The Republican candidates keep talking about the threat to the United States from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would destroy all our electronics. This has been a rightwing talking point forever. I can’t figure out why it is so attractive to them, when it does not pass a basic criterion of common sense.

Anyhow, Olivier Knox has a nice explainer today, and Robert Farley did one in 2009. Both are interesting and will help you to understand what the candidates are talking about. Or maybe they will help the candidates to understand what they are talking about.

The Republican campaign is dishing out fear in various flavors, and perhaps this is an effort to tailor the fear of nuclear weapons to a particular audience.

That basic criterion of common sense? An EMP weapon is a nuclear weapon made more complex and delivered in a very exacting way. It’s not at all clear that one would suffice for the United States or would have lasting effects. If you’re a country like North Korea with nukes, which would you choose: a complex weapon with uncertain effects or just nuking a city?


Photo is of the Starfish Prime nuclear test, which the EMP lovers cite as proving their worries.┬áMost directly from Knox’s article, but open-source.

One comment

  1. Nukeman · March 2, 2016

    Most of the MSM articles on EMP are nonsense. EMP does pose a direct threat but properly designing a weapon to maximize EMP is difficult but not insolvable. If I remember right both the US and Russia did detailed studies on the designed of nuclear pumped EMP devices. As you would tell me scientific articles, declassified documents, etc. will provide a wealth of information that the media missed or simply doesn’t understand.


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