Nuclear weapons provide humanity the capability to wipe out an entire city with a single missile. However, with the exception of the end of World War II, they haven’t been used in warfare. Each country that has developed nuclear weapons has performed a lot of test detonations to show the world how big their dick is but nobody has dared use them because they’re not seen as a reasonable response to anything other than weapons of mass destruction.
The Pentagon wants to change that attitude. Instead of treating nuclear weapons as an unreasonable response to anything other than weapons of mass destruction, it wants to treat nuclear weapons as a reasonable response to a list of other things including malicious hackers:
WASHINGTON — A newly drafted United States nuclear strategy that has been sent to President Trump for approval would permit the use of nuclear weapons to respond to a wide range of devastating but non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure, including what current and former government officials described as the most crippling kind of cyberattacks.
For decades, American presidents have threatened “first use” of nuclear weapons against enemies in only very narrow and limited circumstances, such as in response to the use of biological weapons against the United States. But the new document is the first to expand that to include attempts to destroy wide-reaching infrastructure, like a country’s power grid or communications, that would be most vulnerable to cyberweapons.
The paradox of nuclear weapons is that they offer a terrible power but are only useful as a deterrent. If you have nuclear weapons and your enemy has nuclear weapons, peace can exist because you both have the power to wipe the other side out. Neither side will launch because it will result in their demise as well. But what happens when a nuclear armed country acts in an unreasonable manner? What happens when one decides to nuke a nonnuclear power? In all likelihood that nuclear power would be seen by other nuclear powers as unreasonable, unstable, and an imminent threat. Their fear could lead them to bring aggression, possibly nuclear aggression, against the unreasonable nation.
As WOPR in the movie War Games concluded, when nuclear weapons are involved the only winning move is not to play.