No, the US Could Not ‘Deflect a Nuclear Missile’ Aimed at It

And no, there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ modern nuclear war.

Stephanie Leguichard
Dialogue & Discourse
5 min readMar 21, 2022

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Public domain image from U.S. Air Force depicting Strategic Defense Initiative design; Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the past week, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has jerked many Americans’ focus away from their usual navel-gazing toward actually paying attention to what’s going on in another part of the world. God forbid.

So Americans have been grappling with the reality that we’re closer to the precipice of nuclear war than we’ve been since the Cold War. That’s not a fun thing to realize.

But I’ve noticed that many people are coping with this harsh reality by clinging to some very naive misconceptions about nuclear weapons.

Here are some examples:

“Nuclear deterrence” is a foolproof phenomenon that will guarantee that nukes are never used.

Nukes actually make the world more peaceful because they preempt hot wars. So we should never aim for disarmament.

In some cases, a “small nuclear exchange” could help signal strength and therefore deter further aggression.

I know it’s tempting to resort to the denial of reality when reality becomes too depressing to bear. But sometimes blissful ignorance is too dangerous to condone.

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Stephanie Leguichard
Dialogue & Discourse

Writer, editor, leftist activist. Endlessly fascinated by the complexities of human minds and cultures. Completing my MA in Anthropology. sleguichard@gmail.com