Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

why did the ussr and usa build so many nuclear warheads?

why did both sided build thousands of warheads when one can obliterate an entire city? even if you deployed 50 i am sure a handful would make it to there i right?


no i am not a liberal, i am just genuinely curious why both countries would spend that much money on so many missiles.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    More than a handful would have made it to their targets. As there was nothing, and pretty much still is nothing, to shoot down an incoming missile, the only things that could have prevented them from reaching their targets were a mechanical failure or a miscalculation on the trajectory.

    Now the reason for so many warheads was MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. It was a deterrent, an assurance that neither side could win a nuclear war. Imagine the Soviet's only having four nuclear warheads and the US having enough to wipe out every major soviet city ten times over. But as you only need one to wipe out a city, the rest could have been used all across the Soviet Union. If it came to a nuclear war between the two the US would win as it could wipe out most of the Soviet population in one blow.

    But if both sides have an equally sized nuclear arsenal both need to consider the repercussions. In the above situation, the repercussions for the US are a few cities lost, several million dead, and world opinion vs. total annihilation of an enemy nation. The same would be true of the Soviet Union had the situation been reversed. But if both have an arsenal capable of wiping out every major city ten times over, then the key repercussion becomes the total destruction of the nation itself. So it's a question of can we wipe them out before they can retaliate.

    In the case of dropping bombs, maybe, but unlikely. First both sides had nuclear armed bombers ready to scramble at a moments notice. And second, bombers can be shot down. In the case of firing missiles, forget it. Once it's seen by one side that the other side had a mass missile launch with the trajectory indicating the target to be their nation, they'd immediately retaliate. The idea was that victory would only last a few minutes for the side that fired the first shot as they'd then be wiped out by the missiles shot back at them. Plus there were the boomers both sides had deployed. Ballistic Missile subs would survive their nation being wiped out and be able to retaliate in kind.

  • Rubym
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Because they could and because they knew the other side was doing it, so if we had 100, they had to get 100, if we had 500, 1000, 10,000 and so on. It was called the Arms race. There was little about it that had much to do with sanity. I'm sure the people involved thought it was crazy but felt as long as the other side had the weapons we had to, too.

    Also there were actually thousands of targets. In the US alone there are many cities over 50,000 or so that could have been targets. The same with the USSR. Both countries had bases for armed forces. Then there were the allies of each country. If the US was hit, Western Europe, Canada, possibly Japan, Australia, etc. and if we hit the Soviet Union, the Iron Curtain countries, possibly China, Cuba and others under Communist domination could be hit to prevent attacks from those areas.

  • Alzorg
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Somewhere during the arms race, one side thought one wasn't enough, so they built more. the other side decided they needed more than the other and built more. then the other side decided they needed more, etc. etc. Only around 20 years ago did we finally realize thousands of warheads are enough, and are disarming most of them.

  • 1 decade ago

    Arms race to see who was more powerful, USSR lost the race bankrupting their country trying to beat Reagan.

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  • tuffy
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Fear and an arms race that got completely out of control.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    And why do you ask if it weren't for the probability that you're a liberal?

    Okay, thanks for clarifying it. That's why I said "probability" and not "fact."

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