten thousand kicks once. But I fear the man who has practiced one kick ten thousand times."
- Bruce Lee

Headshrinker
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby Headshrinker » Sun May 15, 2011 5:39 pm UTC

Pirate/Hijack raids on large shipping vesels.
Nice and traditional.
On to the boat, kill most of the crew, Hold the rest hostage, After days of "Negotiation", You kill the crew swear follow up attacks and scupper the ship.
Simples

Improvements
Take prisoners from the shore to add connection with population.
Sail into popular areas, NY
Oil tankers would create large economic, enviromental and visual damage, Plus extra risk to boarding parties.

Pros
Disrupt trade routes to the US
High profile
Long lasting event

Cons
Certain death or capture

Risks
Boarding parties
Danger from armed crew

spaceside
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby spaceside » Sun May 15, 2011 8:35 pm UTC

[deleted]
Last edited by spaceside on Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:59 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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fimzo
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby fimzo » Thu May 19, 2011 1:43 am UTC

First, buy huge stretches of land in the deserts west of the Rocky Mountains. Then, fire the nuke to hit the San Andreas Fault, destroying the western coast and increasing the value of the purchased land, allowing them to sell it for a huge profit. Oh, and if there are two nukes, send one to a random town in New Jersey to distract any annoying superheroes.
-Fimzo

tommylc
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Re: "Where would they strike?" (hypothetical question)

Postby tommylc » Sat May 28, 2011 12:10 am UTC

New York, New York.

It seems beyond obvious to me, a casual non-US observer, a second attack on New York would be devastating on two fronts.

Firstly, it would be an ultimate middle finger to the US, New Yorkers, many of whom lived through the original attacks would live in a place which could be defined by two terrorists acts, the memory of September 11 would come back and air travel would drop steeply again. Secondly, New York houses the NASDAQ and NYSE stock exchanges, and lost trillions of dollars from the last attack from the loss of one building (I know its a mildly moronic point to call the twin towers 'one building', but hopefully you can see my point), imagine what would happen if a city block was levelled.


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