John Bolton’s interim replacement as National Security Advisor, Charles Kupperman, claimed that a nuclear conflict with the USSR during the Cold War was winnable.
In an interview with journalist Robert Scheer in 1982, Kupperman said that if the country only lost 20 million citizens during a nuclear war, then the civilisation was recoverable. The US could triumph against their enemy, and “win” the war “in the classical sense”, instead of both countries perishing in the nuclear fire:
If the objective in a war is to try to destroy as many Soviet civilians and as many American civilians as is feasible, and the casualty levels approached 150 million on each side, then it’s going to be tough to say you have a surviving nation after that. But depending on how the nuclear war is fought, it could mean the difference between 150 casualties and 20 million casualties. I think that is a significant difference, and if the country loses 20 million people, you may have a chance of surviving after that… I think it is possible to win… [if] it is clear after the war that one side is stronger than the other side, [then] the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side.
How could this be accomplished you ask? Kupperman claimed that if only the US invested in enough civil defence programs, then they could get through a nuclear exchange:
It is possible to survive it with a certain amount of society intact, it depends on what steps we take to ensure that survivability. It certainly won’t be the same as before the war…Nuclear war is a destructive thing, but it is still in large part a physics problem… Sheltering yourself against nuclear effects can be done, it just depends on how much effort and money one wants to spend on it, but a certain layer of dirt and some reinforced construction materials can assure the survivability of somebody, assuming they aren’t at ground zero of a detonation.
He admitted that rebuilding society would “be a struggle,” but estimated it would only take “15 years” for society to reconstitute itself after the bombs dropped.
Kupperman was appointed to his interim post last Tuesday, after Bolton was let go from his position due to policy differences with the President, as National File reported.
Bolton said in a statement in January that Kupperman had been an advisor of his for 30 years, and that his “extensive expertise in defense, arms control and aerospace will help further President Trump’s national security agenda.”
Given that Bolton was reportedly fired for being too much of a hawk, Kupperman may not last long if he also goes up against the President’s less interventionist instincts.